Happy Weekend!

June 12, 2015


Wahooo! We made it to the weekend! What a week. It started out slow and steady with a few quiet working days, had a little heatwave in the middle from which I’m still a little sunburned(!), and went out with a bang and a whole lotta walking. Nora and I are hard at work on our video neighborhood guides; yesterday we filmed in the historic Liberties district (image above from the side of the Guinness Factory!) and today we did an about-face and filmed in the posh Baggot Street neighborhood. It’s amazing how different the city can be only a mile apart. Dublin is a city of contradictions, that’s for sure. It’s also amazing how much you can find in a neighborhood when you poke around a little. I can’t wait to share what we’ve been working on.

What are you up to this weekend? I’m heading over to KaroArt and Ursula Celano’s one day studio sale tomorrow and am going to have a better look at the new April & the Bear pop up (a good glimpse here!) as well. And here are a few things to have a look around the interwebs!

These beautiful painted bus stops in Belarus are inspiring.

I love these wallpaper ideas from hotel stays.

We watched Blackfish, about the killer whales at SeaWorld, last weekend. Have you seen it?

The TTIP trade agreement is scary but little talked about. Edible Ireland explains it well.

Sarina Diakos‘ incredible abstract paintings are creeping up our anniversary art list this year.

Love this gem mirror DIY project. For when we have a house again!

I think we’ll round out this list with the talented Chelsea singing a song with a ukelele to her baby. Beyond cute.

Have a happy, safe, restful weekend, friends. See you next week!

One Day in Dublin / Baggot Street

June 10, 2015

Purple Georgian door, Dublin, Ireland Welcome to another edition of One Day in Dublin! It’s been quite a while since we had one of these, but I’m really excited to bring the series back. Completely selfishly, it lets me convince my friends to show me their neighborhoods, and I end up learning so many new things about the city. A few weeks ago, I asked my friend Ruth to show me around Merrion Square and Baggot Street, where she lives. We spent a Sunday afternoon wandering, chatting, and exploring.

Before we get started, a little piece of exciting news. You can wander around with Ruth, too! Well, it might be a little more structured than a wander. Ruth is kicking off her Lost Fashion History Tours this summer, with her first tour on June 27th. Without getting too gushy, Ruth is sweet, smart and so engaging. By day, she works at Brown Thomas on their online communications, and she never ever wears pants, only dresses. She knows such interesting tidbits about the city’s fashion history and I highly encourage you to take one of her tours. I’m hoping to make the tour on the 27th, so if you come, we could all hang out!

Now, down to brass tacks of our adventure around Merrion Square and Baggot Street.  Sweny Chemist, Dublin, Ireland On my way to meet Ruth, I walked by two things I love that I thought I would mention. First, Sweny’s Chemist, the pharmacy where Leopold Bloom bought his lemon soap in James Joyce’s Ulysses. Every day at 1pm, they have free readings. The second, is the weekend art show at Merrion Square Park. Every Saturday and Sunday, local artists set up their artwork hanging on the wrought iron gates and sell pieces to passers by. They’re there rain or shine, with awnings rigged up to protect the artwork from the elements.  Merrion Square Art Fair, Dublin, Ireland Then I met Ruth at the top of Merrion Square! She wanted to show me Sybil Connolly’s former home and give me a little taste of what her Lost Fashion History tours will be like. Sybil was a haute couture dress designer who brought Irish materials like tweed and lace to the fashionably dressed in America. She even designed dresses for Jackie Kennedy and worked with Tiffany & Co.! Ruth’s little glimpse into her tours had me hooked. She’s such a good storyteller!  Ruth Griffin, Lost Fashion History Tours of Dublin Merrion Square, Georgian Dublin, Ireland From Merrion Square, we headed down along the canal. There’s a lovely little path right next to the canal and on a Sunday afternoon it was quiet and peaceful. We saw lots of couples strolling romantically, dogs getting their daily walk, and even some local kids fishing!  Canal, Dublin, Ireland Kids fishing in the canal, Dublin, Ireland There are a few houseboats on the canal and one is actually a restaurant! It’s a little floating restaurant called La Peniche. They take two cruises for dinner each night and one for lunch. I am so excited to do this. It’s gotten great reviews and would be amazing on a nice evening. They have a 9pm seating for dinner and with the sun setting so late here this would be a fun little adventure. It’s now high on my summer bucket list.  Houseboats, Dublin, Ireland La Peniche, floating restaurant, Dublin, Ireland Houseboat restaurant, Dublin, Ireland Patrick Kavanagh Statue, Dublin, Ireland We stopped for a chat with Patrick (a little more on our local poet here). I still love that texture.

