Dublin’s Hanging Flowers / Isaac’s Hostel

August 26, 2015

isaacs-hostel-flowers A few months ago, right before we left Dublin for the summer, the weather was warm and sunny and Michael was off away somewhere on a boat on the River Shannon. So I took my camera with me for a solo post-church wander around town with the specific goal of finding some of the best hanging flowers the city has to offer.

I didn’t have to look to far, as these hanging flowers are actually right outside our church, at Isaac’s Hostel. Isaac’s Hostel itself isn’t the most glamorous of locations, but it’s made of stone, tucked under the railway, and it has these beautiful old wrought iron lanterns and bright red doors. It’s apparently pretty good if you’re a student on your study abroad year and looking for a cheap place to sleep, but hostels aren’t really my game, so I wouldn’t be the best judge.  lantern-flowers-dublin petunias-dublin But regardless of its ability to house students and travelers, Isaac’s has bionic flowers in the summertime and well into the fall. The peach begonias are so fun!  hanging-flowers-ireland-2 hanging-basket-flowers-dublin flowers-hanging-dublin Petunias always annoyed me growing up because they’re so sticky to touch and when the blooms go by they get really gummy. So don’t ask me to dead-head them, but I quite like looking at photos of them!  hostel-dublin-flowers Anyone see any great hanging baskets lately, in Dublin or otherwise? It’s such a great time of year for them.

 

Talking Interiors in the Irish Independent

August 25, 2015

main inspiration image by jacadi paris For the last few months, I’ve been writing an interiors page for the Irish Independent newspaper’s weekend magazine. And I completely forgot to mention it to you! It comes out in Ireland every Saturday and it’s in the magazine supplement in the middle of the newspaper. Here’s a fun fact. Did you know the Independent is the best read newspaper in the country? And that over 500,000 people read it every day? In such a small country, that’s a whole lotta people!

Each week, I pick an interiors topic and break it down. We’ve talked rugs, shelving, window treatments, front doors, bedrooms and bathrooms so far!

From now on, I’ll try to remember to share the link each week so you can get in on the interiors fun.

Image above from a longer feature I wrote on how to create the perfect nursery for your little one! That might have been my favorite.

Seven Years Married

August 25, 2015

michael-and-emily-howth-golden-hour-2 Over the weekend, Michael and I celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary. Seven years! It’s hard to believe it’s been that long since our wedding day. I may be brunette now (and in desperate need of a haircut in these photos), but otherwise I don’t think we look a day older! Just wiser. And happier. And more sure of ourselves and more sure of each other.  mike and em howth Our friend Naomi snapped these photos of us when we all went out for drinks one evening before we left Ireland for the summer. The light in Howth was perfect and glowing, so we sat down on the edge of the water for a few photos before we went to O’Connell’s for the evening. (And for the record, O’Connell’s is a great spot to watch the sunset from the upstairs bar.) michael-and-emily-howth-golden-hour michael-howth-ireland I’m glad he’s mine, that’s for sure.  howth-golden-hour em-howth-golden-hour em-golden-hour-howth howth-sailboats-golden-hour And just a few extra photos playing with that gorgeous light. We miss Howth after being away from it all summer. This year, we’ll be spending a little more time in the States than we usually do, zipping back and forth to Ireland. Michael has a sabbatical from his teaching job, so we’ll be adventuring a little more than usual and I can’t wait to share our travels with you in the coming months.

All photos by Naomi Phillips

 

Maine Exploring / The Penobscot Bridge Observatory Tower

August 20, 2015

michael-penobscot-narrows-bridge A few weeks ago, Michael and I were heading east from China Village to hear my dad give a talk about his latest book at the Belfast library. Belfast is a really cute coastal town, and Michael loves any excuse to head there for a few pints of Three Tides’ oyster stout, so we decided to make an afternoon of it and visit the Penobscot Bridge Observatory Tower before meeting up with my dad.

view-verona-bridge-observatory-tower I have a long-established fear of heights, and I also have vivid memories of unbuckling my seat belt and crawling down onto the floor of the car when I could see the Penobscot Bridge approaching on our way to our summer vacations on the coast. I think it was a little dramatized at the time, but I think it might have been my intuition! We used to travel over the old bridge, which was found to be in such bad condition that they had to build an emergency replacement that was opened in 2007. So I had every reason to be worried!

