Staying Cool / Summer Berry (Vodka Optional) Spritzer

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I have to admit that each time Michael and I come to Maine in the summertime, we get overwhelmed by the heat and humidity. For all of Ireland’s rain, it rarely gets warm enough for humidity to be uncomfortable, but in Maine when it hits 85 and the breeze dies down, we can barely cope in the first weeks we’re here. We get so sweaty and sometimes a little grumpy, let’s be honest!

The heat and humidity mean winding down with my usual glass of red wine doesn’t sound that appealing, and since I’m having a hard time finding elderflower for my Elderflower Mint Lemonade, I’ve come up with a new go-to cool-down drink. It’s a summer berry spritzer, delicious with vodka or rum, but equally refreshing without.

Here’s how you make it:

Fill a tall glass with ice, then fill the glass half-full with cranberry juice. I use light cranberry juice to cut down on the sugar. Add the juice from half a lemon, and then fill the glass with diet tonic water. If you’re planning to add vodka or rum, use a little less of everything so you have enough room in your glass and add a shot of your preferred spirit. Garnish with mint, or even muddle some in. I love mint with everything, so I always muddle mint in the glass before I get started.

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I’ve made one or two of these every day for the last week and they really are so refreshing. We’re finally coping with the heat – of course, just in time to head home to much cooler Ireland in a week!

And here’s a little fun summer news for readers in the EU. Yankee Candle UK has just launched their new Indian Summer candle range, and to celebrate, they’re giving you a chance to win an Indian Summer Escape to Paradise £5000 bespoke holiday! To enter, visit the competition page on their website. 10 runners up will win four large candles from the new Indian Summer range plus £50 to spent on Yankee Candle’s online website. The competition is open to all European Union residents and closes on September 16th. 

Posted in Maine Exploring | 1 Comment

Happy Fourth of July!

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Happy Fourth of July, everyone! We’re in America again for the holiday and sadly, it’s quite soggy here! Hurricane Arthur is raining out fireworks and festivals all over New England, so we’ll be celebrating with indoor activities while my whole family is home for the weekend. Hopefully we don’t drive each other too crazy!

I hope you have a safe and happy weekend, filled with family and friends and festive treats!

(Those strawberries are from my mom’s garden – they’re growing like crazy!)

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DIY Painted Flower Pots for Confetti Online

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I wrote a little post over on Confetti online that I thought you might enjoy. They’re the fastest, simplest painted flower pots. I think they’d make great centrepieces for a garden wedding or for a backyard barbecue. The best thing about terra cotta pots is that the paint dries instantly. Nothing better than a DIY project that can be finished in 10 minutes!

You can see more photos and a little explanation over on Confetti.

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Truly Irish / Giant’s Causeway Inspired Jewellery from Isle Jewellery

emily_isle_jewellery_2 Today I’m really excited to share with you the work of a new company that I’ve recently discovered: Isle Jewellery. I discovered them perfectly by chance a few months ago when they followed me on Twitter (I love when I find amazing Irish businesses this way – it feels like such a gift!), and when I clicked onto their website I instantly fell in love with them. Isle Jewellery’s pieces are exactly up my alley – their collections are inspired by Ireland and its landscape and people, but in such a beautiful, modern and well designed way.

I asked Geraldine, Isle’s founder and designer, if I could borrow a few pieces to show you and she very kindly obliged. I chose to pull out a few pieces from the Fionn collection, which is inspired by the Giant’s Causeway. I desperately wanted to drive up and take some photographs at the Giant’s Causeway, but time and scheduling just didn’t allow. So instead, you get me in front of a beautiful green hedge.

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Can you see the facets on the pendant necklace, inspired by the craggy rocks of the Giant’s Causeway? Geraldine grew up in the Mourne Mountains in Northern Ireland, and earned a fine art degree from the University of Ulster, specializing in jewellery design. She now lives in Tokyo, where she has been teaching art and English at an international school.

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The Fionn collection is so named for the Irish folktale of Fionn the giant and the Giant’s Causeway, which you can learn about on the Isle website (another lovely bonus!).

The story goes that a long, long time ago the giant Fionn built the causeway to Scotland. A Scottish giant called Benandonner who was bigger and meaner heard about Fionn and used the bridge to come and challenge Fionn Mac Cumhaill. When Fionn heard the giant was coming he realised he needed to outsmart this larger rival to protect his land. He dressed as a baby and his wife told the Scottish giant that the baby was Fionn’s son. Benandonner was so shocked at the size of the ‘baby’ that he fled in fear of meeting such a large baby’s father. He tore up the bridge as he went, never to return, leaving behind what we can see today. Victory for Fionn! 

