Hot Chocolate Season / A DIY Gift


It’s finally gotten chilly here in Dublin. It took forever for winter to get here, thankfully, and now that it’s here I’m trying to remind myself that winter in Dublin means two things. Candle season (cosiness!) and hot chocolate season.

I’m plotting a round-up of my favorite spots for hot chocolate in Dublin in the coming weeks (must do a little more research – yum yum!) but in the meantime, I’m sharing this sweet little customized cocoa mug DIY over on Wedding Party today. I love the copper and navy – it’s wintry without screaming Christmas. Not that screaming Christmas is a bad thing, per se, but there’s a time and a place and that time has not quite come yet, despite the displays already set up in most shops here!

You can see the full DIY (very simple, very inexpensive) over on Wedding Party today.

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Loving Lately

photo (15)

First things first, this sunset over the River Liffey yesterday evening. And I do mean early evening. Daylight savings time ughhhhh.

And also…

Watching: City Ballet, the documentary on the New York City ballet.

Eyeing: this jacket, while simultaneously hoping it doesn’t get cold enough to need it.

Smiling: at the kind words Magda wrote about me on her blog.

Daydreaming: this little reading nook and the amazing use of color Lesley always manages.

Enjoying: Ruth’s posts lately – including this one on Dublin’s loveliest loos!

Drooling: over this recipe – cilantro dressing, yum!

Reading: this account of captivity in Syria.

What are you up to lately?

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Happy Halloween and One More Spooky DIY


Happy Halloween, friends! And happy Friday! Our (very small) group of trick-or-treaters has come and gone, and we’re relaxing after a long day of babysitting our little niece.

I shared one more Halloween DIY video today, to make this not-so-scary monster wreath and it’s currently hanging on our front door. The neighbor kids didn’t seem too phased by it, to be honest!

This weekend, we’re doing a little relaxing, a little working, and a little more babysitting. I’m hoping the rain clears after tonight and I can get a good long outdoor run in tomorrow. I’ve been treadmill running since the weather in the winter is so unreliable (I can’t stand running against howling wind! Argh!), but nothing beats a run along the sea.

I hope you have a relaxing weekend full of lots of Halloween candy! Someone eat some candy corn for me, I miss it!

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How to Make the Best Irish Coffee


Last year, my uncle and aunt visited us in Dublin and we had such a wonderful night at one of the best restaurants in Dublin, Chapter One. One of the highlights of the meal was the Irish coffee. In Chapter One, the waiters make Irish coffee for you with a little cart that they roll up to your table. At first, you just think that seems rather fancy, but then they light it on fire! And that’s just plain fun.

Michael and I had been talking about that Irish coffee for months. Every time someone asked for an Irish coffee recommendation, we would say Chapter One. I’m fairly sure you can’t just rock up there for only an Irish coffee, but if you could Michael and I would be there most nights! Last week, I got to stop into Chapter One to learn their secret recipe for Irish coffee – and I shared it over on Conde Nast Traveler yesterday!


Sometimes Irish coffee is a little harsh for my taste, but Chapter One caramelises the sugar before adding the coffee and whiskey and cream.  It’s so smooth! Now that we know the secret, you can bet we’re going to be making these at home all winter!  irish_coffee_flame_chapter_one_recipe

Darren, the head waiter, made an extra big flame for the camera. I wish we had a gas stove at home so we could do that, although I’m sure I’d singe my eyebrows in the process.  irish_coffee_cream_chapter_one_recipe

Darren’s trick is to pour the cream onto a spoon that’s facing up, so the cream doesn’t sink to the bottom.

dublin_irish_coffee_finished Thanks, Darren and Chapter One, for spilling the secret! Want the full recipe – and to know why they use only Jameson whiskey? Head over to Conde Nast Traveler for the rest of the scoop!

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Make It Videos with / Mummy Treat Cans


Guess what’s going on today? More Halloween crafting! I made a video of these super cute mummy treat cans for …And I actually made myself watch the video this time – anyone else hate watching themselves on video?! But it’s pretty good and really short. In less than a minute, you can see exactly how to make your own, just in time for Halloween on Friday!  westbrooks_mummy_treat_cans_diy

And you can see how to make those hilarious bats right here!

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Delightful Design / Woollen Mills Restaurant


There’s a new cafe/restaurant in Dublin’s iconic Woollen Mills building and I had been meaning to bring my camera in to take a few photos to share with you. On my whirlwind day last week, I slipped in and snapped away before grabbing coffee and a treat.

