This past weekend was a bank holiday weekend in Ireland so I thought I’d share my weekend in photos here. I shared a post like this a few years ago and I don’t know why I don’t do it more. There’s endless photos in my camera roll that never end up anywhere so I’m going to take the opportunity to share them here. (not pictured: drinks with friends on Friday, nachos for the Champion’s League Final on Saturday and drinks and dinner with Dave’s family on Sunday!)

Lady & Chief

Going Shopping in New Sandals Rasmopoliton

Dublin CityLadyCooling Down on a Warm Day

Chief

Picnics in the rainCar Picnic
A belly rub for Chief

1) Lady & Chief enjoying a lazy Friday afternoon (not sure there’s any other kind for them!),  2) Going shopping in my new sandals,  3) A razmo before dinner,  4) Dublin – Henry Street with a view of the Spire, 5) Lady looking a little fed up of having her picture taken, 6) nothing cures a hangover like an ice-pop, 7) Chief wishing he could have my ice-pop, 8) I was using my new picnic basket this weekend rain, hail or shine!, 9) picnic in the car, it is!, 10) If Chief rolls over and presents himself for a belly rub, you don’t say no!!

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A book you’ve had a long time and haven’t read:

The Woman Who Stole My Life by Marian Keyes

The Woman Who Stole My Life
The Woman Who Stole My Life is about a woman called Stella Sweeney who is back in Dublin with a bang after a year living in New York and travelling the USA promoting her self-help book. There’s lots of twists and turns as the story looks back over Stella’s journey.

I must start off by admitting that some of the characters in this book are slightly unrealistic but that didn’t hinder how much I enjoyed it. I wanted to say that first and get it out of the way because it’s the only real negative I have for this book.

 I absolutely love the way Marian Keyes writes and I often find myself smiling or laughing out loud while I read (much to the annoyance of anyone nearby). I would be really interested to hear what people from other countries think of her writing because her sense of humour, in my opinion, is very Irish.

This book held my attention right to the end and as each chapter closed, I couldn’t wait to hear what would happen to Stella next. Keyes has a wonderful way of jumping from different stages of a story to keep the suspense alive. It’s not my favourite of her books but it still has that feel good factor and I would definitely recommend it as a fun, summer read. 

Rating: 7.5/10

Comme Chez Soi

We went to a restaurant called Comme Chez Soi on the last night in Budapest that really made our trip for us in terms of what we had experienced of the food service. Budapest is a beautiful city and I would recommend anyone go there but the one thing I would say is their service in restaurants could do with some work. It’s not that they aren’t polite or the food wasn’t good, it was. It’s how slow everything is. They come relatively fast to take your order but after that if you want something, you’re waiting a while and make sure you ask for your bill well in advance because that’s going to take a while.

Now when it comes to Comme Chez Soi, forget everything I’ve just said. Their service was absolutely impeccable. We arrived without a reservation and were very lucky to get a table. They accommodated us but told us that regretfully they would need the table in two hours for another reservation. We thought we’d be out in under an hour but we were there for the full two two hours. We saw 8 or 10 couples arrive after us to be told they had absolutely no tables left. So if you go here, I recommend you book in advance.

Caprese Appetiser

We ordered dinner, a glass of red wine and a glass of prosecco. We didn’t order a starter and I’m glad because soon after we ordered our meal a complimentary caprese appetizer arrived. Then when our drinks were almost gone, a complimentary glass of wine arrived for both us.

Comme Chez Soi

We both ordered a pasta dish with a cream sauce and mussels. It was delicious and there was plenty. If I had one tiny negative about the place, it would be that the mussels weren’t the best I’ve ever had but that being said, we’re kind of spoiled for sea food considering the country we live is is an island. We were pretty full so we ordered a chocolate orange mousse dessert to share but while we waited for it, they brought a complimentary dessert of sorbet and chocolates. They also brought us both a shot of limoncello. Then another two and another two! The waiter told us it was his mother’s homemade limoncello, which was a nice touch that added to the personal feel that Comme Chez Soi had.

Sorbet

All in all, the food was great, the service was excellent and I think we got more food for free than we paid for. If you are ever in Budapest, it is well worth a visit.

On a side note, the photos are so bad because I was enjoying myself so much, it wasn’t important enough to take good pics!!

Perfume For someone who forgets to put perfume on on a daily basis, or just doesn’t because some of my immediate family members have allergies, I still own a heck of a lot of it. Different perfumes for different occasions.

