Wednesday, April 28, 2010

New photo project!

I finished my second 365 blog a couple of weeks ago and I decided not to do another one. I have seen some interesting photo projects on other blogs and I decided that a weekly project might be a nice challenge. There's no pressure for me to do this everyday and I get to use old pictures which is fun.

After seeing the project on Abby's blog at Little Red Buttons I decided to do the 'You Capture' project started by Beth on I Should Be Doing Laundry. She has everyone participating in the project link their blog from her page, so it's interesting to see how other people interpret the challenge. This week's challenge is 'Spring'. Spring to me means flowers and their beautiful colors. I love taking pictures of flowers! I didn't edit these pictures because I wanted nature's colors to shine through.


Monday, April 26, 2010

The Land of Dunkin' Donuts and CVS

Ahhh...yes. If you've been to Boston you'll understand the title of this post. When we arrived at the airport it was first things first. Hit the Dunkin' Donuts in the arrivals hall. Little did I know there was going to be one (sometimes two) on every block. It somehow became less special.

After all that volcano stress, we were very fortunate that our flight was scheduled to leave on time. The creepiest part of the whole thing was being at the airport. Normally a bustling place at noon on a Friday, it was like a ghost town. There were long lines at the desks were people were queued up to try and change their flights. We walked through that place like we were rock stars.

No lines at security!

This is the hall right after security. It would normally be packed. We saw airport shops we never knew existed. 

The flight was non-eventful which is always good. You would have thought it was going to be packed since the flights the day before were canceled. Nope. Good for us, bad for Aer Lingus. I got to see two stellar films, Precious and Crazy Heart. We got in some good-natured competition with the in-flight trivia game. You get the picture. 
Anywho, the whole reason we went was because Wes was running in the Boston Marathon. First things first, we had to get his number:

Then two days later he had to actually run the race.

Mom did a lot of this that day:
And dad, being the good husband and father, went for provisions:

It took awhile, but finally we saw him! Woot!

Mile 17
Then we hauled our cookies back into downtown Boston so we could see him again!
Just after mile 25
My sister and cousin were tracking him online and they would call us with updates. What an awesome marathon! My favorite place is close to the end when people are really struggling. I love screaming encouragement when they're standing there cramping up. It makes me feel like I'm helping. Well, Wes didn't need any encouragement because he was doing great!!! He ended up finishing in 3:06:30. You can get the blow by blow account on his blog here.

Once that was over, we were able to really enjoy Boston. The next morning we left the apartment and Wes finally made it down the stairs. 
Yes, he's going down in this picture.

Well, we saw all the sights Boston had to offer:
Boston is a lovely mixture of old and new.

Close up of the very cute weather vane.

Wes' favorite patriot: Samuel Adams. 

Fishing boats who brought in the delicious clams for all of the New England clam chowder I consumed.

The lovely Zakim Bridge.

The USS Constitution and Bunker Hill monument. No surprise Wes and my dad loved this part.

I felt a lot of self-inflicted tourist pressure to take this picture. I don't even care about this show.

We stopped by Harvard to absorb some smarts. I don't think it worked. 

Our picture on the boat trip. Someone offered to take our picture and we declined.

The lovely Boston skyline. It's one of the prettiest I've seen!

Thank you, America. Thank you for giving us a reason to put on sunscreen. Thank you for your unsweetened iced tea as a choice of drink in every restaurant. Thank you for your super-friendly people. Thank you for your reasonably priced consumer goods. Thank you for your cheap breakfasts and bottomless cups of coffee. Until we meet again!!!!

We went, we're back.....

...and we have the jet lag to prove it. We were on the last flight to Boston before they closed the airspace again and we made it back with no delays. We were very, very lucky. Wes did awesome at the marathon. We hung out with my parents. I ate too many Dunkin' Donuts. We wrapped up the week at Panera. I took advantage of Macy's international discount. Another perfect week in America.

I have loads of pictures to edit and I'll do a proper post once I find the energy. Must. Not. Nap.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Who invented volcanoes anyway!??

I'm sitting here waiting to find out if our flight to Boston is cancelled tomorrow (it's not looking good), so I figured I'd try to take my mind off of it and update my food blog. Sorry they're so chickeny, but we love chicken!

Roasted ratatouille chicken


Broccoli and cheese stuffed chicken breasts

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Are squirrels rare in Ireland??

I was walking through the park today and this rather non-crazy looking woman stopped me, causing me take out my headphones, and pointed out a gray squirrel. WTF?? Don't get me wrong, I'm an animal lover. Had she pointed out a rare bird or small mammal (it was the center of Dublin after all) I would have been appreciative of this. But a gray squirrel?? Ever since the summer we were camping on the Outer Banks and squirrels chewed through our CAMPER to get to our Oreo cookies, I've considered them rodents. That's right, rats with bushy tales. And I don't want to relive the horror of the demonic squirrel that used to bury breadsticks in my flower pots at my apartment in Baltimore. The woman upstairs was TERRIFIED of this squirrel. Today, I feigned interest in the stupid squirrel and carried on my merry way, but it was all I could do to not say to her, 'Seriously? That's why you stopped me?? Show me a Delmarva Fox Squirrel THEN I'll get excited!'

