Author Archives: annisa

Visiting Ireland: The Cliffs of Moher and Aran Islands (with kids)

I can’t believe we waited over a year to see Ireland’s #2 tourist spot, the Cliffs of Moher.

The #1 tourist spot in Ireland, by the numbers, is the Guinness Storehouse. Tourists have their priorities!

As much as we enjoyed the Guinness Storehouse, the Cliffs of Moher just might be my favorite spot in all of Ireland. So far.

When visiting the Cliffs of Moher, most people will home base out of the city of Galway.

I wrote about visiting Galway here. It’s not a big city, so you can hit all of the high points in a day, maybe a day and a half. That leaves plenty of time for excursions like the one we took to the Cliffs of Moher and the Aran Islands.

Since we do not have a car, we booked a one-day guided tour with Galway Tour Company.

We selected them based on careful research luck of the draw, in all reality. They had availability for the sites we wanted to visit on the day when we could visit and a coupon code. I do love a good coupon code! They have absolutely no clue who I am, but we had a great experience.

If you’re curious, we booked this specific tour for the Aran Islands and the Cliffs Cruise.

TRIP HIGHLIGHTS:


Riding The Ferry to the Island of Inisheer (Inis Oirr)

(ferry image courtesy Doolin Ferry)

After leaving Galway, our first stop of the day was in the small town of Doolin where we took the Doolin Ferry over to the island of Inisheer.

While the boat does has stabilizers, whatever that means, you are traveling over open ocean. It was a bit rollercoaster-ish, which added to the excitement. It should be noted we were traveling on a relatively calm day!

The good news, if you are prone to seasickness, the ride is only 15 minutes on the express ferry. Otherwise, it takes about 30 minutes.


Inisheer (Inis Oirr)

In terms of land mass, Inisheer is the smallest of the Aran Islands. In terms of people, it is the second smallest. The permanent population on the island is approximately 260 people.

Our ferry had 190 passengers, which means in the course of a normal day, tourists will definitely end up out-numbering the locals.

I couldn’t help thinking about how much I complain about Amazon deliveries to Ireland. I can’t even IMAGINE living on an island where everything they consume has to be ferried over. I saw restaurants, but I did not see a grocery store, so I don’t know how that works.

As soon as you get off the ferry, you will be asked by many different locals if you want to rent a bike (they have kid bikes and helmets too) or take a horse and carriage ride. Either of these activities are 10 euro per person. Make sure you have cash!

I wish we would have rented the bikes because the island is only 3 km wide. It would have been easy to cycle around and see the sights in our allotted time of about 2 hours on the island.

However, we were starving. Okay, it might have just been me, but it was either eat at noon on the island or wait until 3 p.m. for a late lunch. 3 p.m. is like my snack time, people. Not lunch. There was no way me and my stomach the kids were going to survive in good spirits until 3 p.m. for lunch.

So we headed to the pub. Yes, kids can go into pubs in Ireland.

After that, we did some exploring around the island.

Inisheer has a really lovely swimming beach.

I managed to snag a picture without any humans in it, but yes, people were actually swimming on this grey day.

In addition to a beach, the island also has a cemetery, an abandoned church, a small castle, a fort, a lighthouse and a shipwreck you can check out.

The shipwreck is also visible from the ferry just before you dock in Inisheer.

You can see a glimpse of the castle and fort on top of the hill in the below picture.

If jumping on rocks and playing on the beach is not your kids’ thing, there is also a nice playground right behind the beach.


Cruising Along the Base of the Cliffs of Moher

After a couple of hours on the island, we boarded the Doolin Ferry, but instead of heading straight back, we cruised along the base of the Cliffs of Moher.

We had quite a few Princess Bride fans onboard our boat and they were VERY excited to see the Cliffs of Insanity!

I was too! I knew it was going to be cool to stand on top of the cliffs, but seeing them from the Atlantic Ocean just completed the entire experience.

The captain will get you as close as is safe to the cliffs. Parts of the cliff break away periodically, so in the interest of safety, they don’t get too close.

Unfortunately, my youngest kiddo did start to feel a little seasick during this cruise, which lasted about an hour. Thankfully, he returned to normal just minutes after we reached dry land.


Visiting the Cliffs of Moher

After a quick stop for a late lunch for the rest of the tour group (we went to the chocolate shop instead – who are the smart ones now?!?!), we headed for the Cliffs of Moher.

The nice thing about going on a guided tour is that your admission to the various attractions are all included in your tour price.

I think we had about 90 minutes to explore the top of the cliffs.

We felt safe enough taking the kids along the northern cliff route toward the round tower.

It was well fenced, with a (mainly) paved path and steps. It’s about a 5 – 10 minute walk to the tower.

You can pay an extra 2 euro to climb the 25-foot tower. I felt 700-feet above sea level was plenty high, thank you very much.

The views were – I don’t have adequate words – spectacular.

