celebrating style
Interior
Interior

Sew surprising

Who doesn’t like a surprise? One of my favourite childhood birthday party games was ‘pass the parcel’, passing a parcel wrapped in multiple layers of paper from party guest to party guest until the music stopped and whoever was left holding it, removed a layer. This continued until all the layers were removed and the guest who removed the last one kept the gift inside.

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Interior
Interior

Colour me Brave

There’s comes a point in your life when you cross over that threshold of doing what is expected, what is predictable and instead veer into the territory of doing whatever the hell you want, when you want, and you refuse to be a slave to social norms any longer or to care about whether people think you’ve lost the plot. That point with me happened 10 years ago when I decided on a whim to dye my previously always highlighted hair red.

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Objects
Objects

Restorative powers

I think I mentioned in a previous blog post that I bought a little sketch at one of the online auctions a few weeks ago. I hadn't intended to buy it, in fact I hadn't even noticed it when perusing the catalogue but as I was waiting for some of the lots that I was actually interested in to come up, I was keeping an eye on the bits in between and suddenly this little sketch appeared. It's by Mildred Anne Butler, a very well-known late 19th/early 20th century Irish artist, and the simplicity of it and of course the subject (a cat stalking some crows) appealed to me so I bid on it and got it.

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Musings
Musings

Variety is the spice of life

Sometimes we all worry far too much about what others think. There was a time when I certainly did, before I got over myself and realised that variety is the spice of life and doing things differently, liking things that others don't and, crucially, being brave enough (or unbothered enough) to admit it, is actually very satisfying and quite empowering.

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Musings
Musings

Rose's garden

The sweet peas are climbing up the trellis now, their tendrils reaching out to the wooden supports like the hands of a drowning man towards his rescuer. The plants are stronger than last years. Last year’s sweet peas were grown from seeds I harvested from the plant outside my Dad’s hospice room in the autumn of 2019, intending to grow them in his memory. And I did. They produced two small crops of pale purple blooms in early summer, just enough to fill a tiny Ikea bud vase. But having those two little crops was enough for me. After that they struggled against an attack of green fly and I suspect root rot, their lower leaves turning yellow. Even the ladybirds that I lifted over from the roses to feast on the green fly showed no interest at all and migrated back across the garden to the more attractive plants.

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Musings
Musings

Living in the moment

I've been fortunate enough that my ancestors cared enough about history to preserve and hand down many family objects and papers and so I have become a bit of a custodian over the years. This has its benefits - being the introvert and ponderer that I am, I love conjuring up the past and imagining what people were doing, how they dressed, what their circumstances were, what houses they lived in, where these objects that I now have were placed in those houses, where they sat when writing the letters that I now have in my possession, were they surrounded by gaggles of children, were they in a quiet room with just a clock ticking in the background, was there joy in their every day or did they suffer hardship, loss, illness?

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Food
Food

Friday Fregola

Well, it's Friday and the sun has shone all morning bringing back memories of my second home, Italy. I was due to do an Italian food collaboration today on Instagram so I had been considering what Italian dish I might cook. I had a few in mind but when I was outside in the garden in the sunshine, I felt I should do something fairly summery and yet that is a little different. So, I decided to pay a lunchtime visit to Sardinia (food-wise obviously) and make fregola with pancetta, pecorino and mint.

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Objects
Objects

No Cash No Attic

Having been able to do very little over the past year in the way of travel or eating out or going to concerts, theatre or cinema, and not even spending very much money buying new clothes or shoes, I jumped on the laptop last week and thought I'd have a little fun bidding on a couple of small items in an online auction.

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Musings
Musings

New Horizons

My beloved Dad, who I realise that I very frequently reference in my posts, probably because his loss a year and a half ago is still very real to me, loved the fact that I loved to write. When I was a tortured teen, sitting in my room, eschewing much of the then current music for the more sophisticated and cerebral musings of Bob Dylan and Neil Young, I also wrote a lot of poetry. Let's be very clear, it was, as you would expect, navel-gazing nonsense.

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Interior
Interior

Working 9-5

Having five people, all home-working/schooling, in our small coach house has been a challenge over the past year and it got even more challenging when our eldest finished university and started her graduate trainee programme after Christmas. While she considers her future living arrangements and saves some money to facilitate a mortgage or rent, she's working from her small bedroom and that is a challenge with the amount of stuff she has, not least the hardware needed for her job - two monitors, laptops, speakers etc. So, in an effort to make the space a little more conducive to work, my husband decided to build her a desk.

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Objects
Objects

The certainty of chance

I don't know whether it's just lockdown messing with my head or whether there's something more spooky at play but there have been just a few too many coincidences in my life recently.

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Garden
Garden

Magnolia magic

I was delighted to see my magnolia tree covered in blossoms this week, possibly the finest crop that it has had for several years. And while googling magnolias and how to care for them (because we've never done anything with this tree), I happened upon a recipe for pickling magnolia flowers! Wait! What? Magnolia flowers are edible? I stopped in my tracks and, forgetting entirely about the care of the tree, I started investigating the flowers instead.

