Category: Uncategorized

A Place in Northern Ireland You Have To See: Ballintoy Harbour

If you saw my Instagram post about my day trip this afternoon you’re already aware (although you might wish you weren’t) of my hilarious pun of how we were blown away with the views in Ballintoy. It’s a beautiful spot I actually hadn’t heard of until recently. It might ring more bells to those in NI when I say it’s where the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge is located. We didn’t visit that today though because it was quite windy and I don’t think we could handle being violently swayed back and worth.

Once you enter Ballintoy village, keep going straight through until you see a sign for the harbour. This will lead you down an incredibly narrow Irish road that’ll make you want to never drive again. There’s a parking lot and a cafe with bathrooms. And beautiful scenery.

Some brave tourists (including myself and Hughie) made it up onto the higher cliff parts. The wind and waves were insane. It was a really bad day not to have a bobble/ponytail holder/whatever you call it where you are, on my wrist to keep my hair out of my face. After climbing up, I was immediately shocked at A) how many people were up there with small children and B) how no one had been swept off. Probably one of the scariest/most spontaneous things I’ve done. For some this is nothing. But when I got sprayed by a wave, I was like right, let’s go. It was nonetheless, exhilarating and fun. Hughie’s fascination with the sea foam flying around ended when it wacked him in the face. It was hysterical.

*Boots are Michael Kors from four years ago (haha, they lasted!) and the chunky coat-igan as I call it, is from Primark two winters ago. I wear stuff until I can’t anymore.

Afterwards, we drove into the village and walked to the Fullerton Arm Bar which to my delightful surprise was DOG FRIENDLY. I was over the moon to be greeted by a pug, a very rotund Bichon and a King Charles spaniel. The food was amazing and it was a lovely cosy (and clean) pub. Finished the day out beautifully! ūüėč

Definitely a spot you need to see if you’re around NI.

Have you been to Ballintoy?

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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‚Äôd 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‚Äôt 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: Mungo Murphy Seaweed Co.

Mungo Murphy’s Seaweed Co. very kindly sent me some product samples to test out including sea soap, a face mask scrub and their lovely seaweed bag. All ingredients are natural.

I’ll get into why I really appreciate this brand. They’re pretty cool.

The brand name is a tribute to the farmer himself, Mungo Murphy, who lives with his quirky pets including a one eyed rabbit and a tailless cat. His passion for farming and seaweed seems to be what made the company bloom.

A CONNECTION

My mother hails from the deep Bronx of New York City but moved to Connemara when she was 13 with her parents who are Irish born. She brought my brother and I there nearly every year or every couple of summers growing up to visit our grandparents on their farm. It’s an extremely gorgeous setting with true rural charm. So when I found out Mungo Murphy Seaweed products are made and based just down the road from my sweet second home, I instantly was like ‘this is a match’ for Redhead American! Supporting Irish to me is already so excellent but Connemara hits really close to my heart!

SOCIAL PRESENCE

The company is a very interesting one because they’re a jack of all trades. On their Instagram they display their rural Irish life, like their local cuisine, their lovely pup, AND beauty/bath products. To me, this is a very well rounded account. By showing various aspects of where they are based and what they’re passionate about, they’re really drawing in a loyal and connected audience who are more likely to engage with them.

THEY DO TOURS

Their farm can be directly booked for visits (‚ā¨20-50) and is also a tour destination for tour companies like Connemara Food & Pub Tours and My Ireland Tours. Visit their website to find out how to book yours!

THEY SHARE RECIPES

On their website you’ll find recipes for really lovely looking meals. The sea grass, mint and marjoram yeast bread looks very much like something my dad would love. I might make that at Christmas when I return home. There’s plenty of fishy recipes for those who enjoy seafood.

THE PRODUCTS WORK AND ARE AFFORDABLE

The products themselves are just lovely and work really well. They make fantastic gifts for someone who loves Ireland or even natural bath products! I should also mention they’re insanely affordable, ranging from ‚ā¨5.95 for a sea bag to ‚ā¨60.00 for a pair of their gorgeous Abalone Shell earrings designed by Kate Dune.

