Entries in Northern Ireland (12)

Saturday
Jun032017

q&a with artist and yogi Caol McDonald

 

Caol McDonald is a  artist, yogi and a wonderful person.  Many evenings I have thoroughly enjoyed whiling away the hours in conversation with him. Even a quick conversation on the stairs of flow makes me wish we had more time to chat.  Caol is full of wisdom and his eye for light is thrilling.  He has a gentle spirit with the strength of a warrior that really sees what is around him.  You can connect with him  on Facebook and Instagram and buy his art on his Esty shop from FlowCo and Souk Belfast, practice with him at Flow Studio Belfast and other places - check out his Facebook page for details of classes - I highly recommend you make taking one high up your to do list.  The painting Caol did for me inspires me to keep lifting up.

 

Who are you, what’s it like being you…

My name is Caol, a 27 year old creative type, yogi by day and painter by night with a passion for exploring the great outdoors

Where are you from, where are you based…

I live in the heart of Mid Ulster N.Ireland, currently based in Cookstown


Talk about your work ... How do you find inspiration?

As an artist my work is my voice, what comes from within; I have doodled and created art for years and that voice is still growing. I’ve lived in Ireland all my life, and it being a small island, it’s possible to journey and discover your surroundings become changeable landscapes from mountains and forests to oceans and cliff views easily, the lens through which my mind perceives this world has been predominantly a visual one, my inspiration comes strongly from the raw Atlantic islands scenery and the concept of the human spirit, and it’s always been my passion to try and communicate and strengthen the bond between Humanity and nature.

I am simply a secretary to my own sensations, living a life through colour, and through the resulting expressions I paint and record on paper I aim to help re-establish our connection to the natural ways of the world.

More recently I have been taking this visual lens on an internal exploration of the landscapes of human nature through yoga, and drawing parallels between these conceptual, internal landscapes and the external environment and listening to how both yoga and art can inform how one sees the world.

 

What are your future plans ..

In an ideal situation I hope to find a place where I can be self sufficient by teaching yoga, creating and to live ecologically here in Ireland.

who you are inspired by ...

Creatively…artists such as Brandon Boyd or Jose Parla to name just two, also people who are living for a living, people who are kind and who live compassionate lives to each other and the world we live on.

Describe your space ...

There is always a cup of coffee in hand, a candle lit and an open window

A non-negotiable in your life is ...

Having a quiet moment to yourself each day, even (especially)if it’s simply to enjoy a coffee. 

Most encouraging words you have ever heard ...


While not necessarily the most encouraging I’ve ever heard, I was recently shared words written by Nikita Gill from my Mother that struck a chord

“You carry both lightning and thunder in that space between your bones and soul, become the storm you are hiding from, a hurricane does not run from the rain”


Your work life philosophy is ...

You weren’t born to pay bills and die, make room for enjoying life. 

What is your favourite smell ...

Petrichor…the smell of the earth after rain. (…or morning coffee)

Who do you like to listen to, what’s playing just now ...

My tastes in music vary but currently I like Nahko Bear- Great Spirit


Best meal and your favourite three ingredients ...

I’ve wanted to for years but only recently I have been eating a plant based diet; for just almost a year now, it took time for me to longer miss my old favourites I thought I couldn’t do without. Now my most often ate meal is roast chilli broccoli with some form of tofu, … but my favourite food is 100% peanut butter, I could eat that all day!

Three things or products that have changed your life...

The addition of my dog to the family tribe instigated my proactivity towards a plant based lifestyle, yoga has taken me to Asia and back, offered growth and opportunities to connect with some of the best people I now call friends and colleagues and of course Art.

How do you relax ...

Meditation…whether that be the traditional method, yoga or meditation via art

What makes you happy, where’s your happy place ...

Adventuring into nature with fresh air, places away from daily routine where you can take a moment to appreciate the beauty of the world, I’m particularly drawn to the Irish Coast and the wild power of The Atlantic.

What do you most value in your friends ...

Individuality of character 


What are your favourite words, what are you reading, just now ...

As somebody who lives with the constant urge to communicate or convey sensations…ideas and concepts, whether that be to other people or simply to myself via meditating or painting or writing, a few words I happened upon this year resonate with me

“Make ceremonies out of the air, and breathe upon them"

I conceptualise this phrase visually, as an artist or a yogi plucking inspiration from anything, what they see, hear and experience or from their own mind and using it to create something wonderful. A painting, a memorable day out or a great savasana!