I find it a little easie nowto go over most bridges, although I do prefer not to be stuck on bridges for very long. So I felt it was quite brave of me (or so I tell myself) to agree to go up to the tallest bridge observatory tower in the world! One thing worked in my favor: there’s an elevator! Stairs give me too much time to think about the heights. This elevator happens to be the fastest in all of Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, so there’s no time to think at all. emily-penobscot-bridge-tower When you come out of the elevator, you climb a few short flights of stairs to the incredible panoramic view out over the Penobscot Narrows and out to the Atlantic Ocean. Well worth the $5 entrance fee and the slightly wobbly knees! verona-bridge-observatory-compass michael-penobscot-bridge-observatory According to the interwebs, there is some amazing science going on in those cables that landed this bridge in a 2006 edition of Popular Science magazine’s 100 best innovations of the year! And that does make me feel more secure, I tell ya!  penobscot-river-bridge-maine michael-verona-bridge-observatory verona-bridge-observatory-tower maine-penobscot-bridge scared-of-heights-emily And this is the look you will get if you keep me up in the tallest bridge observatory tower in the world for even a moment too long! Get me down, please!  maine-seal-penobscot-bridge Right down to the carved granite state seal, thank you very much!  penobscot-bridge-observatory-tower A few years ago, we took a family trip on our trusty Boston Whaler under this bridge, and it looks even bigger and more stately from down on the river. I’m glad to have seen the other angle, but from now on you’ll find me below the bridge if I can help it!

Penobscot Narrows Bridge Observatory Tower / Open May 1st – October 31st / 9am until sunset / Tickets also allow entrance to Fort Knox! 

After a Wild Wedding Weekend

August 18, 2015

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Hello and happy Tuesday to you! We surived the most epic wedding weekend and my sister and her new husband are happily off to Paris for their honeymoon! Michael and I and the rest of my family are slowly coming back down to reality after such a whirlwind of wedding events.

I took so few photos because I was too busy being the maid of honor! And I already can’t wait to see the professional photos and share all the cute little details from the day. But for today, you get this little sneak peek of my sister and I before we walked down the aisle, with bouquets my mom, grandmother and our neighbor Nancy put together. Aren’t they beautiful? And isn’t my sister gorgeous? She was a stunning bride and her groom was so handsome. Although from these photos, it seems there wasn’t a groom. I promise there was! Sorry, Adam!

cal-wedding wedding-cal-2 em and mike wedding Left to right from top to bottom: my sister ready to walk down the aisle / the chapel during the rehearsal / Michael and I during the wedding dinner / flower arrangements and painted placecards at the rehearsal dinner / Michael and I at the rehearsal / hanging a congratulations sign for the post-wedding brunch! 

 

How to Stock and Style an Irish Bar Cart

August 13, 2015

How to Stock an Irish Bar Cart I’m so excited for this post today. For the longest time, I’ve been envisioning stocking up the perfect Irish bar cart with some of our favorite Irish whiskey and mixers and snapping a few photos to share with you. A few weeks ago, I stopped by my friend Naomi’s house and I styled it up this gorgeous bar cart and she snapped a few photos.

April & the Bear lent us this awesome industrial trolley and we poured up some of our favorite whiskey and added a few other essentials for beautiful bar cart inspiration. Here’s what we put together!  Stocking an Irish Bar Cart Michael is the cocktail expert in our house. He loves mixing up drinks and they’re always nicer than when we order them in bars (plus they’re not €10 a pop! Hate that!). We have a few bottles of bitters I picked up in Maine last year and those expensive little bottles last forever! I’d love to stock up on some Irish bitters but I can’t really justify it until we use up one of the little bottles we already have.

We like to make sure we have lots of lemons and limes on hand, as well as mint. You can never go wrong with those ingredients! irish-bar-cart-whiskey Stocking an Irish Bar Cart with Teeling Whiskey stocking-irish-bar-cart-teeling-whiskey To keep your bar cart from getting too cluttered, use a few little trays and jars to keep things organised. Little dishes or low baskets work great for corraling glasses and utensils. Just make sure you can wipe them down easily – my bartender tends to get everything sticky! And you can keep a cute tea towel hunt over the side for those sticky situations.  teeling-whiskey-bar-cart-dublin As for stocking a bar cart with Irish spirits, we start with whiskey, obviously. Teeling Whiskey recently opened a brand new distillery and visitor centre in Newmarket Square in Dublin. It’s the first new distillery to open in Dublin in over 125 years! And the space is beautiful. I got a preview peek before it opened in June and it’s beautifully designed with a cool cafe and gallery space as well as the distillery area. Teeling has been distilling in Ireland for decades, but this space in Dublin means visitors can see their process up close. The hop-on hop-off buses have also recently added the stop to their route, which means it’s quite easy to get there without getting the least bit lost. And on the last Sunday of every month, you can also visit the Dublin Flea Market in the same square!