My favourites are:

1. Chanel – Coco Mademoiselle.

This is my absolute favourite perfume. My cousin bought me my very first bottle as a gift for being her bridesmaid when I was 14 years old and I didn’t get another bottle until I could afford to buy it myself at about 19. It don’t come cheap but it’s worth it. I tend to only use it as a special occasion perfume so that it will last longer.

2. Vera Wang – Princess.

I love this perfume. It’s fresh, flowery & feminine. It reminds me of summer & I tend to wear it more in the summer and at weekends.

3. Jean Paul Gaultier – Classique.

Do you ever smell something and it brings up loads of memories or takes you back in time? This perfume does that for me. It reminds me of my teens and my friends. I rarely wear it these days because it actually catches my breath a bit but when I do, it takes me back.

4. Dolce & Gabanna – Light Blue.

Light blue has the same effect. It’s a perfume I’ve been wearing since my teens and I think of it as  a young person’s perfume. I love when I smell it off someone walking down the street. It’s 1 of those perfumes that lasts well so if you need something to your last your whole work day, it’s perfect!

5. Lancôme – Miracle.

To me this is a perfect day to night perfume. It’s fruity & floral. It’s the only perfume I love that I don’t actually have right now. I dropped it in a pub toilet last year and it smashed everywhere and I had a little cry (ok, not a real one!) and then I had a cocktail to numb the pain.

6. Calvin Klein – DownTown.

I never venture out and buy new perfumes so if I ever get a new perfume, it’s a gift. DownTown is relatively new to me. I got it as a Christmas present. It’s floral and woody and makes a great daytime perfume. I keep it in my handbag and wear it to work, when I remember.
What perfumes are your go to?

Always time for a selfie

 A couple of years ago I took a trip up to Northern Ireland with my mam to go to the Giant’s Causeway as I’ve always wanted to see it. There’s a lot to do along the Causeway Coast and I had heard about the Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge so we decided to go there after the Giant’s Causeway. I have a fear of heights and I’ve always thought of this as a good way to face that fear. In hindsight, I don’t think the bridge was high enough l, at 100ft, to overcome my fear of heights but it was exhilarating and my heart was beating fast. Walking back across the bridge was a lot more daunting because I knew by then how much the wind rocked the bridge and how unstable it felt. I would recommend the Causeway Coast and the Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge for anyone visiting Ireland or Northern Ireland, it’s an absolutely beautiful part of the country.

Find out more about the Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge here!


Reading… The Woman Who Stole My Life by Marian Keyes. I forgot how easy and fun her books are to read. I did not forget how funny she is. Her sense of humour is just brilliant.

Watching… Still hooked on Grey’s Anatomy. I’m almost at the end of season 9 now. What the hell am I going to do with my evenings when I catch up?

Listening to… TED Talks on my Podcast app while I drive. I’m learning all sorts of things in mostly 16-18 minute time slots.

Drinking… more water….finally!

Focussing on… getting back on track with my weight loss. I’ve been seriously slacking since December. Losing & gaining the same few pounds but I’m trying to be a bit more disciplined again.

Enjoying… some May sunshine in Ireland. Hopefully it lasts through the weekend!Although he hates the sun, my partner in crime, Chief, can’t help but sit out there with me when I’m reading.

Pinning… my own blog posts!

Considering… a trip to Bratislava in the summer.

So today is Day 50 of The 100 Day Project. Yes, you read that right. Day FIFTY! Half way point and I’m actually kind of amazed to say I haven’t missed a day. So far I have written and released 16 blog posts (including this 1), edited plenty of photos on my phone, edited photos on my MacBook, started a new notebook for the blog, made lists of post ideas, planned posts, took photos, chose books for The Big Book Challenge, Read books for The Big Book Challenge, explained & promoted my blog, read other blogs for inspiration, created a widget for a photography site I have, printed photos for Project Life, shared posts to a Flipboard magazine and pinned lots of old posts to Pinterest. 

I thought it might end up feeling like a bit of a burden but it hasn’t at all. I’m really enjoying the process. I think coming up with a plan that makes it easier to spend literally 10 minutes doing something on my phone on the days that are a little more hectic has made it really do-able for me.