As for currently, in terms of books; I have an obsession with the works of J.R.R Tolkien and I just finished rereading The Silmarillion (a grand prequel to the more popular Lord of The Rings or The Hobbit). I also am keenly following any news articles or social media stories about the current political and environmental protest happening in America, where the Native treaty lands of the American Indians are under threat by Oil companies, I feel the Earth is an island and we have nowhere else to go, we need to protect what we have, Water is Life.


Share some words of wisdom ...

I came across this a while ago, I’m unsure of its author but I love it;

“You think in your idle hours that there is literature, history, science behind you so accumulated as to exhaust thought and prescribe your own future. In your sane hour you will see that not a line has yet been written; that for all the poetry that is in the world your first sensation on entering a wood or standing on the shore of a lake has not been charted yet. It remains for you; so does all thought, all objects, all life remains unwritten yet”

 

 

-------------------------

Thank you Caol, it was a joy to have your at our place.

That's it for now ...

Nics

Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable

Friday
Mar172017

How to make an Irish Hot Whiskey

Happy St Patrick's Day my lovelies.  May you have a day filled with blessings and laughter.

The rain is battering my window and the green is glimpsed through the mists of grey.  I've come in from walking the dogs and feeling a bit like a drowned rat.

To warm my chilled bones a hot whiskey is the ticket.  

This is a drink of few ingredients and one that doesn't need fussing.

Most important is the whiskey I love Writer's Tears from Marks and Spencer.  This Irish whiskey is 100% barley and made in a copper pot still.

It has a lovely honey flavour with a burst of ginger and butterscotch, there are hints of toasted oat.  It is smooth.  A result of being tripled distilled and matured in charred bourbon barrels.  Writerṣ Tears” is a old style Irish Pot still Whiskey, with its vatting of Single Malt and Single Pot Still whiskeys, it is distilled from 60% malt and 40% pot still.

Years of making hot whiskey's for customers means I know every trick in the book.  The secret is to warm the glass before adding the whiskey.  Put a teaspoon into a glass and fill with water that is just off the boil.  Meanwhile stud a lemon with cloves. Being careful not to burn fingers, disgard the water from the glass, add the whiskey, clove studded lemon and add a good three fingers of Whiskey to the glass, fill with hot water, stirring  to it swirls add a teaspoon of honey - or brown sugar.  Stir until the sugar is disolved.  Wrap a napkin around the glass so as not to burn your fingers and drink with your toes up in front of a roaring fire.

 

Happy St Patrick's Day!

That's it for now ...

Nics

Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable

 

Saturday
Jan212017

q&a with graphic designer and musician Nick Koch

 

What a joy to welcome the incredibly talented and creative Mr Nick Koch to the Salt and Sparkle Q&A!  I've had the pleasure of knowing Nick and his family for a number of years.  He sings with a mystical rich voice that evokes memory and hope.  Nick is a guy who walks joy and hope into a room.  He's fun, full of mischief and has a huge and very exciting future a head of him.  You can connect with Nick on Insta or Facebook, or hire him to do some work for you by shooting him an email.

Who are you, what’s it like being you …

That’s a big question. Where to start? Well… my name is Nick Koch. I am a creative designer currently based in Belfast, Northern Ireland. I currently work for a local design agency called Mammoth as a Digital Designer. Before that I spent 4 years at Flint Studios, whom I joined as a graduate.

I primarily work in UX/UI design for websites and digital products, however, I have a love for anything digital, & non-digital. Basically I just love being creative. From App design and Film, to branding,print, music and the occasional bit of woodwork if it’s a collaboration of beauty and function I’m into it.

Outside of my day job I am usually looking for a new challenge, a new adventure or satisfying my wanderlust. 

In the past couple of years I have run my first marathon, done my first solo skydive, walked the Camino de Santiago, hiked the Rockie Mountains in Colorado and nearly broken my pelvis skiing (it’s a long story, let’s just say the ego can be a cruel master at times).

That’s a little bit about who I am, what’s it like…well at the minute it’s pretty awesome but the adventure is only getting started.


 Where are you from, where are you based …

I was born and raised in Belfast, Northern Ireland. I have spent nearly all my life in this small part of the apart from a brief spell in Scotland. 

During the week you’ll find me in the Mammoth Digital Department. At the weekend…who knows

 Talk about your work ...