Baggot Street, Dublin, Ireland From the canal, we continued on toward Baggot Street. Fair warning, on a Sunday afternoon not everything is open on Baggot Street. We zipped past on our way to the National Print Museum, but here are just a few spots to try, as recommended by Ruth!

Cocu Kitchen / Baggot Wine Cavern / Keshk Cafe (Egyptian and Turkish food!) / Searson’s Pub

Royal Dublin Hospital, Dublin, Ireland Royal Dublin Hospital, Ireland The architecture on Baggot Street is wonderful, but you do have to remember to look up!   Pub, Dublin, Ireland Georgian door with wisteria, Dublin, Ireland The sun came out as we were walking, so we took a little wander through the area to the south of Baggot Street where all of the embassies are. The buildings are incredible and we stopped at every other doorway to snap photos. This purple one with matching wisteria was pretty dreamy.  purple-georgian-door georgian-doors-flowers pink-georgian-house-dublin georgian-doors-bicycle You can see how we could have spent all day just ogling doors!  wrought-iron-gate wrought-iron-x2 And also wrought-iron gates. I love that the one in the right photo above has a little plaque that says ‘Please Shut the Gate” on the wide open gate. So poetic.  wrought-iron-leaves haddington-square-dublin-4 Our final stop of the day was the National Print Museum, which was such a treat. I had been meaning to stop in for years, actually, but never quite made it all the way to Beggar’s Bush. I still need to go back and take one of their tours, but even without it I learned such interesting tidbits about the history of print in Dublin. When Eamonn de Valera and his compatriots wanted to print the proclamation of independence, they had to search all over the city for enough typeface to print the whole document. They cobbled together different bits and fonts but still only had enough for half of it, so they printed the top half and then rearranged the letters to print the bottom half. Isn’t that fascinating?  dublin-print-museum-workshop dublin-print-museum The Print Museum also runs workshops throughout the year, but the print workshops fill up so quickly.  dublin-print-museum-heidelberg dublin-print-museum-welcome dublin-cafe-ireland-lunch And finally, we ended our day with a delicious late brunch in the Press Cafe at the museum. I wrote lots more about it right here.

I owe Ruth a big thank you for touring me around her neighborhood. What a fun afternoon!

As always, if you’re looking for even more information on what to do in neighborhoods around Dublin, check out Delightful Dublin! And don’t forget to check out the One Day in Dublin archives, too!

I Have This Thing with Dublin Doors

June 9, 2015

georgian doors for insta

You know the way they talk about crazy cat ladies? I think I’m turning into the crazy door lady. Ha! I have friends who send me photos of doors they think I might like when they’re away on vacation, or tag me in posts of colorful doors in their neighborhood. I love that so many people feed my habit! But it’s a slightly strange thing to be getting a reputation for! There are just so many good Georgian doors in Dublin, I can’t help but snap photos of so, so many of them.

Ever wonder what the trickiest thing about photographing Dublin’s amazing doors is? I bet you have not, but I’m gonna tell you anyway! There isn’t a single straight line to be found. If the doors are straight, the wrought-iron gates are wonky. If the gates are straight, the stone steps are crooked. And now I’ve just revealed that the crazy door lady is also ever-so-slightly OCD as well. Uh oh!

Luckily, I’m not alone, at least in my love of Georgian doors if not the straight-line-only-quirk. Have you seen the Doors of Dublin Instagram account? All the best Dublin doors shared from Instagrammers around the city. It’s like drugs for the door-addicted. Or something.

The door above is my latest all-time favorite. I happened to catch this pair on just the right day when the clematis and blue bells conspired in that flowered path up to the most perfect pink and yellow doors.

