I’m not sure the colour of these brushes is coming up as nice in this photo as they are in real life. They’re so pretty that I was not leaving without them. They were €8 and they’re from Penneys (Primark if you’re outside Ireland). 

Now I’m not saying much for how good they’ll be as brushes because I haven’t used them yet but I’ll give them a go this weekend and the seem nice and soft so far. 


They even come with this explanation for each brush and how to use them. 

Has anyone else tried them?

Around this time last year, myself and my friend Emma were living it up in San Francisco. I had wanted to go and see San Fran and Alcatraz for years. We went for 5 nights and we packed a lot in. Unfortunately, my camera lens started to die while I was there so I took most of my photos on my iPhone. Then to top that off, during the night on the  second night, my phone had some sort of meltdown and I had to bring it to the Apple store the next day where they had no choice but to completely reset it, so I lost all of the photos from the first two days, including Alcatraz. Oh and did I mention that our suitcases never made the flight? Mine turned up within about 15 hours but Emma’s didn’t show for about 48 hours. Sounds like a nightmare doesn’t it?!

To be honest, I forgot about all of those crappy things until I sat down to write this post. They are definitely not the take aways from the trip. The only downer about it is that I don’t have many photos of Alcatraz and I have absolutely none from the food trucks at Presidio Park. 

We fit in so much into such a short trip. We were up at about 6am every day and fell asleep about 10 or 11pm at the latest every night. The day we arrived we went to The Castro District. The Castro was one of the first gay neighbourhoods in the United States. Some of the pedestrian walkways are made up of the rainbow flag colours that represent the LGBT community. When we were in San Francisco, the Orlando nightclub shooting had only recently happened and there was a very touching tribute to the victims of the shooting at The Castro.

The Castro District

After visiting The Castro, we got a taxi up to the top of Twin Peaks. We took some pictures and got some great views of the city of San Francisco. By the time we finished there, we went back to the hotel (hoping our luggage had arrived – it hadn’t!) and then went for some food. 

Twin Peaks

We woke at about 5am and decided this was the best morning to head to the Sausalito side of the Golden Gate Bridge to watch the sun come up. This was by far the highlight of my trip. We got soooo lucky because it was a really great sunrise. We got pizza blankets (I know, amazing!!) and went back a few mornings later but the sunrise wasn’t nearly as nice. After watching the sun come up, we waked back across the bridge. It was a lovely walk. I’ve read and heard plenty of people saying that they wouldn’t suggest walking all the way across. I disagree completely. I loved the walk so much, we did it twice. 


Pizza blankets

After the walk back, we went to get some breakfast and then went to see Lombard Street which was really busy but the houses along the road are really nice with some gorgeous flowers too. 

How beautiful? (Emma may kill me because she’s in this photo!)

 After Lombard Street we went to Presidio Park. We went to see the Walt Disney museum, which really isn’t worth a trip in my opinion. Then we went out to the food trucks in the park, which was another highlight of my trip. Unfortunately, I have absolutely no pictures of it, but if you go to San Fran, I would definitely recommend it. We sat out in the sun, enjoying a cocktail and trying some delicious food. 

After Presidio Park, we went to Alcatraz. I was so excited for this and took a million photos and lost them all so I only have this one below that was saved to my Snapchat of me in one of the cells. The tour was brilliant and there’s something so creepy about the place. 

An Alcatraz cell

We were exhausted after it and went straight home to bed. Then my phone died so we spent a couple of hours the next morning in the Apple store before jumping on the hop on/hop off bus. This way we got to see a lot more without getting off the bus. 

We got off the bus at Pier 39. I was a bit disapointed because there wasn’t many sea lions out. The whole area had a real holiday vibe to it with restaurants and amusements and shops. Then we walked to Fisherman’s Wharf. Again, it reminded me of that Irish seaside town vibe, but a bit warmer and prettier. (Did I mention San Francisco had a heat wave while we were there and my scalp and shoulders burnt to a crisp?).


We got an In-N-Out Burger, which we had been looking forward to and it was so worth the wait. Delicious. I’ll never look at a Big Mac the same way again. Since we were so close, it would have been rude not to pop into Ghirardelli’s. If you are unfamiliar, it’s a chocolate company and it’s famous for it’s ice-cream sundaes. 

We paid for two days on the bus tour and we got to see China Town, The Oakland Bridge and Coit Tower. We also went to Haight & Ashbury which amazingly still felt like it had the hippie vibe that would have been there in the 1967 Summer of Love. We went from there to see the Painted Ladies which were absolutely beautiful. It was busy but not so busy that you couldn’t get a photo of them. I will say, as pretty as they are, I definitely saw some nicer houses scattered around San Francisco. We also went to see the Mrs Doubtfire house which was awesome, even if the taxi driver had never seen the movie and thought we were crazy.

