January was endless, but we’ve turned a corner now and, with renewed optimism, look ahead to brighter days. To help perk up your routine, find inspiration in these daily ideas …
February 1: Coming up roses
It’s St Brigid’s day which officially marks the first day of spring. Though it might be a bit late to plant some spring bulbs, this month is the right time to prune or plant some roses and look ahead to brighter days in the garden. I’ve been engrossed in David Austin’s online catalogue and have ordered a fragrant rambler called Cecile Brunner. Alternatively you might like to sign up to the New Moon Blooms flower club to ensure a fresh, fabulous bouquet of ethically sourced flowers delivered to your door. Choose from a monthly, weekly or fortnightly subscription which includes styling tips on how to assemble your bouquets; www.newmoonblooms.ie. If you prefer your roses bottled, then the recent collaboration with perfumer Lucy Hegarty of La Bougie and Dublin salon Mink is for you. The “Modern Rose” collection is a fragrant pick-me-up with body oils, lotions and hand washes costing from €25 to €40; www.mink.ie.
February 2: Work Out What Songs You Loved At 14
A recent study published by Durham university shows that the songs we hear at 14 make the strongest emotional connection and influence your musical taste forever. Academics asked participants in the survey to rate over 100 songs they played from the charts between 1950 – 2015. As a result, a “reminiscence bump” peaked in adolescence around 14. Why not delve into your musical archives – it’s not just a nostalgic activity. The findings also suggest that using musical cues with Alzheimer’s disease might be particularly effective for bringing back memories of childhood. FYI: a favourite song of mine was the kitchen disco classic Boogie Wonderland (by Earth, Wind and Fire); my love of glitterballs, dancing and sequins all makes sense now.
February 3: Stock up on some new books
Three new books by Irish authors published this month include John Patrick McHugh’s Pure Gold – a collection of stories set on a fictional island off the coast of Co Mayo. McHugh has been anointed by Sally Rooney as a brilliant new voice in Irish fiction which is recommendation enough for me. I’ve just finished The Art of Falling, Danielle McLaughlin, €15.70, a beautifully written family drama about betrayal, ownership and creativity. It centres on art curator Nessa McCormack whose marriage is healing after her husband’s affair. Yet Nessa faces more unexpected upset when an old friend exposes a betrayal and two outsiders threaten her professional and private worlds. For some light relief and for fans of Bridgerton, time-travel back to Regency Ireland in Jenny Dempsey’s light-hearted book The Curious Lady’s Guide to Marriage. This includes dating tips, quirky drawing, society gossip with hand-inserted letters, fabric snippets and dried flowers, €28 which includes free shipping anywhere in Ireland; www.prettyinterestinghistory.com.
February 4: Pick Up Your Copy of THE GLOSS!
Enjoy reading the new issue, published with today’s Irish Times, and don’t forget to post your pictures on Instagram tagging us @theglossmag. Also published today is the 25th anniversary edition of Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones Diary (Picador, £14.99).There are bonus extracts from Fielding’s early journalism and musings about Bridget’s relevance in the 21st century. Fielding writes, “Sometimes people claim Bridget was the godmother of chicklit. But the truth is it wasn’t just Bridget or me, it was the zeitgeist. The fictional representation of the single woman had not caught up with reality.” If you’re in an online reading club – perhaps it’s a good time to ask whether men like Daniel Cleaver still exist? How has the world of dating changed? Daisy Buchanan, host of You’re Booked, a podcast dedicated to reading and whose debut novel Insatiable is also published this month, says, “I think it is relevant today, What’s really sad is that we’ve become a lot more earnest and I wish we could learn to laugh at ourselves a little more.” Quite.
February 5: Embrace art
Ellis O’Connell presents her new exhibition “The Family of Things” created before and during the pandemic. This includes sculpture made in collaboration with stone carvers in Pietrasanta, Italy, and a range of innovative works using materials such as steel, bronze, stone and new bio resins. O’Connell explores different material properties to make hybrid organic geometric forms that she carves or constructs by hand. To take a virtual tour visit www.solomonfineart.ie until February 27. There’s also time to take a virtual tour of The Costume Institute’s About Time: Fashion and Duration, which closes on February 7. The exhibition’s designer is Es Devlin who worked with U2 on its Innocence + Experience tour; www.metmuseum.org.