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Isle has two other collections on the go at the moment, Cloch, or stone in Irish, and Lása, or lace in Irish. They are both inspired by those traditional Irish crafts, and the pieces are equally as beautiful and modern as the Fionn collection.

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Each piece is printed with a tiny ISLE on one of the facets, which I love, and Isle Jewellery also has quite a few pieces for men. Michael loved the men’s faceted Fionn ring, so I’ve added that to the possible Christmas list! It’s chunky and manly while still having a little sparkle from the facets.

And because the facets are a little hard to photograph, here’s a little peek at the collection from the Isle Jewellery website. I love those geometric rings that can also be worn as pendants! isle_jewellery

And I nearly forgot! Their packaging is downright beautiful.

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You can order directly from the Isle Jewellery website, where you’ll also want to have a peek at their blog, shared between Geraldine and her sister, Helen, who helps run the business in Ireland. They’ve been sending each other links and ideas and finds for years, and now they’ve decided to put those finds into blog form. It’s sweet and full of great finds.

Thanks to Michael for taking these photos. He’s no Julie, but we managed not to kill each other, so we’ll count it as a success! 

Posted in Irish Artists and Makers, Truly Irish, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Chop Chop

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I’m in the market for a hair cut, probably brought on by the warm temperatures here in Maine, but also brought on by the fact that my hair has gotten quite long and there is a lot of it. It’s a good problem to have, considering the alternative, but it means it takes so long to dry. So I’m considering a shoulder length chop! What do you think?

Clockwise from top left: One / Two / Three / Four

 

 

Posted in Me | 5 Comments

Life Lately

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Oh, life lately has been a exciting and full. Want the short, photo-filled version?

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I shared a lovely meal with friends at Forest Avenue in Dublin, to send another friend off to Amsterdam. I spent an afternoon watching my friend Ursula screen printing. She always makes things look so simple.

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I stalked this swan family (and six fuzzy babies!) in Stephen’s Green. Michael and I took a wander through the National College of Art and Design senior show. So much inspiration.  life lately x2 4

I shot the Folkster Bridal collection for Confetti, in very tight quarters. And enjoyed the heat wave from the beach in Dublin.

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Then we headed to Maine! Preclearance in Dublin is such a great thing. But it doesn’t compare to being reunited with my siblings!

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My parents added a new porch to their house this year, so we’ve been enjoying cold drinks and even colder snacks out there. My favorite of the moment is frozen red grapes!  life lately x2 7

Michael and I spent three days aboard the schooner Heritage (more on that soon!) and those masts were tall. That didn’t stop the crew from scaling them daily, though!

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We were much happier down on deck or with a whole lotta lobster!

We’re enjoying another few weeks in Maine, and I can’t wait to tell you all about our time on the schooner! It was amazing! I hope you have a happy weekend, full of sunshine and summer fun.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

One Day in Belfast, Ireland

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I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been to Belfast, even if we’re counting tagging along to Michael’s basketball matches. And I can count on zero hands the number of times I’ve really explored and appreciated it. So a few weeks ago, I convinced Rincy to take a road trip up there with me and we’re already planning a return.

Belfast seems to be a rather spread-out city so we spent a lot of time driving from place to place. The main problem was that I planned the trip myself (and by planned, I mean got a list from a helpful friend and hoped everything was right next to each other). Michael would have managed a much better itinerary to minimize the driving back and forth, so next time I’ll bribe him into helping so we can get more out of the time we spend there.

Here are the highlights from our trip to Belfast.

First, Kiln & Loom. Rene from Placed (of the Irish alphabet books!) opened a brick and mortar shop in Belfast a few months ago and it’s so great. Rincy and I spent lots of time looking in every nook and exclaiming over the gorgeous pieces she stocks. Kiln & Loom is full of Rene’s prints and tea towels, but it’s also packed with homewares and jewellery and accessories and books from lots of Irish (and some non-Irish) designers.

We found lots of options for Irish-designed baby gifts, which are surprisingly hard to find. The shop also functions as a little coffee hut, which Rene modeled after former police kiosks in Edinburgh that have now been turned into coffee huts. People walking down the street can stop at the little window out front and order a coffee to go (but they’d be remiss not to stop inside for a browse!).

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I also managed to convince Rene to sign one of her Irish alphabet books for my new nephew, which was such a thrill.

After Kiln & Loom, we zipped (kind of, the Belfast traffic is surprisingly heavy!) across town for a quick lunch at Made in Belfast. Ger of Isle Jewellery recommended the restaurants, which has three different locations of Made in Belfast. And then we just so happened to park our car right outside their door and we couldn’t believe our luck! Lunch was yummy, the decor was hilarious and everywhere you looked there was something interesting.