The Woollen Mills building is at least a hundred years old, and at one point functioned as a woollen mills. When I first moved here, you could still buy fabric and thread and things there, but it closed a few years ago. Elaine Murphy, the owner of one of our favorite restaurants, The Winding Stair, took over the Woollen Mills and turned it into a Dublin eating house that spans four floors. It’s a bakery, a coffee shop, a cafe and a restaurant that overlooks the River Liffey and the Hapenny Bridge. restaurant_dublin_woolen_mills woolen_mills_dublin_restaurant

The design is industrial, which does make sense, considering the building and its history. They’ve paired charcoal grey and tangerine orange in a really calming-yet-cheerful way.  woolen_mills_coffee_shop_dublin woolen_mills_restaurant_dublin

I think I have 52 photos of the fuchsia muffin cups alone.  cheesecake_dublin_cafe_woolen_mills woolen_mills_restaurant_treats_dublin Those muffin cups sure have a great people-watching view!

The Woollen Mills, 42 Ormond Quay, Dublin 1


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Make It Videos with / Spooky Bats for Kids!

kids diy toilet roll bats for halloween

A few weeks ago, I stopped into the studios to film a few Halloween DIYs and they’re all going live this week! The first one is up today – how to make these super cute bats from empty toilet paper rolls. They’re really simple and very customizable with different colored paper and pipe cleaners. And also, googly eyes make everything hilarious.

You can watch the quick video over on! If you like it, I’d be so grateful if you would share it on Facebook or Twitter, or leave a comment for the team at Evoke. If they’re popular, we’ll get to do a set of grown-up Christmas DIYs in the next month! Thanks and happy spooky crafting!

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Just Any Old Thursday

flame Today, Thursday looked a little like this: giant flames! Some days, it just doesn’t get any weirder!

In a whirlwind of a day, I stopped at Chapter One, one of Dublin’s fanciest restaurants, to shoot a soon-to-be-not-so-secret recipe for Conde Nast Traveler, then stopped into the Woolen Mills for a coffee to take a few photos to share with you next week. Before heading home, I had a chat with the head of the Design House about another Styled in Ireland series we’re going to put together, and then had a quick visit to the Little Museum of Ireland where I got a peek at their Irish Times exhibit.

There’s so much going on! But I’m so glad so much of it is just for you. I’m glad to be creating some really fun things for From China Village after a long season of just treading water.

Happy almost Friday!


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48 Hours in Donegal and Fermanagh


A few weeks ago, Michael and I hopped in the car on Friday night for a little excursion to County Donegal and County Fermanagh, neither of which either of us had spent any real time in – except at the basketball gym in Letterkenny, and that does not count. In fact, it counts so little I can’t even remember it!

So we left Friday evening and headed to the Lough Erne Hotel in County Fermanagh. I have to admit, we didn’t see much of County Fermanagh because we arrived when it was dark and left when it was completely fogged in. But the glimpses we caught through the fog of the Fermanagh lakes were stunning and we’re hoping to go back again when we can actually see something!

We arrived late, but their Catalina restaurant managed to squeeze us in and it was superb. Really excellent service and all local ingredients. In fact, the maitre’d told us exactly where our duck and venison were from and it was very nearby! That part was equally reassuring and a little too easy to visualize at the same time, but the food was superb.


In the morning, shortly after sunrise, we realized we wouldn’t be seeing much else for at least a few hours. Michael was convinced the fog would lift in a few hours so we should get on the road to County Donegal. He was right, but I was a little annoyed we couldn’t see any of Fermanagh’s lakes district. Next time, next time.


I suppose I should also mention at this point, that we did a lot more driving and a lot less activity than we were originally anticipating. Michael’s torn calf muscle meant he was just barely able to share in the driving, but couldn’t do some of the activities we had planned, like horse back riding on the beach or surfing. A huge bummer, obviously, but we had tons of amazing views throughout the weekend, so we didn’t feel like we were missing out. (He’s off the crutches now, we’re making progress!)

