A Walk in the Park and So Much More

Phoenix Park Farmleigh

Last week I put together a post for Conde Nast Traveler about Phoenix Park here in Dublin and I was reminded of just how amazing it is. Phoenix Park is one of the largest in-city parks in Europe, has a herd of wild deer (!), the Dublin Zoo, the President’s house, Victorian gardens, monuments, a castle…the list is so long. It’s a popular spot for locals to run and cycle and bring their children, and it’s a great option for visitors to escape the busy city as well.

You can have a lovely virtual visit to Phoenix Park in my post on Conde Nast Traveler.

All photos by Julie Matkin.

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Delightful Dublin Postcards Available Now!


Exciting news today! We’ve put together the perfect stocking stuffer for the Irish-at-heart on your holiday list: Delightful Dublin postcards! Six beautiful photographs from the Delightful Dublin guide, with little postcard markings on the back.

Since Delightful Dublin is a digital guide, we knew we wanted to have something physically printed to go along with it and show off Julie’s gorgeous images of the city. This way, if you’d like to order Delightful Dublin as a gift to give to someone, you can have something physical to give them along with the digital download. They come all wrapped up, and shipping anywhere in the world is included, just in time for the holidays.

You can purchase a copy of the guide (for yourself or as a gift) and a pack of postcards for a discounted price. If you’re ordering Delightful Dublin as a gift, send me an email and we’ll help you with the surprise details for the recipient!  delightful_dublin_postcards_2

You can see all the designs there – the War Memorial Gardens, Georgian doors, the General Post Office and even a little shot of gorgeous Howth. I might be biased, but I think they’re so modern and fresh – unlike any postcards I see around the city!

Of course, these little postcards don’t have to be put in the mail, they’re perfect to frame and hang on your wall, too!

You can purchase your postcard pack here, and all orders will ship December 1st, just in time for the holidays!

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DIY Velvet Ribbon Magnets


At the moment our magnet boards in the kitchen have more magnets than things to hold up, but after living without a magnetic fridge for four years, magnets feel like a novelty so I’ve been hoarding them. And these are probably the cutest DIY magnets I’ve made yet. They take all of ten seconds to complete, and you only need two supplies and two tools!


Here’s how to make your own. You’ll need:

  • magnets or magnet tape
  • velvet ribbon
  • scissors
  • hot glue gun

Start by cutting your velvet ribbon into sections. You’ll need a one-inch strip and a two-inch strip for each ribbon. Then use sharp scissors to cut out a little triangle section on each side of the two-inch piece.


Add a dot of hot glue on the back of the longer piece, then wrap the short piece around so it meets in the back.  diy_velvet_ribbon_magnets velvet_ribbon_diy

Then simply attach your magnets with a little more hot glue, and you have DIY magnet ribbons!  DSC_0009 Aren’t they sweet? (And a little Colby College pride from a wedding last summer. Miss those friends of ours so much!)

Am I the only one cluttering up spaces with magnets?

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Delightful Design / Sleep at 31 Leeson Close

At the very end of October, which feels like eight million years ago already, Michael and I had the pleasure of staying in the city centre at 31 Leeson Close for the night. I had been meaning to get to 31 Leeson Close, a boutique guesthouse in an old Georgian building, for months. I could tell from photos online that the design was extra cool and in person it did not disappoint.  31_leeson_close_dublin_boutique_hotel

Somewhat counterintuitively, you enter through the back of 31 Leeson Close, and cross the courtyard to get to the rooms in the main house. The reception area has this amazing sunken couch with a fireplace and whitewashed stone walls and slatted wooden ceilings. Basically, I wish this was my living room. Next time, we’ll stay the whole weekend and I will spent one whole afternoon reading the fun coffee table books by the fire on that cosy couch.


The main Georgian house is a cool combination of original period details and modern, vibrant furnishings. Would you look at the tile floor in the entryway?  dublin_hotel_31_leeson_close 31_leeson_close_dublin_hotel

The one thing we really didn’t account for during our stay was the Dublin Marathon. Having never seen the Dublin marathon in person, Michael and I didn’t realize that the starting point was RIGHT outside our window! We may have been cursing the darn marathon at 5am when they were scraping those metal barriers all around, and then again at 7am when they were testing the loudspeaker system, and then one more time at 8am when the marching band started tuning up, but by 9am when the race started all was forgiven.  dublin_marathon_view

I don’t think I ever want to see another marathon again in my life unless I’m watching it from four stories up against a backdrop of Georgian doors. I’ve been properly spoiled. I gushed about it all day – what a rush hearing all those footsteps pounding by! And man, runners be loving them some neon this season.



Phew, anyway, post marathon we walked back across the courtyard for breakfast in the sweet breakfast room.  dublin_boutique_hotel

More whitewashed stone walls and slatted wooden ceilings, hot pressed coffee, berries and granola, fresh eggs Benedict. We nearly had to be dragged out of there! dublin_bed_and_breakfast_option

Not that I’m in the market for another big birthday celebration, but that room would be superb for an intimate dinner party celebration. Michael’s already been informed I want this on the short list for the next time I turn 30.

