DIY Stamped and Watercolored Poem Greeting Cards

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I have a confession to make. I do not actually need more greeting cards. I’m a recovering greeting card hoarder. I’d pick up pretty boxes of thank you notes and blank cards, mostly from TJMaxx, whenever I saw a new design I liked. And I picked them up at a much higher rate than I mailed them out. When I moved to Dublin, my whole card collection came with me, at which point I realized I’d better use up those cards before I bought any new ones. I’ve mostly kicked the addiction in the last few years, but that doesn’t stop me from DIYing a few now and then. After all, I also have a giant collection of blank greeting cards out in the studio. Many, many more than I’ll ever need.  diy_greeting_cards_poem_stamp_2014_2

For all my vast collection of greeting cards, I didn’t have anything particularly sweet or inspiring. Tons of thank you notes and some floral prints, but nothing with an inspirational phrase. Which led me to this simple DIY project. Blank greeting cards, watercolor paints, and a super-duper customizable stamp. (I got mine from Viking, they’ve quite a selection to choose from but I thought this one was the best – it comes with tweezers for moving the letters around. And they also have same day delivery in Ireland which is fairly novel.)

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I painted on really simple strokes of thinned out pink watercolor paint and let it dry completely. Then I arranged my little letters on my stamp and pressed it on. Once you have your stamp set up, you could whip out lots of them really quickly. A whole pack of them would make a really sweet gift, actually. And there’s a new way for me to use up that stockpile of blank greeting cards!

I’d love to know what poem you’d stamp. I find this Emerson poem nicely inspiring without being too over the top. It just makes you want to take a walk around the block!

 

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Breakfast with an Artist at Talbot Gallery

breakfast_with_artist_talbot_gallery Last weekend I spent a heavenly few hours in the Talbot Gallery at their Eat / Talk / Art breakfast series. I didn’t take many photos, but I wanted to share just these few and encourage you to buy a ticket to their next event on April 26th if you possibly can make it. It’s so, so worth it. It was one of the loveliest, most delicious, and most inspiring mornings I’ve had in a long time.  breakfast_with_artist_talbot_gallery_2

The team at the Talbot Gallery set the most gorgeous table and then cooked up a delicious meal – granola and fruit and yogurt, and then a savory hot dish (I’ll leave it a surprise in case you do make it to the next one!) with crusty bread, followed by sweet treats I was too full to try. After we munched and chatted, artist Alison Pilkington had an open conversation with the featured painter, Joe Scullion. It was an inspired format – perfect for amateur art-lovers as well as those better acquainted with the subject. It wasn’t intimidating or too theoretical, instead, it was a great way to learn about Joe’s paintings and add a few new art terms to your vocabulary.

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Really, if you’re free and in Dublin on April 26th, book a ticket. And don’t be surprised if you see me there, back for seconds!

Posted in Dublin, Irish Artists and Makers, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

A Connemara Road Trip Pit Stop in Photos

connemara lake 2 While my parents were here a few weeks ago, Michael and I took them on a two-day road trip through the depths of Connemara. I have to say, we packed a lot in to those to days – a giant drive through Connemara National Park, into Kylemore Abbey and around Killary Fjord before having dinner in bustling Westport (make a Saturday night dinner reservation in advance!), then an all day cycle from Achill Island to Newport before driving home that evening. Here are a few photos from a little scenic pit stop we made in the middle of nowhere in Connemara.  mike and em connemara Thanks for taking this one, Dad! connemara lake 3

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I thought the soggy, mossy grass was so beautiful. In a previous trip out west I learned all about how this soggy moss eventually piles on top of itself for years and years and finally makes peat. It’s really springy to step on!  connemara moss

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It’s a road trip I’d thoroughly recommend if you are visiting Dublin and looking to get out of the city for a few days. The driving is a good mix of highways and tiny winding roads with sheep traffic jams. And the views are ridiculous and much different than you might expect for the Emerald Isle. You can certainly do it in two days, although three days might mean a little less of a whirlwind adventure!

Posted in Exploring Ireland, Travels, Truly Irish | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Going to Vienna – Do You Have Travel Tips?

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On Thursday this week, Michael and I are hopping on a plane for the first time in months and heading to Vienna! I’m so excited to see different scenery and travel with my man for a few days. We’ve started planning a little (who am I kidding, I haven’t done a thing but nod encouragingly at Michael’s suggestions!), but I’m wondering if you have any tips for Vienna? Anything you think is a must-see? Anything to avoid? We’re very excited about what seems like a really fun breakfast and coffee culture. We love those things.

Image from here.

Posted in Travels | 2 Comments

4 Spots for the Best Street Art in Dublin

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You know what I love about Dublin? In the last few years, there’s been so much great street art popping up around the city, which makes it feel like a we have bonus art exhibits all over the place. Some days happening upon a new one is a really nice surprise, and other days I take little detours to catch a glimpse of my favorite pieces I know will bring a smile to my face.