February 6: Dust off the drinks trolley
Some may have been waiting patiently for this weekend, having endured Dry January, so are stocking the fridge and dusting off the bar cart. Why not invest in a Blackwater Tasting Club box, €39.99, or subscribe for six months and get three boxes for €105? Each edition comes beautifully packaged and the February edition features a Blood Orange Gin and the so-called Love Potion No 5 – a bitter-sweet spirit containing pomegranate, saffron, peppercorns, pink roses, citrus peel and cardamon. Members have an invitation for Blackwater Tasters Club – a virtual party with the Blackwater team featuring stories, tastings and demonstrations. Closing date to sign up for the February release is February 9. www.blackwaterdistillery.ie #DrinkResponsibly
February 7: Time for some opera
Wexford Festival Opera has been running an ongoing virtual series of “Sunday Up” performances, which are creative bite-sized performances shared online each Sunday at 5pm. A different artist performs their 15-minute pop-up each week. This evening Anna Brady will perform a selection of witches and magical music, while next Sunday Ava Dodd, has a special Valentine’s day treat featuring well-known French songs and arias. To find out more visit www.wexfordopera.com.
February 8: Start planning your Valentine’s surprises
Even if you are only sending a “galentine’s” card, do make an effort this year – we’re becoming a nation of introverts according to Irish psychologist Anita Coghlan. I recommend two Donegal-based artists. Shelagh Dwyer creates beautiful cards and prints at her Linocut Studio, especially her poetry range (www.linocutstudio.com) while Laura Buchanan has a fun take on Swizzels’ famous Love Hearts – Donegal style (www.laurabuchanan.ie). For something more substantial, sisters Sharon and Paula Fitzpatrick of Fitzers Catering have created a stylish range of hampers under the name The Green Grocer’s Daughter. Ranging from Love Actually (€49.50), Love=Love (€85) to Love Is All You Need (€250), these hampers are a lovely way of showing someone they are in your thoughts; www.greengrocersdaughter.com.
February 9: Celebrate Chinese New Year
Dublin’s Lunar New Year celebrations get underway today, ahead of Chinese new year on February 12. After the tumultuous year of the Rat in 2020, it’s the year of the Ox – the second symbol in the 12-year Chinese zodiac cycle. Apparently the Ox is synonymous with stability, hard work and positivity. To celebrate the Lunar New Year, some of Dublin’s buildings will be lit up in red, while virtual events online include an introduction to Feng Shui, lion dancing, traditional recipes and dishes, a variety show showcasing Chinese and Irish culture, as well as a virtual tour of the National Gallery collection in Mandarin; www.dublinlunarnewyear.com.
February 10: Time to get back to your manuscript
Did you follow Marian Keyes’ online novel writing tutorials covering everything from planning, plot and character development with 500 word challenges? You can double back and check out her homework ideas on her Instagram @marian_keyes. Otherwise sign up for an online course called Booked Out: Finish Your Novel with Conor Kostick, €280 – just one of several at www.irishwriterscentre.ie. There’s still time to polish your first draft as this ten week course begins from March 4.
February 11: Discussing design
Would better design help solve social injustice in our towns and cities? This question, and others, will be explored at a virtual event organised by the Irish Architecture Foundation, at 6pm. Participating is Toni L Griffin, the founder of urbanAC, a New York-based planning and design management practice that works with public, private and non-profit organisations to reimagine, reshape and rebuild just cities and communities. Over the past ten years, Griffin’s practice has worked with several US cities on the cusp of economic recovery including Chicago, St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Detroit. The discussion is part of the IAF’s New Now Next series of virtual talks part of the IAF’s 15th anniversary programme of events. The event is free, but pre-booking is required. www.architecturefoundation.ie
February 12: Say it with flowers – fresh or dried
One of THE GLOSS team’s favourite duos is Steph and Claire of The Crate. They have designed a Valentine bouquet around a soft peach and pink palette with tulips, lisianthus, snapdragons and roses, adding texture with foliage and fluffy pampas grass. Order a bouquet today to ensure delivery on February 14 (from €35 – €55 for nationwide delivery); www.thecrate.ie. Or you could gift a pretty pressed flower frame from glass artist Alison Byrne of WildBird Studio. Marrying Victorian techniques with edgy soldering, her pressed flower frames are custom-made and contain flowers and plants gathered from the banks of the Grand Canal, around Celbridge and Lucan Demesne. Choose from single stems or a mix of flowers. Prices range from Petite €30.95, Small €40.95, Medium €55.95; www.wildbirdstudio.ie.
February 13: Get to the root of the problem
So your hair appointment at Christmas has seen you through January but the roots are beginning to show? Get help from celebrity colourist Josh Wood, whose clients have included Jemima Khan and Elle Macpherson. Wood has an online tutorial on root touch-ups. You can even book a one-to-one video with one of his team of colour experts; www.joshwoodcolour.com. Likewise stylist Nicky Clarke has a YouTube tutorial on how cut your fringe with useful tips including cutting your hair once it’s mostly dry. Don’t try anything without a sharp pair of hairdressing scissors though.