31 Leeson Close / Dublin 2 / www.number31.ie

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12 Hours in Glasgow, Scotland


A few months ago, when Michael got his basketball schedule, we both panicked a little. Every year when the season starts, we realize we have just a handful of weekends between September and April to escape. This year, we decided we’d book a few trips with the weekends we knew we had free. We’re going to Barcelona in December, possibly Croatia in the spring, and then we had this weekend with one day free for which Michael found €20 flights to Glasgow. So we went to Glasgow for the day!

It wasn’t our most amazing trip, but we had a nice day together and enjoyed a break from the daily distractions we’d normally have if we were at home. We left our car at the parking lot at the airport for €7 for the day, and took the 40 minute flight over. My friend Julie went to university there, so she gave us some recommendations for exploring the city. And another friend pointed us to a Glasgow-based blogger who had just done a post on coffee shops. Between those two, Michael made a plan and I went along for the ride!


When we arrived at the airport, we took a twenty minute bus into the city. We were trying to wrangle our way onto a tour of the city train station, but it was booked…until January. No luck there! So we headed straight for our first of several coffee stops of the day!  mccune_smith_cafe_glasgow

I think McCune Smith might have been my favorite stop of our visit. It’s a cafe named for James McCune Smith, a famous abolitionist and the first African American to earn a medical degree – from the University of Glasgow! I loved learning about his life and I loved the front of the cafe. I didn’t love my sausage roll (literally just sausage on a bread roll – where are all the other ingredients?!), but I loved my coffee enough to make up for it. Michael ordered porridge with blueberries and I had breakfast envy. mccune_smith_cafe_glasgow_coffee_shop

After caffeine, we walked over to the GOMA – the Gallery of Modern Art and explored the four floors of exhibitions after stopping, of course, for a quick selfie in the jaggedy mirror in the lobby.  glasgow_selfie

I was fairly obsessed with this stunning open balcony that ran throughout the gallery and was wallpapered with a custom design based on the idea of bravery. It was beautifully graphic and I wish somehow my future home can have iron railings and wallpaper like that.


Our second favorite in the GOMA was this exhibition by Nathan Coley called the Lamp of Sacrifice, 286 Places of Worship in Edinburgh. He recreated all of the places of worship from the yellow pages using cardboard. I could have stayed for hours (and taken a lot more photos) but there was a very strange security guard walking very quickly and loudly around in circles and messing up the vibe.  glasgow

Next, we went over to the Lighthouse, a huge gallery and exhibition space that was, unfortunately, mostly closed because of a wedding. So Michael and I did what most normal visitors would do and totally broke the rules and snuck up to the top of the building to see the view! I paid for our crime in serious overexposure of the Glasgow skyline.  glasgow_skyline

For lunch, we stopped at Riverhill Cafe where Michael had the coolest salad that I’m dying to recreate – brussels sprouts, kale, roast pumpkin, cranberries, bacon and chestnuts!

Then we headed over to the west side of the city on the Clockwork Orange circular subway tube. It was just as teeny and loud as we had heard! We had a few museums and more coffee stops planned on the west side of the city. We started with the Kelvingrove Gallery and Art Museum and it was categorically the weirdest museum I’ve ever experienced. I think the curator was likely on psychedelic drugs when he or she designed the sequence of exhibitions. It was a free for all! One minute you’re in the jungle, and the next minute you’re in 19th century Scotland. Michael wanted to see a propellor plane in one section, which turned out to be suspended over a bizarre selection of safari animals. And all the while, there was a man giving a live organ concert that resounded throughout the building. It felt like the twilight zone. But! It was free, as are all the museums in Glasgow, which was great.  emily_glasgow

And here is where the photographic evidence of our trip abruptly ends because it started pouring rain. We braved it to walk over to Glasgow University and actually caught part of their graduation! We enjoyed the museum at the university and learned a lot about gems and magpie nests (did you know they use coat hangers and things?), but once we left, it was just too soggy to explore much more. We hunkered down in Artisan Roast (another awesome hippy coffee spot) for a while, and then hunkered down at Thai Siam (not inexpensive, but seriously good Thai food), and then hunkered down for the long haul in a pub to watch the Scotland rugby team (and also the people watching the rugby team – some in kilts).  glasgow_university

And that, my friends, is 12 hours in Glasgow. Four museums, three coffee shops, a graduation, some green curry and a rugby match. Needless to say we were exhausted when we got to the airport!

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Irish Makers at Work / Claire Ryan of the Informal Florist

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It’s time for another instalment of my collaboration with talented photographer Christine Burns today. This time, we get to have a reunion with the Informal Florist! Doing this interview was so fun, because the last time I featured Claire on my website was when I interviewed her for Poppytalk over two years ago!

I’ve been the recipient of some of Claire’s work in the meantime, when she did the beautiful floral arrangements for my 30th birthday dinner party last year. But I haven’t had the chance to chat with her about the Informal Florist business in quite a while, so this is an exciting update because Claire’s business has grown so much in the last few years.