This below photo is looking back at the south side of the cliffs. Those black specks on top of the cliffs are people.

As you can see, it was a relatively calm day and the water was exceptionally clear. I felt incredibly lucky that we had some blue sky during our visit. That doesn’t always happen here!

Our tour guide told us the south side of the cliff walk was more dangerous and without railings, which is why we started our hike on the north side.

Since our kids did a good job of not going completely crazy hiking responsibly, we told them we would hike up a little way on the ‘dangerous’ part if they held mom or dad’s hand THE ENTIRE TIME.

Well, the first part of the cliff walk on the north side is completely fenced in with rock slabs, so that was safe enough.

There was a point when people jumped the fence and were hiking on the wrong side of the path though. The unprotected side. The side that occasionally breaks off and drops 700-feet into the Atlantic Ocean.

I probably would not have done that even if we didn’t have our kids with us.

It was a good lesson in, if your friends jump off a cliff hike on the edge of a cliff, would you do it too?

NO! Because your mama will find out and ground you until you are 107!

We did get a lovely family picture while at the top of the cliffs.

Yes, I was sporting the always glamorous wind-whipped look.

And my precious son. He was sporting the ‘tongue sticking out of his mouth at the camera’ look.

I did not notice this until much later.

So no, we will not be sending out Christmas cards this year! At least not normal ones where everyone is smiling at the camera.

There is a neat visitor center at the cliffs. It’s built into the earth just like something out of Lord of the Rings. That in and of itself is cool!

There’s also a cafe, gift shop and restrooms.


Coast Road and The Burren

After we finished hiking around the Cliffs of Moher, we boarded the coach for the 2-hour ride back to Galway. We took the coast road back to the city and I had my eyes glued to the landscape the entire time.

You will travel through a region called The Burren. Burren means great rock and I’ve never seen anything like it! I’d like to go back and explore The Burren National Park.

In total, our trip lasted 10.5 hours. We left Galway at 9 a.m. and returned at 7:30 p.m. It was a long, but amazing day. If you were taking a Cliffs of Moher tour from Dublin, you would probably leave around 6:30 a.m.


GUIDED TOUR TIPS:

We’ve been on a couple of guided trips while in Ireland. Both times our kids (ages 7 and 10) have been the only children on the trip, but no one seems to mind and the tour groups almost always offer a child discount. If your trip says kids go free, you still need to book them a spot. Otherwise, they might not have a seat on the bus and you won’t be able to go on the tour. If you have any questions about this, call or email the tour company to confirm your reservation.

The great thing about a guided tour is that your day is completely planned out for you. You don’t have to think about where you are going or how to get there. Just sit back and enjoy. The flip side of this is that you and the kids have to go with the flow and your schedule is not your own. That’s why I always pack water, lots of snacks and plenty of things for the kids to do while on the bus. On a day like this one, you’re going to be on the bus for over 4 hours, so make sure that is something your kids can handle.

A guided tour means the tour guide is going to be talking while you’re on the bus. When the guide is talking, the passengers need to be quiet so everyone can hear the information. If your kids aren’t at a stage where they can do that, you might want to wait before taking one of these tours.

Don’t be late! You’re sharing a bus with 50 other people. Don’t be the person that returns to the bus 5 minutes late. Not only is it rude, but it throws the schedule off for everyone.

These large coaches usually (not always) have a small restroom on board, so keep that in mind and plan accordingly.

Don’t switch seats on the bus when you get back on after a stop. People get really irritated by this. Also, your driver will let you know if you can leave items on the bus and if it will be locked.

If you are booking back-to-back tours with the same tour company, they usually offer a discount, so don’t be afraid to ask!

Last, but not least, take layers! Irish weather – I don’t care what the weather forecast says – is unpredictable. Be prepared for wind, rain, sun…did I say rain? All of those.


Our day spent exploring the Cliffs of Moher and the Aran Islands was even better than I imagined it would be. Partly because we were going to an amazing place and lucked out with the weather, but also because we had a great tour guide who was funny and informative.

All in all, I’m so happy we finally visited this iconic spot in Ireland. Without a doubt it is a true treasure not just for the people of Ireland, but for the world. Be sure and put it on your bucket list!

Visiting Ireland: Galway (with kids)

Over the past year we have spent long weekends here and there visiting different parts of Ireland.

Every place we visit is new and exciting for our family – it’s a perk of moving to a new country!

Our kids are 7 and 10 and they are definitely becoming seasoned travelers.

Last weekend we finally made our way from Dublin over to the beautiful city of Galway.

Galway has a population of approximately 80,000 people. It is also the home of National University of Ireland Galway (NUI Galway). Approximately 17,000 students attend university at NUI Galway each year.

LOCATION

Galway is located on the west coast of Ireland. The River Shannon is located to the city’s east. To the west is Galway Bay, which opens into the Atlantic Ocean.