If you’re a crazy door lady (or dude), have a peek at the Doors of Dublin Instagram account, and my Instagram feed as well, for the latest in Dublin doors.

Video / The Making of Delightful Dublin

June 8, 2015

Way back in September when Julie and I released the Delightful Dublin guidebook, we asked my friend Nora to put together a behind the scenes video to go along with it. We thought it would be fun to show everyone what it looked like when we were shooting the features for each neighborhood! Unfortunately, I then ran into technical difficulties because my old blog template wouldn’t let me embed videos, and I didn’t want to just link to the video because just wouldn’t do the video justice. So today, finally the Delightful Dublin video!

Nora did such a nice job with the video and when I watched it again today I got a little teary. Julie and I poured our creative selves into this project and I have such fond memories of late nights sitting side by side as we worked out the layout and chose the fonts and colors. I don’t think I’ve ever worked so hard to make something be so perfect. By nature, I am not a perfectionist (thank goodnes Julie is!). But I wanted this to be perfect for anyone who was willing to part with their $12. I wanted them to get the most perfect introduction to my adopted city. I think it was, and is, and I’m still so proud of what we made.

If you missed Delightful Dublin, it’s still totally relevant and will soon be released on Amazon! Turns out our beautiful layout didn’t really agree with Amazon’s formats, but we’ve nearly figured our way around that little snafu.

In other fun news, Nora and I are teaming up again! We’re putting together a series of Dublin neighborhood video guides! Each little video shows what you can do in that neighborhood in an afternoon, where you can have a coffee, learn something interesting, maybe shop a little, and grab a bite to eat. We can’t wait to share them with you in the coming weeks!

The awesome music in the video is by a Dublin girl band called Cave Ghosts, and they’ve graciously allowed us to use their song ‘Hideaway’ for our video. Thanks, girls!

Styled in Ireland / A Walk in the Park

June 3, 2015

Styled in Ireland, A Walk in the Park Welcome to another edition of Styled in Ireland, everyone! This time, we’re taking a mid-week walk in a Dublin park full of the most amazing trees. We’re going for casual, comfortable, and even a little woodsy.

We’ve returned to the scene of my previous Styled in Ireland / What to Wear to a Castle, Malahide Castle, but we’re exploring the wooded path that winds around the whole grounds. If you can believe it, it was actually raining outside the day we went out walking. But thanks to those giant trees, we were perfectly covered and dry – and bathed in the most beautiful dappled light. Success all around!

What to wear in a Dublin park what-to-wear-park-dublin-x2 styled-in-ireland-park-small I’ve teamed up with Jord Watches for this post, and I’m excited to share their woodsy watches with you. They zipped one across the pond from St. Louis, Missouri, for me to try, and I can’t tell you how many compliments I’ve received. Just yesterday I was shopping for shoes and I found myself taking the watch off to show the shop ladies how it says Born in St. Louis on the back. Ha! Watch out if you ever give me a compliment, you’ll probably get a very enthusiastic earful!

I actually hadn’t really planned to take photos of the watch on this day, but I was wearing it and we were in the woods, so it seemed too perfect not to! One of the things I love about this watch is how light it is. It’s chunky, but I don’t rush to take it off at the end of the day like some of my other watches, which is a nice change. It’s a neutral, so it goes with most outfits, but it has a little sparkle and a rose gold face, so it’s a little fancy as well. When you flip it over, you can see the inner workings of the watch, which I think is fascinating!  styled-in-ireland-dublin-park ireland-walk-park I also happened to be wearing one of the only things I’ve purchased in 2015 – a kimono I completely impulse bought in Berlin when I was wandering with Ashley and Anne before The Hive conference. We walked into one shop, I saw one kimono, tried on one kimono and bought it ten seconds later. And I love it. I think it’s going to be perfect this summer for cool evenings in Maine, layered over shorts and a tank top, but it’s also the perfect extra layer for daytime summer in Dublin, over black skinnies and paired with a scarf. Scarves in summer. Ugh. But pretty!  jord-watch-05 what-to-wear-ireland walking-malahide-castle-dublin Of course, we didn’t escape without my friendly photo bomber making an appearance!



