Street Roundels

September 21, 2015


Last Friday, I went with a friend to The Menil Collection here in Houston, a rather large contemporary art gallery built and curated through the extensive collection of the de Menil family. One of my favorite exhibits currently on is Apparitions: Rubbings and Frottages from 1860 to Now. Frottage is the French word for rubbing, which I absolutely had to Google when I got home. I was too busy ooh-ing and ahh-ing through the exhibit to worry much about the details. Now I need to go back and take more mental pictures of all the incredible rubbings (no photography allowed or I’d be sharing millions!).

I was looking up frottage materials online so I can soon make one of my own, when I happened upon this little Etsy shop full of rubbings from Dublin! They’re rubbings of the street roundels (had to look that word up too!), the metal grates we spend 99% of our time walking over without noticing. These rubbings are such a fun way of documenting the beautiful little details of the city.

Every once in a while, I have noticed those little roundels on the street and I have a whole bunch of photos of them. I’m on the lookout for equally intricate details in our neighborhood to make my own frottage for our walls. When I do, I’ll have another little DIY to share with you. In the meantime, you could just order your own from Etsy!

A Box of Texas Veggies from Rawganics

September 16, 2015

texas-farm-share-rawganics Yesterday, I sat down for a cup of coffee and a chat with Carla, the editor of Local Houston magazine, who gave me about a million amazing tips and tricks for Houston, including the best farm shares and organic food co-ops. So yesterday afternoon I made a last minute run to the Houston Arboretum to collect my very first vegetable farm share box! My sister has had CSA boxes and farm shares in Maine for years, but I never found an equivalent that made sense for us in Ireland. When Carla mentioned Rawfully Organics, I practically ran home to look it up. Turns out their pick up was yesterday afternoon and they had an extra box of veggies available!

So, for $25, we got a big box of these organic vegetables:

a spaghetti squash

a butternut squash

an acorn squash

4 big potatoes

4 big tomatoes

4 little cukes

4 little summer squash

4 little zucchini

2 little eggplants

about 35 okra

and three bunches of new-to-me greens (as in, I have no idea what they are and should have asked!)

Rawfully Organic’s Tuesday boxes are technically a co-op, not a farm share. With a farm share or CSA, you pay in advance for a certain number of weeks and your money helps support the farm in advance. With a co-op, the veggies and fruits have already been grown and you’re supporting a collection of farms at once. (But correct me if I’m wrong!) With this particular co-op veggie system, you can order each week before the Monday cut-off and pick up your veggies on Tuesday or even have them delivered. We’re going to see how long these veggies last us but I imagine it will be about a week.

I’m still new to the grocery store prices over here, but I’m pretty sure our box was significantly cheaper than it would have been to buy all these veggies individually in a store – and these are organic so they would have been even more expensive!


Last night we came home and I tried to do what I’ve seen my sister do with her farm share, and get it all washed and stored so nothing goes to waste. And then I promptly faced what I’m sure is a common farm share panic – what the heck to do with all those vegetables! I figured we may as well start with the most foreign vegetable, the okra, so I Googled “okra for beginners.” Ha! I landed on roasted okra which involves very little work, hardly any ingredients other than okra, and would give us a sense of what okra actually tastes like for the future. We gobbled up every last bite, it was that good!

One of the fun things (although I think some people would hate this!) about a veggie box like this is that all the decisions about what vegetables you get are made for you. There’s no choosing vegetables, you get what’s in season and what’s available in abundance. For me, this kind of thing gets us out of the rut of making the same four dinners over and over again. I’ve had pretty good success Googling or Pinteresting ingredients and landing on recipes that will use certain vegetables. In the name of being prepared to use up all those vegetables, I thought I’d do a little research this morning to make sure nothing goes to waste.

Coconut eggplant curry / Eggplant shakshuka / Sichuan eggplant 

Spaghetti squash with bacon, spinach and goat cheese / Southwestern stuffed spaghetti squash / Thai peanut spaghetti squash

Okra maque choux / Lentil okra curry / Armenian vegetable stew

Quick fridge pickles / Asian cucumber sesame salad / Healthy butternut squash stew

Now, if anyone has any recipes for mystery greens, be sure to pass them along!