Galway is a 2.5 hour train ride from Dublin’s Heuston Station. It is a great hub for tourists who want to visit the Cliffs of Moher (to the south) and Connemara (to the north).

(map)

TOURIST HIGHLIGHTS

Galway is not a big city. In a long day (or a day and a half), you can see all of the major tourist attractions in the city itself. After that, you’re going to need a car or a tour bus to see the sights outside of the city.

For a PDF of a Galway city map with attractions, click here.

Here are some places we visited:


Galway Cathedral

Galway Cathedral is not an old church, but it is impressive.

The church is located along the River Corrib and is free to visit. They do ask for a 2 Euro donation.

This was a good place for my kids to:
1) Practice their inside voice.
2) Not drink the holy water.
3) Not play with fire from the why were there so many?? hundreds of lit candles.

The cathedral also offers a unique opportunity to teach kids about sound and acoustics. In particular, what happens when you make fart noises in an echo-y building. The wrath of God mom. That’s what happens.

The part my kids most enjoyed was the beautiful mosaics on the walls. We had an interesting whispered discussion about how mosaics are made. At least, that’s what I think we were talking whispering about.

By the time our 20-minute visit was over, I was wondering why the tour hadn’t included any communion wine.


Eyre Square

Eyre Square is a park smack in the middle of Galway and half a block from the train station.

There’s a playground, green space, benches and statues/sculptures.

There was also a water fountain around the base of one of the sculptures that would have been  a TON of fun to play in if I had brought a second pair of shoes for each kid, towel, change of clothes, sunny weather, etc. I really dropped the ball on that one.

Eyre Square gave me one of those “thank God there’s a playground” moments though. We can offer kids all sorts of fancy experiences, but simple is usually best.

Look! There’s a swing and something dangerous to climb on! Go have fun while mom and dad figure out where the heck we are and how we are getting to the next place (in peace).

Everyone wins.

The copper sculpture at Eyre Square (above) represents the red sails of the iconic Galway Hooker boats, which are unique to the area.

So, now my kids know what a hooker is!

My work here is done.


Fishery Watchtower Museum and River Corrib Path

Galway has a beautiful path/sidewalk system along the River Corrib. You can walk from the NUI Galway campus down to Galway Bay on these paths. It’s fantastic! Truly.

Plus, if it rains (it will) there are plenty of trees to duck under for a little protection.

Along the way, you’ll be able to see evidence of the fishery system – past and present.

Random fact: the city can let 1 million gallons of water through that dam (below) in 4 seconds!

Be sure and visit the teeny, tiny Fishery Watchtower Museum. Your dining room might be bigger than this museum, but it’s probably not as tall. The watchtower was an actual place from where officials kept track of the salmon count in the river and of any illegal fishing activity.

The museum is free to enter no matter how many questions you ask the staff. I asked a lot! They were so helpful.

Also along the River Corrib Trail you will see poetry plaques such as this one…

The poetry plaques were erected by the Galway Civic Trust and the poems all refer to Galway and its waterways.


City Museum

The free museums in Ireland are really top-notch and Galway City Museum is no exception.

The museum does a fantastic job of explaining the history of the Galway area – including the significance of the Galway Hooker. Much to Handy Husband’s disappointment, we raced through all of those parts and made our way to the hands-on Sea Science section.

Science for the win! But in all reality, our museum visits go much better when I don’t have to say “DON’T TOUCH” 50 gazillion times.

Also, there are decent bathrooms in the museum that don’t cost 20 cents to use. Knowing where free bathrooms are in a new city is super important! I don’t want anyone to have a situation!

(image)


Spanish Arch

The Spanish Arch, one of 4 built in 1584, is right outside of the Galway City Museum.

All you’re going to do is walk through it, maybe do a little parkour if your parents aren’t watching.

It takes 4 seconds.

There is history and significance to the arch though and you can read more about it here.


Latin Quarter and City Centre

I’m not exactly sure where the Latin Quarter ends and the rest of the City Centre begins in Galway. I’m not even sure why it is called the Latin Quarter. Clearly, my knowledge base has limits.

Regardless, there is plenty for the eye to take in while visiting Galway.

There are a ton of shops (department stores and speciality shops) and restaurants (pretty much any type of cuisine you can imagine) in this area, which is mainly a car-free zone.

And tourists too. So. Many. Tourists. In. August.

When it rains, they will scatter…usually into a pub.

Our favorite restaurant was the Pie Maker.

We ordered our savory pies for takeaway since the restaurant has approximately 2.5 tables. Be sure and check out the copper ceiling…it took 60 hours to install.

If your kids don’t like savory pies, I can pretty much guarantee they will enjoy the apple pies!

There are also all sorts of fun alleys and side streets to walk down in Galway’s City Centre.

I usually tell the kids we are taking a shortcut when I spy an interesting looking side street/alley/crack between the buildings.