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11 Lessons Three Years Abroad Taught Me

A very honest post. Being ‘hush hush’ about my REAL experiences is pointless because then my content is inauthentic and I’m not providing anything of value to readers. Thank you so much to everyone who reached out already and said this helped them! I am really touched that my lessons can help others and beyond happy to help.

From September 2015 until this past Tuesday, I was an international Bachelors of Arts undergraduate student at Maynooth University in Kildare. When I was 18 I took a one way flight to Dublin and started a new, extremely important chapter. It was just something I wanted to do and I can’t explain much more than that. I’m not quite sure what I’d be like if I didn’t. I am not going to go on about this like it was all roses and now I’m fantastic, haha, it was much, much harder than that.

With living abroad, there is some seriously unbearable days and moments where you crave the comfort of home. Of all kinds. And when you go to your actual new home after an already terrible day, your building’s community washing machine is locked and will continue to be locked with your wet clothes in it for two entire weeks until the janitor eventually fixes it. You lose the entire set of clothes and then can’t wash other clothes for those two weeks. You proceed to enter your kitchen and find your roommate has taken the last of your milk and is most definitely stealing your food. Living with new people is a shock to the system, especially when you don’t mesh with them. You eventually get used to a million minor inconveniences.

The hardest experience I had along the way (there were plenty) was when my first boyfriend dumped me out of nowhere, told me he was using me and didn’t care for me at all (charming, I know) after I decided to stay in Ireland for the summer. I spent that whole summer trying to find a job and couldn’t. I was lonely and sad and quite simply, heartbroken. At the end of the summer I had to repeat a few exams from first semester of first year (because I was very fond of going out and didn’t study so much…yikes!) and I put all my energy into my studies and passed. At the time I was so embarrassed that I didn’t tell anyone. I nearly left it all and went home! Looking back, I’d give younger Laura a big hug and say it’s okay to mess up and then slap her and ask why the hell she invested time into someone so obviously cruel. But again, we mess up, I’m human. My advice is to look at the tough stuff which can be like the simple examples above, or something much more serious, as an opportunity to learn.

I can happily say I’m so proud of where I am today! The beginning of this journey feels like a very long time ago. It took a LOT of work and mistakes and teary-eyed days. But I’ve got the diploma (;

I’ve learned some fairly valuable lessons from my university experience abroad and thought I’d share them in honour of closing this chapter! I also hope this helps anyone who may find themselves in this position.

1. You are your best friend. Friends come and go and at the end of the day, you only have yourself so you may as well take really good care of yourself. I used to take myself to lunch or coffee in the village once or twice a week when the budget allowed.

2. Be selective. You’re in charge of the way you feel so choose who you surround yourself with carefully. Bad friends are a waste of time. I’m not calling everyone I’m no longer friends with bad friends by the way. That’s harsh but when I look back at younger me, I become frustrated about how much I let ‘friends’ push me around. To reiterate, friends come and go! Not everyone is meant to stay and that’s okay. Wish them the best and carry on. I have a good attitude about this now but maybe about a year ago, I didn’t. Don’t go out with bad boys or bad friends. Just don’t.

3. Some people are just people to party with. A tough lesson it took my first two years to learn. They might be good fun and you have your laughs together but they’re not there for you when something goes wrong. Not everyone who seems nice and interested actually wants to be your friend. Protect yourself!

4. Don’t blow all your money. You seriously do not need a GHD everything. I don’t really know why I thought I did. Also, if I could do those three years again I’d join babysitting apps and/or some kind of hospitality agency that would allow me to earn and be choosy with my hours.

5. No one loves you more than your family. Treat them kindly <3

6. Call home when you feel down and then do something productive to distract yourself. Do something small to make yourself happy. For me, sometimes it’s self care like a face mask and painting my nails.

7. Make exercise regular. Motion is medicine and you’ll be able to settle into a place more if you have a regular routine and feel good about yourself!

8. Know when to say ‘nah, not for me.’ Walk away from stuff that doesn’t feel right. You don’t need to stay anywhere you don’t feel good.

9. You won’t gain any success by comparing your very special unique self to someone else’s looks, grades, economic background, etc.