But here’s what we did do! When we left Lough Erne, we headed to the Slieve League Cliffs by way of Killybegs fishing village. Killybegs is one of the largest fishing villages in the country and I actually think the crab appetizer we had the night before was from there! By the time we got to Killybegs, the fog was lifting and by the time we made it to the cliffs, it was positively gorgeous out!

cliffs_county_donegal_ireland cliffs_slieve_league_donegal The Slieve League Cliffs are some of the highest in Europe, and the drive was very steep at the end! So steep Michael may have come off the injury list to drive us down from the cliffs because he wasn’t such a fan of my wimpy driving.

We stopped at a local cafe called Mrs. B’s in Killybegs for sandwiches to take to the cliffs (and wifi for Instagramming!) and ate them sitting at the picnic tables overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.  slieve_league_cliffs_ireland slieve_league_cliffs_donegal_ireland

Aren’t they just incredible? If you are traveling with able-bodied people, you can hike a bit higher up the cliffs, although I find it hard to believe your view would get much better! Thank goodness you’re able to drive right up – although you have to hold your breath going down – it’s so steep!


The other thing you have to know about this part of the country is there is NO cell phone service throughout most of County Donegal. It was refreshing to be cut off from our phones, but we really should invest in a paper map of the country!


On the way back from the cliffs, we found our tiniest Irish post office while trying to figure out the way to our next destination.

county_donegal_drive_big Turns out the most direct way across County Donegal was through the Crocknamurrin Mountain Bog, which was yet another amazing view!  bog_view_ireland Our next destination brought us straight across Donegal to the Grianan of Aileach, which pleasantly surprised both of us. It’s a ring fort that is thought to have been built around 1700 BC. BC, for crying out loud! grianan_aileach_michael_crutches grianan_aileach_county_donegal grianan_aileach_county_donegal_03 grianan_aileach_county_donegal_02

You know what they had a good grasp of in 1700 BC? Serious 360 degree views.  emily_grianan_aileach_county_donegal You can walk in (even on crutches) and climb up the rings to the top to see the most incredible view of the Atlantic Ocean and Lough Swilly, and clouds and pastures. It’s incredible.


You kind of feel like you’re on top of the world. So incredibly cool.


Now, here’s a little intermission. I’m fairly certain The Counter in Letterkenny is one of the only places you can get our favorite posh-hipster coffee in the county. We were so happy to happen upon it – and they’re opening a sit-in cafe space next door in early 2015! We stopped for coffee before heading to the Castle Grove Hotel for the night and were both unreasonably excited about it.

Now, onto our second night in County Donegal.  castle_grove_hotel_county_donegal_ireland

castle_grove_hotel_donegal county_donegal_castle_grove_hotel

The Castle Grove Hotel is a little like stepping back in time. It’s one of those old country estate hotels you’ll find dotted across the country. The decor may not have changed too much in the last century, and you can’t help but imagine what life must have been like when it was just a single family’s home.  county_donegal_ireland_red_leaves county_donegal_hydrangeas

Michael needed to put his leg up and the light was too amazing not to take my camera out for a little stroll around the grounds. county_donegal_view_clouds county_donegal_tree county_donegal_cows_rainbow

We had a wonderful weekend, we only would have loved to stay a little longer. And hopefully next time, we’ll have all our working limbs and can do a few more active things while we’re there!

You can get great deals on hotels in the area (including the two we stayed in – just click on the hotel links above) through Expedia. Huge thanks to Expedia for having us along on this #ExpediaExplores adventure! As always, the opinions shared remain my own and you can follow along with that hash tag as bloggers explore the rest of the country!

Posted in Exploring Ireland, Travels, Truly Irish, Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Dublin in Three Hours: Shopping in the Creative Quarter


Happy new week, friends! And apologies for sort of falling off the map last week. And at the end of a few weeks in a row there. Usually the beginning of the weeks have more time for blogging, but this week I started with a bang – we had a little celebration for Delightful Dublin in a gallery downtown and I went through today mostly like a zombie – but a zombie on a high! It was a wonderful night and I’ll have photos to share later this week.

But! I do have something really fun to share with you today. One way to spend three hours in Dublin – with a little shopping in Dublin’s Creative Quarter. For some, this might sound like hell (ahem, I see you falling asleep there Dad!), but for others it might sound pretty darn good! I’m not the biggest shopper, but these are some of my favorite shops in Dublin and I could spend hours browsing.

I’m sharing the full itinerary for a really lovely Dublin afternoon over on Conde Nast Traveler.

Photo by Julie Matkin for Delightful Dublin. We’re running a fun promo later in the week if you still haven’t bought your copy!

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