Painted Ladies

We also managed plenty of shopping (hello Sephora!), lots of eating and a little drinking. We even fit in a visit to an Irish bar to watch Ireland beat Italy 1-0 in the 2016 Euros. So all in all, we had an amazing trip to San Francisco. It absolutely rivalled New York as my favourite place that I’ve been to in the United States. Now I have a favourite on each coast and I will definitely go back.

Is there anything I missed on my trip that you could recommend for next time?

“It’s important to remember, we all have magic inside us” – J.K.Rowling

Being the huge Harry Potter fan that I am, I thought it was only right to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Harry Potter Potter franchise. 

On 26th June 1997, I was a couple of months away from my 10th birthday, Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone was released and I couldn’t have been less interested. Little did I know that day, the absolute fanatic I would become. 

Roughly 4 & a half years later, my cousin and her then boyfriend, now husband, insisted I watch the DVD of the first movie when it was released and from that moment on, I was hooked. I went home and borrowed the first 3 books from my Dad and started reading. After that I bought the books and went to see the movies the minute they were released.

Since then, I’ve bought endless amounts of Harry Potter merchandise, been to The Making of Harry Potter in the Warner Bros. Studios and been to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in London. The last thing on my Harry Potter wish list is to go to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando. There’s also some Harry Potter bed & breakfasts and escape rooms in the UK that I would not say no to either. 

So here’s to 20 years of Harry Potter and in the words of two of my favourite wizards:

Dumbledore: “After all this time?”

Snape: “Always!”


I know I have an about page and you can find out a little bit of information about me there and if you follow me on Instagram, you’ll find out plenty but I just wanted to share some things that people probably (or possibly) don’t know about me here….

1. I only learned how to swim in 2011. 

I went to plenty of swimming lessons as a kid and was just so terrified of the water that I never seemed to get the hang of it. I went on a holiday to Cuba in 2011 and I learned the breast stroke. It’s still the only style of swimming I can do and I try to go swimming 3 mornings a week. (Operative word being ‘try’).

2. I’m left handed.

Yep! Part of the 10%. We even get our own day for goodness sake.  Funny story, when I started school, I had such a problem with writing properly. My teacher had to put a little star at the top left of my page because I was in a bad habit of writing right to left instead of left to right.

3. My middle name is Ann.

After my mother and her mother before her. I took the name Margaret for my confirmation which was my Dad’s mother’s name. 

4. I’m obsessed with protecting my skin from the sun.

I rarely ever wear less than SPF 30. I almost always wear SPF 50 on my face when I go abroad and for the last year I’ve worn SPF 30 on my face pretty much every day. I also have a slight obsession with skincare products in general & own waaaay too many!

5. I can watch One Tree Hill over and over. 

It’s my go to TV show when I want to binge watch something familiar or if I’m unwell. I would probably pee my pants if it made a comeback. 

6. I’m messy, yet organised.

I am soooo messy! My bedroom is NEVER totally tidy and I almost always have a chair-drobe or a floor-drobe BUT I have black & white storage boxes lining all my shelves with everything organised in them. I need to know everything has a home. 

7. I am awful at maths.

I mean seriously, hideously awful. I failed it in my Leaving Cert and with absolutely no effort put into getting better at it in the last 10 years, I now can’t do anything but add without a calculator. 

8. I  also have a really bad sense of direction. 

It’s an on-going joke in my family that I have to reset and go home if I want to find my way somewhere. I have to plan routes out in my head before I leave home. Google Maps saves my life regularly. 

9. My dream job is to be a party planner/event organiser.

Even though I get extreme anxiety about actually attending parties. Then I tend to almost always enjoy myself thoroughly. I  love the idea of organising them and not having to worry about attending them. 

10. I have one tattoo on the top of my back.

I got it 5 years ago in Thailand and it says ‘Ancora Imparo’, which means ‘I Am Still Learning’ in Latin. Michelangelo said it just before he died when he was 88 years old. 

Fish Shack Cafe

The sun was out at the weekend so Dave and I went took a trip out to Malahide. First we went to Malahide Castle for a stroll and then we went into the seaside village. We were going to go and have a drink somewhere before heading home but instead came across Fish Shack Cafe. We are both big seafood fans and although there was only beer or wine on the menu, we decided to forgo the drink in favour of some food. I was glad we did. 

