Browsing Tag



Christmas Gift Ideas: Chic Stationery

December 7, 2018

Evening all!
I hope you’re either tucked up warm in front of the fire or out enjoying some Christmas cheer!
Friday night for us is zone out night. The kids get to stay up late and we take it very easy, just what we all need after a hectic week and an even busier weekend ahead.
Tonight I’m being a little indulgent with this post of nine stylish stationery (and home decor) pieces, I’d happily give and receive them all.
Have a fab weekend! x


Planner diary, Busy B | Glitter pom pom pencil case, Oh Squirrel | Fun print, Hello Geronimo

Jolly good pencils, Oh Squirrel | Pink charging cable, Paperchase | Desktop calendar, Kate Spade 

Gratitude journal, Kikki K | Blah blah blah notebook, Hello Geronimo | Busy agenda, Magpie Decor 


The Real Mama #2 Karen Birnie

December 6, 2018
karen birnie the real mama

Good afternoon! 

Wow, six days in and I’m slacking! Last night whilst dashing between dancing and swimming I thought “you’ll never keep up” and as the tiniest didn’t settle until gone 10 pm, my thought was right! I didn’t get the sixth Blogmas post drafted but instead of beating myself up, here it is now. 

Today is a special day at Promise HQ as our eldest daughter, Safran turns 12 – yikes, that was the fastest 12 years of my life. She has two (yes two!) parties planned for the weekend so tonight we’ll have a few cupcakes and candles before bed to mark the occasion. 

Today’s post is a look inside the world of real mama, Karen Birnie, full time mum to three gorgeous littles, dancer and dance teacher, – you may have seen her recently onstage in Grease at the Grand Opera House. Karen and I went to grammar school together and now our own kids go to school together which is lovely and pretty strange that life has turned full circle there! Long before we were scared first years in our chocolate and magenta uniforms we both went to Mrs Burns nursery, now that is a looooong time ago! 

Thanks Karen for taking part and sharing your thoughts on mamahood with us 🙂 

karen birnie the real mama

Who are you?

Karen, mum of 3 who loves to dance! 

Instagram handle


 Love it or Loathe it?

I love Instagram for what it is, but I hate what is has become…. 

It used to be a place for quick updates on friends/celebs life and general going’s on which was nice to see and usually pretty normal stuff. Now it is flooded with unrealistic lifestyles that no-one really has, leading to people feeling insecure and insignificant because their house doesn’t look like it should, their kids aren’t dressed head to toe in designer gear with Hunter wellies (that look like they have never seen a muddy puddle), and every holiday snap has to look like it’s from the Sandals catalogue. I would love to share our playroom on a daily basis and it doesn’t include a pastel shaded sofa with perfectly lined teddy bears and a dolls house sitting immaculately in the corner… instead…. well you can imagine a playroom of a 6 year old, 4 year old and 11 month old! I also feel a sense of pity for kids that are constantly being staged into a pose to capture the perfect Instagram picture. For me kids should be kids and if the photo means not everyone looking at the camera, someone’s shoes are on the wrong feet and someone’s eyes are closed, well, this is normal. However, that said, I dream of the day we manage to get a nice family photo of us all smiling and looking in the same(ish) direction! But you get the point I am trying to make – let kids be kids. 

Instagram on the other hand is a perfect platform to promote small businesses and ventures like my Dance Fitness. In fact, without it I definitely would not reach as many people as I do for my classes and get the support I do, so thank you Instagram! It also allows me to follow other similar people and with that get inspiration and ideas to keep going. 

In summary I have a love/hate relationship with Instagram and as long as people (myself included) remember to never compare yourself or your life to anyone else it is a nice little social media environment to be on. 

What is your family set up? 

Married for 11 years, with three kids and a dog. 

What do you do for work? 

I manage my dance fitness venture around family life.

Three words that describe your household?

Busy, busy, busy 

Do you think you have a good work/life balance? 

Yes I feel very blessed to have the work/life balance I do. It is like a military operation however ensuring classes are timetabled around school hours etc… but it works and I am fortunate it does and never take it for granted.

How do you manage to work/run a creative business around your kids? 

A very supportive husband, my wonderful mum that goes out of her way to help me, and an amazing wider family always on hand to help if needed. 

Any hard rules you stick to both in work & family life?

If you say you will do something, do it, and do it 100% 

How do you relax? 

What’s that??

karen birnie the real mama

Best book you’ve read recently?

I’m not big into reading and any time I have I like to read with the kids. 

I always hear people say “the book is far better than the film” ….. I’m all about the film with cosy’s on and plenty of snacks! 

Music choices?

Musical theatre obviously and I’m partial to a good power ballad, but I also love classical music and quite happily have Classical FM blasting in my car on the school run…. The lovely ladies who come to my dance classes might question my music taste on occasion and the kids in the schools I am in keep me right with what’s cool and what is not!

Favourite podcasts?

Solid Joys, by John Piper 

How do you and your husband stay connected?

Talk about everything (even the small unimportant things) as well as supporting each other in and through everything we do. 

Style – do you feel you have a signature style?