So, I am a creative designer primarily working in the digital sector. My daily work is usually User experience design(UX), User Interface design (UI) and website design however I also work in video and animation. Website design is great because the industry is so young it feels like it is changing and progressing every day. The web was only invented in 1994, that’s only 22 years ago! It is in it’s infancy and it’ super exciting to see where it will go in the next 5-10 years.

 What are your future plans ... 

Hopefully to keep progressing in what digital technology and design has to offer. I wouldn’t want to limit myself to one particular area as there is so much to discovered. However, Augmented Reality is something that I am finding increasingly fascinating at the moment. The recent Pokemon Go trend that exploded this year has shown that the general public are willing to adopt the technology. It may have been a very crude adaptation of it but it showed that there is a market for it. I think that it will be really exciting to see what developments there are in the next 5-10 years and I would love to be at the coalface of that.

One of my main goals is to expand my horizons beyond Belfast. As great a city as it is and it has really progressed in the past 10-15 years I think a person needs to immerse themselves in different cultures in order to grow as a person and learn more about the people and the world around them.

I would love to return to Colorado and live and work in that culture. It has a thriving creative and tech community and has one of the most beautiful landscapes I have ever seen. Seriously, if you haven’t been I highly recommend it.

However, I am willing to go wherever the wind may take me and opportunity arises.


 How do you find inspiration, who you are inspired by ...

I take inspiration from everything, mostly through the people around me. I love working with other people and collaborating. I love coming up with an idea and discussing it with someone, getting their view of it and creating something even better together.  

Describe your space ... 

A calculated mess. Covered in sitemaps, website questionnaires, at least 3 cups/glasses at a time (1 for coffee, 1 for tea, 1 for water). I have always been suspicious of someone who has a perfectly tidy desk. I currently work on a 27” 2011 iMac during the day and a macbook pro at weekends, evenings or when inspiration strikes.  I recently moved back to a laptop as I felt I needed to get out of the office more and this let me do that. I think this is really important. I don’t think 9-5 at a desk is conducive to being creative.

 How are you feeling today ... 

Pretty good. Enjoying answering these questions! Need to go for a run though.

A non-negotiable in your life is …

Be true to your self.

I have learnt a lot about following my instincts in the past couple of years.  There will always be people who will tell you not to do something and we tend to listen to them as it’s a safe option. I don’t know if this is a nonnegotiable or something I’m trying to learn, but, I want to try experience as much in life as possible and do what feels right for me. 

Most encouraging words you have ever heard ...

I think I find actions more encouraging than words. The most encouraged I ever felt was when i was offered my first design job. When you are a student you are full of self doubt about your skill. To have someone to say they were willing to pay me for my skills was massively encouraging. 


Your work life philosophy is ...

I never want to hear the words, “That will do…” In everything I do it needs to be with intent, purpose and to the best of my ability. I’m trying to learn to improve everyday.

What is your favourite smell ...

hmmm, good question, Christmas day is a hard smell to beat.

Who do you like to listen to, what’s playing just now ...

I love music! all kinds. I know that sounds like a cliche but i’ll listen to anything if I am in the write mood. My go to artists tend to be more folk/singer songwriters. I was raised on Paul Simon. On a side note, Graceland is the greatest album ever created and I’ll hear no-one say otherwise. 

I am currently obsessed with the soundtrack to the musical Hamilton, much to the bemusement and frustration of my housemates and friends. I find American history fascinating and the melodies and lyrics that Lin Manuel Miranda created are incredible. He changed the game. 

Best meal and your favourite three ingredients ...

Hmmm tough question. The first one that comes to mind would have to be eating Buffalo steak in Zimbabwe overlooking a waterhole with countless elephant, zebra, and giraffe.

Ingredients…easy.

Water, Hops & Barley…& yeast… that’s four…

eh… beer, beer is the best ingredient.

Three things or products that have changed your life...

My first iMac. I borrowed it for 6 months from a design company I was doing a design internship at. It gave me the opportunity to explore design and set me on my way to pursuing design as a career. 

My iPhone. not much to explain. This device has changed everyone’s life.
My Passport.

 

How do you relax ... 

I feel most relaxed when I am outdoors. There are few better feelings than being on top of a mountain. I wish I got the time to do it more.
But i love music, playing guitar, singing, movies and drinking beer and whiskey with my friends.


What makes you happy, where’s your happy place ...

Being creative with other people makes me really happy! I love collaboration!

