I’d like to go back and do the past few days over again, please!

It feels like we cheated a last few days out of summer with such a late season-trip. Italy always captures my heart (I always find the people to be so warm and inviting, and let’s not even get started on the food!), but being there with some of my favourite people in the world was just about the best thing ever.

Particularly ‘stand-out’ moments?
Eating pineapple and basil gelato. It was *mindblowingly* incredible.
A Sunday lunch of pizzas and grilled octopus salad, eaten in the sunshine on the marina.
A morning stroll to the village to buy fresh fruit for breakfast.
Laying by the pool in late September sunshine.
Discovering lush Italian biscuits called ‘Pan di Stelle’, that are kind of like a cross between Bourbons and Oreos but without the cream filling. I’m obsessed.
Getting chance to expand my Italian vocabulary a little way beyond ‘One scoop of yoghurt gelato in a cup, please’ ;)
Watching bats flying round the piazza at dusk.
Late evening drinks the hotel with Mum and Jason, and finally managing to find a wine I don’t hate the taste of!

Oh and what’s that? Oh yes, watching my darling cousin marry the love of her life was pretty spectacular too, I guess…;) Photos from the wedding day itself to follow in the next few days (just *wait* until you see how beautiful Emily looked! She’ll knock your socks off!) but just for now, here’s the first batch of photos from our time in Sorrento…


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If you’ve not yet come across Hola Irela, you’re in for a treat. Irela’s blog is one of my all-time favourite reads. I discovered it a few months ago, and fell hard for Irela’s wonderfully light and airy photographs, and her blog’s simple, minimalist vibe. She’s also just about the only person who could tempt me into trying vegan recipes, since hers always look so delicious! Irela took some time out to answer a few of my questions, so let’s get to know this wonderful lady and her sweet blog a little better!…

What made you want to start writing a blog? Do you remember the moment in which you fell in love with blogging, or has it been a gradual thing?
I’d been toying with the idea of writing a personal blog for quite some time. In the past I’ve had journals which I guess could be considered “blogs” but I quickly tired of them. I was never really happy with what I was contributing and often felt like it was a waste of time. One night in November last year, I finally took the plunge and decided to start “Hola Irela!”. I made a vow to myself that this blog would be my own little personal haven and that no matter what happened I would always remain 100% true to my beliefs, ideas, words and photos. I can’t wait to look back twenty years from now at my blog to see how far I’ve come and how many obstacles I’ve surpassed.

What three words would you use to sum up ‘Hola Irela’?
Optimistic, Unconditional, Personal


What’s been the best thing you’ve learnt or discovered in the past year?
How strong and self-sufficient I can be.

I moved out exactly six months ago and I never thought I would be able to fend for myself so easily. Being an only child, my parents were always very doting (too doting, really) and therefore I never really had to do much for myself. I always thought moving out would be a long process but I took to my independence quite easily. I wouldn’t have it any other way now. I feel like I’ve finally began to grow up, and being able to chronicle this on my little blog is a blessing.

Where do you take your inspiration from? Is there anything you do to help recover from writer’s (or photographer’s!) block?
I’m inspired daily by the world around me. I love to capture small things that maybe others wouldn’t pay much attention to such as a browning leaf, or patterns on a pretty dish. Photography serves as a way to journal my life, therefore all my photos are in a way small mementos.

I don’t really look for ideas or subjects to photograph or write about, I pretty much just share whatever I happen to come across or seems interesting to me. This really prevents me from suffering from writer’s block. As a result sometimes I post sporadically, but I think of my blog as a personal journal, therefore I don’t really feel much pressure to present content. Not being on a time crunch really helps to make the whole blogging experience a pleasant and enjoyable one.


How long have you and your wonderful man Patrick been together? How did you meet? :)
Patrick and I have been together for nine years, this November 30th will be our tenth anniversary! We actually met online, on a website called DeviantArt. I fell in love with his photography and left a comment on his page once. We shortly began emailing back and forth and a month later we met in person. Luckily we lived really close by! It really was love at first sight, we’ve been inseparable ever since!

