A beautiful party

I was at a beautiful party the other night.  It had everything a wonderful party should have.  Delicious food, sparkling conversation and flutes of champagne.  There were comfortable seats, shimmering decorations, graceful table settings, twinkling lights and intimate conversation.

Plates of sublime chocolates, glasses of red or white, prosecco crisps, and wow oh wow truffle cashew nuts.  There were groups of Christmas trees with lights and decorations, selfie sticks and cameras.

This was the sort of party we all wish we could have.  But the thing is we can have it because this was a Marks and Spencer party.

Life for me has been incredible frenzied lately - not my favourite way to live - but there we are, we all have a but of madness in the smooth.  Christmas is always a busy time, and I while I love being busy look for ways to make that busyness easier because I want to enjoy life, not live it as a slave.

However I want it all.  Are you surprised, it was me after all?  I love to have my cake and eat it too.  Therefore I want to have wonderful parties, and run 27/7/365 at 100 miles per hour.  I want to have these parties in my home, where I can share my joy in offering hospitality to friends and strangers.  That's the thing with strangers you never know when they are angels in disguise.  And with Marks and Spencer - I can do it, because I am not trying to do it alone.

I love how with a little help from Marks and Spencer, I can come in from a mad day of work, fix my lippy, and then serve on some of my favourite platters and plates bite sized pieces of mac and cheese, breadcrumbed mozzerella balls, smoked salmon and wheaten bread, carmelised onion and brie tartlets.

You my dear readers who have read and listened to my words for so long, know how much I love to cook, and have people in my home.  But you also know that gathering people around my table is much more important to me than tying myself to the stove all day.  I love to cook, I will say it again, I love to cook, but I am not precious nor do I pretend that sometimes I need a little help, and my favourite tpe of help comes at Christmas from my friends at Marks and Spencers.  Where I know I can buy and serve products that have been carefully thought through, that have been made using great, and often local ingredients, where farmers are paid a fair wage, and the money I spend not only helps them but helps the economy of my country.  

This Christmas may you cook and enjoy it, may your home be filled with laughter and joy, the sound of carols and the giggles of children, may light light your way and fill your home with warmth, may you feel the peace that comes after advent and may you all know how deeply you are loved.

That's it for now ...


Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable






EQUAL but not the same a post by Stephanie Thompson

It gives me great pleasure to welcome the beautiful, talented and extraordinary woman Stephanie Thompson to Salt and Sparkle. Her guest post is a very refreshing, thought provoking and challenging piece about ths society we live in and what we place value on.  Enjoy - I certainly did.


I’m sick of society trying to make men and women the same.

As a wife, mother of a one year old and an Interior Designer (on pause) I have been reflecting a lot lately on my role and value in these things. I find it very sad that we seem to value mothers who go back into the workplace more than those who choose to stay at home.

It is a family decision of course and no circumstance is the same. There are incredibly hard working amazing mothers who juggle both, but I’d like to give some air-time and encouragement to those who have chosen to stay at home and raise their children, full time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

I am constantly being asked if I am back at work yet. I find it tedious, as I have never worked so hard in my life, for no pay and little thanks.

My everyday life is far from glamorous but I feel a certain joy and worship in doing the mundane that strangely enough it becomes quite enjoyable.

I have to constantly remind myself of what Paul (writes in the Bible when he) tells us in Colossians 3, 23-24: Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. He tells us that whatever we do, that includes changing nappies and all the mundane that goes into these days! So I try to do every little task well, as though working for the Lord, knowing that it doesn’t go unnoticed by him. 

I feel strongly we need an adjustment in our thinking towards stay at home parents.

Is there any more important job in life? What an unbelievable privilege it is to raise the next generation and devote the bulk of your time to see your children grow and develop. This past year has whizzed by in a blink. Even though many days have seemed long (and nights endless) I wouldn’t have missed a moment for the world.

Such value is placed by society (and government) on working mothers but I wish the same value was placed on the ones who have decided otherwise.  If I support my husband in his job and choose to stay home and raise our children why shouldn’t he be given my yearly tax-free allowance, for example?