Eabha likes to make sure we know what she’s wearing, too! Those are this season’s hottest heart tights, paired with the very latest onesie. 😉  emily-westbrooks-what-to-wear-ireland converse-sneakers-walk-ireland what-to-wear-dublin-park-02 We even found a few stacks of cut wood! I felt like I was back home in Maine. Can you believe this park is only ten miles from the city centre of Dublin? And yet the trees are absolutely huge and you can walk for at least a few miles around the grounds. They run timed 5k races there every Saturday, and then you can have coffee and treats at Avoca! emily-westbrooks-jord-watch-small Location: Malahide Castle / Sneakers: Converse / Jeans: H&M / Kimono: A random boutique in Berlin! / Watch: Jord Watches / Earrings: Folkster / Scarf: Abacus Gallery / Photography: Naomi Phillips

I received a watch from Jord Watches for the purpose of this review, but all opinions remain cheerfully my own!

Womens Wood

Breakfast in Bed / Greek Yogurt with Rhubarb and Granola

June 1, 2015

breakfast-granola-yogurt It’s a rainy, windy bank holiday here today (following a particularly fun weekend!), so we’re taking it easy. Late sleeping, reading the paper, brunch for all the meals, and coffee on repeat. We didn’t manage breakfast in bed because we had visitors for brunch, but we might end up having this little snack in bed this afternoon.

I tried out Glenisk’s new high protein strained Greek yogurt this week and after lots of taste testing, I’ve decided it’s perfect with my favorite homemade rhubarb sauce and granola. Just a few ingredients, no funny stuff, just simple food for a simple breakfast (or afternoon snack!) in bed.  rhubarb-yogurt-granola It does help that my mother-in-law left us a whole batch of her homemade granola when she headed off to the States a few weeks ago. Thanks, Lois!  protein-yogurt-rhubarb-granola The rhubarb sauce is adapted from the sauce that goes with this amazing rhubarb sour cream bundt cake. It takes three ingredients, four minutes of active work, and makes plain yogurt awfully fancy. Here’s how it goes. One cup chopped rhubarb, about two stalks, plus one tablespoon sugar and 1/4 cup water. Pop everything in a small saucepan and stir just to combine everything. Cook on low-medium heat until the rhubarb starts to fall apart, about ten to fifteen minutes. Then let it cool and whizz it up with an immersion blender or in a regular blender. breakfast-in-bed-yogurt-granola

breakfast-in-bed-yogurt Beyond that, it’s pretty simple. Layer the rhubarb sauce, then the yogurt, then top with granola in pretty glass cups. If you serve it in bed on a tray with peonies from the garden, surrounded by fluffy white linens and a few of the weekend papers, you’re pretty much winning.  rhubarb-yogurt-breakfast I’ve professed my love for Irish dairy for a long time, but over the last few years, we’ve been converted over to Glenisk dairy products, one by one. It all started when we realized every one of our favorite cafes uses Glenisk organic milk for their coffees. Addictive, to say the least. Then we made a big mistake and tried their cream. I kid you not, there’s nothing like it. Grocery store brand cream literally pales in comparison to the pale yellow Glenisk cream. Big mistake, spoiled for life. And I have to admit, their yogurt is no different. All the flavor of Irish dairy packed into little pots.

We tend to go for plain, unflavored yogurt, but their peach flavor is a dream. Over the weekend, we tried their Go-Yo’s on my niece and her little friend and they sucked down every last drop of the no-sugar-added goodness. Gosh, this sounds like they’re paying me a million bucks to be their spokesperson (not the case, although I wouldn’t turn it town!), but we’re really just big fans of the Irish brand. irish-peonies irish-peonies-2 Aren’t these peonies from my in-laws’ garden incredible? I may have taken about 70 photographs just of the peonies in the soft light. They look like bright pink tissue paper. glenisk-protein-yogurt I hope you’re either having a cosy bank holiday here in Ireland or you have a new recipe to look forward to making this weekend! Bon apetit!


Eyes on the Prize

May 29, 2015


We’re having a little bit of an overwhelming season around these parts, moving out of our apartment and trying to buy a house in Dublin and subsequently meeting every road block possible. We should have known that buying a house here would take longer than we thought, but neither of us really believed it could take this long to get answers from banks and sellers and agents so that we can move forward. It seems like for months we’ve been saying to friends and family, “We’ll definitely know this week!” And then, womp womp, we don’t.