Your photography is always so stunning! Will you tell us a little about your process when it comes to shooting, and share a top tip or two?
Thank you so much Rosie! The only requirement I have when I take photos is natural light. It doesn’t matter how great the subject matter might be, without the right lighting it won’t translate successfully to a photograph. I don’t really like to do much processing, I find it tedious and time consuming. I try to always use a 50mm prime lens, because it’s really sharp, lets in lots of light and has great depth of field.

Tips? The ones I live by! Invest in a 50mm lens and shoot in natural light.


What’s made you happiest in the past week?
I went out on a little dinner date with Patrick on Saturday to one of our favorite Japanese restaurants. We hadn’t been on a date in quite some time and it was so nice to sit back and enjoy fancy drinks with my favorite guy. Little dates like that one are good for the soul.

And lastly, you’re from Cuba, right? J What’re your favourite things about Cuban culture? Any wonderful Cuban dishes you feel the world should know about?
Yes I am! My parents and I moved to the US when I was about 8 years old but I maintain a very close relationship with my family still living in Santiago. I might be a little biased here but I love how warm and friendly Cubans are. We really are a fun bunch! In our culture family is extremely important, and we hold our loved ones very close to our hearts. Even though I’ve been raised in the United States I try very hard to make sure I still radiate the warmth and friendliness that characterizes my people.

And the food…oh the food!!! Even though I am Vegan, I still lust after all the Non-Vegan goodies I grew up eating. Everyone surely knows about rice and beans but some of my favorite dishes are Arroz con Pollo (Yellow rice and chicken simmered with beer and chicken stock), Ropa Vieja (shredded beef in tomato-based sauce) and Fufú de Plátano (mashed plantains with pork in a mojo sauce made with olive oil and lots of garlic). And I can’t forget the delicious Pastelitos (puff pastries filled with guava fruit jam or ground beef) and Papas Rellenas (fried mashed potato balls filled with ground beef). When it comes to food I could sit here and write all day!


Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions, lovely Irela! You should know how much it pleases me to have these posts as an excuse for asking questions. I *love* asking lots of questions of people, so this is basically the best thing ever! ;)

Head over to Irela’s blog by clicking *here*, and say hello!

** This ‘Sponsor spotlight’ post is part of the Ultimate Advertising package. If you’d like to learn more about advertising on Cider with Rosie, click here or in the Sponsor tab at the top of the page! The next available Ultimate Advertising package will begin on the 7th January (they’re being snapped up super fast!) so there’s no time to waste in reserving a slot! ;) **

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Captured: On a walk with Ted a few mornings ago, up in the woods near our house.

The Story: I stopped to watch the cows for a bit, and Teddy stopped to watch me watch the cows. I’m not sure if it’s a spaniel thing, but this dog just won’t leave my side when we’re out walking. He’s happy to roam whilst we’re walking (with frequent checks back to make sure I’m still nearby) but as soon as I stop walking he’ll return to my side until I’m ready to head off again. That face above is his ‘Can we crack on now, please?’ face.


Captured: When I was in the midst of my griddled vegetables phase a week or so.

The Story: This is probably my favourite no-carb lunch I’ve made in the past few weeks. Griddled courgettes dressed with olive oil, salt, and fresh thyme leaves, with crumbled feta, mint leaves and balsamic added post-cooking. I love to slice the courgettes thick, so that they retain their bite after cooking. The other story behind this photo is that my iPhone camera won’t focus properly these days, so post-production sharpening is now the name of the game. Sigh.


Captured: At my Mum’s house, a Sunday or two ago. I can’t quite remember.

The Story: This was the first Sunday roast we’ve had in the longest time, and Mum did herself proud. Anyone else totally in love with carrot and swede mash? We talked at length about plans for Christmas this year, reminisced over my Grandma’s inventive cooking skills (she once boiled carrots in orange squash and stuffed a whole fresh sea trout with pickled onions), and flicked our way through various style magazines. Mum tutted at all the outlandish fashion, I got cross with her for tutting, my sister agreed with everything I said because she’s a little sister and that’s just how that works, and Jason ignored us all and read the sports section of The Sunday Times. Now that’s a pretty great family Sunday, if you ask me? :)


Captured: On a spectacularly beautiful day last week, that managed to combine summer sunshine with crisp autumnal air.