Sometimes that ends up being true…


Walking and the Salthill Promenade

Galway is a walking city. Be prepared to lace up your shoes and hit the sidewalks and promenades.

Try to wait until the weather is ‘nice’ though. Walking some of these stretches on a oh no we are going to blow away blustery day isn’t quite as enjoyable.

If you walk down the Salthill Promenade, there is a small amusement park and an aquarium. We did not visit this aquarium because while it received great reviews, we’ve visited a lot of amazing aquariums in the past couple of years. We were on the hunt for something different.

At the very end of the Salthill Promenade there is a diving board. Even on a “cold for everyone else, but warm for Ireland day” there will be people diving off the board into the bay.

I think my kids would have done this. Me? No. Way. No way. Brrr.

(image via Irish Times by Andy Newman)


River Cruise

If you need some time to CHILL and would like to see some scenery too, then I’d highly recommend the Princess Corrib cruise up the River Corrib.

You can sit inside or outside on this boat, so weather should not be an excuse for skipping this excursion.

The peaceful cruise is narrated by the captain (who was driving the boat in his stocking feet), so you can’t help but learn a few things along the way. About the river, not the captain’s feet.

One of the things you will see on the cruise is Menlo Castle.

It has quite the story behind it involving a fire and a missing body.

I was just blown away by how beautiful ivy looks on an abandoned castle.


OTHER HANDY TIPS

Luggage Storage: If you need a place to store suitcases, there are lockers at the train station. However, we used the ‘Left Luggage Facility‘ at Big-O Taxis. It’s right around the corner from the train station and across the street from Eyre Square.

Hop On, Hop Off Bus: We hopped on this bus tour when we first arrived. It was a spontaneous decision and it was SO helpful in getting our bearings on where everything was in Galway.

Train Tickets: If you are traveling with kids, make sure you buy (or at least price out) a family ticket on the Irish Rail site. Sometimes that option takes a little more searching, but it does exist

Food on the Train: These longer train rides do serve sandwiches and snacks from a food trolley. They aren’t the greatest or the most affordable. Dublin’s Heuston Station has great options for buying sandwiches, salads, sushi, etc. to take on the train. The train station in Galway does not, but there is a Starbucks. I’d recommend buying food from Marks and Spencer, Tesco or Dunnes before boarding the train in Galway for the return trip to Dublin.

We definitely enjoyed our visit to Galway! I’m going to follow up this post with another one about our excursion to the Cliffs of Moher, which might be my new happy place.

If you have any questions about Galway, please don’t hesitate to ask. I can’t promise the answers you are looking for, but I’ll do my best!

Oh, The Stories We Will Tell

We have family visiting us in Ireland.

Visiting us! In Ireland!

How cool is that?

Actually, it is literally cool here…62 Fahrenheit in August with a little rain every day just to keep the country’s emerald isle reputation SOLID.

This week I watched my kids play on a 400-year-old tree with an 800-year-old castle in the background.

This tree’s bottom branches had grown down low and were touching the ground, as if inviting each and every child in its vicinity to come play.

(Apparently, this is a sign that the tree was in an area that had never been grazed by livestock.)

I stood there and watched the kids for awhile and it made me wonder about how many children in the last 400 years had played on this same tree. And how many mamas had watched their children, either from the grounds or from a castle window, play on this same tree.

Oh, the stories it could tell.

I’ll be radio silent on the blog the rest of the week because we have so many stories yet to be written. We’re going to take our family on an adventure to explore parts of Ireland that we haven’t yet seen. Most of all, we’re going to be making hearts-bursting-with-happiness memories because I know how precious this time is together.

Oh, the stories I’ll soon be able to tell.


If you want to follow along on our journey, please follow my Instagram page.

If you want to learn more about where this 400-year-old tree lives, please visit Malahide Castle and Gardens.

 

 

 

Happy List: #34

How is everyone?

I know people who have spent this week either enduring extreme heat or extreme storms. August isn’t messing around!

While over here in Ireland, I’m just wishing our weather would make up its mind!

This week I shared what our first week back in Ireland looked like after a month-long visit to the U.S. I also shared another trash to treasure makeover.

There have been a few things on the internetosphere this week that have peaked my interest. Read on!


COTTAGE PLEASE!

If I ever go missing, you can probably find me in one of these stinking cute cottages in Maine!

There’s 16 of them! I’m dying from the cuteness. Check out The Cottages at Cabot Cove. That doesn’t even sound real!


CURRENCY JEWELRY

Atlanta-based, In God We Must turns coins into jewelry. And no, transforming currency in this way is not illegal.

The story of how this company started in 2014 is pretty neat.


SIMPLE AND SUNNY

The simplicity of this space gives me all the feels.

You need to see the other rooms in this house tour.

(image via Julie Blanner)


GEMSTONE SOAP

If I had any more patience, I might make soaps that look like these.

