JFK Arboretum
Dave & I are in Fethard on Sea in Co.Wexford for a long weekend and decided to spend as much time as possible outside on Friday because the rest of the weekend is supposed to be pretty rainy & windy. 

JFK Arboretum
We decided to go to the John F. Kennedy Arboretum. This park filled with a collection of international plants and trees is dedicated to the memory of JFK. 

For anyone unfamiliar with President Kennedy’s connection to Co.Wexford, his grandfather lived there before emigrating to Boston in 1847. In June 1963, John F. Kennedy visited Ireland. He, along with his sisters, visited their Irish homestead in Dunganstown, Co. Wexford. He also visited Co. Galway where he received the freedom of the city. A life sized bronze statue of JFK can be found in New Ross, Co. Wexford.

If you ever visit the New Ross area of Wexford, I would definitely recommend a trip to the arboretum. I wouldn’t be a gardener, by any means, as in I have killed several cacti, but I would definitely recommend it for a walk. We brought our lunch with us and had that before heading off for a stroll with an ice-cream. I think we walked for almost 4km and we didn’t even see it all. The arboretum also includes a cafe, picnic area, playground, a miniature railway (open in July & August only) and a lake. I really enjoyed taking pictures of all of the different flowers and think it was definitely worth the €5 entrance fee per adult. To find out more about the JFK Arboretum, click here

JFK Arboretum
If anyone can identify these beautiful plants, please do so in the comments. 

Me looking happy...

Me…looking happy! Duh!

I’ve decided to start a new mini series of posts that’s going to be made up of lots of different lists. I love lists. I find the idea of getting ‘to do’ lists down on paper really satisfying. I tend to like actually physically writing them down. I know this is really old school & there’s a bazillion apps to do the same job on our phones now, but I really enjoy the process of writing them down & crossing or ticking things off. I may actually write all of the lists down too.

This first list is a list of the little things that make me happy. I think we can focus waaaay too much of the physical things that make us happy and sometimes on the things we want & cant or don’t have so it’s nice to remember the little things…


Things that make me happy are…

  1. Good books that you get lost in & don’t want to put down.
  2. The smell after a well needed rainfall.
  3. Spending time with the people who make me forget that the world is sometimes an awful place.
  4. Music that triggers memories.
  5. Sunsets with a mixture of beautiful colours (particularly when I’m driving home from work – it lifts my mood).
  6. A shower on a cold day followed by clean pjs & fresh bed sheets.
  7. Family dinners.
  8. When people are polite.
  9. Waking up & realising there’s still lots of time left to sleep.
  10. Holding hands.
  11. Fallin asleep to the sound of rain.
  12. A great cup of tea.
  13. How excited my dogs get when I get home.
  14. Not setting an alarm for the morning.
  15. A smile from a stranger.
  16. Comfortable silences.
  17. TV shows binges.
  18. Taking photographs.
  19. Good hair days.
  20. Laughing until my belly hurts.

I’m sure there’s lots more so there may be another list of things that make me happy at some stage.

What makes you happy?

Last September I went to FriendsFest in the UK with my friend Emma and her daughter and I decided to do a quick review and share a couple of photos here because it’s on again, this year between July and September around the UK. 

Obviously because we were coming from Ireland, we got a flight from Dublin to Luton early in the morning and travelled by Taxi to the venue. We arrived pretty early which gave us a good few hours at the venue. 

We were so lucky to get really good weather. We started the day by watching some best bits of each Friends character on a big screen while eating some chips (yes, it was the AM, don’t judge me!!).

FriendsFest
After relaxing in the sun for a while, we got in the queue to get our photos taken in the opening scene. It was well organised and pretty quick but I’m not going to post a picture because I don’t want to post pictures of someone else’s child without their say so! 

This leads into Monica & Rachel’s apartment which is pretty impressive. They have the entire thing set out & you can get pictures taken in the living room, kitchen & on the inside of their front door. With the exception of some very small furniture changes, it was perfect and really brought me back to years and years of watching Friends (who am I kidding? I still watch it on Comedy Central at least once a week)

FriendsFest

FriendsFest

Next up was Joey & Chandeler’s apartment. If I’m being honest, this 1 was a bit of a let down. They had Joey’s entertainment unit, the Laurel & Hardy poster & lazy boys. It wasn’t in a room of it’s own, however, so that kind ruined it a little. 


As well as the apartments, there was also a recreated set of Central Perk. You could have your picture taken outside and then inside behind the counter, on that iconic sofa and on the stage. 


They also had Ross & Rachel’s Wedding Chapel, Monica’s Moodance Diner, a silent disco which was based on the New Years Eve party when Ross & Monica did their “routine”, Phoebe’s taxi, a souvenir shop and some great food & drink options. 