The Story: I’d intended to take my proper camera out with me that day to take some photos, and lamented my forgetfulness the whole way round our walk. We haven’t had light that gorgeous since, and I suspect we won’t now for a good few months. Like I said, my iPhone camera is playing up at the moment (though who can blame it, after I’ve dropped and smashed it three times recently) but it still managed to create this kind of awesome light leak that makes it looks as though this sheep’s about to be beamed up. Well done, little phone, great job!


Captured: In my new favourite shop ‘The Ark‘, in a town about twenty minutes outside of Guildford.

The Story: I came across this shop a couple of months ago, and fell for it in a big way. It’s a treasure trove, full of beautiful furniture and homeware sourced from antique markets across France and Eastern Europe. They recently brought in a huge quantity of wonderful old French fruit packing crates, and I couldn’t help but buy a few to put together as a little bookshelf for our living room. I was tempted to buy about twenty crates just for the beautiful old weather wood, to use as photo backdrops and the like. And at fourteen pounds a box, it very nearly happened!


Captured: After a late afternoon, on-a-whim baking session.

The Story: I hadn’t made a plain, all in one cake like this in such a long time, and woke up with the biggest craving for simple cake that morning. I used to make them all the time with my Mum and Grandma when I was little, and the smell of fresh lemon zest and butter just takes me straight back to happy hours spent whilst standing on a stool in the kitchen in order to reach the work surface. This one sunk a little because my neighbour popped round just as I was putting it into the oven and so didn’t notice the temperature was about 30 degrees lower than it should have been, but it still tasted pretty delicious.


Captured: In a moment of green-fingered admiration.

The Story: This cyclamen and its tiny terracota pot captured my heart at the Ark the other day. Isn’t it sweet? Since my herbs are still alive (I’m so proud, it’s embarrassing) I’ve decided to move things on a step, horticulturally speaking, and attempt to keep this little darling going for longer than two weeks. I did as the sweet lady in the shop instructed and soaked it, pot and all, in an inch or so of water as soon as I got it home, and since then have left it fairly well alone. I love its little lily pad-looking leaves, and proudly upright flowers. Keep your fingers crossed for it, please!


Captured: On a drizzly Thursday morning by the canal in Guildford.

The Story: I learnt that day that Teddy’s hatred of birds extends to herons. He thundered down the bank chasing after this one, and had to screech to a stop to avoid falling headfirst into the water. I’m impressed he even bothered to stop, to be honest, since usually he divebombs into every mass of water available. Is my dog learning…self control?! I love his helicopter ears in this photo.


Captured: At the beginning of a long day of work at Jason’s office.

The Story: This is what my plait looked like at about 10 o’clock in the morning, having been done about an hour before. Messy, but still hanging in there. By around 2pm, it was a totally different story. Can someone explain to me why sideplaits have a maximum life span of about three hours? They’re like the mayfly of the hairdo world. This shirt is definitely my new favourite clothing item though. I’m currently fighting the urge to go and buy it in every colour way and pattern available…

Instagram // ‘ciderwithrosiebee’


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Image found via Pinterest, originally from Stylesight.

One of my new year’s resolutions was to wear more yellow, but now it’s winter I think I might just put yellow on a temporary hiatus and replace it with red. I want to wear red lipstick, red nail varnish, and that red jumper that’s been lingering in the back of my wardrobe since last year because it’s just so darn hard to style. Not all together mind you, or I’d run the risk of looking like Mrs Claus.

My red obsession was triggered when I found this gorgeous image (^^^) on Pinterest a week or so ago. I love how pared down the rest of the model’s makeup is, so that the focus is entirely on her beautiful red nails and lipstick. I *never* wear red nail varnish (child-sized nails and grown up colours don’t marry well) but now’s the time to try, I think.

What’s your resolution for the week ahead? :)

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