Playing with my niece and nephew.

In a local bar having great conversation.

What is your favourite journey, where in the world would you like to visit ...

My favourite travel journey was walking the Camino de Santiago. It is a wonderful journey in learning about yourself and people.

There are so many places i want to visit but my top 3 are 1. Machu Pichu, Peru   2. Cuba (Before it gets commercialised)  3. Petra, Jordan

What do you most value in your friends ...

Trust & Dependability  

What are your favourite words, what are you reading, just now ... 

Oooo… there are so many great quotes. Two of my favourites are from my favourite book, East of Eden by John Steinbeck.

The first is “And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.”

The second I have tattooed on my arm, “Timshel”, which means Free Will in Hebrew. I won’t try to explain it as it’s so much better coming from Steinbeck, but people should look out for this passage.

I am currently reading “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac and the 3rd book from Neale Donald Walsh’s trilogy “Conversations with God” 

Share some words of wisdom ...

Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do something. Get out there and experience as much as possible.

And, it’s good to fail.

 

-----------------------------

Thank you for joining us Nick.

That's it for now ...

Nics

Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable

Monday
Aug312015

q&a with artist Kieron Black

It is a pleasure to welcome artist Kieron Black to the Salt and Sparkle q&a.  Kieron is an immensely talented artist who's work has been shown across the world.  Kieron's work is lumious full of effervescent light.  One of his drawings has accompanied me across the world.  His cartoons accompany pieces in New York financial magazines each week and his watercolours are available to commission.  I have had the pleasure of knowing Kieron for a long time because he is my very cool older cousin.  You can connect with Kieron and commission a piece of his art work on Facebook and by email.

Who are you, what’s it like being you ...
Kieron Black. 45 years on this planet. Very human.

Where are you from, where are you based ...
The afore-mentioned planet. Killough, Co Down, in a timeworn cottage by the sea.


Talk about your work ...
Talk about yours.

What are your future plans ... 
Live my life, be a good father, husband. Not die til it's time.

How do you find inspiration, who you are inspired by ...
The beautiful, the grotesque. Everyone who tries... by those who it comes easy to but mostly by those who it comes hard to.


  
Describe your space ... 
Messy. Full of boards and the means of making marks.

How are you feeling today ... 
Just dandy.

A non-negotiable in your life is ...
Coffee.

Most encouraging words you have ever heard ... 
You can do this.

Your work life philosophy is ...
There is always someone who is better at what you do than you are. Don't sweat it.

What is your favourite smell ...  
Wax.

Who do you like to listen to, what’s playing just now ... 

Best meal and your favourite three ingredients ... 
A good caeser.

Three things or products that have changed your life... 
Boards. My wife, my daughter.


How do you relax ... 
Ride.

What makes you happy, where’s your happy place ... 
Riding.

What is your favourite journey, where in the world would you like to visit ...  
All of them. All of it.

What do you most value in your friends ...  
Time.


What are your favourite words, what are you reading, just now ... 
My weeping friends forebear to mourn, nor for my absence cry. You must, like me, to dust return. You must, like me, die.

Share some words of wisdom ...
I just did.

------

Thank you Kieron, it was great to interview you on the Salt & Sparkle q&a.

That's it for now ...

Nics

Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable

 

Monday
Aug172015

q&a with illustrator, designer and stylist Sara O'Neill 

It is wonderful to welcome Sara O'Neill - artist, illustrator, designer and stylist - to the Salt and Sparkle q&a.  I first came across Sara's work during Belfast Fashion Week several years ago, her ability to put things together is ravishing, she has a unique vision and creative eye, combined with an ability to bring colour and lines together that is remarkable.  Her Instagram account is filled with the most beautiful photographs filled with effervescent light.  You can follow her on facebook , Instragram and Twitter, She has also designed a range of ethereal silk scarfs called Éadach which are available at BTS Concept Store, Una Rodden Couture, Gráinne Maher Fashion or from Sara herself. 

 

 


Who are you, what’s it like being you ...

I am Sara O’Neill, stylist and scribbler. Fiancée to Al, a big wave surfer. Daughter to Eddie and Bernie, sibling to Beckie and Rory. Friend to a handful of crazy people. All very intelligent, interesting, passionate people who make me laugh a lot. Owner/ maid/ belly scratcher to golden retriever, Blyton. 