My plan for the next 50 days is to carry on as I have. The challenge, as I’ve said in the previous post, is mainly for me to create a creative habit when it comes to paparali.com but the one thing I hope to do is encourage more people to subscribe to the blog instead of just stopping by and reading once in a while. I’m also going to plan ahead a bit more because I’ve definitely had days when I’ve gone a little blank trying to work out what my next post might be.

Are you taking part in The 100 Day Project?

 

How pretty is this little picnic basket I found in Tiger today? 

Who doesn’t love a picnic & they’re immediately better with a real life picnic basket. The lid opens on both sides and it has more than enough space for lunch for 2 or 3 people. I think it was a steal at €15.

Now…all I need is the sun to come out next weekend!

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I’ve decided as part of my ‘Lists’ series, I’m going to share lists of My favourite things. I love TED Talks and now I have started listening to TED Talks Audio Podcasts while I drive to and from work. I decided to make a list of some of my favourites for anyone who is new to the world of TED Talks. If you’re already a TED Talks fan, maybe this post will remind you of some of your favourites or point out some who may not have seen.

I should start off by saying, if you have no idea what I’m talking about, you should go to TED Talks for more information.

 

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie:

I absolutely love this talk. Chimamanda is a great speaker and if I’m honest, I’d probably listen to her speaking about any topic. It is refreshing to hear an opinion of an African woman who considers herself a Feminist in a world where the world Feminism is still considered a dirty word. If you don’t feel entertained and empowered after listening to this one, then maybe my list is not for you!

Check out Chimamanda’s talk here.

 

Do Schools Kill Creativity by Ken Robinson:

I think I love this talk so much because I work in adult education and I have an interest in how the education system in this country (and plenty of others, I’m sure) impacts the type of people who are not do not learn in a conventional ‘school’ way. That being said, I think anyone who has children also usually finds the talk very interesting. I would definitely recommend a listen if you are a creative type who didn’t exactly excel in school.

Check out Ken’s talk here.

 

The Fringe Benefits of Failure by J.K. Rowling:

This talk is actually a Harvard Commencement Speech that has been shared by TED Talks. Rowling talks about the benefits of failure and how reaching rock bottom shaped the successful author she is today. It’s inspiring without falling into the theme of being an over used “rags to riches” story.

Check out JK’s speech here.

 

The Danger of a Single Story by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie:

Another talk from Chimamanda. This 1 I saw for the first time on a development Education course I took a few years ago. In this talk, she discusses the negative effects of only having 1 single story of a country, culture or person. This talk resonated with me because I think we are all guilty of at some stage believing a single story about another person or culture.

Check out Chimamanda’s talk here.

 

How to Live Before You Die by Steve Jobs:

Another Commencement Speech that has been shared by TED Talks. This time, it is Steve Jobs at Stanford University in 2005. Steve’s speech is made up of 3 stories from his life that played a part in him becoming the hugely successful co-founder of Apple. The speech has a kind of sadness to it that it didn’t originally have previous to his death in 2011. I’m sure everyone at this stage has heard the story or has seen the “Steve Jobs dropped out of college and he did ok” memes which I think paints an idealistic view of his life. He didn’t always have it easy but he knew what he wanted.

Check out Steve’s speech here.

 

What I Learned From 100 Days of Rejection by Jia Jiang:

If you are looking for something a bit short and with a bit more humour, check out Jia’s talk on rejection. We tend to fear rejection as a natural reaction and by the sounds of it, Jia was the same until 1 day he decided to seek out rejection.

Check out Jia’s talk here.

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A book published this year:

City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong

City of the Lost
I want to start off by saying if you have any interest at all in Supernatural fiction, you should really read Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld series. There are 13 books in total and each one is written from the perspective of a different lead female supernatural character including werewolves, witches, ghosts, necromancers and more. This series was my introduction to this author and I loved them all. 

City of the Lost is the first book in a new crime fiction series by the author. It follows homicide detective, Casey Duncan, to live in a secret, off the grid, town where everyone has a secret. My absolute favourite thing about Armstrong’s writing is how she develops her characters. This novel was no exception and by the time you get to the end, you’ll feel like you know Casey Duncan. It’s a solid story-line with a great ‘who done it’ theme. 

As always, Armstrong delivers in giving you just enough information to keep you interested and wanting more. I still prefer her supernatural novels but would definitely recommend this read and will be looking out for the next instalment in the series.

Rating: 7/10

P.s. I know the topic is ‘published this year’ and it was technically published in 2016 but I actually read it in 2016 & never got around to reviewing it.