I'm a biology snob. 

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Pre-vacation preparations

The week leading up to a vacation can be a busy time. We're heading to Boston on Friday, so I'm trying to get things organized. The biggest thing is, of course, the laundry. Fortunately I don't work as doing laundry in our flat is a full time job. I also like doing laundry. First things first - decide what you want to wear on vacation and not wear it the entire week before packing for said vacation. This isn't hard if you're going somewhere with a different climate, but it's tricky when the forecast for your destination is 50s-60s and showers. Sounds a lot like Ireland right now!

In America, I had a tumble dryer and drying racks that were in a warm, dry room. In England, we didn't have a tumble dryer (at first), but we had a garden with a clothes line. We also had radiators  that you could turn on when you wanted to throw a pair of jeans on there to dry fairly quickly. In Ireland, we have no tumble dryer (no room for one); no garden means no clothesline; storage heating instead of radiators, so there is no flipping a switch for immediate heating; drying racks in our bedroom which isn't known for being a warm, dry room; and a dehumidifier which I love and my husband HATES (he pays the electric bill).

Today would have been a perfect day to hang stuff outside. As I was flipping and rearranging my laundry for the 5th time today, all while cursing our lack of a garden, I was thinking I might be a bit OCD about laundry. I'm obsessed with getting it dry so I can pull it off the rack and throw in another load of laundry. I don't know if it's the sense of completion or what, but I get jazzed when I do laundry.

What I don't get jazzed about?? Pretty much all other cleaning. There is nothing better than going on vacation and coming back to a clean house. I discovered my husband doesn't share this love as after we were married and we returned to our new marital home it looked like someone had been there that morning cooking a full fry up with the dirty frying pan on the stove, dirty plate and half full coffee cup still sitting on the table. I'm sure the cat sitter was thankful to smell that treat when she stopped by. Our friend is stopping by to check on the cat, so I'm determined for her to not think we're total slobs! I cleaned the bathroom, the kitchen floor (which at 12 sq ft is no real accomplishment) and I actually dusted. However, reason #7,468,320,474 of why I hate this apartment means that you can't tell it's been cleaned. No matter what amount of cleaning you do, it never looks pristine. I don't like not being able to see the fruits of my labors!

Tomorrow's agenda: Defeat the mold.

Monday, April 12, 2010

There's a first time for everything!

In all my 35 years I've been asked my advice on matters. You know...'Should I get this shirt?', 'Should I cut my hair?', and an occasional 'What would you do in this situation?' But today I was asked my opinion on a matter that has never happened before and frankly, it threw me for a loop. We were in the shop, buying ice cream (as you do on a beautiful sunny day), and my 9 month pregnant friend who is leaning on a stool, asks me, ME (never been pregnant, never had a baby, Kim) if I thought she should go to the hospital. I channeled the advice that had been given to me over the years by the school nurse and from watching TLC's A Baby Story and said, 'Why don't we get you home so you can rest and if you still are having this pain we'll call you a taxi.' After some time sitting in the sun, eating a Magnum Bar, and listening to interpretive readings from People things calmed down and she was feeling better. I'm thinking I might want to start applying for those obstetrician position after all.....

To all the ladies out there who might be ready to give birth, can I suggest the services of Liz and Kim? Liz will be sure to take your picture while you're sitting at the bus stop having a contraction and I'll ask you questions about the kind of pain you're feeling and speculate on what it means in a completely non-educated way. We could be the team you're looking for!

Greystones to Bray Cliff Walk

The weather was GORGEOUS this weekend and we definitely tried to take advantage of it. We got ourselves out of bed early on Sunday, threw on some sunscreen (yes, SUNSCREEN!) and headed down to Greystones to do the cliff walk back to Bray. Neither of us had ever been to Greystones and our impression was that it was a quiet, residential area with coffee shops and posh clothing shops dotted in here and there. I loved it! Here are a few photos from the day:

Yeah, this is how it started. We had to walk through a construction site. The views weren't great, to say the least.

Ahh...we finally got out of the construction site, only to be greeted by a sign that said the walkway was closed due to landslides. A woman was coming from the other direction so I asked her if she walked from Bray. She said yes, she looked at the sign, and was like right, this is Ireland so you don't know which signs to believe. Yep, this is Ireland. We headed on our way and we could see where the cliff had recently slid down. Fortunately, they've made it safe for pedestrians, as you can see in this picture. 

This fence was floating in the air.

The views were amazing! You can see the train tunnel in the side of this cliff.

This plant is called, 'Gorse' and it's everywhere. 

Looking back towards Greystones.

The water was so clear. Wes said it was like the Mediterranean and I laughed and laughed at that crazy talk.

Look back towards the cliffs with the train tunnel. We waited and waited for a train to come through a tunnel and one never came. That would have been the money shot!