This week, we moved into Michael’s parents’ house (along with everything but our furniture) while we’re between homes. We spent most of the week getting organised and settled. And getting used to stairs again! Ha! But the sheer amount of change has been a little overwhelming for the last few months.

Last weekend, our worship leaders at church reminded us, “Don’t forget to keep the main thing the main thing.” They were talking about God, which, yes, definitely. But it’s also been a helpful mantra for everything else this week. Keep the main thing the main thing. I say it to myself whenever I go down the rabbit hole of what if the bank says no, or what if we aren’t able to buy a house now, will we ever be able to? The main thing is that we are not homeless, nor will we be. We are so lucky to have families who will take us in and let us bring all our belongings and even our cat! And the main things will sort themselves out eventually.

Plus, it’s the weekend! And weekends are always a whole lot more fun, right?!

So now, a few places around the internet we might while away a few minutes. Enjoy!

I’m eyeing this lupine-inspired wallpaper for our someday home, via this post on Design*Sponge.

Patriotic neon signs are always a good idea.

Did you see Serial is coming back? Seasons 2 and 3 coming on up!

The simplest DIY portable beach board game! Martha is so clever.

In case you have little climbing monkeys for children, a clever indoor climbing wall!

I really enjoyed this house tour on Apartment Therapy this week. Bright, airy and comes with great advice on house projects in the home owner interview.

My friend Naomi made this flourless chocolate cake for us last week and it was divine!

Have a happy, safe, peaceful weekend, everyone! Lots back here for you next week including, I hope, a video!

Bright Dublin Cafe / Press Cafe at the National Print Museum

May 27, 2015

Press Cafe in Dublin, Ireland A few weeks ago, I joined my friend Ruth to explore her neighborhood, around Baggot Street and the Canal in Dublin 4. I have a long post about our adventure coming in the next few weeks, but as I was going through photos I realized the Press Cafe at the National Print Museum warranted its own post. It was such a treat to stumble upon the Press Cafe and I know it’ll be right up your alley, too.

Press Cafe at the National Print Museum, Dublin, Ireland I’d been meaning to visit the National Print Museum (spoiler alert for the coming post, I loved it), but I had no idea they even had a cafe. It’s been open for about a year and it sits at the back of the museum in a little conservatory that’s almost all windows. It was grey when Ruth and I sat down for lunch that afternoon, but the whole place was just so bright. Dotted around were just the right number of plants – not so many as to make it cluttered, but just enough to make it feel fresh.

Succulents at the Press Cafe in Dublin, Ireland


national-print-museum-ireland-cafe It was about three in the afternoon when we visited, and we were still able to order brunch! How fun is that? I had delicious eggs Benedict and Ruth had banana bread French toast (very much like cake for a meal, Ruth decided, so if that’s what you’re up for…). We had yummy coffee with beans from Cloud Picker, roasted around the corner in the Dublin Docklands. Love that!   dublin-cafe-ireland-lunch Isn’t that kicky yellow plant great? That flower at the top is really going for it.

cafe-dublin-ireland-national-print-museum press-cafe-dublin-ireland-lunchtime-spot

The cafe was filled with people who all felt like locals, which is always a good sign. Poor Ruth, I kept saying I can’t believe I didn’t know this was here! over and over again. I love finding a great new cafe. flower-pot-press-cafe National Print Museum cafe, Dublin, Ireland Stay tuned for more from our Dublin 4 adventure coming soon!

Press Cafe at the National Print Museum / Garrison Chapel / Beggars Bush Barracks / Haddington Road / Dublin 4


Irish Makers at Work / Gardener David Corscadden

May 26, 2015

david-corscadden-gardener-ireland Oh man, it’s perfect timing for this introduction to gardener and blogger David Corscadden because it’s finally a little bit warm out there in Dublin! Today’s Irish Makers at Work post about David is another collaboration with my friend and photographer Christine Burns. She takes incredible photographs and then I get to ask a bunch of fun questions and we put the two together for you!