I thought it would be fun to share just a few spots that have my favorite street art today, but I have to make a little disclaimer about this list. In a few months or even in a few weeks, this list might be out of date. But you can almost guarantee that if one piece of street art gets painted over, another will pop up down the street. You just have to keep your eyes peeled!

Four Spots for the Best Dublin Street Art

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Tivoli Car Park

Tivoli Car Park is by far the best spot because each year there’s a street art festival and they bring in loads of talented street artists to re-graffiti the whole place. The other hilarious thing about it is it’s a parking lot. But it’s by far the most beautiful parking lot in all of Dublin!

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Temple Bar

You have to look a little harder for the street art in Temple Bar – you’ll find it hiding down alleyways and up on the side of buildings. But when you do find it, it’s colourful and sassy.

Baggot Street

Baggot Street is a sleeper spot for Dublin street art. Last I saw there was a unicorn on the side of one of the buildings which is just about as good as it gets.

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Newmarket Square and Francis Street

That little old lady at the start of this post lives on Francis Street and she cracks me up. I agree, little old lady, I agree. Meanwhile, just down the block in Newmarket Square, you’ll find the Homebird, which is the name of the new clothing line from Dublin’s favorite street artist, Maser.

So those are my favorite street art spots in Dublin at the moment – do you have any to share? I’d love to hear what fun free art exhibit is hanging on the side of a building in your neighborhood!

Are you planning a trip to Dublin? I give walking tours of Dublin. If you’re looking for accommodation for your stay,  check out the great deals available with Expedia Ireland for city breaks in Dublin. 

Posted in Dublin, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

DIY Fabric Covered Numbers for Confetti.ie

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I was doing so well with DIY Thursday at the start of the year, and then those Thursdays just got away from me. I do have an excuse, which I’d like to share with you today. I’ve been creating so many projects and posts and content for Confetti.ie that there has been very little time or space in my brain left for my own projects. Which completely contradicts the point of DIY Thursday. However, now that I’m starting to put these posts up on Confetti, I thought some of them would be fun to share with you while I catch up on DIYing around the house.

This one is a DIY tutorial for fabric covered table numbers. They’re designed for a wedding (because Confetti’s a wedding site), but I think they’re so cute I’m going to have to make some with our initials to sit on our bookcase. The fabric is a Liberty print and there’s something about their florals that makes me get over my general distaste for florals.

You can see the full (and super simple) tutorial over on Confetti.ie.

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Breakfast with an Artist in Dublin

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Yesterday I booked a ticket to have breakfast with an artist on Saturday morning and I don’t think I’ve looked forward to something so much in a long time. The event is taking place at the Talbot Gallery, a second floor space that looks out over Connolly Station and busy Talbot Street. Each Sunday morning on the way to church we drive by and I wonder what’s up there and this weekend I finally get to find out! And I get to learn about the work of an artist, in the company of friends who are excited about this kind of thing. Also, there’s going to be breakfast, which is arguably the best meal anyone ever invented.

There are still tickets if you’d like to come along!

Photos by Rincy Koshy.

 

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What’s the Biggest Misconception About the Role You Play?

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Last Saturday morning, an American blogger posed an open question on Twitter: What’s the biggest misconception about the role you play? I didn’t respond at the time, but I’ve been mulling the question for the last few days. It’s a thought-provoking question and kind of an interesting exercise to try. Thinking about it actually dug up a whole lot of emotions and thoughts about the misconceptions I occasionally run into – from readers, acquaintances and close friends alike.

My role itself changes by the hour these days – blogger, writer, editor, tour guide, photographer, stylist. I wear many hats, all under one big creative umbrella.

What’s the biggest misconception about the role I play? 

That it didn’t take hard work and hustle. It did. 

That it doesn’t still take hard work and hustle. It does, on a daily and hourly basis. 

That it’s not exhausting. Physically, sometimes. Mentally, more often. 

That it’s always glamorous. Maybe 30/70. 

That my life is exactly as you see it online, without flaws or messes or heartache. Sadly, or obviously, no. 

That because you read my words here, you’re caught up. There is always more than what I can share here. 

In the last while, I’ve felt a little disconnected from From China Village, not because I love it any less, but because I’ve reached a point in my career and in my life where I can’t share quite everything. Sometimes it’s because project details are still being discussed and finalized, or because parts of my life are not only mine to share. Either way, some days it feels like From China Village is a narrower, more carefully curated reflection of me than it used to be, before I started wearing all of these creative hats as a full-time job.