I like being me, it’s a cool life but can be a bit hectic, my mind never switches off and I have so many ideas, things I want to create and become obsessed with. But that’s the way I’ve been since I was a kid, I’m used to it by now.

Where are you from, where are you based ...

I’m from Portrush and after fifteen years in Belfast, returned to the coast last year. Belfast was great, first of all for uni then building my career and client base. But I think when you’re brought up by the sea you’ll always be drawn back. I love it.


Talk about your work ...  

I do a few things, I keep busy. I’ve worked as a freelance stylist for nearly a decade now, specializing in commercial and fashion work, working alongside some brilliant teams. 

Five years ago I got back into drawing, I avoided it for a few years after uni. I’ve since had a few exhibitions and am represented by a London/NYC commercial illustration agency. My illustrations tend to be quite feminine and stylized but it depends on the client brief of course- book and album covers, company branding. I also write a lot, mainly for ad agencies and magazines. 

Last year I combined the skills I have developed from years working in fashion and illustration and launched a range of limited edition printed silks- wearable art.

Éadach has been brilliantly received and I’m always thrilled at the strength of feeling for the pieces- customers get quite emotional.

After completing my BaHons in Fashion and Textile Design eleven years ago I swore I’d never go into design but that just shows you should never say never!

If you told me back then my prints would be featured in Grazia or the Mail on Sunday’s You magazine, I would never have believed you- in fact, I’m pretty sure I skipped the print workshops at uni! 

What are your future plans ... 

Professionally, to stay focused, building the different aspects of my business. Work does take up a lot of time, but also allows me a degree of freedom and flexibility. Personally, I’m getting married in the very near future, so that’s exciting.


How do you find inspiration, who you are inspired by ...

I find inspiration everywhere, different things inspire me at different times- music, literature, art, history, people.  At the moment I’m very inspired by my surroundings here on the north coast. The coastline here, combined with the Irish myth and legends my granny told me as a child, is the inspiration behind Éadach.

Describe your space ... 

When I’m writing, designing or drawing I work from home, often hopping from room to room depending on natural light, or in the garden.

Our house is decorated in calming pale colours, neutrals and blues, light and airy rooms with lots of natural textures and bits and bobs collected and inherited over the years, often with a beachy/nautical theme.

My kitsch side always surfaces though, so there is the odd flamingo, pineapple, neon sign and a smattering of animal skulls around the house. When I’m styling I could be on location anywhere or in a studio.


How are you feeling today ... 

Focused. I’m currently working through all the ideas that have been floating around for months, getting them out of my head and onto paper, silk, my Mac before the AW15 madness begins.


A non-negotiable in your life is ...

Space. Work can be all-consuming sometimes, so space to clear my head is essential. That’s usually in the form of a walk around the cliffs or on the beach by myself or with Al and Blyton. And sleep. I love sleeping.

Most encouraging words you have ever heard ... 

Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn


Your work life philosophy is ...

Dream like a bohemian, work like a boss. 

What is your favourite smell ...  

I have many! I love natural outdoor smells- honeysuckle on a summer evening, tomato plants in a greenhouse, the beach after a storm, a forest after the rain.

At home, I love St Eval’s Bay and Rosemary candle from BTS Concept Store and I always have loads of flowers everywhere.

My new scent obsession comes from Fir Beard and Body- they have the most beautiful, evocatively scented beard oils. I’ve nabbed ‘Driftwood’ and use a tiny bit on the ends of my hair. ‘Campfire’ is the most gorgeously heady, smoky smell that conjures up images of glowing embers on a beach.

Who do you like to listen to, what’s playing just now ... 

I have the musical taste of a dad, crossed with a moody 80s/90s teenager.

I listen to a lot of music when I draw, I find it helps my pencil work flow.

I love Fleetwood Mac, the Doors, the Stones, anything from the late 60’s/ early 70s really. Then I love Nick Cave, L7, loads of indie and new wave stuff, punk, ska, dodgy rock and metal. Also old jazz and blues.

Best meal and your favourite three ingredients ... 

I love Italian and Mexican food. I’ve been veggie since I was 11 so anything with lots of spices, herbs and gorgeous fresh ingredients is always a winner.

Favourite ingredients include avocado, watermelon and halloumi.  

Three things or products that have changed your life... 

Books, 3b pencils, eyeliner


How do you relax ... 

Bumming about and exploring the coastline with Al and Blyton, going camping if we have a couple of free days. Hanging out with friends and family, going for coffee and a walk. Dancing around like a deranged ballerina and singing badly.