February 14: Time for some stargazing
I’ve been in touch with the experts at the Armagh Observatory and Planetarium who tell me to look out for the red supergiant Betelgeuse sometimes called the Valentine’s Day Star. If it’s a dry night go outside and see if you can spot Betelgeuse, which pulsates in size and brightness (and is located on the shoulder of Orion the Hunter). Some say it is reminiscent of a beating heart. You might also be able to distinguish the bright orange star Aldebaran, “the Eye of the Bull, Taurus”, or the star group called the Pleiades, or Seven Sisters – a fabulous sight in binoculars or a small telescope. There are lots of other bright stars on view, such as Procyon and Capella, and Castor and Pollux, the Heavenly Twins in Gemini; armagh.space.
February 15: Get glowy
Do you have a weekly Zoom on a Monday morning and need to look perky? Two products I swear by: Charlotte Tilbury’s Brightening Youth Glow, a primer that evens out tone and improves luminosity (€48.20 at www.brownthomas.com) and also Trinny London’s new BFF De-Stress Tinted Serum. I recently switched to this in lieu of using foundation and it gives a buildable, breathable coverage, while at the same time plumping and protecting with its hyaluronic acid and innovative NP-TriOX technology. No, me neither, but it does the job perfectly! £39 at www.trinnylondon.com.
February 16: Start the day with some pancakes
It’s Shrove Tuesday. What’s your favourite pancake topping? I’m a classicist preferring a squeeze of lemon and some sugar rather than American-style maple syrup and bacon combos. Make breakfast special – perk up your coffee routine by trying Nespresso’s new Master Origin Organic coffee €6.40, for a sleeve or ten; or go the whole hog and order one of the new Ballynahinch Breakfast Hampers. This includes a box of the hotel’s own blend tea, a jar of homemade granola, a pot of Ballynahinch raspberry jam and two I’d rather be at Ballynahinch mugs. It can be collected or delivered countrywide and costs €40 plus postage; www.ballynahinchcastle.com.
February 17: Watch Behind Her Eyes
Irish actress Eve Hewson stars in this Netflix thriller, which begins today, based on the best-selling book by Sarah Pinborough. The central character is Louise, who since her husband walked out, has made her son her world, supporting them both with her part-time job in a psychiatrist’s office. Louise’s world is thrown off kilter when she begins an affair with her new boss David (Tom Bateman) and matters take an even stranger turn when she’s drawn into an unlikely friendship with his wife Adele (Eve Hewson). What starts as an unconventional love triangle soon becomes a dark, psychological tale of suspense and twisted revelations, as Louise finds herself caught in a dangerous web of secrets where nothing and no-one is what they seem.
February 18: Time for a new candle
I got a press release recently suggesting body shaped candles of the female figure are a trend for 2021, as are “jackpot” candles (which include anything from rings to secret surprises) as well as shell candles. I’m sticking to my tried and tested favourites and probably like you have burned more scented candles and tea lights during lockdown 1 – 3 than at any other point in my life. A current daytime favourite is The Handmade Soap Co’s uplifting Bergamot and Eucalyptus (€15.95); www.thehandmadesoapcompany.ie. In addition, I wouldn’t be without The Shelbourne’s signature candle (made by Cloon Keen) which oozes sophistication (and cedar notes) in the evening, evoking in the process happy memories of visits to the Saddle Room or 1824 Bar, €35; www.theshelbourne.com.
February 19: Order a Food Delivery
It’s Friday which means it’s time to switch off all screens, and enjoy a delivery. My preference would be for an alltaBox, €80, which contains handmade sourdough, charcuterie, freshly prepared pasta and dessert. There’s minimal cooking involved and the menu changes each week. It is available to collect from allta each Friday between 3pm and 6pm, or you can choose to have it delivered: nationwide delivery is available for €8.95; www.alltabox.ie.
February 20: Discover your inner creative
Today there’s a virtual watercolour class with Dutch artist Hoi Shan-Mak at Chester Beatty at 12 noon – one of its many events to celebrate Chinese new year. Participants will learn that bird-and-flower paintings are one of the main subjects of Chinese paintings. By depicting their outer beauty, artists convey subtle messages locked in the language of symbols. Booking is necessary if you wish to participate; www.chesterbeatty.ie. I also recommend MasterPeace Studio’s handy art kits. No, not painting by numbers. Everything you need to complete a beautiful painting arrives by post while a step-by-step video tutorial can be downloaded on a the studio’s mobile app and watched whenever suits. I’ve completed two of the artworks now – a seascape and cityscape – and am hoping to try my had a floral painting next. It’s a mindful way of getting out of a rut in the evening; masterpeace.studio.