Detailed directions and more pretty pictures at A Beautiful Mess.


HOW DOES SHE DO IT? 

I can’t even handle how awesome this furniture transformation is!

Kristine at The Painted Hive is a miracle worker.

Plus, she shows you how to do the perforation technique that makes the show-stopping design on this dresser.

Read. Absorb. Become a furniture miracle worker too.


CHERRY GIN RICKEY

I like gin. I like cherries. This sounds like a winning combo to me.

Recipe and plenty of sage advice from Our Salty Kitchen.

(image)


IS IT TOO SOON FOR FALL?

Forgive me if it’s too soon for this. BUT! I love the idea of reversible decor.

I could legit say, “no, honey! I don’t have two signs taking up storage space!”

This sign was made by Mollie’s Custom Creations. As far as I can tell, you can contact her on her Facebook page.


DRESSER TO MUDROOM

Say what? Never would I ever think to flip a dresser on its side and turn it into a rockstar storage piece.

And you have to see the sliding rail of hooks. Brilliant!

All the how-to’s at Sawdust 2 Stitches.


EYE CANDY

I just like this photo. It made me smile!

It was taken by the professional photography duo of Jeremy Pawlowski and Lauren Simpson. They run a site called America Y’All and do work for some big brands. Be sure and visit their site for more inspiration!


We have family visiting and we’re doing a lot of exploring this weekend! Lots of pictures to come. Happy Friday, everyone!

Trash to Treasure Mirror

Pop quiz!

Do you remember the trash I pulled out of our neighbor’s dumpster? Then I fast walked raced home with it like “there’s nothing to see here, nothing to see.”

It still makes me feel weird.

But I loved it! Still do!

I turned that junky object into a 4th of July wreath, which I thought turned out pretty cool.

I also laugh at my own jokes, so take all of that self assessment with a grain of salt!

I mentioned this junky treasure might not stay a wreath.

As the decorating fates would have it, I came up with a more practical use for it and I’m nothing if not practical.

Which brings me to our downstairs bathroom. It is a GEM. An absolute gem…from several decades ago.

I’m beyond grateful to even have this space, but the mirror and all of the other fixtures are quite dated. I should probably take pictures for you, but I haven’t figured out how to contort my body in such a way as to get a clear picture of the tiny space.

Maybe if I took up yoga…

Nah!!

Anyway, I’ve been casually looking for a new mirror I could hang in the bathroom. Something I can take with me when I move. Nothing has really struck my fancy yet.

I have to tell you, online shopping aside, it is amazing what you do not purchase when you have to run it through the filter of ‘do I want to carry this home in my backpack?’ Maybe that’s the real reason Handy Husband likes Ireland so much…no Hobby Lobby, no HomeGoods, etc.

I had an inkling the really dated mirror in our bathroom just might fit inside my junky circle thing though.

And lo and behold, it DID! Spatial reasoning for the win!

This was clearly a match made in dumpster heaven!

Now, I know you’re wondering what I have against plastic peach mirrors?

If it was a Millennium Pink mirror, I might embrace its trendiness, but alas, it was more 1980s pastel peach and that hasn’t made a comeback. Yet.

So my creepy-looking hand (this picture makes it look weird) and I got to work covering over the peach part of the mirror.

Rope and hot glue. Two things I always have on hand.

Hmm. That sounded creepy.

Must be the hand talking.

Before my kids could give up on hollering “mom, Mom, MOOOOMMM!” from the other room and decide to come find me, I had finished giving the mirror its makeover.

So basically, it felt like forever, but it only took a couple of minutes.

You’ll notice I took these pictures before hanging the mirror up in the bathroom. I didn’t even stop to get out the good camera.

This was for three reasons.

  1. I get excited about these things.
  2. Still have not taken up yoga.
  3. The brick background is pretty.

Oops…there is a 4th reason.

I actually needed Handy Husband’s big muscles help to hang the darn thing because the screw the mirror was originally hung on was stuck in the wall. Could not get that sucker out. And he was off doing something responsible…his job.

This mirror is going in a bathroom the kids don’t use, so I’m not worried about toothpaste and other gunk getting on it.

And if it does, big whoop. I’m fairly certain by then I might have come up with another use for my junky treasure the materials in this free makeover can handle it.

If all else fails, I should be able to easily restore this mirror to all of its 1980s peach glory.

So, basically, this entire post can be summed up as, I’m having fun over here with my trash to treasure projects!

This house has been a hard nut to crack from a decorating and settling-in perspective, so I’m happy when I feel even the smallest amount of progress has been made.

If you’ve done a trash to treasure makeover, I’d love to see it!

Living in Ireland: Back After a Month in the U.S.

It’s flat out STRANGE to visit the United States after living in Ireland for a year.

I tried to put my finger on why exactly.

