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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. 


On our recent trip to Fethard on Sea in Wexford, we went to Loftus Hall to take the tour. I’ve been going down to Fethard at least once a years for the past 4 years and had never done the tour. 

Loftus Hall is a mansion on the Hook Peninsula in Co. Wexford. It is said to be the most haunted house in Ireland.

Dave is really interested in all things haunted so he wanted to see it. I was looking forward to it & love an interactive tour. He really doesn’t so I wasn’t holding out much hope, but we both really enjoyed it. It was interactive in a great way, not a cheesy way, and the tour guide we had was pretty funny. 


The tour lasts a little less than an hour and the guide shares the history of the house and shows you several rooms in the downstairs as well as a beautiful stair case, which is apparently one of only three of it’s kind. One of the other two sits at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean on the Titanic and the other is in The Vatican.

For €10 for an adult, I would definitely recommend this tour if you find yourself in this tiny part of the world…

So in my post back in April, I shared all of the things we did in Budapest. This post is going to talk all about the food. Let’s be real…that’s what people really want to hear about?! No? Just me then!

One of the first things we noticed was just how many Italian restaurants there are in Budapest. We’re both pizza fans so naturally the first meal we had was pizza for lunch (when in Rome…I mean Budapest!) we went to a place called Ez Az Bistro. It was one of the more expensive meals we had and by more expensive I mean not really expensive, at all. I had the Maialona and I think Dave had the Diavola. I didn’t take a picture of it, which is really annoying, but usually means I was either really hungry or really enjoyed it, or both! If you’re a pizza fan, I’d definitely try a pizza in Budapest. Check out their menu here.

If you’re looking for lunch, that won’t take too much time, or drunk food (confession: we had it twice & for both these reasons) then you must go to Hot Dog, Cold Beer. As far as I’m aware there’s two of them in Budapest but the one we went to was only a few minutes away from where we were staying. Ireland doesn’t leave much to the imagination when it comes to hot dogs but this one was delicious. There are lots of options but I got the New York both times & Dave got the German & the Mexican. It comes as a meal if you want & that includes crisps (or chips in America) on a stick called Tornado Fries as well as a beer or a soft drink. Definitely worth a visit. Check them out on Facebook 

Hot Dog, Cold Beer

We went to New York Cafe as one of the main sites to see in Budapest and unfortunately the day we went, there was filming going on so there was just a small section of the cafe sectioned off for passing trade. It’s known as ‘the most beautiful cafe in the world’. It is very grand and beautifully decorated with very professional staff. However that being said, I felt the atmosphere was a little uncomfortable. I had a hot chocolate, which was out of this world, but I was glad we only stopped long enough for this and didn’t stay for a meal. If you happen to pass by, it’s worth popping in for a coffee but I wouldn’t go out of my way to get there. 

New York Cafe

There’s a place called Gozsdu Udvar, which is a kind of strip of restaurants, near where we were staying in the Jeweish District and we went to a place called Spíler Shanghai for lunch one of the days. We ordered two meals to share. We had a sweet & spicy pork belly burger and spicy prawn noodles. The noodles were lovely but the pork belly burger was unreal. Better than any pulled pork burger I’ve had. Check Spíler Shanghai out here.

Spíler Shanghai - Sweet & Spicy Pork Belly BurgerSpíler Shanghai - Spicy Prawn Noodles 

Another restaurant we visited in Gozsdu Udvar was RED. We went there for dinner one of the evenings and there wasn’t a lot jumping out off the menu for me. I decided to play it safe & went for a burger. It was huge & pretty tasty but the stand out thing in this meal was the slaw! Yum! I definitely wouldn’t rush to this place but it was decent. 

Red Bistro

We had read that there was a Jamie’s Italian in Budapest but completely forgot to go back & check out where it was. Luckily, we stumbled across it, which was a complete fluke, because it’s on the Buda side and up the street from Mathias Church. The only reason we even walked up that way was because we thought it was a bar & we were looking for somewhere to pass a half an hour while we waited for the sunset. Unlucky for us, we had had a pretty big lunch that day so weren’t hungry enough for dinner. We did however try this AMAZING garlic bread from the bar food menu, as well as a cocktail. The price was very very reasonable and I wish we had been hungry enough for dinner. Check it out here.

Jamie's Italian

The absolute best experience we had in a restaurant, in Budapest, was in a place called Comme Chez Soi. It was so great that it deserves a post of it’s own, so look out for that, as well as the places we went for drinks soon! 

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A book with a blue cover:

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

Why Not Me?

Why not me is Mindy Kaling’s second book. It is a memoir made up of some comedic and very entertaining essays. If I’m being completely honest, I slightly preferred her first book ‘Is Everyone Hanging Out Without me?’, but only slightly. The first book was written before her career really blew up, whereas this book was written in the height of her ‘The Mindy Project’ and after her ‘The Office’ (US) fame.

Mindy exudes a kind of well deserved confidence, which she explains in this book, along with some other real life topics such as body image, dating and her career. She is intelligent, hard-working, and if this book is anything to go by, refreshingly honest.

Although appearing to have the same insecurities as most women in today’s society, she doesn’t seem to take herself too seriously. I particularly enjoyed the last section of the book where she talks about body image and how she doesn’t fit into the stereotypical Hollywood image. This alone shows how she should be inspirational to “normal women” and I mean that in the best way.

Although I have yet to watch ‘The Mindy Project’, I would mostly recommend it to fans of Mindy Kaling. That being said, it’s a good read for any determined young woman or girl. You will find yourself nodding in ,a and laughing out loud. In a world where the women that young girls are most likely to look up to are reality stars or Instagram famous, it’s a breath of fresh air to read the success story of someone who got there by working hard.

Rating: 7.5/10

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?