If you have missed our previous posts, you can find interviews with a florist, a soap maker, a print artist and a ceramicist so far! 

David and I chatted by email, and since he’s a journalist and blogger as well as a gardener and horticulturalist, his answers were downright eloquent! So I’m going to veer from my usual storytelling style and hand David over to you in Q&A format. He’s dishing on his favorite flowers, what he learned from his grandfather, how he started reading gardening magazines from the age of 10, and how to deal with slugs and snails! Thanks, David!

irish-vegetable-garden What do your days look like at the moment? How much time are you spending in the garden? 

For the last 10 months my days have been spent at a desk staring at a Mac, editing news stories and features for a newspaper. In August 2014 I became the Deputy Editor of the University Observer newspaper in UCD and so horticulture and gardening was replaced with student news and features. Due to the way the paper is set up I lost every third weekend as that was when we produced each paper so my own garden has really been neglected over the past year.

I was also the Food Editor for the paper which meant I got to interview some fantastic chefs like Neven Maguire, Donal Skehan and Cuan Greene from Dublin Pop Up. Food has always been something that I have been interested in and try to tie in to my blog when I can. For me the two really go hand in hand!

While I was working for the University Observer I still wrote my weekly gardening column for the Kildare Post. This again just saw me sitting at the kitchen table writing about gardens and spending 10 or 15 minutes each week fighting with plants to get a good photo!

Since April however the paper has finished and my life has switched back to horticulture and garden writing. I started working with Bord Bia for Bloom in the media department and am getting to really dive into horticulture writing again. It is very interesting being on the other side of Bloom and seeing how it is organised as I have always been a big fan of the festival and spend the entire June Bank Holiday up at the show so now at least I have a genuine reason to be there!

Since finishing up with the paper I also have more time to actually get out and work in my garden which is great as there has been a lot of work to do. The work has not been helped by Lola, my 2 year old Labrador, who has a fondness for digging holes and pulling plants from the ground.

My end goal or dream job with horticulture would be to edit or set up my own gardening magazine. I just love the combination of horticulture and writing. The blog really was the first step along the journey and I would love to develop that into a magazine. My thesis project for my Masters in Griffith is going to be a garden and lifestyle magazine so I am treating that as a trial run to see if I can do it or not!

irish-garden-dublin sweet-irish-garden Are there flowers or plants you look forward to with every season? 

This has to be the hardest question you can ask a gardener. Each year my choices change! Spring is all about tulips and hyacinths for me. I have always loved them and tend to be the ones that I will buy each year from the garden centre but I am trying to get a few different spring flowers in to my garden too. I inherited a lot of bluebells from my grandfather which have made their way all over the garden at this stage.

Summer for me is the hardest time to pick a favourite flower in as there are just so many. I love peonies and sunflowers. They are the two main flowers that I love to grow or even to just buy in florists to have around the house. I am a big fan of roses (just not red ones!). They have a reputation of being hard work and old fashioned but I love them in a garden. I find yellow roses have the best scent and also the best impact in a garden. Lavender is a great plant to grow in pots and place around door or patios.

For winter I love violas and primroses as I fill up empty pots and hanging baskets with them to add a splash of colour around the house.

In autumn I pretty much ignore flowers and focus on trees. I am a big fan of leaves as they turn colour (sounds very sad) but it symbolises a change in the garden and I really like that time as the garden slows down a good bit. My phone is half summer flowers and the other half pictures of leaves!

david-corscadden-gardener-dublin-ireland ireland-gardening In an interview for Garden Heaven recently, you mentioned you learned your love of gardening from your grandfather. Can you tell us more about him and what he taught you? 

My grandfather was a big inspirtation to me. Not only in terms of gardening and horticulture but just in life in general. He was always happy and willing to help people which I was kind of brought up to be like.

In terms of gardening I learnt all the basics from him by just following him around the garden and seeing what he did. I think most of things I learnt came from be doing something and him telling me not to do it and then showing me what I should do! The biggest lessons I learnt from him though would be the importance of watering and deadheading plants. That really just sparked the interest in horticulture and from about ten I started getting gardening magazines and books and looking things up myself.