In part, I think it’s because I’ve changed. Evolved, shall we say? How could you not after moving to a foreign country?

But when I went ‘home’ I realized how much HADN’T changed. There is something comforting in that though.

I also realized that I’d gotten used to being slightly uncomfortable ALL. THE. TIME. while in Ireland.

You can try to look and act local in the face of constant new experiences, but as soon as you open your mouth you see a flicker of “you’re not from around here” pass across someone’s face.

This is especially funny when someone asks me for directions. I take it as a huge compliment that the poor soul assumes I’m a local. Fake it ’til you make it! But then I have to respond to their question and I can visibly see them trying to decide if I REALLY know what I’m talking about. Don’t worry. I mostly do.

When I’m in the United States, I’m not special at all.

Oh, we all know I’m SPECIAL, but what I really mean is I fit in. When I was back, I noticed I fit in, which is a weird thing to be acutely aware of.

That lady at Panera just assumed I’d been in her restaurant quite regularly because I was quick to order. I always get the same sandwich though.

The guy at the gas station just assumed I’d remember what zip code the credit card I hadn’t used in a year was attached to. I did…after a long, awkward pause and a quick prayer.

And the lady at the rental car company…well, let’s just say she should have asked me how long it’s been since I’ve USED my driver’s license, not if I have a valid one or not. Rest assured, I surprisingly remembered how to drive.

Our visit to the U.S. went by super quickly. I’m beyond grateful that I have this quirky blogging job that allows me to be home with the kids and gives me the freedom to work from anywhere. Even from a farm, 10 miles from civilization with slow-as-molasses internet. Talk about roughing it!

I was worried the kids would not want to return to Ireland. Not because they don’t like it here, but because it’s fun being with friends, cousins and grandparents. Thankfully, they were ready to go home. They missed daddy and all the things they normally play with.

Apparently, the neighbor’s cat missed them too. We call her Mittens. I’ve stopped wondering what her actual name is.

(In case you are wondering what my daughter is doing in inside-out pajamas, she is painting her LPS to look like Warrior Cats from her favorite book series. It’s a messy activity best done outside.)

I was a little concerned the kids were having a hard time adjusting when they announced they were going outside to play ‘cold weather survival.’

It was 62 degrees Fahrenheit.

Definitely not my idea of summer temps, I’ll grant them that.

We also needed to stock up on food because Handy Husband’s idea of stocking the refrigerator does not include food things like fruits and vegetables.

I’m teaching the kids how to ring up the groceries because I have dreams of one day just giving them a list and sending them to the store. These are important help your mama life skills.

Now, folks. Jet lag is real and it can whoop your behind. This happened to me the last time we did the 8-hour time change.

I’ve figured out what works for me though. The magic formula is to stay up all day and then sleep for 14 hours straight.

I kid you not, it works every time!

Handy Husband’s idea of overcoming jet lag is to go for a 4-mile hike the day after we land.

He’s so helpful.

I told him the 14 hours of sleep had me feeling pretty good, but no, no.

A hiking we did go!

We did get to see some awesome views of this lighthouse though.

Meanwhile, can you spot which kid and husband are mine?

Finally, we eased back into Irish life by going for a bike ride and discovering my favorite thing of all time a carnival.

This is what happens when I let the kids ride ahead of me.

But!

Here’s the good news. I think.

My boy, who has a healthy fear of these death traps, decided to get on that big sky swing.

If he showed even the slightest sign of being scared, I was prepared to go all mama bear on the entire carnival to shut that ride down, but my concerns were not warranted.

He had a fantastic time. Funny how you blink and they’ve done some growing up on you.

All in all, I’m so glad we had the opportunity to spend time in the U.S. this summer.

The place of your birth has a strange tug on your heartstrings. I realized this when I got teary-eyed listening to the national anthem being sung at a rodeo. Legit tears in my eyes, people.

Someday I’ll be back, but until then I’m happy to be home in my own bed in Ireland.

 

Happy List: #33

Why, hello, again!

We are back in Ireland – all settled in and prepping for our first guests to come visit us! It’s very exciting.

This week I shared the soap dish I found in the creek. No, it did not come home with me because suitcase weight limits on airplanes are no joke. I also went on and on about why this bed frame was our best hidden storage purchase. Oh, and it holds our mattress up too.

Here is what’s on my Happy List this week.


DIY INDUSTRIAL LOFT BED

Other than the fact that I have NO IDEA how I would get up into that bed, I love this loft bed made by Simply Designing. A bed like this might actually induce my son to stay IN his bed all night long.

You have to see the loft bed they made for their daughter too! These people have vision and skills!

I originally learned about Simply Designing’s cool bed here.


MEDITERRANEAN GRILLED CHICKEN WITH DILL GREEK YOGURT SAUCE

Yes, please. Preferably right now tonight.

Recipe and photo for this chicken recipe can be found at The Mediterranean Dish.