10. Keep trying. Nothing comes naturally (well maybe some things do). Effort is necessary in all aspects. I did quite well at university in the end but I can openly admit I could’ve spent a lot of more of my free time in the books.

11. Don’t worry. Easier said. I wasted an insane amount of time worrying about boys, what people thought of me, how I looked, whether I’d get a job, etc. It’s really natural to worry but I always remind myself it all works out. I encourage you to not give a damn about this stuff. By being yourself you attract what’s meant for you.

You will change and grow and learn more about yourself than you ever thought! Wishing those going to university far away or moving abroad the very best on their adventuresūüėä Congratulations on making a very exciting choice. You will thank yourself later!

L

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Irish Brand Alert: Tantastic

I’m as pale as they come. If you don’t know, Irish girls love love love their tan. When I first moved to Ireland the girls I made friends with were like ‘where is your tan Laura?!?’ Amongst other things like ‘you can’t wear flip flops to the club’ and ‘do you have a dress with you?’ Haha, so American upon arrival. I’ve really settled in well here…maybe too well some may say!

If I’m going out out, I’m using tan. I do it the day before. And the day before that, I shave and moisturise to prevent the tan from settling into pores leaving dark little spots. It makes such a difference and Tantastic advises this on their bottles as well!

My favourite out of the 4 tans was the liquid! It goes on so well and gives you a colour immediately then sets in over the course of the day. I wear shade medium so you know it’s not too dark for you if you’re pale and wondering if it’ll be too much.

Tantastic is a Belfast based company. Which is supporting super local for me because I live in the cityūüėäūüĎćūüŹĽ The brand is super popular with Irish gals and here’s why!

The best things about Tantastic:

1. It’s Irish ‚ėė Support local, guys! Tantastic can be found in pharmacies across the UK and Ireland.

2. It doesn’t smell like tan. It smells good actually. The lotion smells really nice.

3. It dries quick. There’s no need to feel like you’ve to stand around for an hour, preventing you from getting dressed and going out.

4. You don’t have to wash it off a few hours later. Wash it off 7 hrs later or leave it on depending on the type of tan (liquid, spray etc).

5. It hydrates your skin instead of drying it out.

6. Vegan for all the vegans out there! I’m not vegan but I always am happy to use a product that is.

7. It’s controllable. Usually I shy away from the shade medium as I’m seriously pale but medium was perfect and not an overbearing colour like other tans.

My top tips when using this tan is make sure you’re using the recommended mitt and also make sure you apply generously!

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The Sweetest Gift for your Friend Far Away: BFF Box

My best friend since I was 16ish is named Sarah. We found each other in choir class sophomore year of high school and she made me try Nutella. The rest was history! She’s the person I’ve been closest to since then and she’s always had my backūüíď We typically text every few days and are always laughing. We are lucky we’ve stayed such great friends!

With 3,000 miles between us, it’s sweet to remind each other how much we appreciate one another. That’s why I think the BFF box is such an adorable way of showing a friend you care. I think the box design and packaging is so cute and the contents are even cuter!

This box comes complete with a card in an envelope, a shot glass, face mask, lip balm, bath bomb, two pins and chocolates.

The box smelled amazing when I opened it earlier. I know Sar would love it too.

It’s such a unique, brilliant idea for a gift! I love the concept.

*Sarah and I back in 2015‚̧ԳŹ

*Thank you to BFF box for sponsoring this post!

What do you think? Would your BFF love it too?

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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

Sl√°n (sorry couldn’t resist),

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Amazing Irish Road Trip: Causeway Coastal Route

The Causeway Coastal Route is an incredible stretch of beauty along the north coast of Antrim. There are various loops to pick from for your scenic drive and we did the Carnlough to Ballintoy one. We did veer off a couple of times so I think we covered some extra ground.

If you follow me on Instagram you know I have placed this route up there on my favourite Irish drives list with Connemara National Park. A different kind of beauty but just as gorgeous. Absolutely amazing on a sunny day. We were so lucky with the weather.

We drove and drove and drove. Well Hughie did and I sat there and pointed out the window at pretty things (thanks HughieūüėČ).

