Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Weekend Away--Edinburgh Style!

This past weekend I went to Edinburgh, Scotland with two friends. It was such a nice little distraction from exams and essay writing! Edinburgh is a beautiful city filled with stunning Cathedrals and cobblestone streets. We even got to see the chapel where Prince William was made a Scottish knight this past July--pretty awesome!

We did a 3 hour walking tour with Sandeman's New Europe. It was AMAZING! I've done a few of their tours before in Paris, London and Dublin(when I was here on vacay!) and they're always wonderful. So much history delivered in a fun and entertaining manner-plus you get a great feel for the city and it gives you an opportunity to get your bearings.

We didn't eat any haggis...but we did get to go to the Elephant Room which is reportedly where JK Rowling wrote much of the first Harry Potter book. I'm not a huge HP fan, but it was still really cool to be in a place where one of the defining books of my generation was written. Plus the food was really tasty! :)

I highly recommend Edinburgh for a weekend away-its beautiful, there's SO MUCH to see and the people there were really nice. Overall a very enjoyable experience!

I'll post my pictures in the next post. I haven't had a chance to upload them yet.


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Thanksgiving--Dublin Style

I was away from home this year for Thanksgiving, but I still wanted to celebrate it. It's always been one of my favorite holidays-a day to spend with family and friends and remember the things I'm thankful for. Since Thanksgiving falls on a Thursday, my friends and I decided to plan our celebration for the Saturday just after so everyone could enjoy themselves without having to worry about waking up for work or college the next morning. We had a huge feast--complete with a 16 lb Wexford Turkey, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, macaroni and cheese, chicken curry and biscuits (American style :) ). So many friends were there and it really gave me an opportunity to be thankful for all the amazing people I've met since I've been here.

The finished product!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Take a Walk

Caminar (v. inf. Spanish): to walk.

I thought when I first came here there would be a moment of realization when I found the closure I was looking for. A moment when the answers were all clear. I thought one part of my journey, the part of coming to Ireland, would have a definitive end point when the next part of the journey began-the part where I get down to living life here in Ireland. Somewhere along the way the two parts of my journey became one, and tonight I realize that there is no end to any journey in life, no one answer. The finality that we look for in the answers to life's greatest questions doesn't exist. The journey itself is the answer. Every day we get to take a breath is the answer. Every day we meet a new person is the answer. Every joyful thought, every moment of sorrow and desperation-these are the answers.

We are on un paseo, a walk. A walk through life. And its lovely and refreshing. Its terrifying and heartbreaking. It's magnificent and insignificant all at once. But its our one thing in life that's ours. Its our own beautiful journey.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

"Let. Yourself. Go."

I just booked a ticket to go to Edinburgh, Scotland in a couple of weeks. Its a place I've always wanted to go, and I'm so excited! Every time I go somewhere new I learn so much about myself. Sometimes I can't believe this is my life. I'm a lucky girl.

Edinburgh(photo courtesy

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Hot Yoga & Brunch-a very suburban weekend

Last Saturday I went to hot yoga with Ly and Kaylen. It was a perfectly girly afternoon in Dun Laoghaire, complete with brunch and strolling around the harbor. As we were sitting at brunch, Kaylen and I both started laughing at how suburban and real housewives-like we were. Maybe we were, but I wouldn't have traded it for anything. I needed a Saturday like that to de-stress and stretch it out and just relax. Guess I'm a real Dubliner now, what with going to hot yoga and brunching and everything....  :)

Monday, October 1, 2012

Keogh's: A Dublin Treasure

Today I spent some time in my favorite cafe in Dublin-Keogh's! I had some reading to do for my classes so I decided that I would head there and grab a coffee and a treat while I did my work.
I love the troll guy with the cupcake!

Keogh's is located just between Dame St. and Suffolk St. (about a 30 second stroll from the Tourism Office that was once a church) in the city centre. Walking in, prepare for your senses to be delighted. The unmistakably delicious smell of fresh coffee and espresso greets you first. Just after, the delights of the baked goods and sandwiches offer a warm welcome, beckoning you to come in and stay awhile. After perusing the mouth-watering selection, you might find yourself drawn to something sweet. Perhaps a slice of chocolate cake, or a chocolate brownie bar. Select the later, and a latte will be the perfect accompaniment to your choice. Settle into a warm and cozy corner table with a book for the most wonderful of afternoons. Be prepared, however, to be distracted from your reading by the mesmerizing flavor of the chocolate brownie bar. The first layer of silky chocolate is followed by a thick, more cake-like layer brimming with whole hazelnuts. It won't take long for you to devour this treat and settle in with your book and latte, enjoying the sounds of such classics as "Leaving on a Jet Plane" by John Denver. 

Great Expectations, a latte, and a chocolate treat

I could not recommend this cafe anymore highly. The atmosphere, the coffees, the food, the customers, the music--everything about it is welcoming and delightful. This cafe is quite small, and if you're in a rush you could easily pass it by without seeing it. Maybe that's why I love it so much. The small, off the beaten path places are always my favorites. 

I hope everyone has been having a fabulous Monday!


Monday, September 24, 2012

Lets go Maigh Eo!! -- Gaelic Football Finals

Yesterday after work, I went to The Living Room (an awesome pub with giant televisions and a HUGE beer garden out back-- link here) with a couple of friends to watch the Gaelic Football finals. County Donegal and County Maigh Eo made it to the end. Somewhere along the way I got recruited to the Maigh Eo side, so I wore my red and green and cheered them on all the way to the end. They lost, but it was such a fun evening! I met a lot of new friends and learned a lot about the game. 

Although there's days when I'm completely homesick and long for certain things that can only be found in America, Dublin continually steals my heart. My life is pretty unbelievable right now and I'm so thankful.

I started classes about 2 weeks ago and they're going wonderfully so far. A lot of work, but all of it is super interesting to me. I also got a job working at The Shelbourne Hotel, which is where the Irish Constitution was drafted. Pretty cool for a history nerd like me! :)

I hear the Gaelic Hurling finals are on next Sunday--I think I know what my plans are! :)

Friday, September 7, 2012

Life in Bloom

Does anyone else ever have those moments when you feel your life changing you into the person you always knew you were meant to be? These past two weeks have been pivotal for me. I've had conversations and experiences which have made me more than certain I am exactly where I need to be right now.

One day I was waiting in line for the restroom at Starbucks and I met a girl named Sarah. We swapped numbers and got to hang out this week. In her I have found a friend and a kindred spirit. We shared lots of laughs and conversations about life experiences the other day, and realized the reasons that brought us both to where we are now are quite similar--needing to reset and find meaning in a world that can sometimes bring you down.

In general I've felt myself opening up to life. I was never quiet or reclusive by any means, but I feel myself becoming a complete extrovert. I'm just soaking in life and I couldn't be happier about it. I haven't ever felt like this, and its amazing. To come out on the other side of a dark time in life is almost like a rebirth. It sounds cheesy, but its true. With everything I do, I can feel my mom smiling and encouraging me. She's my constant motivation to find the truth and beauty in my life, both of which were cut short in hers.

Beautiful sunset over the River Liffey

On a more comedic note, I was on the bus yesterday and the bus driver had serious anger issues. She was laying on the horn for most of the trip and the whole bus could hear her swearing at any poor soul who got in her way. The funniest part of the whole thing was that when each person made their way off the bus, she gave the biggest smile and the most kind goodbye. Strange. Funny, but strange and kind of terrifying. 


Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Game That Launched 40,000 Americans

On Saturday Navy and Notre Dame will duke it out on the field here in Dublin at the Aviva Stadium. Its one of the oldest and fiercest rivalries in all of football and the excitement in the air is palpable. I was walking around town today and noticed that for once I heard more accents like mine than I did Irish accents. Its estimated that 40,000 Americans will be in Dublin this week/weekend for the big game and I certainly believe it! There was even a pep rally/parade at Stephen's Green with a marching band and cheerleaders today. Apparently I'm assimilating well, because I got asked by Americans and Irish alike for directions. I only wish I could have helped more. Its really unfortunate how directionally challenged I am.

The pep rally!

Also, I got an iPhone today. And it was free. And cheaper than the junky pay as you go phone I had been using. And the sun was out. All in all a pretty wonderful day. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Lost in Translation

There are a great many phrases that have boggled my mind since I've moved here. I've said a lot of things that have made me sound completely ridiculous because things in North Carolina and the States mean one thing, and here take on a totally different meaning. Below, I'll provide a list demonstrating my dilemma:

1. Biscuits. In Ireland = Cookies. Biscuits in North Carolina = Fluffy roll/bun. So when I say something like, "oh have y'all ever had a chicken biscuit before?" people think I eat chicken and cookies. And also probably think I don't have it all together.
2. Ride. For example in the States a pretty routine statement might be, "Hey, can I get a ride to the bar?" Here, you are asking for an explicit encounter...and I suppose in that context it would happen on the way to the bar. Can this get awkward? Yes. Instead say, "Can I get a lift?" Much better :)
3. Pants. In Ireland pants are underwear. So don't go telling people you may or may not have just met, "oh I bought some really cute pants today" unless you're comfortable talking about your panties with them. Instead, use trousers.
4. Gaff. A gaff is a house/apartment/place you call home. Cue this song getting stuck in your head for the next 1-2 hours :)
5. Bob.  Money
6. Your Man. In Ireland, in context, "I was talking to your man at the store." So basically it means this guy, dude, whoever. When I first heard it I kept wanting to tell people, "But I'm single. I don't have a man right now..."

I'm pretty much positive that there's more than just this list of six, but these are the main words and phrases that I've gotten hung up on. Its been really funny trying to navigate and pick my words more wisely. I'm definitely much more aware of what I say now!

Mostly just bewildered and confused :)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Foodie Paradise

I'll let the pictures and menus do the talking...I got to visit these places with family and new friends this week

Havana Tapas Bar

A meat and cheese platter

The Pepper Pot Cafe

The Pepper Pot Cafe

Pear, Bacon and Cheddar Sandwich

Avoca Cafe

A selection of Avoca's treats

**All pictures found on business' websites/facebooks

These are some really cool spots here in Dublin!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Its A Beautiful Life

Today I ran a couple of errands around town, and yesterday I spent a super fun day with my cousin and some of his friends walking all over town, having a delicious meal(there will be a separate post on that :) ) and some great conversation. This week is definitely off to a great start. Before I moved here I had decided that I would start and keep healthy habits as part of my new life. Those plans kind of got put on the back burner...that is until yesterday when I got invited to participate in a Mud Run. So, tonight after dinner I decided it was time to start running! As I started off on my run I looked to one side and saw the beautiful waterfront and then looked to my other side and saw amazing green mountains. The air was crisp and clear and it was kind of a perfect night. It all hit me how lucky I am and what an awesome opportunity I've been given. Life has its ups and downs, but it is so beautiful. Like the song says, "life ain't always beautiful, but its a beautiful ride." Today, I feel so thankful to be alive.

Almost my exact view(photo found on google)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Quiet Little Pieces of Home

Today I woke up feeling a little homesick and decided I would take a walk around Dublin City Centre and try to find new things. I ended up walking around for about 4 hours and went all over the city. It was such a lovely day filled with all kinds of unexpected encounters, and it really lifted my spirits.

When I got into town I realized that I was super hungry, so I walked into a convenience store/deli and got a hot sandwich and a soda and found a cool little courtyard area to eat it in. Then a GIANT wind came through and almost blew all my lunch away! haha. After that I decided I wanted to see the famous Post Office(site of fighting during the struggle for Irish Independence) and took off in that direction. The crowds were INSANE down that way, but it was really cool to get to see the building. I walked around that area a bit more and then headed back over the river down some side streets around Grafton Street, which is one of the major roads in the city. I found a beautiful church called St. Teresa's run by Carmelites. I decided to stop in and say a prayer and light a candle in memory of my Mom. As soon I stepped into the church I felt a warmth and sense of home wash over me. I stayed there for quite awhile, soaking up that feeling and joining in with the others there saying prayers. It was really a lovely experience. As soon as I walked out of the church I heard one of the street performers on Grafton St. playing one of my favorite songs on guitar, which also gave me a great sense of comfort and a home-y feeling. Its funny, just the moment I started feeling like the city might swallow me up I found the little things that uplifted me. Although I'm about 3000 miles away from home and most things that are familiar to me, pieces of home can be found everywhere.

After leaving the church and strolling around Grafton St. I ran into so, so many kind people. One man asked me for directions. Obviously I had no idea where he was trying to go but we walked along together for a little while until he found his bearings, chatting and enjoying the beautiful weather. Just after that, a bubbly and kind girl appeared seemingly out of no where to tell me she liked my earrings. At first I thought she was going to mug me(hey, I've gotta be careful!), but after I said thank you she just continued to chat with me. We walked together for awhile until we both went our separate ways, and she pointed me in the direction of a really cool little bookshop not far away.

One of my all time favorite things to do is spend hours wandering around a bookstore. I love everything about them-the smells, the artwork on the covers and the thousands of stories waiting to be discovered. I spent a large portion of my afternoon strolling around this one particular store. I came across a book called "The Night Circus" and it immediately captured my interest so I brought that one home with me. After that I wandered a little more and then realized I was kind of tired so I headed home. There was nothing huge that happened today, no big ah-ha event, but rather so many small moments that culminated in a wonderful afternoon. I was reminded once again of the innate kindness within people and the beauty of my new city. This time of quiet and calm is something I'm not used to, but its a blessing because I've been able to reconnect with parts of myself that were left neglected when my life was so hectic. I know life will become very busy again very soon with classes starting and finding a job(all good vibes and prayers towards that happening are most welcome!) so I'm just trying to enjoy the slow pace of life right now. I think its during the times when I am left alone with myself that I learn so much about who I am.

I love and miss all of you back home in North Carolina! Big hugs and kisses are being sent your way!


Monday, August 13, 2012


Early this morning before the sun came up, I saw my best friend Bridget off. Her two weeks here in Dublin have come to an end. It was a tearful morning and while I knew I would miss her, it was more difficult than I expected.

So many things in both of our lives are changing. The next time I see her in person will be when I go home to NC for her wedding. I can't believe it! We're both embarking on new lives which are going to be wonderful and full of all kinds of beautiful things, but change is certainly scary.

Here's to new experiences and those people that you just know will always be in your life.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Dublin Livin'

I've been here in Dublin for a full week now, and already I'm starting to get adjusted and feel at home. Some things this week were much more difficult than I expected while others have been pleasantly simple. Let me start at the beginning...

Last Thursday, bright and early in the morning at 7 am I arrived in Dublin with 3 suitcases, some big dreams, and an amazing friend and soul sister(Bridget) helping me with the beginning stages of my move. My cousin picked us up from the airport and took us to my other cousin's home with whom I'll be staying for awhile. Since everyone was at work, Bridget and I took a short nap and then headed off to the city center so I could pick up a few necessities. Feeling like I had just walked through a time warp because of the jet-lag, I stumbled off of the Luas(a light rail train connecting various spots to the city center) and onto Grafton St.--the shopping mecca of Dublin, which also happens to be one of the most busy of all the roads in the city.

The first order of business--find a cellphone. I'll definitely be needing it as I can tell all of you right now I will most certainly get lost more times that I care to admit to. My cousin had recommended a place to us that sold pay-as-you-go phones (which seemed to be just what I needed) so we headed towards the shop. Just next to the entrance was a display window featuring all of the available phones. Wanting to be economical, I picked a small Samsung slider phone. Was it a SmartPhone like I'm accustomed to? No. But this whole experience is about trying new things and branching out, right? We stepped inside the small internet cafe/coffee shop/cell phone vendor and were greeted by a very friendly and helpful man. He told me about all the promotions the different phone companies had going, and I picked the one I thought would best suit my needs. Within minutes I had a working cell phone!

You would think that getting a cell phone would be the thing to scare me the most about my move so far, but it wasn't. Like so many other things in my life it was a small, almost trivial task that sent me into a tailspin. After purchasing my cell phone Bridget and I found a pharmacy and headed in so I could pick up some real, non travel-sized shampoo, conditioner and toothpaste. I found half- off haircare products and tossed them into my basket. Then, I came to the toothpaste aisle. As I stood looking for my preferred brand and couldn't find it a sudden, gripping panic came over me. I'm pretty sure in that moment I realized just how real my decision to move was. A person just doesn't buy full sized toiletries when they're on vacation! I knew that I wasn't going to be going back to Raleigh in a couple weeks. I was making Dublin my home base. While all of these thoughts were spinning around in my head, I was staring at the shelves with a panic stricken look on my face and clearly not making a decision. "Well, I like Crest! Do you?" Bridget said, gently trying to nudge me out of my panic. Seriously, I don't know what a girl would do without her sister from another mister sometimes! That was all it took to snap me out of it. I quickly snatched up a tube of Colgate and put it in my basket with my other items.

Fast-forward to the next morning and I was well rested, over the jet-lag and ready to take on the day. Bridget and I went into town to do a little more shopping and to just walk around and re-familiarize ourselves with the city. Thinking doing a little bit of clothes shopping would be a fun activity, we strolled into a popular shop just off of Grafton St. Perusing the pretty fashions, we quickly realized that the sizes were completely different from the States. After going to about 8 stores, I finally figured out what my size in the States converted to in Ireland....thank goodness! If you now me at all, then you know that I LOVE shopping!

Since those first two days here, I have gotten to hang out with my cousin and his parents over family dinners and with he and his friends on a night or two out. I am SO very thankful that he has been so welcoming and has let me into his life even though I've just been here a short time. Family is wonderful like that! I have many more cousins who live in the area who I haven't gotten to spend much time with, but I certainly look forward to that in the future. Of all the things I have noticed in the past week since moving here, it is that the people in this country are truly friendly and welcoming. Everyone from the kind ladies at the pharmacy counter, to tour guides I have encountered, to a precious little girl who strolled up to me today and gave me a flower, have been nothing short of wonderful. Each person has made me feel welcome, greeting me with a smile and a kind word and for that I will forever be grateful.

My journey here is just beginning and there are so many exciting things to look forward to--classes, making new friends, traveling! The list could go on and on. Today I got to go to Northern Ireland and see the Giant's Causeway, cross the Carrick a Rede rope bridge and visit Belfast. The blessings in my life at this moment are abundant and I am so thankful for them. To have a dream and experience it being realized is one of the most exhilirating feelings. This season of my life is certainly shaping up to be a beautiful one. Cheers to life y'all!


Friday, August 3, 2012

Sometimes When You Take A Road Trip....

So, I've finally made it over to Dublin, Ireland! It's my second day here! My best friend Bridget is here with me for about two weeks helping me get settled and do all the little things I need to do so I don't have a panic attack over buying toothpaste(more on that in the next post...)

How did we get here? Let's start from the beginning....When we bought our tickets, it was SUBSTANTIALLY  cheaper to fly out of Chicago instead of Raleigh. We decided that a last road trip before the big move would be fun so we went for it and purchased the tickets to fly out of O'Hare. Flash forward a few months to this past Sunday and we're loading up the rental car at 6 am with our luggage(well, mostly mine) and hitting the road! The first few hours were smooth and we got to take in some beautiful scenery in the North Carolina and West Virginia mountains. While we were in West Virginia we needed gas, so we stopped at an OLD SCHOOL gas station complete with old fashioned rotary pumps and had to pay inside before any gas could be pumped. I walked inside with cash in hand to pay the attendant, and was very surprised when I saw a rather elderly woman smoking a cigarette and doing some sewing. "Hey there honey, how can I help you today?", she said with a ciggy hanging out of the corner of her mouth. Feeling like I was in an old Country Western film I smiled and paid the kind woman for our gas, thanking her and hoping that she wouldn't soon have emphysema. As I walked back out to the car, I told Bridget about this sweet yet unexpected encounter. While we were standing there pumping gas I saw something out of the corner of my eye...and then this appeared.
A a gas station 
Yes, that is a chicken. It came strutting by casually like these things happen everyday. Maybe they do in West Virginia, but it was a first for me. As we both stood there with our mouths gaping, the world seemed to move around us like nothing was wrong. 

After the Chicken Incident, we continued driving and made good time for the next few hours. We decided to stop for lunch in Dayton, Ohio since Bridget went to college there. After a delicious lunch at Skyline Chili we got back on the road. We were rolling down some highway that turned into a country road but Bridget assured me that it was normal. All of a sudden, there was a road block and a sign that said, "Bridge Out. Locals Only." Locals only?? No fair! So of course we decided to pretend to be locals and went around the road block anyway. About a half a mile down we realized that "Bridge Out" was no exaggeration and the bridge was quite literally out--as in non existent. (How exactly would a local cross that body of water in a car? Do they have floating cars? This is still a mystery to me.) Clearly seeing no way around this, we turned around and turned on the GPS which quickly told us it could pick up no signal. I wasn't surprised considering we were smack dab in the middle of about a million corn fields. After driving around for awhile the GPS found us! Yay! Following the directions, we turned down a small country road and figured it was an alternate route. Unfortunately, it was the route to a farmer's home. Not wanting to bother anyone, or get chased off his property, we hightailed it out of there. FINALLY the GPS gave us correct directions and we made it out of Corn Field, Ohio(obviously not a real name, but I think it should be). After that the trip went really smooth. After driving for about 12 hours we briefly lost our minds and had a highway dance party to My Body by Young the Giant, but quickly realized we needed to get it together since we still had 3 hours ahead of us. We rolled into Chicago, dropped off the rental car and spent the night with my Aunt and Uncle. 

The next day we got to go into the city and do some sightseeing which was really fun. Chicago is a gorgeous city! We spent some time with Bridget's family there for a couple of days and then got on the plane to Ireland. And now here I am! 

I miss and love everyone at home SO MUCH but I'm really excited to see what life has to offer here! 


Friday, July 27, 2012

North Carolina, I Love You

I have only Saturday left in Raleigh, NC before I hit the road and head to Chicago with my sister(from another mister) and Partner in Crime Bridget. From there, I will board a plane bound for Dublin, Ireland which will become my new home. CRAZY! Am I excited? Heck Yes!!!! Am I nervous? You better believe it!

I thought this would be an appropriate time to write my love letter to the Great State of North Carolina, which I have called my home for the past 18 years after my family and I relocated here from the freezing cold terrains of New York.

North Carolina, I Love You. And here are the reasons why:

  1. My family - Thinking about moving away from them is the hardest thing about this move
  2. My friends - Again, not fun to think about leaving them
  3. Lake Johnson - The best lake to take a long and beautiful walk!
  4. Chick Fil A - In case you are unfamiliar with this great establishment, Chick Fil A is a fast food restaurant with the most friendly and efficient staff ever. For Real. And their chicken sandwiches and waffle fries? Don't even get me started!
  5. Cook Out - Again, in case you haven't tasted the deliciousness that is Cook Out, I'll elaborate. It is a rare and magical place where a hungry soul can get a burger, fries, hushpuppies(fried cornbread party in your mouth) and a milkshake all for $5. Will it clog your arteries? Absolutely. Is it worth it every once in a while? Duh.
  6. Springtime - Spring in North Carolina is pretty amazing. There are so many beautiful flowers here and they all bloom together in the Spring months, making for a beautiful scene
  7. C. Grace - My favorite spot to grab a drink. As referenced in an earlier post, they even make some drinks with egg whites creating a frothy and delicious alcoholic beverage
  8. Fedora - An awesome local boutique where a girl in need can find anything from an adorable top to the perfect dress for a night out.
  9. Sweet Tea - A uniquely Southern treat, this cold tea beverage has so much sugar in it you might be wired for hours, but its so refreshing and delicious on a hot and humid North Carolina summer day
  10. BARBECUE - A mostly North Carolinian culinary creation, when prepared correctly this dish will leave you wanting more. Its traditionally made with either pulled or chopped pork and topped with either an Eastern style vinegar sauce or a Western style tomato based sauce. The rivalry between the two is pretty strong down here, so choose your side wisely. 

Of course there are many more than the10 listed here, but these are some of the most quintessential North Carolina-esque topics I could think of. This state has served as the backdrop to my childhood and has seen me grow into a woman. It will always have a place in my heart, and it will always be where I come when I want to be home. 

So, North Carolina, thanks for the love and the memories! I'll be seeing you soon! 


P.S. For those of you from Raleigh, NC (especially Sarah Hardin) the picture below goes out to y'all(Southern for "all of you" or "you guys")!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

New Adventures Are Just Around the Corner

     To say that 2011 was a difficult year would be an understatement. I went through the single worst experience of my life thus far-losing my mother to ALS. After six years of watching her suffer and being strong for her, I emotionally lost it after she passed away. I cried what seemed to be endless tears. I sat in a crowded room full of those who loved me feeling completely vacant, devoid of any feeling whatsoever.
     But, once the intial pain of grief subsided I was able to really look inside of myself. I saw a girl who was broken, grief-stricken and fearful of what life would now be like. I also saw a woman, a strong fighter. Each day I would get to know that fighter a little better, gaining confidence and finding healing. I prayed, and prayed some more, and some more again. After a few months, my life no longer felt like a terrible tornado of a nightmare. Was I ok? No. But I was learning to deal with the reality of what had happened. It was during that time when I asked myself what I really wanted for this new, strong fighter-woman inside of me. I realized that I wanted a fresh start. A new beginning. A place I could drive down the street and not see a doctor's office I had been to hundreds of times with my mother, both of us desperate to find a cure we knew didn't exist. I also wanted to get my undergraduate degree. So, I applied to University College Dublin, and a short while later I found out I got in. 
     So now, here I am several months later preparing to leave for Ireland in just two short weeks. Today that strong woman, the fighter, is who I am. I've been through a trial and I've come out on the other side of it stronger and I hope a bit wiser. Is there still sadness inside of me? Yes. That will never go away. I will always miss my mother. She and my grandmother and my grandfather raised me. I will forever be thankful for everything they have done for me. 
     Leaving home is scary. I wonder if going 3000 miles away from the place I have always lived will be what I think it will. It probably won't. Nothing in life is ever the way we expect it to be. But I can count on the fact that this experience will change my life for the better. Its all about my attitude toward it. I'm going to soak in everything I possibly can-learn everything from my classes(or try to at least), form new friendships and find out to make it far away from home. 
     I got a fortune in my fortune cookie the other day that said, "new adventures are just around the corner!" It couldn't have been more correct. I'm so filled with hope and excitement. Anxiousness and fear are there too, but I once was told that if your dreams don't scare you a little bit then you aren't dreaming big enough. I'm extremely blessed to have this opportunity, and I plan on living each and every day to its fullest, keeping my mother close in my heart and bringing her with me on this great adventure. 
    ****Side Note: I know today was supposed to be "Thirsty Thursday" but...this came out instead. haha. I might stray a little from my daily themes in these last 2 weeks leading up to the move, but once I get settled I'll be right back with them!
    ****Second Side Note: My sister Bridget(not by blood, more like a soul sister) is getting MARRIED!!! And she asked me to be the MOH(Maid of Honor)! I'm so happy for her and her Prince Charming! The wedding is scheduled for next summer, so we all know where I'll be spending my summer next year: in Raleigh!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Beauty Tip Tuesday- The Kate Middleton

Hello Friends!

Its Beauty Tip Tuesday! I'm really excited about this features a look made famous by one very pretty princess...Kate Middleton The Duchess of Cambridge!

I saw a picture of this look and immediately loved it. Its elegant and beautiful while still being practical and fit for everyday wear. I'm currently working as a waitress at a pub here in Raleigh (Saints and Scholars...come say hi!) saving money for my upcoming move and this hairstyle is PERFECT for work! It keeps my hair away from my face and up enough to keep me cool. I wore this look to work last weekend and I got so many compliments from both co-workers and customers! So without further ado, The Half Up Kate Middleton!

The Half Up Kate Middleton Tutorial

  1. Thoroughly wash and condition hair
  2. Spray damp hair with a volumizing product (such as Chi brand) and an anti-frizz product (such as John Frieda Frizz Ease)
  3. Begin to blow dry hair and about half way through the process flip head over and continue blow drying in this way (this step helps to add volume to the finished look)
  4. When hair is almost completely dry, flip head back upright and use a flat brush or paddle brush to dry the top of the hair and smooth down fly-aways. Complete blow dry in this manner
  5. Once hair is completely dry, spray with a heat protectant (such as Iron Guard by Chi) and thoroughly comb through hair
  6. Use 1" to 1 1/2" hot rollers or curling iron and curl hair. Run fingers through cooled curled hair to create loose, natural looking curls
  7. Lightly spray hair all over with a hairspray (such as Chi Natural Hold)
  8. LIGHTLY tease hair at the crown of your head (Don't go overboard, you don't want to look like a crazed pageant queen!)
  9. Beginning just above the ears, sweep hair back and up and gather together at the crown with the teased portion, lightly brushing over the top of the hair to smooth down any bumps. 
  10. Spray hair once more with hairspray (Chi Natural Hold) and enjoy looking like a Princess for the day!

See, with 10 easy steps every woman can look like an elegant Princess! I was able to achieve this look in about 25-30 minutes, so it really isn't time consuming at all! I hope all you ladies out there find this helpful and enjoy wearing this look! 


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Workout Wednesday on a Thirsty Thursday

     Oh my goodness, life seems to be moving at an ever quickening pace lately. Its the end of May, but I don't seem to remember most of this month happening at all. I'm sorry for the lapse in posting this week. I was very busy with work and life in general.
     I know that its supposed to be Thirsty Thursday but I really would like to do a Workout Wednesday post instead. So, I'm switching things up today. I haven't been the healthiest of people lately. I haven't been taking care of my body in the best way. I used to get five good, sweat inducing workouts in a week but lately I've been lucky to get in one. I don't like how I feel when I don't exercise. I've also not been eating so well, and that also makes me feel lethargic. Well, yesterday I decided to change things. I'm tired of feeling that way and I'm done with it. I'm eating clean, lean and healthy from here on out, and I'm just starting a new workout routine. I do NOT want to go to Dublin feeling any less than 100%!
     So, my new workout plan is the Couch to 5k(C25K) program. Its a 9 week plan designed to get you from sitting on the couch to running a 5k! I'm very excited about this! 9 weeks from today puts me at July 26....just days before I leave for Ireland! I really encourage anyone who wants to jump start their workouts or train for a race to check this program out here.
     I hope everyone is having a wonderful week! I'll see you tomorrow for Fashion Friday!


Friday, May 18, 2012

Fashion Abroad Friday-1st Edition


 Since I'll be moving to a country that is notorious for its rainy climate, I've been looking around for some good rainwear. Although a raincoat certainly won't be the only waterproofing item I'll need, I think its a good place to start. I found this raincoat here on Nordstrom's website and I instantly fell in love. I love the tulip-like detail in the front at the bottom and how the back is a little bit longer. It gives it a touch of elegance, and that collar is to die for! The hood only adds to its appeal. To know me is to know that I am sometimes forgetful...meaning there will certainly be times when I forget an umbrella. In these situations that hood will be able to save my hair from utter destruction! 
     I hope everyone had a fabulous week and has some fun planned for the weekend! One of my best friends from high school, Vanessa, has just arrived home from playing professional volleyball in Italy this week and we're getting together with all the girls for lunch tomorrow. I can't wait to see her! She is also a blogger and is wildly talented and hilarious!! Check out her blog, Confessions of a Pro-Athlete here!


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Thirsty Thursday- 1st Edition

     Thirsty Thursday is upon us! Since I've not arrived in Dublin yet (and won't for a couple more months) my Thirsty Thursday posts will be about fun new drinks I discover in my remaining time here in Raleigh. Without further ado, let me introduce.......
The Pink Lady courtesy of C. Grace on S. Glenwood!
     I had this delicious, crave-worthy cocktail last weekend when I went out with the girls. I was looking for something different from my usual yet delicious "vodka soda with a splash of pineapple"(a la Bethenny Frankel and Sarah Hardin). One of the girls told me that she heard a few of the drinks on the menu were made with egg whites and I was instantly intrigued. I asked our amazingly talented and friendly bartender to tell me about this egg white situation and he described a few of their signature drinks to me. The Pink Lady instantly caught my attention. A pretty pink cocktail mixed perfectly with gin, grenadine, lemon juice and egg white that shares a name with one of my favorite groups of gal pals (um, hello Grease!) seemed like the perfect option for me. This was one of the most tasty cocktails I have ever had the pleasure of drinking. It was sweet and tart all at the same time. Every ingredient was able to shine through without overpowering any of the others. And the egg whites, oh the egg whites! They made the drink so light and frothy! 
     This is probably one of the most perfect summer cocktails. I would most definitely replicate this at home for a summer party or barbecue. I think it stands alone quite well for a dessert cocktail, however it would also pair nicely with a fruit and cheese platter
** I know that Thirsty Thursday isn't intended to be a bar/restaurant review, but I just have to say a few kind words about C. Grace. This new spot on Glenwood South is SUCH a gem! It looks like a rather small and forgettable place from the outside, but take a moment to walk down the short staircase to C. Grace's red front doors, step inside and find yourself transported from Downtown Raleigh to a elegant speakeasy in the 1920's. No detail has been ignored in its decoration. From the jet black walls to the sexy red velvet curtains and antique furniture you will lose yourself in a time long forgotten. The bartenders wear shirts and ties(some even wear a VEST!) and the cocktail waitresses have adorably elegant skirts, shirts and dainty heels. Every customer receives the attention he or she deserves. Each drink is made with care and never rushed. C. Grace has quickly become my favorite spot to head to on any night of the week! 
I hope that everyone is having a fabulous Thursday! 


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

5 Days a Week

     Since starting this blog last week I have received so many kind words and positive feedback. I would like to say thank you to everyone for commenting and reading. It truly means so much to me.
     I've been trying to think of a creative and fun way to compose my blog. I decided that having a theme for each day, Monday through Friday, would be the best way to do it. Each day's theme will relate to my experiences living in Dublin. I believe each of the themes I've come up with will help me explore all the different facets of this new life I'm about to undertake. So, here are my themes!

Manic Monday-I'll discuss all of the happenings from the weekend, the things I've learned and organize and prioritize my upcoming week

Beauty Tip Tuesday-Each Tuesday I'll give some sort of beauty tip. Once I'm in Dublin, I'll try to have it involve a new beauty product/idea that I've discovered since moving there

Workout Wednesday- I'll discuss the workouts I've been doing throughout the week and share any tips, tricks or new routines I've learned while in Dublin

Thirsty Thursday- Each week I'll try new kinds of drinks and/or cocktails and discuss what kind of food I think pairs well with them

Fashion Abroad Friday- Every Friday I will discuss a fashion item or trend that I've discovered since moving to Dublin. I'll also explore and discuss pieces that I have in my own wardrobe that I find fun and functional for my new life in a new city!

Of course I'll discuss other things as well, but I think this is a really great structure to have for every week. I'm so excited to start my new journey and everything that comes with it! I can't wait to share everything with all of you here! I'll begin with Thirsty Thursday tomorrow. It won't be abroad(obviously...haha) but I think it will be good for me to get into the habit of blogging so frequently before I leave. Plus, it'll be fun to explore these topics in the place where I call home first! I hope all is well for everyone! 


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

"If You Had the Chance to Change Your Fate, Would You?"

     In February, I found out that I was accepted to UCD(University College Dublin) in Dublin, Ireland! I can't even explain how ecstatic I was! It has always been one of my dreams to live in another country, and now its coming true!
     The news could not have come at a better time. My mother passed away after fighting ALS for nearly 6 years in October 2011. We were so close, and her death has been extremely difficult. I truly believe this opportunity could not have been given to me at a better time. Getting this opportunity has been like finding the light at the end of a dark and very long tunnel. I am infinitely thankful for this, and am still in shock that its happening. I wish that my mom could be here for all of this. I know how proud she would be.
     Since I've been accepted, I've just been working on getting all of the paperwork together...and let me tell you is there a lot of paperwork! haha! I think (at least I hope) that I'm coming to the end of all of the paperwork. I'm booking my one-way plane ticket today which is all at once exciting and terrifying. The reality of this great adventure has really started to hit me this past week. I can't wait to get there and start a new life, with new adventures and new people! But, at the same time I'm realizing how difficult it is going to be to leave my family, my best friends and the life that I've built here behind. I know that they will all always be a part of my life, but its just hard to think that I won't get to see them all as frequently as I'm used to. Thank goodness for Skype and Facetime!! :)
     I won't be leaving until August, and my classes won't start until September, but I thought it would be nice to write posts between now and then about all of the preparations I'll be making for leaving.
     Until next time,
            Erin xoxo

                                                     My soon-to-be home! Dublin!