Galway Mussels in white wine sauce

We ordered Shrimp Nachos and Steamed Mussels, to share, from the ‘Fish Snacks’ section of the menu. The nachos came with Boston shrimp, chorizo, cheese and tabasco sauce. The mussels were fresh Galway mussels steamed with white wine, shallots and garlic. They came with some bread and we also ordered a side of chips to share. It was a huge bowl of mussels and they were really tasty. The nachos came with lots of shrimp and chorizo and although I’m unsure what the cheese was, it was so good. All of that and a Diet Coke came to less than €25. The entire thing was delicious, we got to enjoy it in the sunshine and we left absolutely nothing on our plates. We’ll definitely be going back. 

Shrimp Nachos

You can check out the Fish Shack Cafe menu here and you can check out their two other locations too.


Name: Chief

Breed: Basset Hound

Gender: Male

Age: 9 years old. He’ll be 10 in October! Getting old now…that’s like a million in dog years.

Size: around 28 or 29kg. In other words overweight. He was up to 34kg so he has lost quite a bit. 

Colouring: tri-colour

Allergies: grass, dust, dust mites & his own dandruff

Nicknames: Chiefy, Chiefy Chops, Cheeky Chops, Fat Dog.

History: we bought him as a puppy from a breeder. It’s something I’d never do again. They were also breeding German Shepards & West Highland Terriers. 

Good with…

Dogs? No & Yes! He tends to be nervous of them mostly. He can play with other dogs but doesn’t necessarily want to. 

Cats? No but before lady came along he was terrified of them. She makes him braver.

Kids? Yes fine. Any human who gives him attention is acceptable. 

Likes: FOOD, treats, food, did I mention food? His red soft bone toy, covering himself in blankets, rubs and attention of any kind! 


Name: Lady
Breed: Jack Russell

Gender: Female

Age: 7 years old. We got her when she was roughly 1 & a half years old. 

Size: around 8 or 9kg. Also overweight but not by too much. 

Colouring: black & white

Allergies: none that we know of. 

Nicknames: Lady Lumps, Lady Girl, Mouse Face.

History: She turned up at the Pitch & Putt club my Mam plays in & when no1 claimed her, my Mam brought her home. We brought her to the vets and she wasn’t microchipped. We had no intention of keeping her but she won us over. 

Good with…

Dogs? No. 

Cats? No, she despises them! 

Kids? Yes fine. She loves women and kids but has to come around to men & sometimes she never does. 

Likes: Treats, licking people’s faces, climbing up on top of Chief for a snooze and long walks. 


Reading… The Shack by Wm Paul Young. I didn’t realise the movie had just come out so it’s a happy coincidence. I look forward to watching it once I’m done reading. This book has been on my list for a very very long time.

Watching… Grey’s, Grey’s and more Grey’s. Almost finished season 11 though so suggestions for TV shows are welcome now for when my Grey’s anatomy journey ends. 

Listening to… Elise Gets Crafty Podcasts again! Season 4 has just begun and I really really enjoyed episode 1.

Drinking… Wine!! I drank two glasses of a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc last week and really liked it. This might be the year that I become a wine drinker. That would make life easier on holidays when I’m trying to figure out what the hell to drink. (it’s important that I point out that I mean holidays in the Irish sense – as in vacation to any American or Canadian readers – although if I’m giving off the impression that I only drink a few times a year at like Christmas etc. I’m cool with that too!)

Focussing on… getting all things work tidied up before I finish up for most of July and August. Yay!

Eating… pizza…today anyway…

Scrapping… my 2016 Project Life spreads. I’m getting there slowly but surely. I should have the 2016 year finished in the next couple of weeks.

Purging… clothes and cheap sunglasses. I have an embarrassing amount of them.

Cooking… thai curries with prawns, so many prawns.

Looking forward to… A wedding in two weeks and then a few days in Kerry all going well.

Next up in my ‘Favourite Things’ series is blogs. There are a few I love and check in on regularly so I thought I’d share them here. 

 

Enjoy It

http://www.elisejoy.com

Elise Joy’s Blog ‘Enjoy It’ is my absolute Favourite. Elise lives in San Diego with her husband and two daughters. She owns a brand called GET TO WORK BOOK which provides tools for goal setting. You can check that out here. She has also sold many other things through the shop on her website. She used to post on her blog every single day. She doesn’t anymore but checks in with a new post every now and again. I absolutely love her posts and there’s a huge back catalogue of posts covering many things from her family life, to goal planning to DIY and homemade projects. She also has a brilliant podcast about small business and creativity, amongst other things. You can check that out here.