dingle-gin-vodka In addition to Teeling, we’ll often pick up Green Spot or Yellow Spot, both distilled in Middleton, just outside of Cork. We’re fans of Clontarf 1014 as well, and my brother tells me Jameson Black Barrel is a pretty good option if you’re a Jameson fan looking for something slightly fancier.

You’ll likely need a few other options than just whiskey, though, and Dingle Gin and Vodka are delicious and also distilled in Ireland at their Dingle distillery. We always keep a high-end tequila (sorry, no Patron, say the real tequila fans!) or mezcal on our bar cart, but unless I’m mistaken, there’s no Irish tequila option available…yet. Wouldn’t that be fun!

The perfect Irish bar cart also needs a great Irish mixer, like Richmount Elderflower Cordial, with which I am a tad obsessed. It makes this Elderflower Mint cocktail/mocktail taste perfectly delicious, and I’m pretty sure it’s the only Irish-made elderflower cordial. It’s a family operation and they make a big batch once a year at the start of summer. Their website has a list of places around the country where you can find it.

kinnegar-donegal-craft-beer There are tons of Irish craft beer options, and I dare say Michael has tried nearly all of them at this point. I don’t drink beer (not a fan of bubbles!), but Michael’s absolute favorite is the Kinnegar brand, brewed in Donegal. Our fridge always has one or two of their Scraggy Bay India Pale Ales, which I don’t mind because their labels are really colorful and cheerful – and simple for non-beer drinkers to remember. Whenever I want to surprise Michael, I just remember to get the cheery yellow label! Here’s a tip for bigger beer fans – French Foodie in Dublin is doing a series right now featuring different Irish craft beers taste tested by her fiance. It’s a good resource for craft beer enthusiasts! And the Beernut blog looks like a great place to start as well – very thorough!

And that rounds out the recipe for the perfect Irish bar cart. What would you add? Is it cocktail time yet? Earlier in the summer, I was at two different events that had Teeling whiskey cocktails and they were both delicious. I’ll be sharing one of them with you soon!

Photos by Naomi Hill / Bar cart from April & the Bear / Dingle Gin and Vodka from Carryout.ie / Special thanks to Teeling Whiskey for making this post possible.

 

 

Maine Exploring / Picking Blueberries!

August 11, 2015

Picking blueberries in Maine This is the first year Michael and I have been in Maine since our wedding seven years ago, and I’ve really missed blueberry season in Maine all these years. The weird thing is that this week’s adventure blueberry picking was probably the first time anyone in my family has gone blueberry picking. We’ve all gone strawberry picking over the years, but for some reason blueberry picking never made the list. Maybe because by the time blueberry season came around, we were always getting ready for pre-season sports or stocking up on school supplies.