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Then I had to rush to a meeting at Established Coffee, which, lo and behold, happened to be right next door! I’m telling you, we almost didn’t need Michael’s travel planning help! Established Coffee was my kind of place. Good coffee, clean design, cool dudes behind the bar, not too packed. All in all, we stayed for hours.

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Which means we were really late going back across town to stop into Maven, an interiors shop I’ve been wanting to visit for a long time. In fact, we were so late that Maven was already closed by the time we arrived. I convinced Rincy it would be a good idea to knock on the door, just in case they were still there, so we could ask for a really fast peek.

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Thank goodness Caitlin, the friendliest shop worker ever, had attended this blog event in Belfast where I spoke. Somehow she recognized me and let us in for a browse! I’m so glad she did. Maven is stocked with some seriously fun finds, both Irish and otherwise, from Ferm Living accessories to Hay chairs, Mini Modern wallpaper and Abigail Ryan textiles. Super, super good.

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Then, because we didn’t want our day to end, we stopped for a milk shake before driving home. A pretty great day exploring Belfast, and we already can’t wait to get back up there later this summer!

Posted in Exploring Ireland, Travels, Truly Irish | 4 Comments

Modeling Tulle Skirts for SisterMag

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A few weeks ago, the lovely girls from Sister Mag came to Dublin! I’ve been pestering them to come visit for two years now, so I was so glad to show them around Dublin! While they were in town, Thea and Toni asked me to do a little modelling for them. Little did I know they’d convince me to spend a day modelling tulle skirts around Dublin sisterMAG-Emily-Skirts-4a

One of the neatest things about Sister Mag is that each issue contains patterns so you can make the creations they have modelled. Such a clever idea! The other amazing thing about Sister Mag is that the patterns are created by their incredibly talented seamstress and designer mother. The Sister Mag sisters often wear her designs in their daily lives, which you can see on Instagram sisterMAG-Emily-Skirts-7a sisterMAG-Emily-Skirts-11a

 

I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical about the crop top (I’m 30! Can 30 year olds even wear crop tops?!), but it totally won me over in the end. It buttons up the back, so it’s on trend with some added interest. The key, apparently, is a high waisted skirt paired with a crop top so you only barely bare your midriff!

Sister Mag 13 contains a whole lot of features from talented Irish people like Nathalie and Ajda, so you’ll want to click over for a read!

All photos by my talented friend Ashley, who came to Dublin too!

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Off to Maine!

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Michael and I woke up in Maine this morning! In fact, I woke up at 5am in Maine this morning. And then I waited a whole hour before waking Michael up too. It’s always a combination of jetlag and excitement to be home. Now I’ve been up for seven hours and it’s not even lunchtime. I see a nap in the sunshine in my future!

On this visit, we’re really excited to check out a few new restaurants recommended by one of my favorite blogs, Map & Menu. Well, maybe it’s more a love/envy relationship I have with that blog. Half the time it just makes me want to move back to Portland because they go to all the new, cool spots.

While I soak up the sun/take a nap/bug my siblings with my sheer excitement, here are a few posts about us exploring Maine from previous visits. Enjoy!

An Adventure to Swan’s Island / A China Village Porch Party / A Maine Barn TourCellardoor Winery / Colby College Art MuseumAutumn on the Maine Coast

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Model Photography

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Yesterday I had the chance to photograph a new bridal collection available in Dublin for Confetti at a brand new Dublin shop called Folkster. Folkster is a new shop opened by the team who have run Shutterbug vintage in Kilkenny for the last several years. It’s a great addition to Temple Bar and I’ll be writing more about it in the coming weeks. In the meantime, add it to your list to visit – great options for your wedding or if you’re looking for something to wear as a guest to a wedding. And they have a super little homewares collection. But more on that in a few weeks.  westbrooks_confetti_edit_x2

When we visited yesterday, it was my first time photographing a real model and I found the collection both stunning and affordable. There was a lot of gushing over the beautiful dresses and the talented and gorgeous model, but when I got home with the photos yesterday I was struck by how much fun it was to be challenged by a new photography situation. I started clicking that morning completely nervous at the thought of having to give direction to a grown-up since I’m really only used to babies and inanimate objects. But I found my rhythm and am so pleased with some of the images.  westbrooks_confetti_edit

 

I’m really grateful that my various freelance jobs at the moment afford me opportunities to create and capture. I never thought it would be quite this satisfying.

You can see the rest of the Folkster collection here. And seriously, if you’re in the market for a wedding dress, it’s definitely worth a visit.

Posted in Baby Photography, Dublin | 1 Comment