Considering we were only there for about 5 hours, it’s ridiculous how much we ate. After the chips I mentioned earlier, we also had this hot chocolate (yum!), a waffle with Mokolate on it (remember that episode?) and some mac n cheese.


Overall we had a great day but in all honesty, I think there is a lot more they could do with it. Overall I would say if you live nearby one of the places FriendsFest will be on this year, I definitely recommend going. You’d have to be a really big fan before I’d recommend you to travel by plane. We had a great day with great weather and any day I get to sit in a beach chair watching Friends, is a good day! 

If you want more information on FriendsFest, you can check it out here

Focus on Your Own Shit

I can’t believe we’re nearly at the end of April and this is my first follow up post to my 2017 OLW post. I’m thinking not having a regular means of keeping in touch with my word and getting it down on paper means I’m less able to share how it’s going here. Despite this it’s actually going quite well.

I thought I’d start off by sharing what I plan to get from the word Focus this year, so here goes. In 2017, I plan to focus on:

  • My own shit! Excuse my language but I need to learn to focus on myself and where I am and want to be. I think there’s a thing that comes with age (and I’m turning 30 this year!) where we all start to think about where we should be and what we should have or be doing. I plan to focus this year on working out where I want to be in terms of life and career and not worrying about comparing myself to other people.
  • The here and now. I’m a worrier so I can spend too much time in the past so it’s important I learn to focus on the present.
  • Being content with what I have and on having less. I think it’s very easy in western society to constantly want more. The newest and the best things. This year, I want to de-clutter and focus on spending less money accumulating crap I don’t need. That doesn’t mean never buying things but it does mean quality over quantity.
  • Being productive and not just busy.
  • Losing more weight. I have a goal and I have been slacking on that majorly. 
  • Letting go of the small things. This is a big ask for someone like me who is very detail oriented. It’s the kind of goal that gets carried over because if I’m being realistic, this won’t change over night. 
  • Saving more money. By more I mean any at all.
  • Growing my hair and getting it back to a healthy condition.
  • Spending more time with people and books and less time hiding behind devices. This is very aspirational in today’s society but even if it has improved slightly by the end of the year, I’ll consider this 1 a success.
  • Being happy!!

I found this picture on Instagram. Check out keelyrust to find it. You can keep up to date with where I’ll be sharing words around my OLW Focus over on  Pinterest. my name over there is @paparali. You can also check out my other OLW posts here

100 Day Project 100 Day Project

So today marked 15 days of The 100 Day Project and I’m happy to say I’m still in the game. The idea of The 100 Day Project is to do something creative for 100 days and I decide to focus on my blog. In the past 15 days I have written and released 5 blog posts (including this 1), edited photos on my phone from 2 different trips, edited photos on my MacBook from 1 of trip, started a new notebook for the blog, made lists of post ideas, planned a long, detailed post (the Budapest 1) in that notebook, took a couple of photos, shared posts to a Flipboard magazine and pinned lots of old posts to Pinterest. 

I would consider that pretty successful so far. This blog is never going to be the type to have new posts released every single day so I didn’t want to attempt that because I knew I wouldn’t keep it up after the 100 days were over, if I managed to keep it up for the duration of the challenge. I want this to be the beginning of a creative habit which encourages me to work on the Paparali blog regularly and consistently.

So here’s to 85 more days. Are you taking part in The 100 Day Project, or are you considering starting?

 


Reading… 100 Pep Talks by Elise Blaha Cripe. I love everything she does and turning last year’s 100 Day Project into a book was a great idea. I’m falling asleep very quickly at night so I’m not getting through any books in a hurry.

Watching… Still hooked on Grey’s Anatomy. I’m on season 7 now, addicted and pretty sure I could perform emergency surgery if needed. I’m also catching up on the latest season of Homeland. I love it but it’s 1 of those shows I have to binge watch so I record the whole season & watch it over a couple of days. Just 2 episodes to go…

Listening to… Ed Sheeran’s new album, on repeat. Pretty sure I can sing it word for word at this stage.

Drinking… too much alcohol. It’s something about brighter weekends then make cider a great idea.

Making… lists using my new rainbow list sticky notes from ‘Get To Work Book’.

Enjoying… having 2 weeks off for Easter. I’m getting a big wardrobe clear-out done and it feels good!!

Taking… part in Elle Luna’s 100 Day Project. I have been doing something for my blog everyday for the past 11 days. So far so good.

Looking forward to… a long weekend in Wexford for the May bank holiday.

Pinning…lots of my old blog posts. I’m trying to share them on different platforms.

Considering…where we might go for a summer holiday. Any suggestions?