Texas Exploring / South Texas and Southside Beach

September 15, 2015

surfside-beach-texas Michael and I had an errand to run earlier today south of Houston. We’ll be here in Texas for a few months, and Michael needed to have finger prints taken so he can work in a school here in our neighborhood. We decided to make a little field trip out of our errand and check out a beach town in South Texas called Surfside. The weather, as it turns out, did not get the memo. It was rather stormy and grey (although still about 80 degrees!), but the clouds reminded me of Ireland and we were both grateful for the expanse of sky and sea, even if it was the rather brown gulf water.  waves-surfside-beach surfside-texas-houses-stilts We couldn’t get over the houses all up on ten foot stilts. I would not like to be around when those are necessary and the beach floods! There were only a few stilted houses remaining on the beach side of the road and they looked like they were a little worse for wear.  colored-houses-stilts-texas green-house-surfside-beach

We loved all the beachy colors in Surfside, with their quirky little details. How fun is that “Surf” sign on this family’s beach house? You can see little specks of orange on either side of the house where a whole array of bird of paradise flowers is flanking the lime green residence.  fishing-jetty-surfside-beach There were lots of people fishing off the jetty in the windy waves.  emily-surfside-beach-texas crane-south-texas-beach This little lady had the best yellow feet!  michael-surfside-beach-texas

graffiti-wall-surfside-beach This wall is actually the back of the public bathrooms! Such a great pattern. Michael was not nearly as impressed, apparently.  graffiti-wall-south-texas hookers-bait-stop-texas surfside-bait-shop We couldn’t figure out if Hook’ers Bait Stop was a boat turned into a building or a building made to look like a boat. Either way, their use of colour far outweighed their misuse of that apostrophe.  surfside-bait-stop-texas Michael and I wondered what Surfside would be like on the weekend or in the height of the summer season since it felt pretty deserted today, but we actually really enjoyed how quiet and local it felt.

We’ll be back and forth to Ireland, Texas and Maine over the next while during Michael’s sabbatical. FCV might be a little geographically scattered, but I hope you’ll bear with me as I share our adventures. I’m hoping we’ll soon get to a new version of normal that includes projects, recommendations and exploring in all our various current homes! 

Happy Friday!

September 11, 2015


Happy Friday, all! How was your week? I spotted a whole stack of pumpkins at the grocery store this week and thought too soon! too soon! And then I realized we’re almost halfway through September! How did autumn creep in like that?

I have a few DIY projects I’m working on this weekend and I’m excited to bust out my camera for the first time in a while and snap a few photos. It’s been weeks since I even took it out of its bag, which is unusual for me. Hopefully you’ll see the results over here next week, if all goes to plan.

While I’m knee deep in polymer clay and staple guns, here are a few little links for your enjoyment this weekend.

25 ways to ask kids “how was school?”  I love this kind of prompt, and I’m sure Michael loves when I try them out on him!

And now I can feel better about not liking lettuce.

The myth of quality time.

Some of my favorite desktop wallpapers turned into cell phone cases!

Someone (ahem, Michael!) borrowed my trusty water bottle this week for basketball and returned home empty handed. Time for an upgrade with a built in filter.

Hugs from afar!

Styled in Ireland / What to Wear to Fly through Dublin Airport

September 8, 2015

dublin-airport-style-title Welcome to another Styled in Ireland post today! This time, we’re talking airport style and we’re making a visit to Dublin airport to learn a few tip for travelers flying into and out of Dublin Airport.

I have such a love-hate relationship with airports. They’re the scene of so many tearful goodbyes, but so many happy reunions. I have to say, Boston’s Logan airport has too many goodbye memories to rate very high for me, but Dublin Airport is one of my favorites. By the time I get there from America, I’ve cried all my goodbye tears and I’m ready to land in my other home. And when I’m headed home through Dublin airport I’m usually beside myself with excitement to see family after at least six months away.