SEWING MACHINE DRAWER REPURPOSED

Guys. The creative vision some people have just blows me away.

Lora from Lora B. took a drawer from an old sewing machine table and made it into a tote. I never, ever would have thought to reuse a sewing machine drawer like this. Or to reuse it at all.

I could definitely see something like this in a classroom to hold supplies.

I saw this project here first.


CHILDREN’S BOOKS FRAMED

Framebridge has partnered with Penguin Print House to offer prints of some of their children’s books. Pretty cool, right?

The framed prints aren’t inexpensive, but considering the size of the print and the professional framing, it’s probably fair. It would make a nice gift for a mom-to-be.

The below print is from the book Dragons Love Tacos.


MAPLE CHILI BACON

Suddenly my belly life seems so empty without having tried this recipe for maple chili bacon.

Recipe and picture can be found at Alice and Lois.


WHAT A WINERY

I don’t care so much about the wine, but I’d love to see Pippin Hill Farm and Vineyards in Virginia in person.

Look at their barn building!

All the heart eyes, people.


CONSTITUTIONAL PODCAST

I discovered a new podcast this week called Constitutional. Contrary to the flashy artwork, I found the show done by Lillian Cunningham to be very mellow and she has a great storytelling style. This is helpful when the topic is history.

The first (and only episode so far) was about the summer of 1787 when the delegates gathered in Philadelphia to draft the U.S. Constitution. She tells the stories about the delegate who had epilepsy and how the Bill of Rights wasn’t originally included – and why. She had guests from the National Archives and even a man who makes parchment today from animal skins.

I’m excited to see where this podcast is headed and what else I can learn.


FRIENDLY SCULPTURE TREASURE HUNT

Now I need to go back to Copenhagen!

Artist Thomas Dambo has created and placed six friendly giants made of recycled wood around Copenhagen.

How cool would it be to go on a scavenger hunt with your kids to find these? Read about it at Lonely Planet.


PEANUT BUTTER COOKIE SMORES

I’m feeling really inspired by food all the time this week! Sheesh.

But, come on! These cookies look even better than the real deal to me.

Recipe and image from Two Peas and Their Pod.


That’s it! Be sure and check out my Instagram page to see what we’ve been up to since returning to Ireland.

Happy Friday!

 

 

*affiliate links in this post

Our Best Hidden Storage Purchase

Have I waxed poetically enough about how moving to Ireland meant downsizing?

MAJOR downsizing?

Get out your teeny, tiny violins.

I’d say we got rid of 60% of Handy Husband’s our stuff.

Start playing your sad tune now.

The truth is, I don’t even miss Handy Husband’s most of that stuff.

Even with all of that downsizing, I still knew storage would be a challenge. Think about all the stuff you store in your home – craft supplies, office supplies, Christmas ornaments, extra blankets, tools, all the shoes you can’t wear now that you have to walk everywhere, etc.

My babies shoes! I can’t part with them. Yet.

Homes in Ireland don’t have a lot of closet space – especially older homes. Most people store their clothing in armoires or wardrobes – not walk-in closets where there’s a lot of room to hide other completely frivolous items necessities.

So, here is THE BEST storage purchase we made before we left. I actually wish we would have done this sooner.

We found 18-inch tall bed frames on Amazon. And they have been a GAME CHANGER in the storage department.

I cannot emphasize this point enough.

We were moving furniture around the other day and that’s why I finally stopped being lazy took pictures to share this storage tip with you.

The frame does fully fold up if you aren’t using it. Here’s my handsome model doing actual work demonstrating how the frame unfolds after he’s moved it from one room to another without his wife’s help.

It’s light! He didn’t need my muscle!

I asked Handy Husband if he thought this frame was well-made and he dryly replied, “given the fact that our kids jump and wrestle on the bed, I’d say it’s definitely well-made.”

What? OUR kids? 

How’s that for great parenting thorough research and solid investigative reporting?

The thing about this type of bed frame is that you DON’T need a boxspring.

Well, you probably could put a box spring on it, but then it’s going to be a really, really tall bed. Plus, I’d worry about the boxspring slipping off.

I thought it was going to be hard to dispose of a king and a queen boxspring (we did this switch up for 2 beds), but nope! It turns out you can get rid of most anything for FREE on Craigslist.

I swear our mattress felt better after we eliminated the boxspring and placed it on this new bed frame, but who knows for sure?

Now, this is important. See the big brackets attached to the footboard in the below picture? Those don’t come with the bed frame, but we needed them to attach the frame to the headboard and footboard. They are made by the same company that makes the bed frame.

Let’s get back to the amazing storage though because it’s the real star of the show.

For a queen-sized bed, I can fit 8 of those large 18-gallon plastic totes under the bed with room to spare. EIGHT!!!

That’s a lot of shoes! Kidding! I only have one of those with shoes. One-ish.