February 21: Try an at home spa ritual
Banish the Sunday night blues with some self care. Sinead Duffy, founder of Yogandha oils, endorses the benefits of a warm self-massage. “Derived from the ancient practice of ayurveda, massage has a host of benefits (apart from generally feeling like a goddess). Gently heat some sunflower oil, mix in some Yogandha Relax and massage the warm oil all over the body. You can follow this with a bath or shower.” Duffy also recommends “rolling-on some happy” and explains, “Essential oils such as bergamot and citrus scents are sunshine in a bottle and the perfume helps lift your mood as well as boosting your immune system at a time that that’s very welcome.” Recommended is the set of three rolls to uplift, relax or balance as needed. The oils can also be rubbed directly on your face mask to enhance your mask-wearing experience; www.yogandha.com.
February 22: Visit a virtual auction
Officially starting at 11.30am tomorrow Tuesday, there’s still time to peruse the lots at Adam’s “At Home” online auction and register your interest. These auctions are also previewed on Instagram; www.adams.ie. Do check out some other auctions houses – I find the Sotheby’s website a mine of information on collectors and collections with virtual tours, informative videos and interviews with in-house experts. Check its Valentine’s Day sale (especially the Nike Disco Dancing sneakers). Bonham’s online magazine is also a regular go-to of mine. Do read the Collecting 101 series on ceramicist Lucie Rie; www.bonhams.com.
February 23: Upgrade your tatty trainers
This year expect more subscription shoe services in which your tatty trainers are returned to manufacturers to be recycled while you are issued with a new pair for a monthly fee. The Swiss company On Running is the first to offer this service for its recyclable, zero waste shoe. In the meantime, I’m swapping my trainers for a pair of PUMAs. Its First Mile collection, made from recycled yarn that is manufactured from plastic bottles, has just landed, while the cushiony LVL UP XT, in black and lilac, £75, is guaranteed to put a spring in your step.
February 21: Make a rhubarb crumble
It’s always lovely to spot some bright pink (forced) rhubarb on the supermarket shelves. Though it can be a bit tart, there are plenty of recipe ideas. I like to make a stock syrup and add rhubarb and strawberry (and some sweet geranium leaves) for a versatile compote, ideal for adding to breakfast granolas or as a quick pudding. I’ve dipped into Francis Brennan’s Homekeeper’s Diary where he shares his easy crumble recipe as follows: Mix 150g oats, 125g flour, and 125g butter and rub between your fingers, then add 125g brown sugar, a dash of cinnamon and leave in the freezer for a few moments to come together. Sprinkle over cut rhubarb (chop the stalks into small pieces and remove the toxic leaves). Pop in the oven for 20 minutes at 190C/375F/Gas Mark 5, until brown.
February 24: Discover some contemporary poets
If you loved Amanda Gorman then you’ll enjoy these young poets, who are all under 25. Kara Jackson is the former youth poet laureate of the US whose battle cry is to denounce injustice and inequality. Magnus Dixon, from Scotland, won the Foyle Young Poet of the Year contest and takes his inspiration from the sea; Nigerian Ife Olatona advocates for better education in his homeland and explores the idea of belonging in his poetry. Also check out the Australian Alexa Stevens, who explores womanhood and describes the unease of lockdown.
February 25: Get tapping!
I am a huge fan of the Hayou Method created by Chinese medicine practitioner Katie Brindle, who I believe kickstarted the whole facial gua sha massage trend with her jade plectrums (now replicated by many others and in different ways using rose quartz). If you feel your energy and efficiency flagging, Brindle also believes in the therapeutic powers of pai sha. Tapping the skin on a daily basis helps circulation, supports lymphatic drainage and encourages a smooth flow of blood and qi around the body. If you’re not convinced watch Brindle’s online videos. I’m a convert and regularly use my bamboo body tapper, £28; www.thehayoumethod.com.
February 26: Plan a staycation
As we edge nearer to getting out of Lockdown 3, it’s time to think about an overnight break, if not something longer. In the February issue of THE GLOSS (p36 Cabin Fever), I’ve detailed lots of stylish cabins that can be booked either on a self-catering or bed and breakfast basis – close enough to restaurant facilities while allowing plenty of space for social distancing. I’m hoping to visit the new Pond Suites at Marlfield House, Gorey; www.marlfieldhouse.com.
February 27: Check out the Snow Moon
Some Native American tribes have called this evening’s moon the Hunger Moon, others the Storm Moon. It’s commonly named after the snowy conditions which prevail in February (let’s see if that holds true!). Sea swimmers love to take a dip during a full moon, while Kathy Scott who initiated The Trailblazery, hosts regular Moon Medicine Circles. This is a global community “inviting women to rise and lift each other up along the way.” www.thetrailblazery.com
February 28: Indulge in a pay day treat!
It needn’t be expensive, we know all about restricted budgets. I want to add some much needed colour to my wardrobe. Try HolderEight’s new range of organic cotton sweatshirts which are oversized, perfect for layering, and come in pastels from bleached lilac to raspberry and sun washed lemon. €75; www.holder8.com and www.arnotts.ie.
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