So why I got it in my head that this summer’s activity would be blueberry picking is really beyond me. But when Michael and I were driving through a neighboring town last week we noticed a little sign by the side of the road that read, “U-pick Blueberries, Not Sprayed”, scrawled in blue marker. Over the weekend, Michael, my dad and I went to investigate. Long story short, we had a blast and came home with three pints of giant ripe blueberries.  Self-serve blueberry picking We followed the signs along a bumpy country road for about a mile until we were directed to pull into a driveway, where we found this little sign. The raspberries were all picked for the year, but we picked up a few pint boxes for our blueberries and put our payment into the little tapioca container honesty box. You-pick blueberry picking, Maine blue-volvo-blueberry-picking Just as fervently as I insisted we go blueberry picking this year, I insisted we bring our ancient blue Volvo, which we have always called the Blueberry. I just thought it was fitting, like it was fulfiling its destiny! My parents gave me the Blueberry when I was a senior in college and it’s the cosiest. The heat warms up so fast and hot in the winter, although of course in the summer there is no air conditioning and the windows are the old manual roll down ones. For as long as I can remember, we’ve been a Volvo family, although this is our oldest of the Volvo fleet at the moment. I think it’s actually eligible for antique plates at this point!  Blueberry picking in Maine I loved the way the field of blueberries was overrun with Queen Anne’s Lace flowers. They’re one of my grandmother’s favorites. Maine blueberries are typically low bush blueberries, but this was a whole field of high bush blueberries. Much easier on your back, and much easier to fill up a pint container! Low bush blueberries are teeny tiny and are usually picked with machines, unless your name is Sal. blueberry-picking-maine High bush blueberries, Maine Maine blueberries Maine blueberries emily-blueberry-picking-maine Happy camper or what?! We’d all just taken a break from working around the house doing chores to get ready for my sister’s wedding this weekend, so we’re a little scruffy!  dad-blueberry-picking dad-eating-blueberries My dad taste-tested a lot of the blueberries, just to make sure. Caught ya, Dad!  maine-farm-summer cutting-hay-maine The farmers were haying the field next to the blueberries that morning. It was very quaint and picturesque.  blueberry-picking-maine-summer-3 blueberry-picking-maine-summer-2 maine-blueberry-picking-summer While I was taking millions of photos of blueberries, Michael and my Dad were all ready to take the Blueberry and their blueberries home.  blueberry-volvo blueberries-maine See? The blueberries are the exact color as the Blueberry! blue-volvo-240 I’ve been eating blueberries by the handful, but Michael decided at 10pm last night that he was going to make a blueberry cheesecake with a bunch of them. I can’t wait to have it for lunch!

If you’re in the neighborhood, we picked at Locust Farm, just off Route 137 on the right if you’re driving east from Albion.

Travelogue: Colorado Springs (Part 2)

August 10, 2015

westy-fam-hiking

Good morning! Are you ready for part two of our Colorado Springs whirlwind adventure?! Well, that’s what you’re going to get today. These posts are a little more family-oriented, but I’ve realized they’re as much for me to remember for posterity about our visits, rather than strictly to share tips for the area. But I’m in charge here, so you get what you get! It will be quite fun, though, I promise!

You can see our first day in Colorado Springs here, and our adventures in Boulder and Denver as well. 

We started off day two in Colorado Springs with a hike in the bluffs across the street from Angie’s (my sister-in-law) parents’ house. We popped Eabha in the backpack and put Bogey the dog on the leash and off we went! We’ve explored their bluffs a few times, but this was the longest hike we’ve taken. It’s such an amazing feature to have on your front doorstep. It really feels like adventurous Colorado!

Here’s Eabha getting into her chariot! Dad didn’t get to keep his hat for very long. eabha-in-pack-hike colorado-springs-bluffs This is the view from Angie’s parents’ driveway across to the bluffs. Within a five minute walk you’re scrambling up sun-bleached rock. The last few times we’ve visited Colorado, the state has been ravaged by forest fires. This summer has been so wet with thunder storms every evening that all the plants were lush and green. It felt like a different place altogether!  eabha-steals-hat eabha-hiking Hat robbery! Eabha has the best serious faces.  emily-photographing-eabha-hike colorado-springs-bluffs-3 colorado-springs-bluffs-2 cactus-bluffs-colorado-springs I’m such a Maine girl – cactuses are so novel! But really, cactuses in bloom are pretty fun no matter where you’re from! bluffs-hike-colorado westy-no-2s-hiking-4-large mike-hiking-bluffs Michael’s color-mixing cracks me up. He loves this combination of blue on different blue and he knows it drives me nuts and wears it anyway – on repeat!  mike-hiking-bluffs-3 westy-no-2s-hiking-3-large westy-no-2s-hiking-large-2 Prom photo in the bluffs!  mike-hiking-bluffs-2 mike-and-em-colorado-bluffs So many clashing colors! Ha!  isaac-hiking eabha-and-fam-hiking Eabha was getting a little bored at this point and hanging out the side of the carrier. About five minutes later she conked out altogether.