Do you have a favorite garden or park in Dublin or Ireland?

My favourite public gardens in Dublin are the Botanic Gardens because you can find such unusal plants to admire there, and Farmleigh House has fantastic gardens which I only discovered about two years ago now.

I love June Blakes Garden in Wicklow as it is a real plant lovers garden and she has some brilliant flowers there. It is also a lot different to my own garden as she has a lot of reds and oranges in it which I don’t have a lot of in my own garden. I am a big fan of Powerscourt Estate too. I blogged for them for a year and got to really explore the gardens during that time. Powerscourt during spring is fantastic with its tulip display.

gardening-dublin-ireland-david-corscadden What encouragement do you give to people who tell you they have no green thumbs? 

The one thing I find myself telling people I know is to not be afraid of gardening or plants. For many people it is a scary topic and Latin names can really turn people away from it. I just tell everyone to give it a go but to take it slowly. Start off by growing a few things in pots or on a window and build up from there. A lot of people take on too much and will try to redo their entire garden in a summer and then get frustrated when things don’t work out. Gardening for me is all about trial and error. Seeing if things will work and if they don’t moving them around until it does work.

My biggest advice would be to talk to plant people and admit you don’t know something and get the right advice. Garden centres are full of very knowledgeable people who are just looking to help. Twitter is also a great place to get advice!

This last one is purely selfish. How do you deal with the darn slugs and snails in this country?!

Slugs are one of the most annoying things in the garden for gardeners and I have to admit I am not the biggest fan of them. My girlfriend on the other hand tries to protect them and could be considered the snail saver by hiding them or moving them to different parts of the garden when ever I find them.

In terms of advice on controlling them in my own garden I am not the biggest fan of just scattering slug pellets everywhere. I learn a very useful tip at the Hampton Court Flower Show last year and that is to put the pellets in a bottle or jar which is on its side. The snails or slugs will go to the container and come in contact with the pellets but it is much harder or other animals to come in contact with it.

I have tried beer traps before too and they do work well but I tend to forget about them or stand on them when I am working in the garden. Around my vegetable patch I use crushed egg shells which have worked really well for me in the past few years. You just scatter them around the plants and it creates a barrier that the slugs and snails will not pass over. They then just break down over time. This is a great cheap way to control them.

growing-potatoes-ireland Thanks so much, David! I cracked up thinking of your plant-sabotaging dog and your girlfriend the snail saver! I have to admit, I can’t kill them but I do chuck them over our garden wall for someone else to deal with! Great tips and inspiration to get our hands a little dirty this week while the weather is balmy. And if you’re in Ireland, look for David’s article in the Lidl summer catalog for even more tips, and say hello if you see him at Bloom this weekend!

Photography / Family Photos in Howth

May 25, 2015

westy-family-photo-2015 It’s not a holiday in Dublin today, but I certainly feel like I need one more day before we get this week started. We had one of the most packed-full-of-fun weekends we’ve had in a long time, with warm sunny weather finally arriving.

I had been asking my brother- and sister-in-law if I could take a few family photos of them since Éabha turned one at Christmas time. But family photos with a baby aren’t terribly fun when everyone is all bundled up in jackets and coats. So we waited until it was warm enough that we’d actually see them! We woke up Saturday morning and decided on an impromptu visit to Deer Park (that same place with all the incredible rhododendrons!), but by the time we all got out of the house and headed that direction, it was pretty much nap time. We got mostly serious Éabha, except when she was being chased, and ended up with some very sweet family photos. These guys head back to Colorado next week for the summer and we miss them already.

DSC_0105_edited walking-family-photo westbrooks-family-photo-2015 eabha-and-teddy eabha-cleaning-teddy (Teddy came along, too. And somehow kept getting dirty ;)) isaac-angie-eabha eabha-being-chased eabha-isaac-angie eabha-running angie-and-eabha eabha-running-x2 westbrooks-family-shoes eabha-walking enchanted-forest-family enchanted-forest westbrooks-family-walking-field eabha-from-field family-photo-small I’m beyond biased, but aren’t they gorgeous?

You can learn more about my photography here and see past shoots of (teeny) Éabha, Elsie, Julius, Sam and Nicholas as well.