Making things look pretty. Gardening. Reading. Yoga- Jennifer Greenlees takes a great class in the beautiful Arcadia building in Portrush, amazing to hear the waves crashing just outside.


What makes you happy, where’s your happy place ... 

Sunshine. Or a really good storm. Beautiful sunsets. All beside the sea (are you sensing a theme here?) clambering around the cliffs or on the beach, taking photos. A good book in my bag and a coffee in my hand.

What is your favourite journey, where in the world would you like to visit ...  

One of the drawbacks of being self-employed is that you forget to take holidays sometimes, so I have not travelled as much as I would like to. I will remedy that. I love wandering around cities with beautiful architecture, history and culture: Florence, NY, London, Barcelona, Berlin, Amsterdam have been favourites. I like people watching, eating, finding cool markets and boutiques and just soaking up the atmosphere. 

What do you most value in your friends ...

Loyalty, intelligence, humour. Good conversation and bad dancing.

What are your favourite words, what are you reading, just now ... 

‘Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same’, from Wuthering Heights.

I love classic literature, and novels set in the past with a gothic air. Anything by Yeats. I’ve just finished ‘Rebecca’s Tale’, a spin-off of the Du Maurier classic. It was beautiful.  

Share some words of wisdom ...

Dreams don’t work unless you do.

.............

Sara, it was a real pleasure to interview you for the Salt and Sparkle q&a.

That's it for now ...

Nics

Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable

Tuesday
Aug112015

How to make Mojitos - summer sipping series

It was a late spring evening, and the trees on Queens Gardens were heavy with blossom.  The air had lost the chill from the North Sea, so prevelant throughout term.  I was going to visit Rocio and Conyers who were having a little party.  The scent of mint floated down the stairwell, making me hurry my steps to get to their flat in the eves.  

I found Rocio in the kitchen chopping and muddling an enormous bunch of mint.  On the stove the contents of a bottle of San Pellegrino were absorbing a cup of sugar.  I asked could I help, I knew we were making drinks but I wasn't sure what kind.

Put to work squeezing limes, Rocio explained to me she was making Moijitos.  The word sounded exotic and exciting.  I had no idea what they were, but I knew if they contained all this mint and lime, I was going to like them.  And, guess what, I did.  I thought they were absolutely delicious.

 Mojito is a traditional Cuban cocktail, made with rum, sugar, lime juice, sparkling water, and mint.  It is punchy and smooth, with a scented kick from the citrus and mint.  Properly made the flavours are irresitiably fresh, fragrant and sharpsweet.

Like all good drinks Mojitos require great ingredients such as this Plantation 3 Stars Rum from Marks and Spencer.   With a bright inviting nose, this rum is fruity, sharp and lingers on the palate.  The blend of three island styles Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad, creates a pleasing sipping experience.  My Bajan friends told me the mark of a good rum is that it can be sipped alone over ice, or made into a cocktail.  The  Plantation 3 Stars Rum from Marks and Spencer has a nose of dried coconut and honey, followed by a soft spice.  One the palate there is a lingerly flavour of fresh cane sugar and honey, with vanilla overtones, it has a zinging floral finish.

 Mojitos can be made with flavoured sugar syrup or muddled fresh mint.  Lime and mint with a very good rum are the stars of the Mojito.

For this cocktail I made a mint sugar syrup by combining 1 cup of caster sugar to 1 cup of water and three cups of chopped mint.  Dissolve the sugar in the water, in a small saucepan over a medium heat then add the mint including the steams, let it infuse over a low heat for 20 minutes, remove from the heat; let cool, strain through a muslin cloth or sieve, and store in an airtight bottle for up to two weeks in the fridge.

Moijitos are a thirst-quenching option for summer parties and can be served in individual glasses, in pitchers or bottles.  

I made several of these bottles in advance ready to offer guests as they arrived.  While making cocktails in front of people is great fun, and in fact a brilliant way to have a party - each guest brings the ingredients for one cocktail - it can be time consuming.  I find it is much better to have the drinks prepared in advance ready to offer guests, then I can relax and enjoy hanging out.

 Plantation 3 Stars Rum from Marks and Spencer has the colour of pale primrose, and creates a golden Moijito.  Marks and Spencer have a great range of artisan spirits which is equally unique and authoritative on the High Street.