Our obligatory shot! This might be our best one yet!

Then I asked one of the one million other people on the cliff to take our picture for us. Please notice no jackets, hats, or scarves! Huzzah!!!

The end is in sight! Ahhh...the Bates Motel! No, we didn't stay in this scary place, we walked up the strand to the Porterhouse and had a few pints. Perfect end to the perfect day!

*If you're thinking about doing this walk, here are a few observations. The walk is about 3 miles long, so not too bad. It's uphill to start, flattens out with some undulating hills, then it's downhill at the end. All sorts of people were walking it in all sorts of footwear (including sparkly flats). Even though it's been dry here for a few days there are still some places where it's muddy due to springs in the side of the cliff. I wore sneakers (trainers, tennis shoes, whatever) and I was fine. I could see it being muddy and gross though. There are some crazy steps and it's very rocky, so definitely NOT stroller friendly, even though some idiots people tried. 

Thursday, April 8, 2010

What have I been up to....hmmmm.....

I know you're all dying to find out!

First off, I'm anxiously awaiting the arrival of KD and Meg's little ones! Can't wait to meet them! 

On Thursday of last week, Little Kitty hissed at me when I tried petting her back. This set off a series of events, the main one being that she was pulling up her back right leg and limping around. We left it all day Friday to see if it got better, but it seemed worse so I made an appointment at the vet on Saturday. The vet decided it could either be a soft tissue injury or, worst case scenario, a broken pelvis. The treatment for both was the same, rest and anti-inflammatories. Fortunately, her favorite past time is resting and our flat is a human-sized crate (no stairs, no outside, etc), so treatment was fairly easy. We got her some cat ibuprofen and were sent on our way. Tuesday we went back for a follow up. Her leg was about the same, but now we were having her blood tested for liver and kidney function, she's on medication for dermatitis, and it was suggested we get her thyroid tested. Perhaps we made the mistake of wearing our jackets decorated with euro signs???  Since the treatment for the leg was the same regardless of the diagnosis, I decided not to have her x-rayed. She's an oldie (but goody!) and the anesthesia would have been hard on her. I also rejected the thyroid test, because other than the possibility of a slight heart murmmer, she had no symptoms of hypothyroidism. Anyway, today is Thursday and she's back to doing this:


And this:

This is actually at my parent's house. I don't have a recent bag picture of her.

WHEW!!! What a relief! This was all even more stressful because we're leaving for Boston next week! Wes is running in the marathon and right now we are praying for cool temps. It's crazy hot there right now and it's fair to say that he hasn't had the opportunity to train in 90 degree temps this winter. After the 19th it can warm back up, but 75 degrees would be about as high as I'd like it to get. My parents are coming up for the week as well, so it should be fun! Also, Liz is going to be back in Boston for the week (it is Patriot's Day you know!), so she'll be taking us to all the hot spots (i.e. best places for pizza, beer, and chowdah).

Yesterday I decided to start doing my taxes. Holy crap it's hard when you have a US rental property, you're married, and you happen to be married to a foreigner. Fortunately, when you file from overseas  you actually don't have to file until June 1st, but I'd like to get them over and done with before we go to Boston. I was on the phone with the IRS for about 30 minutes (20 of that on hold). I'm fairly certain they get jazzed when they get to quote you an act, article, or form number. I had a lot of those thrown at me and it started to feel more gratuitous than helpful. In the end I had to call another expat friend to find out how they do it.

And of course I've been annoying Wes with my new favorite advert. I like to imitate the old man.

I've also cooked some pretty tasty things lately and I hope to update my food blog in the next day or so.

Oh, and I think I've discovered moth larvae in our bedroom. Gross, right!? Does anyone know of a way to get rid of them, other than mothballs? I'm not keen on smelling like my great-grandparent's closet. If only mold was a deterrent. We'd be in business!

That's about it! Still awake??

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Anniversary to Us!

It's hard to believe a year ago today I was getting my hair and makeup done for the big event! I remember the people at the salon commenting on how relaxed I was. What was there to be nervous about?? I was getting MARRIED!!! Friends and family were coming from as far as Ireland, England, Spain, California and Florida. I couldn't WAIT to see them! The torrential rains from the day before had stopped and the sun was shining bright! So what if the wind was blowing (strong enough to blow over a flower arrangement) and people had to wear their coats during the ceremony because the heaters didn't work. Our memories of the day will always be perfect!

One of the best memories of the wedding weekend was the breakfast we had at the inn the next morning. We stuffed ourselves silly with breakfasty goodness! We seriously talk about it all the time. I decided to try and recreate the strawberries and cream french toast. Nom nom nom!

Of course, I couldn't start the day without putting my sticker on first. This came in the anniversary card from my parents and it couldn't be more perfect!

Wes didn't put his on yet, but I know he really wants to. It says, 'I'm the boss around here when she's not here.' Perfect, no??

Anywho, I gave him his 'paper' gift, a book of strange maps, and I'll be getting my gift later. And he's made dinner reservations somewhere! All in all a pretty great day!