 

The Band Wife Blog:

http://thebandwifeblog.com

Laura Gummerman is a band wife who lives in Nashville. She recently had a baby girl and has two adorable cats. Lately she has been sharing posts about her lovely daughter Lola and her pregnancy but there’s also plenty of posts about her home life, her tour life, her style, her home and cats, cats, cats! Laura is a staff writer and project assistant for the ‘A Beautiful Mess’ blog which I will mention next. She has a really fun casual style of writing and she’s very funny. 

 

A Beautiful Mess

http://abeautifulmess.com

A Beautiful Mess is run by two sisters, Elsie & Emma.It is an entire lifestyle company. They share lots of home decor projects and craft projects as well as recipes and more. They also have a couple of photo editing apps and a couple of books. They sell lots of pretty things and you can check out their shop here. These women work hard and have turned what was once just a blog into a huge and very successful business.

 

Becky Higgins

beckyhiggins.com/blog

Becky Higgins is the creator of the  scrapbooking brand Project Life. I’m a huge fan of this memory keeping method and you can find some of my posts about it here. You can find out all about the concept and shop her products over on her website but you can also read posts about Project Life, digital scrapbooking,  “cultivating a good life and recording it” and lots more!

 

Ali Edwards

https://aliedwards.com/blog

Ali is a designer, blogger, workshop instructor and an author. My interest in her started a few years ago when I first learned of the concept of One Little Word, which I have posted about and you can check those posts out here. Since then I’ve also (kinda) taken part in her ‘A Day in The Life’ project. Ali is an avid memory keeper and her blog has lots of posts about Project Life and other creative projects.

 

My Tiny Mind

http://mytinymind.com

My Tiny Mind is something quite different from the rest of the blogs I’ve mentioned. It is a blog belonging to a middle aged, middle brow (his words, not mine) man who shares his opinion on things from Trump to his generation to local charities. He also discusses life long learning and random topics from what he calls his ‘Man Drawer’. Mostly though, he shares reviews of books and his travels which are definitely worth a read.

 

Some other new blogs, belonging to friends of mine, which are worth keeping an eye out for include:

National Steographic

Small Matters

Building Our Home

All of the pictures above where taken from the relative blogs. 


Today the first of our group of friends turns 30! So I thought the only fair thing to do is to share some really old (and some less than flattering) photos here. 



I thought I’d also share a little background of our friendship. We’ve been friends for half our lives now. I just realised that today. We first met through the boyfriends we had when we were 14 or 15. Back when we used to think that 25 was over the hill & our lives would be over. Those boyfriends didn’t last long & there’s been a few more since that didn’t last either (ha!) but our friendship has. Now that’s the nicest thing I’m going to say because if I say anything too nice, she’ll accuse me of going soft on her. 


Happy 30th birthday Jen! Thanks for getting old a little bit before me. I’ve learned 1 thing from reminiscing over the past 15 years….we might be old AF now but we definitely look better now than we do in some of these throwback pics…

P.s. Let’s not talk about my lack of eyebrows in that photo from Crete 2004. Or the fact that we clearly had a not at all cringe yellow theme going on.

I’m ridiculously far behind on posting (and finishing) spreads for Project Life but I’m on a roll now so I’ll be sharing the rest of 2016 over the next few weeks. 



Spread 1:

My March spread was mostly made up of Mother’s Day and International Women’s Day, some of the male students in one of the classes I teach brought cake and flowers in for me and the female students. It also included a trip to the vet for Chief and Lady to get their teeth cleaned and there’s a pic of some fresh nails for me. 

Project Life Kits: 

  • Plus 1 (Mini Kit)
  • Dreamy (Core Kit)
  • Blush (Core Kit)
  • Midnight (Core Kit)
  • Mom (Mini Kit)

Alpha Stickers: 

  • The pink alpha stickers used for ‘March’ are Eclair Thickers.

Embellishment Stickers: 

  • The pink girl outline sticker is Snap! Studios by Simple Stories.
  • I’m unsure where the arrow sticker is from.
  • The ‘Girl Time’ sticker is Now & Then by My Mind’s Eye.

Pocket Pages: I used a pocket page from Photo Freedom for the first layout and Becky Higgins Design G for the right.

 


Spread 2:

The left side of spread two is from Catherine from work’s Hen Party which was a brilliant day in Dublin City. It’s simple and pretty. 

Project Life Kit: Blush (Core Kit)

Alpha Stickers: 

  • Dear Lizzy ‘Fox’ Thickers.

Pocket Pages: I used Becky Higgins Design G.

The right side of this spread is from Dublin City on St. Patrick’s Day and naturally it has a green theme.

Project Life Kit: I think, but can’t be sure, that they are all from Seasons (Core Kit)

Alpha Stickers: 

  • I have no idea where the stickers are from. Oops, sorry!

Pocket Pages: I used Becky Higgins Design D for this 1.