Some of these misconceptions stem directly from sharing a smaller, more curated version of my life. For a long time, I’ve resolved that this space remain a mostly professional and positive outlet – it has served as my portfolio that has launched me into the creative career I now enjoy. And I do really, truly enjoy this job. I get to share information and opinions and posts that I absolutely, totally stand behind and love. I’ve never been happier or more creatively challenged in my life. (Well, except perhaps working for a presidential race. I don’t think I’ll ever beat that high.) But that’s not to say that this career path is without its obstacles or hurdles. And it’s not to say that there aren’t things I struggle with that are less than sparkly.

I think sometimes people, even those close to me, don’t quite understand this life – that it is a curated version of my life, for professional and personal reasons. I’ve had close friends remark that they’re all up to date with everything that’s going on with me because they’ve been keeping up with my blog. A sweet sentiment, but isolating.

I’ve never fallen too hard on one side or the other when it comes to whether bloggers should share more of their personal lives. Lives are complicated, and each person should be comfortable with what they’re sharing online. I do know that From China Village has become a smaller slice of my real life here in my little apartment in Dublin, and I hope to turn that tide slightly in the future. I want to keep talking about Dublin and amazing Irish design and DIY projects. But I also want to talk about the day to day a little more – like muddy chickens because it has been raining for weeks, how I’m more homesick now than I’ve been in years, and what my big fat scary dreams are for the coming year. I’m grateful that you’re here to share this slice of my life.

I’d love to learn what the misconceptions about your role might be. Let’s talk about the real behind the scenes.

Photo by Julie Matkin.

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Irish Makers at Work / Interview with Fán of Fawn Print

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Today I’m continuing my collaboration with photographer Christine Burns. She’s capturing Irish makers in their studios, and I’m following up and sharing an interview with each of them. In case you missed the first one, here is my interview with Hajni of Mianra Soaps.

Now, on to today’s maker: Fán Regan of Fawn Printing. I’ve admired Fán’s beautiful prints at markets for ages, and I’m excited to share a little about her process and how she came to run her own creative business today.  fawn_at_work_086_web1

Fán has always had a creative streak, and earned an art degree in fine art painting. But she actually found the critiquing process of art school crushed her creativity a little bit. She moved to London and took an office job for several years. When she was made redundant in her job in 2011, she seized the opportunity and threw herself fully into printing.  fawn_at_work_111_web1 fawn_at_work_125_web1 fawn_at_work_132_web1

Fán’s workspace is in Moxie Studios in Dublin 2, and while she works alone in her little printing space, she loves being surrounded by lots of other creatives. Fiona Snow (remember I showed you her awesome laser cut claddagh rings?) is just next door, and when Fán recently broke her leg in a bicycle incident, Fiona and her husband would pick her up and take her in to the studio, making sure she didn’t go stir crazy at home! What a lovely community to be part of! While the bicycle incident wasn’t ideal, Fán said it’s the kind of thing that “makes you feel like you’re in the right place.”   fawn_at_work_132_web1 fawn_at_work_243_web1 fawn_at_work_173_web1

Fán started with and still only uses a tabletop printing machine for her lino printing, so her operation is surprisingly compact – but heavy! She says her biggest motivation in the printing business, other than simply being able to be creative, is being able to work for herself. I certainly know that feeling! fawn_at_work_165_web1 fawn_at_work_056_web1 fawn_at_work_027_web1

One of my favorite spots in Fán’s studio is her inspiration board above her desk, filled with cut-outs from newspapers and magazines and books. When I visited, there were a lot of owls and birds clipped to Fán’s pin board. Don’t you just love the little drying lines for prints? fawn_at_work_012_web1

You find Fán’s prints online (although wait just a bit as her shop is getting a redesign!) or find her work in shops in Dublin and around the country.

See a few more photos from Fán’s studio on Christine’s website! Thanks, Fán for letting us inside your creative world!

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Happy Friday!

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Happy Friday, friends! Are you tired? I am. It was a whirlwind week packed with the end of my parents’ visit, ten (!) new posts on Confetti, a photo shoot with gorgeous flowers at the Shelbourne Hotel, lots of meetings, one new pair of boots, and four (!) new dinner recipes. Thankfully, this weekend, Michael and I get to stay put. He’s been traveling for the last five weekends in a row, and I’ve been away for the last three. And we’re both so ready for a break I think we’ll just sit on the couch and watch the chickens!

How about a few links for the weekend? A lot of fun things crossed my path and entered my inbox this week, so there’s a lot to share.

I love the idea of Roads Well Traveled, an online shop with a lot of heart and lovely stories about indigenous artisans around the world.

Love everything about Isle Jewellery (ahem, take note, Michael!). I’m sure you’ll be hearing more about them from me soon!

I teamed up with my friend Ajda to create the most delicious cocktail recipe for Confetti – a rhubarb gin and tonic!

And then I teamed up with my other friend Julie to show off this really fun sushi-making class we took in Galway a few weeks ago.

I have some fun posts planned for you next week, including the return of DIY Thursday! I hope you have a restful weekend, filled with chicken-watching if possible. See you next week!

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