 

 

 

Hello Hungary

In early March I went on a long weekend with my boyfriend to Budapest. We booked it in January and it came around fast. It was our first weekend away, outside of Ireland, together so I was pretty excited. The only Eastern European city I had been to before was Prague in Czech Republic so Budapest had a lot to live up to. I was surprised by how many people had been there when I mentioned it and plenty of people had said what a lovely city it was. This Hungarian metropolis is made up of 2 cities -Buda and Pest, separated by the Danube river. The two sides of the river are completely different. Buda has plenty of hills and beautiful buildings and is quite laid back and quiet, while Pest is flatter but booming with business and culture. Both sides are definitely worth a visit. We stayed on the Pest side, as I think most tourists do. We stayed in the Ambra Hotel which was probably about 15 minutes walk from the Danube, in the Jewish Quarter (District 7).

The hotel was relatively small but the room was spacious with a comfortable bed and large windows for natural life. There was no bar, which is very unusual coming from Ireland but the breakfast was very nice and included champagne so I indulged in a mimosa with my breakfast (I said Irish, didn’t I?!). I would definitely recommend the Ambra because it’s clean and in a good location.

The currency in Budapest is the Hungarian Forint (HUF) and the value for money is unbelievable. You can eat and drink for very little and we were not counting the pennies at all. We spent €530 between us over the 3 days and when I tell you, we were thinking of ways to spend it by the last day, I’m not lying. €11 cocktails that probably would have cost €2o easily, in Dublin. The only thing I would say was not good value for money was taxi fares. Other than the taxis to and from the airport, we only got 1 and it was not cheap, so I would avoid them if at all possible.

On our first day, we arrived around 11am, checked in, dropped our bags and went straight out exploring. We wandered as far as the Danube to try and get our bearings, walked across the chain bridge and back and had some lunch (an amazing pizza) on the Pest side before heading back to do a tour of the Opera House. It was close to our hotel and quite cheap to visit. It cost roughly €13 including a photo ticket so I could take my own pictures. It is definitely worth a trip and the guided tour is well timed and very informative.

Budapest Opera House Bar

Budapest Opera House Bar

Budapest Opera House

Budapest Opera House

After the tour, we went back to the hotel to rest for a little while before going for drinks in an Irish pub called Publin and having some food in a place called Hot Dog, Cold Beer, that came recommended on Pinterest. I’ll share more about the food and drink in the next post.

Day 2 started with a bit of a lie in, but we had breakfast and were out by 11am. We walked out to the Danube again (there’s a theme here!) and got Tram 2 along the river. I had read it was a great way to see the city and for a couple of Euro, I wasn’t disapointed. We went both ways and it brought us right down to the back of the Parliament building and I wasn’t expecting much, but it blew me away. It was absolutely beautiful.

Tram 2

Parliament Building

Parliament Building

We went to New York Cafe next, which comes highly recommended but only part of it was open to the public and the hot chocolate was amazing but the place wasn’t for me.

Later that afternoon we crossed over to the Buda side & took the second oldest funicular up to the top of Buda Hill and wandered towards Fisherman’s Bastian & Matthias Church which are both beautiful and absolutely worth a visit. You get great views of the Pest side, in particular the Parliament Building and I would highly recommend getting there for the sunset.

Matthias Church

Matthias Church

Budapest Parliament Building

Budapest Parliament Building

Finally, on day 3 we went to the Széchenyi Thermal Baths and in my opinion they are a must for Budapest. It’s over 100 years old and has 18 pools including 3 outdoor pools. The weather was 13 degrees celsius but felt like more. I wasn’t crazy about the indoor baths but the outdoor ones were amazing. We even managed to sit out in our swimwear & have a couple of drinks afterwards.
We went to the Central Market Hall and I don’t think I even have any photographs because I really wasn’t impressed with it. I expected it to have an old market vibe and it really didn’t at all. Some people love it, to me it was a place selling spices and tacky souvenirs.

We left on a flight around midday on the 4th day. We got almost everything we wanted into 3 days but I think a 4th day would have been great. If you are on the fence about a trip to Budapest, climb right down off that fence and book some flights.

Look out for my next post on everything we ate & drank in Hungary’s capital city!

Check out more photos from the trip here


I’ve been using these products for about 6 months now and I think that’s a sufficient time to be able to properly review them. I want to start off by saying at nearly 30, I am as freaked out by the changes in my face as the next girl my age, but I’m also aware of the fact I’ve been quite lucky with my skin my whole life. I’ve never had teenage acne and still don’t have any deep deep lines or wrinkles. However, that being said I have my fair share of mild skin problems including redness and oiliness on my chin, a dry dehydrated t-zone and milia. For anyone who doesn’t know, milia are small pearly-white bumps just under the epidermis. They are a build up of oil and are the same as milk spots in babies. 

Roughly 6 months ago I was recommended the  products I’m going to review by an Image Skincare consultant. I had heard the products were great and rather than trying to work out for myself what I needed, I went to a free consultation so my skin could be evaluated and recommendations made. The products I went home with that day were Provention + (an oil free, daily matte moisturiser with an spf 32), Vital C Hydrating Repair Cream, The Max Facial CleanserAgeless Total Eye Lift Crème and the Iluma Intense Lightening Serum.