Our day’s exercise behind us, we hit the showers and headed to another of Angie’s recommendations, Ivywild School for lunch. Ivywild is a former school that’s now this really exciting spot with a cafe, a brewery, a bike shop, co-working space and lots of outdoor deck space for sitting in the sunshine.  ivywild-school-colorado-springs ivywild-school-colorado-springs-cafe The charm is that Ivywild still looks so like a school, both inside and out. We ate lunch at the Principal’s Office, where Michael claimed the coffee was the best he’d had since leaving Dublin! They have a large indoor space with high ceilings and exposed brick, but they also have this awesome outdoor terrace. I can’t imagine how cool that must have been as a student at Ivywild!  principals-office-ivywild-school-colorado-springs principals-office-ivywild-school I loved all the references to school in the Principal’s Office – on their main sign it says “Libations for the troubled” and on chalkboards above the bar there’s handwriting repeating “I will not bring Bristol beer to the Principal’s Office, I will not bring Bristol beer to the Principal’s Office.” Bristol is the name of the brewery at the other end of the school. A playful little rivalry!  principals-office-ivywild-school-colorado-springs-2 coffee-with-eabha-and-animals Eabha brought her animals out to play for lunch. I love that photo on the right. Michael was pounding his chest and saying “What does the monkey say?” You can tell Eabha is saying “Ooh ooh!” with her little lips. Doesn’t get much better!

coffee-principals-office-ivywild-school mike-eabha-angie-ivywild ivywild-school-bulletin We enjoyed our Cuban sandwich and turkey salad with focaccia. I feel like the Cuban is having a revival around the country on the back of the movie Chef. Have you seen it? Michael and I rave about it to anyone who will listen. Such a feel good movie! But it will definitely make you hungry for a Cuban!  ivywild-school emily-angie-ivywild I got a haircut a few weeks ago, but I still feel like I need a haircut. So much hair in my face all the time! bristol-brewing-colorado-springs chalkboards-ivywild-school Fully worn out, in the best way, we headed back to Denver after our jam-packed 24 hours in the Springs. We clearly need more time there next time for more exploring! Thanks, Angie and Isaac and Eabha for being the best tour guides for your other home!

More Colorado exploring: Denver / Boulder / Colorado Springs Pt. 1 

Happy Weekend!

August 8, 2015

nautical-bathroom-vignette

Happy weekend, everyone! How was your week? Manage to squeeze in any summer fun? Michael and I spent a few good work days in China Village while my parents were at their respective offices, but also we also caught up with some college friends for some Portland exploring and time at a lake in southern Maine. The weather has been perfect – not too hot, just sunny enough, and a cool breeze. I had forgotten how amazing August in Maine can be! We’re crossing our fingers the weather will stay just as perfect for my sister’s wedding next weekend. So far, the forecast looks good!

We’re off to pick some blueberries, but in the meantime, here are a few really helpful and useful things from around the interwebs this week.

A mobile school that follows nomadic groups in Kenya.

How to work a room when you don’t know a soul.

Do you really need a microwave and a dishwasher? (I would love to know where you land on this. I used to wish every day for a dishwasher but now I’m not so sure we really need one!)

Eleven easy packing tips. Some gems in here, like how to pack necklaces without getting tangled!

Bookmarking these amazing wall murals for at least one room in our new house. Prices are really comparable to wallpaper but they’re so unique!

How to write a sympathy card, from someone who has recent experience.

Happiest of summer weekends to you all!

It’s Official! We’re Homeowners!

August 6, 2015

new-house Finally, after a whole lot of patience and paperwork, we bought a house in Dublin! It wasn’t our first choice, but we plan on loving it like it was our only choice. It’s light and bright and has a great little open floor plan and a back yard. We’re not sure yet whether it has room for chickens, but Michael is lobbying hard!

We only spent about ten minutes in the house about three months ago, and we still won’t be back in Dublin for a while yet, so we’re lucky to have friends and family who will be taking care of it for us in the meantime – and who sent us a sweet photo of our very first set of keys to a house we can call our own! I have to admit, it didn’t feel official until someone related to us had the keys in their hot little hands. It still feels surreal because it’s been so long since we’ve seen it, and because it’s been so long since we started this process, but it’s starting to feel a little more real.

It does help that we have awesome friends and family who have already been over to inspect and explore – and by all accounts the little girls in my life (Eabha and Elsie) are already big fans!  exploring-new-house First they tested the windows to make sure they were good for peeking!

elsie-eabha-new-house And then they made their way upstairs to decide whether they agreed with me that that carpet has got to go! We all agree! The carpet is going, ladies! But I’ve been told it’s not the first thing on the list. Oh well. We’ll get there!

Photos by Naomi Phillips