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Musings
Musings

Out of the shadows

We have a little wrought-iron railing feature above our front door that was last painted when we renovated the house 11 years ago. Last weekend we decided to give it the attention it deserves and my husband set about stripping the paint from it, layers upon layers.

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Objects
Objects

Old Style

I've been fortunate enough to inherit a lot of old books from relatives and I admit that many of them simply sit on my bookshelves gathering dust. Let's be honest, I'm unlikely to ever need to know about the anatomy of the frog, to take an example of a book that I came across recently. Interestingly, that particular book belonged to a former President of Ireland who was in university with my grand uncle and of course there's a story to go along with it, so indulge me for a minute while I go off on a bit of a tangent.

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Musings
Musings

Aldi to the rescue

The highlight of my week was a trip to the supermarket! There, I've said it! Yesterday one of my friends told me about the superb red wine she had got in Aldi for just €9 and recommended I check it out!

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Objects
Objects

Occasionally Perfect

As a child, I was always impressed by the love and care that my mother put into occasions, beautiful gift-wrapping, incredible birthday parties, hand-painting posters for an art’s group that she was a part of to advertise events they ran, creating exceptional fancy dress costumes for an annual fancy dress ball that my Dad’s Rotary Club held for charity each year. The list goes on. Each task was undertaken with such flair, imagination and attention to detail. The phrase “It’s good enough” was never in my mother’s vocabulary.

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Interior
Interior

Light Relief

I live in a pretty, coastal area of County Dublin. During lockdown this has meant that a lot of people have flocked here to use the amenities of the area so during the day the pavements are pretty busy with people walking and jogging. In order to maintain social distance, you quite frequently find yourself having to hop off the pavement and walk in the cycle lanes. It doesn’t make for a very relaxing experience. As a result, therefore,I have been going out very late at night for a long walk instead. It’s lovely and peaceful, there is virtually no traffic, no bicycles and you can walk along the pavements without constantly side-stepping other pedestrians, checking for cyclists etc.

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Garden
Garden

In League with Ivy

I’ve a bit of a love/hate relationship with ivy. I find it an attractive-looking plant. I mean who doesn’t find an ivy-clad old building or tree charming? I am drawn towards houses whose facades are heavy with ivy. There is something so inviting about them. However, there is another side to ivy that is less charming...

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Interior
Interior

Substance over Style

I wrote recently about the fact that I love quirky, characterful, old houses and it's true, I do. But I wouldn’t say that I am entirely faithful to them. I have also longed to build a house, one that is laid out on different levels thereby providing lots of interesting spaces to hide away and listen to music or read, and with lots of window seats. I love houses that surprise you at every turn.

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Musings
Musings

Pet Love

As I observed one cat looking in my bedroom window, one cat waiting to be let out my bedroom door and one dog observing the two cats this morning, I knew exactly what today’s blog would be about…

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Food
Food

Have no fear, Kefir is here

My first real introduction to Kefir was five years ago. I had heard of it but never seen it, let alone tried it. It wasn't readily available anywhere in Ireland that I knew of apart from the very odd health food store.

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Musings
Musings

Do not disturb

Close to the northern end of the magnificent Boyne Viaduct in Drogheda, there’s an historic, and now decommissioned, cemetery, the Cord* cemetery, that dates back to the 13th century. At its south-western corner, where the Cord Road meets Thomas Street, you can barely differentiate a patched-up portion of the old cemetery wall from the rest, due to many years of weathering and other repairs. It’s at that very spot, on the other side of the wall, that a very large, very old tree stood almost eighty years ago.

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Interior
Interior

Creative Spaces

I’ve always been drawn to quirky, old houses, ones with charisma and charm. The oddities about such houses that would drive a lot of people bonkers - sloping ceilings, odd-shaped spaces, creaky floorboards etc, I find strangely appealing. I’ve also always liked manageable houses. I’ve never craved anything ostentatious, or large and unwieldy, and I actually enjoy making the most of a modest space. It forces you to be creative and imaginative. And, of course, there's nothing I love more than a challenge.

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Musings
Musings

The Cleanager

We have the best chats in our house, although generally when we start chatting, I get carried away with stories and my daughters think I’m certifiably mad. Take last weekend.

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Objects
Objects

A Glass Act

During our first lockdown my middle daughter discovered a series about glass-blowing on Netflix and thought I might like to watch it. We did and we were both completely captivated. I love competitions –the Great British Bake-off, the Great Sewing Bee...

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Objects
Objects

My Santa List

I’ve been hosting a 10-day Instagram challenge this week where people put up photographs each day that fit the day’s theme. I came up with the challenge because I am interested in people and in what makes them tick and of course I was also hoping that some of the items would have an interesting back story. One of the themes I chose was ‘favourite kitchen implement’ and one of my friends posted a photograph of a dough scraper...