We are a unit, a partnership within the covenant of marriage. I want my husband to succeed in what he does (and loves to do) and I know I directly contribute to that. He is the first to admit he couldn’t do it without my love, support and encouragement and with me holding the fort at home.  

If I were back in the workplace right now I am convinced I would be more stressed and something would almost certainly have to give.

I am wholeheartedly unconvinced you can have it all. You might be reading this thinking, ‘oh lucky her; she can afford to not work’. Quite the opposite actually, I can’t afford TO work, even with my salary above the national average. If I went back to work full time and put my child into weekly care, I would be net-net, (after travel) THE SAME. It’s not even financially viable for me to work, that’s the irony of it all!  

Being equal is not even up for debate, but God has created men and women differently. If you don’t believe in God, call it nature, but the fact is we are different. Physically and emotionally wired differently. Women are the ones to bear children, nurture and feed them and I have seen there is nothing quite like a mothers instinct for her children. Is it a coincidence that I long for my mother’s care and compassion when I am sick?

I love my incredible husband and he is a hands on doting wonderful father but he is absolutely not as nurturing as I am. Therefore, naturally I am, and WANT TO BE, the one to give our daughter primary care. Equally, as much as I love my job and am good at, I want to support my husband in his and take as much joy and satisfaction of seeing him succeed because we are one.

I recently turned down an interesting job on a large house with a charming client. I struggled as I really would have loved to have done it but in the end we made a tough call and decided it would have been too much, my time too compromised and probably would of ended up doing neither that well. For now it has to wait. It is sad that this perspective might be seen as backward, old-fashioned and even shocking in today’s culture.

The statement is so true, that sometimes it may not be the thing that you do, but the person you raise that is your greatest achievement. God’s perspective is so different from our worldly viewpoint anyway. In opposition to the world, God places immense value in the servant, the one working behind the scenes, making sacrifices. He came into the world and did just that, sacrificing his own life for us. He tells us that the first will be last and the last first (Matthew 20:16.)

I am certainly not counting myself in being among the first, but being a stay at home mother is not an easy road. I too often feel overworked and underpaid, and sometimes I feel as though I am standing still in life, but then I only have to look at my daughter and see she is moving forward with leaps and bounds, happily confident, joyful and secure. For me, that is reward enough. 


Stephanie Thompson

Stephanie, such a pleasure to share your guest post with the Salt and Sparkle readers.

That's it for now ...


Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable


Thankful 10

Thankful for this video - Don't sneak be proud of who you are
Timeout at the movies
Good stories
Chats with friends
Getting outside at lunchtime
Making people welcome


Working with great people who have an eye and a vision


Thankful 9

Ideas coming to fruition

Working with great radio people

Writing words


Spending time in the collections in Carrick Museum

A blustery wine that although cool wasn't cold and had warm tones

Walking the dog in the dark

Safe journeys on wet roads

Conversations with colleagues

Exciting guests posts coming up soon


Thankful 8


Selecting ingredients, chopping and paring, blitzing and stirring

Country Music

Baking a birthday cake to celebrate my beautiful sister in law Sarah

Hearing children's laughter

Well set tables

Cakes that work perfectly thanks to my 3 minute sandwich recipe 


Watching children play

Hugs from children

Nicole, Nadiranne and Myles Robinson - plus Philip who couldn't be here

My nephews Jake and Jaden

Great music

Sitting around the table shooting the breeze 

Chats with Sarah Nicole and Mum

What are you thankful for today - go on find one thing, and two find two, it will change your world

Thats it for now ...


Salt and Sparkle = Life Remarkable


Thankful 7 

Great wine tasting organized by James Nicholson Wine
Massaya Lebanese wine
Dinner at The Bar and Grill
Great burgers
Relish with smoked paprika and cumin
Wine ordering
Seeing friends
Stretching shopping for presents


Thankful 4 

Today I am thankful for

Irish Times
Great staff on our team
Eyes wide open
Space to talk
Dinner with friends
New recipes
TV good TV
Kindness to my future self
Tara Stiles 7 minute morning stretches
Friends with shared secrets
Playing matchmaker

What are you thankful for ...

That's it for now ...

salt and sparkle = life remarkable