Johnnie Fox’s, famed for being the highest pub in Ireland, can be found in the Dublin mountains. It is one of the oldest pubs in Ireland, established in 1798. Although it is considered to be a bit of a tourist trap, I always enjoy myself when I go there. They have open fires and entertainment 7 nights a week and during the day on Saturday and Sunday. They serve great food and a lovely pint too, so I hear. 


Dave and I decided to go there for our lunch on Friday as we were both off work. The menu is largely made up of seafood, which I never understand since it’s in the mountains and not near the sea. They are famous for their chowder and mussels and as you might know if you read my review of The Fish Shack, I love mussels so they’re always an easy choice for me. The mussels came in a cider, garlic and onion cream sauce. We ordered a portion of chips with them. We also ordered a seafood pie, which is served with mash but we asked for chips instead. They also brought some lovely homemade brown bread for the table before our meal arrived. It would have worked perfectly for soaking up the sauce from the mussels but we were pretty full and trying to leave space for dessert. The only negative I have, if any, is that we had a bit of a cream overload between the mussels and the pie.


 There was a coconut cheesecake on the specials menu and I loooove coconut so we shared that and Dave had an Irish coffee too.


 Every bit of it was so delicious and we felt fit for nothing but a nap after all of it. If you have the opportunity to go, do it. 


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. 


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.

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!!


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.

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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. 

February was a pretty big month so I had 3 spreads. 

Feb 1 Feb 2

Spread 1:

The month started off with a weekend in Exeter visiting family  so that’s what spread one is about. It’s made up of black, white and a kind of turquoise.I used a turquoise Sharpie pen for the handwriting. 

Project Life Kit: Favorite Things (core kit)

Alpha Stickers: 

  • The black ones used for ‘February’, ‘Orla & Oscar’ and ‘cream tea’ are ‘Ali’ Thickers designed exclusively for Studio Calico.
  • The small light blue stickers used for ‘The Darwents’ are Ocean Melody by Webster’s Pages.

Embellishment Stickers: 

  • The black love-heart outline sticker is Amy Tangerine for Thickers. I think but I’m not 100% that is part of her Plus 1 range.
  • I’m unsure where the arrow sticker is from.

Pocket Pages: I used Design F for the left and Design G for the right.

 

Feb 3

Spread 2:

The left side of spread two is from a trip to London with my mam and brother for a match. The right side of this spread are a few random snapshots from the month. I almost always go for white but this kit has a cream base. It’s great for a change but I normally prefer the crispness of white.

Project Life Kit: Azure (core kit)

Alpha Stickers: 

  • The grey ones used for ‘LFC V MCFC’  are Project Life stickers.
  • The red ones used for ‘More of February’ are Sn@p Studios by Simple Stories.

Stamps: 

  • I’m unsure where the paw print stamps are from but they’re rubber stamps that are used with an acrylic block.
  • The ink is Dovecraft pigment ink pad in jet black. 

Pocket Pages: I used Design G for the left and Design R for the right.
Feb 5 Feb 6

Spread 3:

Spread three for February is a mixtures of snapshots from the month as well as a mixtures of kits.

Project Life Kit: The left page has a 6×4 card from the Confetti core kit with some words about documenting on it. it also includes a 6×4 grey and white striped card from the Midnight core kit.

The right page has a 6×4 polka dot card from the Midnight kit, a 6×4 lined card with a love-heart from the Plus 1 mini kit, a 3×4 quote card about cherishing the little things from Becky’s Quotes themed cards and a fold-able 6×4 card from the Seafoam kit with ‘date’ and ‘story’ on it. Instead of folding it, I cut it in half and used a corner cutter to round the new edges.

Alpha Stickers: The black stickers used for ‘Still February’ are ‘Hard Cover’ Thickers.

Stickers: The quote sticker on the striped 6×4 card is from K & Company.

Pocket Pages: I used Design R for the left and Design A for the right.