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Objects
Objects

Celebrating Style Instagram Challenge

We all have our own individual tastes, we all appreciate different things, we all notice different things, and all these combine to give each of us a unique style. That’s what makes us interesting and that’s what Whistle + Whisper is all about.

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Musings
Musings

It Makes Scents

I’ve got a great nose. No, I don’t mean in the literal sense, although, to be fair, it doesn’t embarrass me. What I mean is that my sense of smell is really good.

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Food
Food

Grab a Gözleme

If you've ever been to Turkey, you'll very likely have eaten or at least seen these stuffed flatbreads.

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Musings
Musings

All you need

Love! It’s all you need, according to The Beatles. It will find a way, so says Lionel Richie, and a few other people.

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Objects
Objects

Shed some light

On my bedside locker, I have what I originally thought was an ancient candle-holder but that it turns out, after some research, is what is known as a wax jack.

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Food
Food

Tea style

I was never a big tea-drinker although tea featured at breakfast and tea in our house. Tea, just to clarify for any non-Irish out there, as well as being a beverage was a meal that was traditionally eaten at around 6pm as distinct from the main meal of the day called lunch.

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Interior
Interior

Sleep on it

According to whatever Google search result you want to believe, we spend between 26 and 33 years of our lives in bed!

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Musings
Musings

The truth of the matter

I was struck by the words of a commentator on TV last night, I paraphrase ‘let’s be clear, Donald Trump is an egotist. Egotists push their agenda all the time. They never believe they are wrong. They rely on lies’. If there’s one thing I cannot abide it’s a liar.

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Objects
Objects

Red letter day

Call me old fashioned but doesn’t everyone like to get a nice, colourful envelope in the post? Emails, whatsapps and snapchats just don’t cut the mustard at all. Similarly, a Zoom call is hardly a substitute for meeting someone in person.

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Musings
Musings

House of Horrors

I’m pretty good at interpreting myself. By that I mean working out why I do things certain ways or what has caused me to have particular quirks.

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Food
Food

Kinda Paella

This is the perfect dish when you’ve got a gang of friends around. An easy supper for when the world opens up and...

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Interior
Interior

Out with the Old

I thoroughly recommend enlisting the assistance of a teenager when trying to declutter. They are ruthless, unsentimental and cut through the nonsense.

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Musings
Musings

Find Your Passion

Show me someone who doesn’t have a passion and I’ll show you someone who doesn’t have a soul. To be passionate is to live.

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Objects
Objects

Cut From The Same Cloth

Many years ago, two great friends joined forces to protect one of the Boyne Valley's traditional crafts, weaving, by saving the Irish Tapestries factory. One of those friends came from several generations of skilled weavers...

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Food
Food

Warm Prawn and Mango Salad

I chucked these ingredients together one day when I happened to have some fresh prawns and not a lot else except a mango and some rocket. It was a triumph and I'm addicted to the combination.

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Food
Food

My secret (not any more!) pork burger

Taking some inspiration from the German Frikadellen (which use bread in the recipe) and Italian meatballs (which use parmesan), over the years I have come up with my own favourite combination of ingredients. This burger is very different from the more dense, meaty, beef burger...

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Food
Food

Produce with Passion

There’s nothing as heart-warming as seeing people making a success of a passion.

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Places
Places

The Great Escape

The pre-20th July travel restriction lifted and I jumped onto Airbnb and booked a house on the Beara Peninsula. We like wilderness, our city children maybe not so much, but after enduring lockdown and restricted movement in suburbia for over four months, we craved ruggedness. 

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Food
Food

Tart with Heart

I really don't bake apple tart enough. It's the ultimate comfort food and in the Ireland of my youth, every mother and grandmother had her own unique recipe...

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Interior
Interior

Mirror Mirror on the Wall

What is a home without mirrors? Not only are they functional, look attractive and furnish a wall but they give the illusion of space, bounce light around a room and create moods, depending on what is reflected in them...

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Garden
Garden

Winter Wardrobe

As most of the garden goes to sleep for the winter, this plant, Fatsia Japonica, summons up all its energy to produce these striking flowers. They remind me of fireworks.

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Interior
Interior

The personality of the past

I believe that character and stories are the cornerstones of good design and style. The objects that I have accumulated over the years remind me of a time, a place, a person, a feeling and the more functional, modern necessities around our house serve as the perfect backdrop to showcase them.

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Objects
Objects

Pen people

Pens are much like people. Give me a good, honest one that won’t let you down, that does what it says it will do, that you don’t need to shake for it to work, that doesn’t run out of ink halfway through your signature or, worst of all, leak in your bag or pocket.

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Interior
Interior

Finding Your Style

Art, furniture, soft furnishings, floor coverings, objects and light - all these need to be carefully curated to make a house a home and more than that, to create an individual home. While an interior designer can do it for you, it's so much more interesting to learn how to do it yourself and, above all, to trust yourself. 

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Musings
Musings

It started with a scarf

Having time (and peace and quiet) is often when one is least productive. Covid-19 happened and then lockdown and I half formulated all sorts of plans, things I had been wanting to do for ages and never had the time to do...

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