I have even more storage under our king-size bed. And yes, I do use bed skirts to hide it all.

It’s a crazy amount of storage and it’s really saved our bacon over here.

I can think of one potential downside to this storage option. This particular bed frame is probably going to be higher off the ground than what you might be used to – especially when you factor in the depth of your mattress. So if you are vertically challenged, you might want to do some measuring before you go this route.

For our particular household, this has been a purchase decision we are immensely happy with and would recommend to any of you who are looking for additional hidden storage in your home.


Here are the specifics on the bedframes and brackets we purchased on Amazon:

Zinus 18 Inch Premium SmartBase Mattress Foundation – KING SIZE

Zinus 18 Inch Premium Smartbase Mattress Foundation – QUEEN SIZE

Zinus Headboard Bracket, Set of 2 for use with 18 inch Premium Smartbase

*affiiliate links used in this post

Natural Rock Soap Dish

The last day of our trip to the U.S. was pretty special.

First, we got to spend the morning playing with friends. Can’t go wrong there.

After that, I ran into my very first piano teacher. There are a few people God gifted with a sweet spirit and an abundance of talent and she’s one of them. You really need to see her portfolio of oil paintings.

(image: Nathelle Norfleet)

Then, my son got a lesson on how to operate the tractor bucket. Apparently, he now thinks that makes him qualified to help Grandpa make hay next year. He’ll be 8.

Finally, we capped the day off with a trip to the creek with Grandma.

It was a hot day and the creek felt really, really refreshing.

Not “I’m going to submerge my whole body” refreshing, but “put my feet in” refreshing.

Plus, I “forgot” a towel.

And if you can’t throw giant rocks at the creek, where else can you do it?

While I was sitting there enjoying no whining from my kids soaking it all in, I noticed a rock with an interesting shape.

Not just an interesting shape. The PERFECT shape. For a soap dish.

It was as if, over decades, the creek crafted that particular rock for that particular purpose.

(Don’t ask me what happened to this photo, but it’s the only evidence I have, so it’s here.)

When I got home, I should have been packing for our return trip to Ireland, but I have my priorities.

I really wanted to see how soap would look in my newfound treasure!

So I convinced The Junk Whisperer to drag out her handmade soap collection. She doesn’t make it, but she knows some talented people who do. Handmade soap smells the best, doesn’t it?

Then I went outside to see how it would work!

Yes, I went outside.

Partly because The Junk Whisperer has THE most beautiful landscaping.

But mostly because the lighting inside makes me look really good was terrible at that moment.

You get the idea though, right?

In the right bathroom – or near an outdoor faucet – this natural rock soap dish would be amazing.

Nature always does it best.

And I’m so happy she shared this gem with me.

Happy List: #32

Hello!!

July is flying by, isn’t it?

This week I shared a funny farmer tale and my thoughts on why you should try to give your loved ones a gift that is handmade. I’m not advocating that ALL your gifts should be handmade. That would be nuts. But, at least once, try the handmade route.

Here’s what making my Happy List this week.


METAL SIDING THAT LOOKS LIKE WOOD

The wood siding on this house is not wood, it’s METAL. Can you imagine the possibilities? The maintenance savings?

Also, that front door. WOW.

Mandi from Vintage Revivals shared this siding tip. It’s made by a company called Longboard.


BIRTHDAY CAKE MARTINI

I’m just going to throw this out there…I think I’d prefer this birthday cake martini over actual birthday cake.

And the best part is I wouldn’t have to share with my kids!

Drink details are at Inspired by Charm.


DIY AGATE NIGHT LIGHT

Folks. This DIY night light is SUPER EASY to make.

All it really involves is glue, so it’s something you could do with your older kids too.

And can you imagine it with a different colored agate? One with blues or greens? Gorgeous!

Image and directions can be found at Squirrelly Minds.


SEASHELL PLANTER

Sooo. Do you know someone on a beach vacation this summer who is bound to bring home a gazillion seashells?

This idea might be right up their alley.

Here’s one tutorial from Sand and Sisal.

And here’s another tutorial from Billabong.


DILL PICKLE DIP

I’d like to try this recipe from Wonky Wonderful because, hello? Dill pickles!!

I sampled some chipotle dill pickles recently and those would taste really good in a dip.

Also, Wonky Wonderful is a blog name that makes me smile!


TWINE FROM FABRIC SCRAPS

File this under: I HAD NO IDEA THIS WAS A THING.

Turn fabric scraps into twine? What? How long does this take?

But, in all seriousness, I’d love to have some! It’s so pretty and happy-looking on those spools!

Directions and more pictures via Makezine.


OUTDOOR GAMES

I love this idea for how to make your fire pit more useable when you don’t have a fire lit.

Also, these dice would be super easy to make with 4×4 posts.

I think I’d like them for indoor decor too!

(above images via)


That’s it! Get outside and have the happiest of weekends, folks!