But Dublin Airport can be a tricky one if you don’t know what to expect, so we’ll cover that in just a bit.  dublin-airport-styled-in-ireland-02 First, what to wear for air travel. No matter where I’m traveling, I always wear pants. It’s just too chilly on planes to wear bare legs. In the summertime, I wear walkable, comfortable sandals (these are from Clarks in Dublin!), and in the wintertime, low boots. I usually wear a blazer or light jacket, something that will make me feel put together – and something I can take off when I get too warm going through security.  dublin-tips-airport-style airport-tips-scarf For an extra layer or something to create a makeshift pillow on the plane, I loop a scarf through one of the handles of my tote.   dublin-airport-05 And now, down to the brass tacks of Dublin Airport. Dublin Airport has two terminals, Terminal 1, which is the old terminal, and the brand-spanking shiny new Terminal 2. I have fond memories of Terminal 1 because its where I arrived when I moved to Ireland, and it does have a certain gritty charm to it, but Terminal 2 is so much brighter and prettier. Terminal 1 deals with shorter flights and mostly RyanAir, and Terminal 2 deals with longer haul flights and it has U.S. Customs Preclearance, which is a little tough on the Dublin end, but you’ll appreciate it when you hop off the plane in America. I’ll explain that more in just a bit.  dublin-airport-aer-lingus It’s a bonus when you get a blue-sky day like this at Dublin airport. There are some great views from the back of Terminal 2. It’s well worth taking the longer way through the duty free section of the airport to see all those Aer Lingus planes lined up. Green for days!   dublin-airport-coffee Do you have a trick for keeping track of your passport? Our trick is to keep passports in the exact same spot from the moment we walk in the door. If your passport has a home, you’re much less likely to be scrambling to find it when you’re heading to the airport!  dublin-airport-details what-to-wear-dublin-airport-02 dublin-airport-style-10 And yes, coordinating coffee cups. Couldn’t be helped.  dublin-airport-style-details One fun thing I never knew about terminal two at Dublin airport is that you can have treatments done in the duty free area and you can even get a free hand massage at the Jo Malone store, and you don’t even have to necessarily purchase anything! Although I think you’ll probably want to. Jo Malone makes really delicious scents.  jo-malone-dublin-airport-02 jo-malone-dublin-airport-06 jo-malone-dublin-airport All relaxed, now you’re ready to go through U.S. Customs Preclearance if you’re headed Stateside. I know, twice through security is a kicker – and yes, you have to take your shoes off a second time. I’ll be honest, it’s really not my favorite thing, but it does mean that when you get to America, you don’t have to wait in line or go through customs there.

When you’re leaving Dublin, make sure to take into account that you’ll be going through two rounds of security and a customs check if you’re heading to the States. We try to allot two and a half or three hours because we like to stop for a coffee and have a little browse around the new terminal before we get on a plane for seven hours. It always feels like a reward if we manage to get time for a stroll around after the stress of actually getting to the airport.  dublin-airport-style-06 Apparently this is the face I make when I’m about to go through that second round of security! I do get awfully patriotic when I see the American flag at the airport. And when the homelane security guy at customs says, “Welcome home,” I always get a little weepy and Michael likes to make fun of me.  dublin-airport-tips-visitors dublin-tips-airport-style If you’re flying through Terminal 1, there are a few other things you should know. You won’t have to go through customs and security a second time, but you need to make sure you leave yourself enough time to walk a bit of a distance to your gate, especially if you’re flying with RyanAir. Those gates can be pretty far away!

If you’re flying with RyanAir from Ireland to somewhere else in Europe on an American passport, you need to go to the Visa Check desk near the check in and bag drop desks to get a stamp on your boarding pass. They will not let you on the plane without it and they will send you back to that desk and you will have to go through security all over again. That would be a nightmare. styled-in-ireland-dublin-airport-02 dublin-airport-terminal-3 what-to-wear-airport-dublin And that, my friends, is Dublin Airport in a nutshell. If you’re a frequent flier through Dublin Airport, let us in on any secrets you may have too! Safe travels to and from my beloved airport, friends!

If you’re planning a trip to Ireland, catch up on all my helpful Styled in Ireland posts before you start packing!

Sandals: Clarks  / Top: Banana Republic / Watch: Kate Spade / Jeans: Zara / Jacket: Penney’s / Tote: H&M /  Suitcase: Dunnes Stores / Scarf: Penney’s / Photography: Naomi Phillips / Special thanks to Dublin Airport for letting us get a behind the scenes peek and snap these photos even though we weren’t getting on a plane that day! 

Happy Friday!

September 4, 2015


Gosh, the week really got away from me there. How was yours? I’ve been a little on edge, perhaps because of everything going on around the world, from the two cop shootings this week to the massive migrant crisis in Europe and the Middle East. Michael and I have been in Houston, and today overheard a man in a BBQ restaurant telling his friend that he’d driven here from Orlando to show his solidarity with the police officers here after the killing of a sheriff’s deputy here in Houston. He visited the site of the officer’s death last week, where people have set up a vigil at the one gas pump where he was killed, while it’s business as usual at the rest of the four pumps.

