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.


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


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.