To be perfectly honest, I’m not going to review The Max Facial Cleanser because I really don’t use it enough but I will say it’s very gentle on the skin. Other than that, I didn’t find anything special about it and so it falls down the list of cleansers I use.

 I was recommended the Provention + moisturiser in the matte finish because I have milia and the consultant thought it would help prevent it. In hindsight I think it was the wrong choice for me personally because I have such combination skin and it’s too drying in the areas that are already dry and dehydrated. It is however a nice, light-weight moisturiser with SPF benefits that I don’t think you really get from the protection that is built into your foundation. It’s also a lovely primer for under make-up and when I use this, I don’t bother with any other primer. I would definitely recommend this for anyone with oily skin. Rating: 7/10

I have no complaints about the Vital C Hydrating Repair Cream. I’m not too sure why this was suggested for me as a night cream, however it contains vitamin C which is apparently great for redness and I can definitely say the redness in my chin area, which is a genetic trait from my mam’s side (thanks genes), has gone down. My chin has somehow become dry where it used to be oily but more about that later. Again it feels light-weight which is always good when you’re going to bed because I don’t want the feeling of anything too heavy that gets all over the bed sheets. Rating: 8/10

The Iluma Intense Lightening Serum is the last thing I thought would be good for someone with milia, as unlike some serums, it’s texture is like oil. Somehow it doesn’t give me more milia at all. I use it at night before my Vital C Cream and it soaks into the skin really quickly which is great because it does have a slightly sticky texture for a few seconds. This was the first Image product I could see working and I would definitely recommend it. My skin felt brighter and it’s very soothing on the skin. Rating: 9/10

I can only describe the Ageless Total Eye Lift Crème as a little bottle of heaven. I absolutely love this product. I don’t know much about eye creams, or skincare products at all really, and don’t claim to but this is the single best thing I’ve used for getting rid of milia. Full stop. And I have had electrolysis to remove it, as well a using lots of other microdermabrasion scrubs, amongst other things. This was proposed for my skin because it has glycolic which is supposed to be great for breaking down milia. I won’t pretend to even know what glycolic is but if I can suggest any product to anyone, ever…it’s this! Rating: 11/10

Do you have any skincare products you’d recommend? 


The 100 Day Project

I’ve decided to take part in The 100 Day Project which started today, 4th April 2017. I know most people tend to do something physically creative but that didn’t appeal to me because I knew it wouldn’t be something I would stick to for 100 days. I wanted to use the project to encourage me to blog more often but I really wanted to be realistic and saying I would release a blog post a day wasn’t realistic for me. As time goes on, I might decide on a number of posts to share within the 100 days but the plan for now is to spend time every day working on my blog. That will include planning, writing, sharing on social media, taking photos for posts, editing photos, researching and all the other things that go into blogging. I hope to post as much as possible on Instagram, ideally everyday but I don’t want to flood my feed with photos for the sake of it either.

If you haven’t heard about the project before check out Elle Luna’s Instagram here. You should also check out Elise Cripe’s podcast on her experience and plans for The 100 Day Project here. If you don’t see this on time, you can join in and start your 100 days anytime.

Have any of you decided to take part in the challenge? What will you be doing for 100 days?

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A book by an author you’ve never read before:

Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham

 

Not That Kind of Girl

I want to start by saying I absolutely love the TV show Girls. I don’t think there’s anything else on TV like it. I heard once that the second episode of a TV show tends to do worse than any other episode and that stuck with me while I watched Season 1, Episode 2 of Girl’s because 6 seasons later, it is still my favourite episode and I’ve watched it multiple times. It’s important for me to say that because I’m not going to be very pleasant about Lena Duham’s book. 

You’ll notice first of all, that normally my book review posts include a picture of me holding the book in question, but this one doesn’t. I won’t lie it felt like it took a lifetime to get through this book because I really really didn’t enjoy it. I finished it on a flight to San Francisco and I won’t lie, the thing that annoyed me most is that I couldn’t throw it against a wall when I eventually finished it because that might have startled a few other passengers. I dumped it back on my book shelf when I got home and haven’t looked at it since. So it wasn’t until I started writing this post that I realised I never took a picture of it and I don’t want to either.

I have read some short essays and interviews with Lena Dunham that I thought were brilliant and I couldn’t wait to get more so I was delighted to dive into this memoir. There were definitely some pearls of wisdom, but over all, the only thing it did for me was confirm that Lena Dunham and Hannah Horvath appear to be very similar, which isn’t a compliment considering Hannah is the singe most narcissistic character I have ever come across. One thing I will say in her favour is that it’s really refreshing to see such candor coming from a woman in a world where plenty of women are still taught to put up and shut up.

Rating: 2/10