I spent Wednesday night in downtown Houston with a homeless two-month old baby girl cooing in my arms, while my sister-in-law (who spends every Wednesday night with a gathering of over 100 of Houston’s homeless) played with her 16-month-old brother. Their mom was 19 and had nowhere else to go, having been beaten by everyone who ever proclaimed to care about her.

And meanwhile, I continue to write stories about happy things so many people will never have the luxury of enjoying. Sometimes it’s hard to reconcile the contrast between those two. Sometimes it’s hard to believe this is the world we live in. I’ve been working on a few bigger ideas and thoughts around this which I’ll share in the next few weeks. In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts on how we deal with such divided circumstances.

And for your weekend, here are a few things around those interwebs for you to check out.

To warm your heart: When Mexicans crossed the border to feed Americans in need.

To spark your creativity: My column last week in the Irish Independent weekend magazine – four awesome DIY projects.

To get out the vote: Donald Trump and the rise of the great American stupid.

To boggle your mind: Why pedestrians are excited about Google’s self-drive cars.

To wish you a cosy weekend: A dreamy bedroom.

Love you all! Thanks for coming back here each week!

Maine Exploring / Angela Adams

September 2, 2015

angela-adams-portland-maine I thought you guys would get a kick out of this space. It’s the new Angela Adams store in a giant, lofty old building on Middle Street in Portland, Maine, and I went back several times just to ooh and ahh when I was in Maine this summer.

loved this space. I loved it so much I wanted it to be my house. Wouldnt it make an amazing loft? And if we could just keep the cute furniture and a few of Angela Adams’ amazing rugs, that’d be great, too.  angela-adams-store-portland-maine angela-adams-curated-store-portland The Angela Adams store has original Angela Adams vibrant rugs and cushions, as well as a selection of artwork and accessories from other artists and makers. Angela Adams co-founder Sherwood Hamill designs the beautiful modern furniture printed-bags-angela-adams They had the coolest stuffed sea creatures, like anemones (above) and mussels. Sadly, they weren’t for sale, but they inspired a few DIY ideas!  portland-maine-design-angela-adams

Well worth several return visits!

Angela Adams / 131 Middle Street / Portland, Maine 


Ireland’s Cafe Culture

August 31, 2015

2015-08-22_lif_12056283_I3 2

One of the most fun stories I’ve ever written came out in the Irish Independent the weekend before last, about Ireland’s cafe culture and the real people behind some of the sweetest cafes around the country. I got to interview six cafe owners to find out about their motivation for opening cafes, and what they love about the job they’ve taken on.

You can read the full story online, along with a whole bunch of great photos by Joanne Murphy so you can peek inside the cafes as well. I’ve never been to Pedals and Boots in the very remote western Ireland village of Lauragh, but I just can’t wait. It’s attached to the little village post office and you can rent bicycles to cycle along the Wild Atlantic Way! But then again, Alchemy sounds really quirky and welcoming full of interesting books and artwork. I need a cross-country coffee shop tour!

Thanks to the inspiring owners of Alchemy, Urbun, Press, Shells Cafe and Pedals and Boots for sharing their journey with us all!

And if you’re in a DIY mood, here’s my latest weekend interiors article with four awesome DIY projects!

Happy Weekend

August 29, 2015


Happy weekend, all! How are ya? How was the week? We’re still sweating it out in Houston for the time being. It’s been a little less hot and humid this week but we still haven’t really been out in the sunshine since we got here. Tomorrow we’re hoping to hit the farmer’s market and the pool (not this pool, but how about that wrought iron fencing?). We’ve been visiting some really cute neighborhoods I’ll be excited to share with you.

I’d love to hear what you’re up to wherever you might be. And I hope you have the loveliest of weekends. Until next week!

This homemade ice cream recipe sounds divine.

An open letter to tiny home owners. Ha!

Donald Trump’s rise in the polls terrifies me. This is only part of why.

This pendant light is surprisingly inexpensive.

I’m inspired by these tiled stairs because our house now has stairs!

I no longer have enough hair for any of these hairstyles, but seven humidity-busting hairstyles sound like a great idea for Houston, Maine summers and Dublin anytime.


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.