Does sports leggings, dance tops and trainers count as signature style?!?! If yes, then that’s it. Big fan of Pink Soda and Nike active wear.

Shops you love?

JD sports as it stocks Pink Soda, Zara for both causal and dressy, and I love a dander around M&S at Sprucefield (the food hall, the home section and the clothing) on my own…. Maybe that’s how I relax…?! Should I even admit that! 

Did your style change since becoming a mum? 

I wear trainers even more and heels even less! 

Beauty products you love? 

Tantastic fake tan (medium), Lidl Night Cream and Benefit Bad Gal mascara. 

What family meal is guaranteed to be eaten by everyone?

Traditional roast beef dinner with all the trimmings. That said, I love Christmas dinner and can’t wait to eat it at least three times a week for the month of December, I am not one that tires of the turkey and ham! 

Rainy day survival tactic?

Always carry a hair bobble on your wrist – messy ponytails are always a good option! Or just run…. 

Any mum hacks you couldn’t live without? 

A traditional week to view hard back diary – I love writing lists and scoring things off so this is why I still use the good old diary that actually requires a pen. I am also convinced baby brain is a real condition and if I don’t write things down they don’t happen. 

What one piece of advice would you give to your 18 year old self? 

Sounds cliché but follow your dreams. If you know what you want to achieve go for it and don’t chose to do things because everyone else thinks you should. There is a saying “if you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life” and this is true.  


Christmas Gift Ideas: Slippers with Serious Style

December 4, 2018


From seriously stylish spring weddings yesterday to slippers with serious style today, ha ha, I do like to keep you on your toes!

I don’t think you can go wrong with a pair of slippers (or a scarf for that matter) as a Christmas gift, I buy at least one pair a year from someone on my list. So today as we head further into the week and into Blogmas I’m sharing my edit of the prettiest slippers around! Have a fab Tuesday xx


1. Ivy cloud pom poms, £50, Toms. Toms are stocked locally at Panache Shoe Company, Linen Green, Dungannon.

2. Velvet pom poms, £30, Boden.

3. Finlay fox felt slipper boots, £39, Sew Heart Felt.

4. Boston shearling leather in bordeaux, £115, Birkenstock.

5. Dalmatian mules, £24.95, Joules.

6. Pale pink velvet pom pom, £39, The White Company.

7. Unicorn silver sheepskin, £35, Sheepers. Sheepers are available locally from R.Nook, Linen Green, Dungannon.

8. Grey cable knit, £38, Soho House at Liberty.


(Featured/Main image: The White Company)


15 Scarves for our Irish Winter

December 2, 2018
winter scarves

winter scarves

Hello & welcome to day two of Blogmas!

I’ve got quite the thing for winter scarves – practical and usually colourful they will change the look of your favourite winter coat each year giving it a fresh new look. Yesterday we braved the streets of Belfast to get some Christmas shopping sorted. Well, a shed load of Nespresso pods later, we got home and bar the online orders I was collecting, all I seemed to have accumulated is a giant wish list for myself! Oops, not quite as successful as I’d hoped.

Now onto the scarves – from striped to check, luxurious cashmere to more affordable everyday purchases, scarves make a great Christmas gift for anyone! Have a fabulous Sunday xx


Tasseled colourful stripe, Accessorize | Grey & pink stripe, Avoca | Navy check, Barbour

Grey star print, The Bottom Drawer | Deep grey colour block, H&M | Grey number print, Marks & Spencer

Orange leopard print, River Island | Houndstooth & leopard print, Scotch & Soda | Fuchsia fair isle, Joules



Pastel check, Topshop | Grey stripe, Zara | Traditional check, Jack Wills

Pale grey cashmere, The White Company | Red leopard print, Zara | Charcoal grey cashmere, Silk & Grey


Blogmas #1

December 1, 2018



It’s not very often I post on a Saturday but today isn’t any ordinary Saturday – it is December 1st after all! 

Last week I had an idea, one I really liked the sound of. I have ideas regularly, I am totally an ideas person, most of which never make it out of my brain though! So the idea was to do Blogmas, posting one feature a day throughout December up until Christmas Day – clever or an easy way of watching me fail miserably?! You can decide that, haha.

Yes, December is an incredibly busy month but once the idea was in my head there wasn’t any getting rid of it – dear help me!

I like a challenge, I love ticking tasks of my to-do list so here I am, showing up for Blogmas and telling you all I will be doing this for the next 24 days. Yikes, there’s a good chance I will run out of time but in for a penny and all that… 

So I what can you expect? On the ‘day of the idea’ I had a ten minute brain dump with a coffee, fresh notebook page and a pencil (I love writing in pencil, is it just me?!). The content list is vast and varied. There will be a few special real weddings, as well as other wedding inspiration, bridal fashion trends and my take on some of the best in the local wedding industry.

I’ve a few real mamas to share and you can expect further brain dumps from yours truly as well as my fantasy Christmas wish list (can’t wait to do this one!) and some parenting content. 

2018 has been a real mixed bag here and I feel like I owe it to The Promise to move on from 2018 with a bang – so are you in?

Hope your Saturday is full of cheer, see you tomorrow! Em x