After awhile we decided to stop in Ballycastle and grabbed food. I have a friend from here and she said it won best seaside town so I had been looking forward to seeing it for a little while. It’s a charming town with a lot of great things for small kids like trampolines and a playground with some serious views. We ate at the Marine Hotel’s restaurant and it was lovely! Two happy bellies. You can see below it was a windy day and my denim jacket prevented some Marilyn Monroe moments.

Ballycastle

*dress is from the tall section of Boohoo. Denim jacket, I’m not sure sorry! ūüôĀ

Very very very worth seeing! I wish we had more photos! I focused more on footage of this trip that I’m not really sure what to do with. Have an amazing time if you decide to go! Let me know how if you like itūüėä

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Irish Brand Alert: Don’t Kill My Vibe Jewellery

I’m on a mission to give Irish brands a special amount of exposure on Redhead American. I love supporting Irish. It’s not always easy on a graduate budget but I have good intentions for the future. Don’t Kill My Vibe is brand that stands out to me for it’s bold designs!¬†They were featured recently in Lovin’s ‘Eight Irish Brands That Every Fashionista Needs to Check Out.’

This brand describes itself as ‘the love child of two fashion designers.’ The styles range from loud festival pieces to classy statement pieces. Such an amazing selection and really affordable! Not as important as the product but I feel the need to note that packaging is really cute too.

*The designers. Follow them on Instagram.

They super kindly sent me some jewellery to show you! Below is the Lil Hoop Gold Bangle and Delicate Disc Ring.

Some of their jewellery on the website has cute little expressions. This one’s is, ‘Shake yer lil hoop ;)’¬†¬†

Loop de Loop Earrings Gold

These are all available in silver too!

Some pieces by them I love:

Blue Candy Shop Hoops

Make A Wish Silver Necklace

The Mercury Fringe Pendant

Go check them out on their website here!

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Game of Thrones Locations to See in Antrim

Heya!

If you know me you know I don’t watch the wildly popular show, Game of Thrones. However, I’m a big supporter of it bringing a lot of tourism to Northern Ireland. It’s given a lot of well deserved recognition to Belfast and some of Northern Ireland’s areas of outstanding natural scenery which previously (in my eyes) were overlooked for Irish vacation destinations.

So while I’ve been a big fan of Belfast and the county of Derry, I only got to visit some of the Antrim GOT spots this week. I am not embarrassed to admit I’m an absolute tourist and my inner American pops out when it comes to castles and ruins. I LOVE them. I studied the sociology behind it and could go into it for hours as to why Americans have such romantic notions of Ireland’s landscape but I’ll just leave at the fact I am one of them and I’m in no way ashamed. Ireland’s beauty and history is a marvel to me.

So! With that said, we went to Dunluce Castle and the Dark Hedges. Right near the Causeway, which we have already visited within the last year so we didn’t go again. However we drove right past it and through Bushmills.

DUNLUCE CASTLE

Dunluce is an hour outside Belfast and well worth a visit. I believe it was ¬£8 for our tickets (I’m still using my student card, it’s valid until September. Even past then, I’ll keep using it). It’s mainly ruins but a pretty vast amount and it’s fun to just explore. Maybe this is only fun to me and other castle loving freaks. It’s a beautiful backdrop for photos since it’s right on a cliff in the countryside and overlooking the sea. You can learn about the background and history of Dunluce through posted signs around the grounds and a pamphlet given to you at the information desk. Parking is available right there and is free. There’s a little cafe too for a nibble if needs be.

THE DARK HEDGES

The Dark Hedges are around 25 minutes away from the Giant’s Causeway. They too are in the middle of the countryside in Ballymoney and pop up pretty randomly. One side of the road is a large estate and modern farm house and the other is the hedges which was full of people walking the length of them. They’re surrounded by open fields, making them all the more intense looking. Apparently this is where they ride horses up and down in GOT. Sorry for my lack of knowledge regarding the show and its relation to these spaces.

I enjoyed both spots! It’s nice to make a little day out of it. You can see more GOT scenic spots here.

Hope you go!

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