Mojito Recipe

makes four drinks

Ingredients

 

Method

 

  1. In a small pitcher combine all the ingredients stirring well
  2. Fill four tall highball glasses with crushed ice - lots of ice, never scrimp on ice
  3. Fill the glasses two thirds full of the cocktail, top with a splash of sparkling water, stir
  4. Serve each glass with a sprig of mint

 

How do you like your Mojito - there are some great combinations out there.

That's it for now ...


Nics

Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable

 

Monday
Feb022015

q&a with Alicia Peyrano of Little Citizens Boutique

It is just wonderful to welcome the beautiful, fabulous, passionate, talented and fantastic Alicia Peyrano to the Salt & Sparkle q&a.  Alicia runs the fantastic award winning children's shop Little Citizens Boutique which is simply a treasure trove of the most beautifully selected and curated children's items.   Primarily an online store, the shop has a premises in Holywood, County Down.  I had the joy of working with the fiercely intelligent and creative Alicia when we both worked in television.  We had some wonderful conversations, packed full of creativity, which I recall with great fondness.  

I can say without doubt Alicia is one of the best people I have ever met, she is a true blue and it gives me great joy to interview her.  You can visit and shop Little Citizens Boutique online, and connect with Alicia on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram.  Welcome Alicia.

Who are you, what’s it like being you …

I am half Argentine, half Venezuelan, and I was born in Boston and moved around a lot so you could say I am a little mixed up. 

Where are you from, where are you based …

I am based in Northern Ireland in a place called Helens Bay. Growing up the last place I imagined I would end up was a suburb, and yet here I am. I've learned to love it, being near the sea is a gift and thanks to the  internet can stay connected with collaborators, friends and customers around the world. 


Talk about your work …

Writing is a passion because it helps me work out the mixed up ideas that populate my mind. If I am lucky, something interesting might come my way. I also absolutely love running my online business, I started Little Citizens Boutique to bring great design to people around the world and telling the stories behind the brands is a big part of that.

We have a very active blog so I get to write a fair bit. I love that the job requires lots of different kinds of skills, that we're constantly making something, whether it's an idea, a parcel or a blog post.. we're even working on our own line, can't say anymore but it's so exciting. It's all part of the same creative process. I would sum it up as: a love for childhood and the joy that comes with it.... Including lifting boxes and wrapping, which by the way is one of my favourite things. I throw myself into it, adding small personal details to try to wow the person who receives it. 


What are your future plans ... 

To continue doing what I am doing for a long time. 

How do you find inspiration, who you are inspired by ... 

All kinds of people and things

Describe your space ...

Colourful, rich and messy!


How are you feeling today …

Super excited about 2015 and the great things we have brewing at Little Citizens Boutique. New products and collaborations that we hope will inspire customers old and new!


A non-negotiable in your life is …

Family and friends and my time with them and having a project on the go.

Most encouraging words you have ever heard ... 

Pretty much anything my mum and dad have ever said. My husband and daughter are pretty good at it too. My daughter bowls me over when she says, “mum thank you for my yummy dinner, you are the best cooker”.


Your work life philosophy is …

Try to make a living doing what you love and love what you do and when that doesn't work, make sure you're always learning. 

What is your favourite smell ... 

The scent of leaves on walnut trees.

Who do you like to listen to, what’s playing just now

 I am listening to Monocle radio and I the Copyblogger podcasts.

Best meal and your favourite three ingredients ... 

I like everything, least favourite meal then is probably liver. Salt, pepper and tomatoes are pretty hard to live without.

Three things or products that have changed your life... 

Getting married, becoming a mum and installing Apple TV.

How do you relax ... 

Cooking and having friends around, going for walks or bike rides and I can't wait for my new scooter to arrive so I can scoot beside my daughter  on the beach all the way to school, work and back.

What makes you happy, where’s your happy place ... 

Family hugs and pulling shapes with best of friends on the dance floor.

What is your favourite journey, where in the world would you like to visit ... 

Japan, Mexico and any road trip in between.


What do you most value in your friends ... 

Their humour, honesty and love.

What are your favourite words, what are you reading, just now ... 

The Obstacle is The Way-- has some great examples of people turning their hard luck around through history.

Share some words of wisdom ...

Recently I read: Stay open, forever, so open it hurts, and then open up some more.” by George Saunders and it really rings true for me.

Alicia, it has been a pleasure to interview you thank you for joining us at our place.

That's it for now ...


Nics

Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable