Sunday, August 30, 2009

Fat Club

Marriage has done nothing for my waistline. Well it has actually, it's expanded it. Age isn't helping either. My metabolism has slowed to a crawl and I've started avoiding mirrors.

When I moved to England I really, really missed my Merritt Athletic Club in Baltimore: Body Combat, the outdoor pool in the summer, yoga classes included in the membership price, and the stair stepper machine thingy are the main things I missed. I joined a new gym in England and it wasn't the same. It was okay, but it wasn't Merritt. Then I moved to Dublin and now I really, really miss my Fitness First in Bath/Bristol: I could use the locations interchangeably which worked well with my schedule, Body Combat, and my Saturday morning Pilates class which was included in the membership price. I joined the gym near us and well, the pool is beautiful, but other than that it's not great. Body Combat (the Les Mills one, not just one someone makes up) is very hard to come by in Dublin. There is only one gym in Dublin that I have found to teach Body Combat and it's not convenient to us. And, the yoga and Pilates classes at the gym are not included in the membership. On top of a monthly membership fee I'd have to pay an additional 70 euro to take yoga or Pilates. This is ridiculous.

In an effort to mix things up, I have frozen my gym membership and signed up for a bootcamp class in Phoenix Park. Yikes. People are going to be yelling at me and it will probably be raining. I think I'm actually more worried about the rain than the yelling. I decided to take an all-girl class, both because I've never done one of these before so I'm a little intimidated, and hopefully one person in the class will talk to me and be my friend.

Then to add insult to injury, I am joining Weight Watchers. I did WW in 2000 and lost 45 lbs. I didn't do the meetings, I just did it at home by myself. When I moved to England I was surprised how the girls were skinny, except for the 6-pack of beer they had sitting on their belly. I am now sporting my own mini-keg, muffin top, inner it whatever you want. The food here is different (i.e. less choice), the nutritional information on the back of food looks different, and well, I need a boost. I would have gone to the meetings this time (see above with the friend possibility), but the class that's up the street coincides with the bootcamp class. So, I'll do the At Home version. I'll have to buy a scale. Double yikes!

My goal right now is to be a solid US size 8 again. I guess that's a UK size 12. Fortunately, I don't have as much weight to lose this time around, but I also have a husband who has a metabolism that runs non-stop and doesn't need to lose weight. This is going to be the hardest part. Or maybe it will be avoiding scones. Or cheese. Or chips.


Friday, August 28, 2009

Short trip to Cork

Wes and I flew to Cork to meet up with the folks for a few days. They were driving down from Galway on Monday after a few days out there. We stayed at Atlantic House in Myrtleville, just a couple of miles from Wes' parents in Crosshaven. It is a beautiful house and of course since we got there first we got the best room! This was great until the night we had a really bad storm. It sounded like we were going to break off into the Atlantic. Here are a few pictures from the week and there are a few more on my 365 blog. The vacation was too short as usual!

The view from our room

Musicians at the Farmer's Market in Kinsale

Charles Fort, Kinsale

Uncle Jim at Midleton's

Uncle Jim doing the whisky tasting at the end of the tour

The visitors at Atlantic House

Wes and I at Atlantic House

Views from the house towards Fountainstown, Co. Cork

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Quotes of the Week

"See Jim! If we were on this side, this is the view we would see!"
-Aunt Linda, as we were driving around Kinsale

"Just follow the signs with the biscuit."
-Mom, giving directions to the Heritage Centre in Cobh

"See, my classmates..."
-Uncle Jim, referring to the other people in his
tasting group at Midleton's

"The weather changes on a dime here, doesn't it?"
-Dad, commenting on the beautiful Irish weather

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Tour Guide

My parents and aunt and uncle have been visiting Ireland since Tuesday. This is the busiest week I've had since I moved here! They left for Galway yesterday morning and we'll meet up with them in Cork tomorrow. My mom commented on how she always had a hard time finding food she likes in England and Scotland, but she was really enjoying the food in Dublin. I said, that could be because you don't get any closer to being in America then when you're in Dublin. There are so many American expats here and the city really caters to US tourists. I'm not so sure she's having as much luck in western Ireland.

In no particular order, here are some picture from their visit so far.

My aunt drinking her breakfast at the Guinness Storehouse.

Church ruins at Malahide Castle.

Church ruins at Malahide Castle.

Malahide Castle

Lambay Island off the coast of Malahide village.

The waving leprechaun in Temple Bar is having a smoke break. It does kind of lose the mystery when he pulls his head off and lights up.

Kilmainham Gaol

Looking into a cell at Kilmainham Gaol

Kilmainham Gaol

Like two bumps on a log...waiting for the Phoenix Park shuttle.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


I don't consider myself to be an activist of any kind - I eat meat, I love driving gas powered vehicles, I eat McDonald's, my chocolate chip cookies are made with Nestle chips. But, there are a few things that I boycott if at all possible. One of those is Wal-Mart which is insanely easy to do, even when I was in the US. Same with Exxon. One that is a bit more difficult is Tesco. As with most people who boycott Tesco I choose to do this due to them undercutting the prices of local shop owners (then jacking them back up when the local shop goes out of business), poor quality produce, and basically their Wal-Martesque way of doing business. It wasn't hard when I was in England because there was no Tesco in Bath. Perfect! I was quite happy with the Sainsbury's in Bath, even if the store looked like a bare warehouse on Tuesday nights - not a chicken to be found anywhere. Unfortunately, there is no Sainsbury's in Ireland and there are lots of Tescos. We have three within walking distance of us. Because of what I felt was convenience and better prices, I've been doing a bit of the shopping at Tesco, but we're just so annoyed with them that we have decided to stop shopping there all together. Plus, it's not really anymore convenient for us to shop there and their prices aren't really better than anyone else.

Grocery shopping in Ireland is already a little tricky, but boycotting the largest chain store in the country adds another element to the experience. We can now choose from: Dunnes, Lidl, Aldi, Fresh, and, Marks and Spencers. Fortunately, Dunnes sells Sam Adams or the boycott from Tesco might have to be lifted! It is not uncommon to have to visit more than one of these shops in order to get all of the ingredients for one recipe. This would be a pain in the ass for a working couple, but since I'm not working it gives me something to do during the day! I should also add that I really like grocery shopping, which I know many people do not.

Anyways, I was very proud of myself today. Having to rethink our dinner of meatloaf tonight because our refrigerator sucks so bad that the meat, which is dated 2 days from now to go off, has gone off, I made my way to the shops. We're having sausages, garlic mash, and broccoli. Well, only M&S has low fat sausages, but the potatoes and broccoli are cheapest at Lidl, so I had to go to two shops for this meal. Not too bad really! I picked up all this food for just under 12 euro. The avocados were only 45c at Lidl! The broccoli only 99c! And it was actually grown in Ireland! Usually, the only locally grown veg I can find is potatoes. Trying to buy primarily locally grown fruit, veg and meat, or goods made in Ireland is a whole other kink in the chain!

I don't know...maybe you have to shop in Ireland on a regular basis to get excited about a bag of groceries for 12 euro. Trust me, it's exciting stuff!

A little bit of 'America' in Dublin

Don't worry, I'm well aware that IKEA is not an American company. However, all of my previous experience in this store has been in the US (except once at the one in Bristol, England which also induced this feeling). When I lived in Baltimore, there were three, yes, THREE IKEAs within easy driving distance to my house. I would drive past the one in White Marsh on my way to work, so I would stop there all. the. time. They finally opened the store in Dublin, so Wes and I went there to check it out last night.

We heard about the ridiculous crowds there the first weekend it opened and I have to say that going on a weeknight was a good idea. It was busy, but not crazy. After a 50 minute bus ride which can only be compared to 'Mr Toad's Wild Ride', with glimpses of the big blue building through the projects, we finally reached the Mecca.

I'm fairly certain the IKEA in White Marsh doesn't have a large, metal security fence around it.

First things first, we got some Swedish meatballs. All my trips to IKEA and I've never actually eaten there. We both got the meatballs, a dessert, and drink all for under 16 euro. I think Wes will be taking me there for any further date nights we have.

Then we wandered around the Showroom. I typically bypass this section and go straight to the Marketplace, but since Wes had never been, I figured we should have a look around. Primarily we just ooo'd and ahhhh'd over the kitchens and the size of the refrigerators. It seemed to go on forever, but we finally made it to the Marketplace. This...this is where I felt just like I was in the US. They don't really change up the floor plan there, do they? What kept me grounded in Ireland was the realization that I didn't have a cart with me because I didn't have my car out in the parking lot to pack full of goodies. It was all about what we could carry home from the bus stop! In the end, we picked up a whisk and a nightstand for my side of the bed. Wes got himself a hot dog for 1 euro. He was very impressed with the availability of food both before and after the shopping experience.

Here is my new nightstand!

And I thought I was done with flat pack. :-(

Friday, August 7, 2009

Italian Invasion

August is the time of year that no one visits Italy because the entire country shuts down and goes on holiday. Dublin has welcomed its fair share of Italian tourists. I think they are actually outnumbering the Americans at this point. The Italian Invasion is not nearly as annoying as the Spanish Student Invasion which occurs in June. Well, unless you find beautiful, well-dressed people who can get away with wearing scarves in August annoying. I kind of do.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Water, water everywhere....

To say we have a damp problem in our bedroom would be an understatement. This has kept it from being the romantic abode it is supposed to be....well, this and the fact that since it's the largest room we have, it seems to be a dumping ground in our lunchbox-sized apartment. I've lived in damp countries now for 3 years so I have a pretty good understanding how much damp I'm willing to live with and when it's all just gone too far.

It all came to a head when I got back from the US and thought things smelled a little funky in there. Is it the 3 weeks of laundry still in the bin?? Potentially, yes, but not the sole culprit of the funk. I sniffed it out, literally, and it was a pair of my shoes that was now growing a colony of fungus on it. Fortunately, it was an old pair that I was just waiting for the perfect excuse to throw away. Well, I got it. Unfortunately this wasn't the only pair, but the others were able to be salvaged (except the high top sneaker slippers! Doh!). I went online and found out that tea tree oil is a natural way to get rid of fungus. So yesterday I cleaned the heck out of our bedroom and went crazy with the spray bottle. Then today Wes picked up THIS!

Wes said I've never been so excited about anything he's ever bought me. Not true...this got me pretty excited!

He isn't as excited about this purchase as I am because removing humidity from your home is not cheap. But I pointed out that it is cheaper than moving!