The first big change in the world of the Informal Florist was the studio, where Claire is able to work without her two little blonde munchkins getting into the arrangements. With whitewashed walls and lots of space for her vessels up on the walls, the new studio is a welcome addition to the operation. Claire admits the studio is regularly freezing, which is “fantastic for flowers” but means she can’t sit still for long before the chill sets in!

Of course, with the unusually warm summer we had, Claire had the opposite problem and was bringing in bags of ice to keep the flowers cool. We both agreed we probably won’t have an Irish summer like that again for a very long time!

Claire now creates arrangements on specially made wooden tables, hand crafted from hundred year old wood and old hospital steel legs by a carpenter in her neighborhood. They’re just the right height and, Claire admits, “They’re my babies.”





The second big change is that Claire has welcomed a partner in the Informal Florist, Patsy Rafter. The two met at a wedding event in Dublin and became fast friends. With the addition of a partner for the Informal Florist, Claire is managing to balance the hours she spends creating beautiful arrangements with the hours she spends with her family.

informal_florist_at_work_0039 The addition of a partner has also meant the re-opening of the Informal Florist shop! If Michael and I weren’t going to be gone over Christmas, there would be an Informal Florist Christmas wreath on our door. Honestly, there might be anyway – at least our neighbors would enjoy it!  informal_florist_at_work_0071 informal_florist_at_work_0144 2

I asked Claire if she thought her style had changed over the last few years of owning her flower business, and she said the biggest change isn’t in her style but in her knowledge of flowers themselves. And she has learned she can’t discount any flowers – even calla lilies, flowers she admittedly couldn’t stand a few years ago. A wedding color palette required a deep, dark flower and she landed on almost-black calla lilies and fell in love with them. Now, she says, “I’ll never completely discount anything!”

This reflects Claire’s overall goal with the Informal Florist – to keep her arrangements beautiful but approachable. “If you do something and you like it, it’s beautiful to you.”


informal_florist_at_work_0283 I can’t wait to see where the Informal Florist is in another few years! And I’m seriously eyeing those tables and those giant dahlias!

Thanks, Claire, for chatting with me, and thanks to Christine for sharing these gorgeous photos!

Missed the earlier Makers at Work? Visit KaroArt, Mianra Soaps, and Fawn Prints



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Catching Up

I seem to be having one of those weeks where I just can’t catch up. Michael and I spent the day in Glasgow on Saturday and between church and basketball and friends and family on Sunday, it just didn’t feel quite like a weekend! Yesterday, I was straight back into the week shooting Christmas DIY videos with Evoke.ie again. I have to admit, it was really fun to get festive, even if we haven’t made it to Thanksgiving yet!

I have photos from over a month ago that I’ve been wanting to share, but there just doesn’t seem to be the time in the day to put the words down next to the photographs. I’m hopeful we’ll be talking more about hot chocolate and trips around Ireland and a few more DIY projects in the next few days. Fingers crossed my brain finds itself some space to breathe!

On top of all that, I can’t even add a photo to this post because my hosting is full or something. So a few technical and brain related glitches before we get back to business tomorrow. Thanks for bearing with me!

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Hot Chocolate Season / A DIY Gift


It’s finally gotten chilly here in Dublin. It took forever for winter to get here, thankfully, and now that it’s here I’m trying to remind myself that winter in Dublin means two things. Candle season (cosiness!) and hot chocolate season.

I’m plotting a round-up of my favorite spots for hot chocolate in Dublin in the coming weeks (must do a little more research – yum yum!) but in the meantime, I’m sharing this sweet little customized cocoa mug DIY over on Wedding Party today. I love the copper and navy – it’s wintry without screaming Christmas. Not that screaming Christmas is a bad thing, per se, but there’s a time and a place and that time has not quite come yet, despite the displays already set up in most shops here!

You can see the full DIY (very simple, very inexpensive) over on Wedding Party today.

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Loving Lately

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First things first, this sunset over the River Liffey yesterday evening. And I do mean early evening. Daylight savings time ughhhhh.

And also…

Watching: City Ballet, the documentary on the New York City ballet.

Eyeing: this jacket, while simultaneously hoping it doesn’t get cold enough to need it.

Smiling: at the kind words Magda wrote about me on her blog.

Daydreaming: this little reading nook and the amazing use of color Lesley always manages.

Enjoying: Ruth’s posts lately – including this one on Dublin’s loveliest loos!

Drooling: over this recipe – cilantro dressing, yum!

Reading: this account of captivity in Syria.

What are you up to lately?

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Happy Halloween and One More Spooky DIY


Happy Halloween, friends! And happy Friday! Our (very small) group of trick-or-treaters has come and gone, and we’re relaxing after a long day of babysitting our little niece.

I shared one more Halloween DIY video today, to make this not-so-scary monster wreath and it’s currently hanging on our front door. The neighbor kids didn’t seem too phased by it, to be honest!

This weekend, we’re doing a little relaxing, a little working, and a little more babysitting. I’m hoping the rain clears after tonight and I can get a good long outdoor run in tomorrow. I’ve been treadmill running since the weather in the winter is so unreliable (I can’t stand running against howling wind! Argh!), but nothing beats a run along the sea.

I hope you have a relaxing weekend full of lots of Halloween candy! Someone eat some candy corn for me, I miss it!

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