This is our first of a new series of quarterly newsletters. Our initial issue has a focus on lifting spirits and coping in lockdown. To help with this task, I really wanted to invite three of the inspirational women that I have been encouraged by over the last year to share their thoughts; Becky Cole, Jen Grainger and Chupi Sweetman.
Good Food is a big thing in our house and I love cooking/baking so I have also included a handy muffin recipe and my husband has provided some gardening advice - we're all looking forward to the Spring already!
Also look out for a new product mention (its something cosy), a bit of Irish photography and poetry and remember to grab the discount code at the bottom for your next purchase. If you enjoy our newsetter, feel free for forward it onto your friends and family who can sign up to receive it in future here.
The natural way to get through lockdown
Becky is leading the way in natural living and combines her role as part of the Broughgammon Farm family with motherhood, book writing, herbalism and foraging initiatives and her radio work. Alongside her husband Charlie, her way of living harks back to an era when people were more closely in tune with the land and all of our natural local resources.
In 2020 the global pandemic dramatically changed many people’s mind-sets. Cities have become a little less busy as some people moved away to find a new place in the countryside. Everyone has been craving fresh air and with a lot of the workforce working from home people have looked to the outdoors for peace, escapism and in many cases improved health. With all of us craving a nature link that bit more I thought Becky was the perfect person to ask for tips on how to get through the greyer days of lockdown.
1. Getting out for a walk in the fresh air. It’s so important to my mental health to do this daily.
2.Keeping a nature journal and finding new things to spot in nature like the first snowdrops.
3. Creating my podcast Nature & Nourish helps me to ground myself with the seasons and be more in the moment.
4. My children keep me busy and I love sharing beautiful books with them as well as working in the garden with them.
5. Herbal teas! I love a relaxing blend with organic chamomile to calm the nervous system, boost immunity and help with nodding off at night. I also love nettle too and drink that regularly. You’ll also find jars of mullein leaf and thyme leaf on my shelves at the moment.
Wild foxgloves bloom on a misty morning in Glendun, Spring 2020
Meet the customer with Jen Grainger
Jen is a delight, a warm personality and just the person you want at your bedside when you are at your most vulnerable. I asked her a few questions about coping with changes at work and the impact of the pandemic.
We have been offering discounts to health service staff throughout the current pandemic as a small gesture of our appreciation to them. So, for our first newsletter I thought it would be great to speak to one of our customers working in the health service.
2020 was a year that reminded everyone how vital our health service is. I was incredibly grateful to the midwife and her colleagues that delivered our baby back in April. Although it was not my first baby the pressures on the health service at the time made me feel really anxious and my mind was really put at ease when I went into hospital by the kindness and professionalism of my midwife.
Jen ~ I am originally from the North Coast of Ireland but currently I live in the Warrington, England with my husband and our two daughters, Violet and Peggy.
I am a staff nurse in the children's hospital in Manchester. I only work part-time so love getting into work for my shifts and being practical. I look after children on long-term ventilation, getting them and their families ready for home. At the beginning of the pandemic, all staff on our ward were in full PPE (personal protective equipment) all shift, which was very intense, especially as we couldn't drink except for breaks.
Now we only keep the mask on all shift (apart from eating on breaks!) and utilise all other PPE when undertaking cares, which allows for some break. Our families on the ward have been locked down throughout too, separated from their wider family and support networks in already trying circumstances, which has put the last year in perspective for me. We as a team, do what we can to protect the patients and their families and have tried to keep fun on the ward where we can safely and appropriately.
My daughters are able to access school on the days I work, which is a massive help and gives them a bit of routine. I enjoy our homeschooling days, but am quick to acknowledge that this is because they're 7 and 9 and are pretty much self-sufficient!! I sometimes add in lessons to keep my own interest and sanity, counteract session upon session about the Stone Age with learning about Rosa Parks and Jane Austen!
Whenever it seemed like everyone else was bulk buying toilet paper last March, I started hoarding skin care and have enjoyed popping on a face mask when I get the chance!
“The Heart of the Woman”
O what to me my mother's care,
The house where I was safe and warm;
The shadowy blossom of my hair
Will hide us from the bitter storm.
Interview with Chupi Sweetman (@chupisweetman / @chupi)
Whilst leading her team to a new style of work during lockdown, Chupi also became a mother for the first time. I ask Chupi how this all felt for her ... newborns can be just as demanding as businesses.
Chupi uses her personal Instagram account to honestly discuss her journey to motherhood, and to share her elegant fashion choices and give us an insight into her Irish townhouse home life.
I first came across Chupi’s business a few years ago and I was immediately drawn in; to the beauty and individuality of her jewellery as well as her personal sparkle! It’s highly evident that Chupi Sweetman pours herself into her business, heart and soul.
2020 was a big year for you as you became a mother to Aya, how would you describe the impact of that on your life?
2020 was nothing like I had imagined, but Aya’s arrival brought us so much joy. Brian & I are so utterly in love with her. Whilst the world was in tumult we were at home with Aya, we missed our friends & family but the lockdowns gave us such precious time together as a little family.
I think Aya’s arrival reaffirmed so many of the choices I have made over the last few years. I quit my job in fast fashion to make heirlooms, hugely inspired by Brian proposing. I remember the first time I wore my engagement ring I knew I was wearing a piece of the future, that one day my daughter would wear my ring. That’s ten years ago but meeting my daughter it all made sense.
How did you adapt your business during lockdowns? (It’s been a tough year for everyone.)
Like so many 2020 was a challenging year for us at Chupi. We had to close our beautiful store three times, change how we cared for our incredible customers and re-imagine how we worked as a team. Leaving our studio in March I couldn’t have imagined how hard nor how inspirational it would be. My team have been my heroes, working from home they delivered brilliant innovations from virtual consultations where our international customers could still see their diamonds to new launches. The kind of change that usually happens in years happened in months and they did it with joy.
Do you have a mantra for 2021? (Business/personal)
I know some people don’t like resolutions, for me I love to have a plan as I believe you won’t get to where you want to go without a map. I use a combination of dreaming big and setting plans for the year ahead. 2021 looks set to be another unusual one I have so many hopes for things getting better with a return to normal and I’m so excited to see what comes!
We have some exciting news on a new range coming to Bramble Green in 2021!
During lockdown everyone was spending a lot more time at home and looking for ways to bring their own style and add comfort to their favourite rooms. We've been asked a lot over the years whether we could do blankets or throws for customers, are are glad to say this new product will be coming to the shop in March.
We'll be receiving our first batch from Donegal in the next month. The new home range will be based on our usual earthy and coastal palette, and all made with 100% wool.
Chocolate Chip Muffins for everyone
(easy to bake with kids)
In many ways I am an old fashioned baker as I like simple recipes that are easy to whip up. We are big into mid-morning treats in our house too. I always think if you have a treat at this time of day you will burn it off – (as opposed to puddings after dinner). Not sure if my philosophy is exact but that’s the time of day we like to enjoy our treats.
If you want to make this recipe gluten-free just change the flour. I do find gluten-free flour can be drier and sometimes you need more butter to help with that.
The ingredients you will need:
250 g of Self Raising Flour
120 ml Milk
100 g Caster Sugar
2 Large Free Range Eggs (they make everything taste fresher)
150 g butter (I actually like using salted but most recipes say unsalted)
100 g chocolate chips (swap for white chocolate if you want)
50-70 g of good quality Cocoa powder (go for more if you like a darker chocolate flavour or leave out altogether for a white sponge with chocolate chips).
Preheat oven to 180 Degrees C or gas mark 4.
I often bake with the kids as they enjoy it and I find it really good for their fine motor skills. My little girl Beau was cracking eggs when she was two.
Cream butter and sugar together until pale in colour.
Add in the 2 eggs and continue beating until the mixture is light and fluffy
Separately stir the Cocoa powder in with the flour, then fold into the mixture whilst gradually adding the milk. (If you think you need more or less milk just gauge it as you want a relatively gloopy batter – not too dry in other words).
Have your muffin tin ready by using either muffin liners or bun cases and use two dessert spoons to scoop the batter in. (We made 12 with this recipe).
Put in the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until you think they are ready – check at about 15 minutes. Every oven is a bit different and you don’t want them to go to dry.
Sprinkle with a little icing sugar if you fancy when they cool and eat! The kids like a glass of milk with their muffin and in our impatience we do tend to eat them when they still have some of the oven heat and the chocolate chips are melting.
Gardening Advice: Lavender
My husband loves to garden when he gets time off. I asked him to share some tips with us from years of trial and error.
Alex ~ Lavender is one of my favourite plants. We grow a lot of it in box hedges which gives colourful structure with little maintenance, and the bees love it.
⚘ If you want huge lavender plants, look for a variety called Grosso (Lavandula x intermedia 'Grosso'). Some of ours grow to 5 foot tall, with masses of flower spikes. You can order it online or look out for it in supermarkets (garden centres tend to stock more traditional, compact varieties).
⚘ English lavender will come back year after year, but the French variety, whilst more decorative, is more cold sensitive and I find will struggle to make it through Winter.
⚘ I have bought many unusual colourful lavenders over the years (pink, white - there is even yellow). In most of the UK & Ireland I would only buy them if you are happy to consider them an annual.
⚘ You should prune lavender back by cutting off the flower spikes at the end of its growing season, but before it becomes frosty.
⚘ If you cut the flower stems in Spring, you will normally get a second flush of growth later in Summer. Claire loves to cut our first growth back and fills the house with dried bunches of lavender, which smell great and will last until the next Spring.
Take 10% off any items ordered this month
Use Discount Code NEWSLET at checkout
(*Valid until 28 Feb 2021)