Thursday, January 31, 2013

Child of the 90s

I’m a Chrome user, but I have to admit this is nicely played!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Thing #31: Have a BBQ

Let’s be clear about something here: ‘have a barbeque’ and ‘host a barbeque’ are two entirely different things.  I had a barbeque because that’s what was clearly stated on the list and by having a barbeque, I mean that I turned up at one with a shop-bought cake (the fancy kind),  played Jenga with the burger toppings and over-complimented the chef.  That’s what having a barbeque means to me.

I like to imagine I could be the host.  I like to think of myself as the type of person that should you show up at my apartment unexpected, I’d be able to greet you warmly while flicking on the kettle with one hand and taking some baked delicious thing out of the oven with the other.  I’d like to think I’d be wearing a pair of socially acceptable pants.  But some of these things we like to think about ourselves are not always real.

So I had a barbeque, compliments of some real-life hosts, Dee and Tim.  Dee always has something tasty on the stove.  Tim knows how to man a barbeque.  They just have those kind of faces that you want to see every time you’re hungry.  Together, they are a power couple, foodie-style.

This was major.  Dee and Tim live on Dubai Marina (right on it!) so we got everything set up on a balmy evening with only the prettiest of views.  Then, the food!  Everything tastes better off a barbeque-grill, right?  But I’m always most excited about the accompaniments- there was a whole trestle table full of them.  There was homemade Pimm’s and the most amazing coleslaw and even chilli (because there are no rules about what you can bring to a barbeque).  Someone brought homemade carrot cake that knocked me right off my dessert-providing high horse.  When I eventually get around to getting the recipe, I’ll be sure to pass it on to you.

Anyway, this post was sort of all over the place.  Just a little real life me coming out.  I’m okay with not being the host, and so so grateful to those more competent in that role.

€5 has been donated to UNICEF Ireland for the completion of this ‘thing’.  Click here if you too would like to donate online.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Dr. Seuss

If Dr. Seuss books were titled according to their subtexts:

Dr Suess

You see, we can trick children into learning important life lessons by using silly illustrations and hilarious rhymes.  See the rest here.

On this note, did you know that in work, I’m not allowed to read my favourite Dr. Seuss book, Green Eggs and Ham, to the children in my class?  It’s because Islamic law forbids any reference to the P-word (pork… oops!).  It’s true!  I can, however, read another gem, Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?  Among the long list of sounds Mr. Brown has mastered, none of them appear to offend our Muslim friends.

Monday, January 28, 2013

How to be Happy

5 points happiness

How to be as ‘appy as a ‘ippo.  Simple and true.

Friday, January 25, 2013

What shall I do?

Lemony snicketLemony snicket2

On my to-do list this weekend: figure out my dreams and what to pursue for the rest of my life.  Wish me luck!

… and have a lovely weekend xo

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Don’t forget to BE COOL!

Rena Lange1

Rena Lange4

Rena Lange2

Backstage at Rena Lange:  I loved the sign instructing models to BE COOL!  As if this crowd needed any reminder.  I’m always telling myself (and my friends) to do just this, and getting slated for it.  I think its sound advice in general, and shouldn’t be restricted to the catwalk.  I’m even considering a similar display on the inside of my front door.

p.s. The incorrect spelling of the word straight in this notice irritates me beyond reason.  It’s one of my weird pet peeves.  I can loosely tolerates mistakes like this, but seriously, if you write your instead of you’re, I can’t be held accountable for my actions.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Hotel Citta Del Mare, Sicily

Hotel citta del mare

Oh yes.  This exists! 

In exactly 10 weeks’ time (but who’s counting?), I’ll be watching my sister, Fiona take Damien as her lawfully wedded husband in a beautiful little church in Taormina, Sicily.  All our family can talk about right now is how excited we are.

The part about it being in Sicily makes it even more exciting.  It means that on dull Wednesdays in January, I can get all wanderlusty looking at pictures like this one.  Even though the Hotel Citta Del Mare is on the opposite side of the island, and it won’t exactly be swimming season in April, we’re still planning a brief trip to check this out.

Have you ever been to Sicily?  I’d love to hear your suggestions on what to do while I’m there.  I’ve heard The Godfather Tour is a must. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

This Bag

celine bag

So, if you were to buy this Celine bag for me (let’s just say if…), I would call to your house,  I’d move in, we’d get married and that would be the end of that.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Thing #7: Stay at a 5 Star Hotel


Khalidiya Palace Resort, Abu Dhabi

My list made me do it.  That’s how I ended up in one of these fancy places I really had no business being in.  Nobody really stays at 5 star hotels on a regular basis, do they?  Not in my circles anyway.


Here’s why:  4 star hotels meet normal people’s requirements just fine.  Exceed them, even.

That extra star is rewarded for over-the-top things that nobody cares about.  There’s the guy who opens the taxi door for you on arrival.  The turndown service, for those of us who are too exhausted after a long day to peel back our own bed sheets.  And the  pillow menu, really?  It seems like they are trying too hard.  If 5-star hotels were people, I wouldn’t want to hang out with them at all. They’d be all clingy and uptight and obsessive and I’d just want them to chill out. I mean, I’m pretty much excited about the prospects of not making my own dinner, and that someone will be serving it to me without expecting me to ask for the recipe or offer to lend a hand with the washing up.

011  009

Lobby and Atrium, Khalidiya Palace, Abu Dhabi

These places also employ a ton of extra people, to the point where the staff to guest ratio borders on ridiculous.  The point, apparently, is to provide a more personalised service and attend to your every whim.  The staff greet you by name, then begin to overuse it- Of course Ms. Frayne, right away Ms. Frayne -until it becomes an irritation. What’s left to do only play their game?  So you steal an obvious glance at their name badge and come back with-That would be great Marcus, thank you so much Marcus – sounding like a pretentious idiot. 

It is the kind of setting that brings out the brat in people; the perfect backdrop for obscure requests delivered in calm, steady voices.  Maybe that only offends me because I’m a teacher, but I firmly believe you should only get exactly what you want if its a reasonable request.  Mint ice-cream with the chocolate chips removed at 5 in the morning?  Of course Ms. Frayne, right away Ms. Frayne!

I don’t have any brattish tendencies (I don’t!) and when I stayed at Khalidiya Palace, I found myself being overly thankful to people for things I didn’t really want in the first place.  It’s like that feeling when someone holds the lift doors for you but you’re still 20 metres away and you were going to take the stairs anyway, but their kindness forces you into an awkward jog of gratitude towards them.  I was in that awkward jog for a whole weekend.  You know that saying that people were ‘falling over themselves’ to help us out?  Well, that actually happened.  At one point, two members of staff literally fell over one another when both went to help us with our luggage at the exact same moment.  Can you imagine how guilty I would have felt if anyone suffered any injuries at my expense?  That’s something I don’t need to be dealing with.

No, 4 stars is just fine with me.


Private Beach, Khalidiya Palace, Abu Dhabi

€5 has been donated to UNICEF Ireland for the completion of this ‘thing’.  Click here if you too would like to donate online.

Friday, January 18, 2013




Thursday, January 17, 2013

Stormy Nights

Last year (it still feels weird to write that about 2012), there was a full-on thunderstorm in Dubai.  Yeah, in Dubai… I know.  It interrupted National Day celebrations.  Apparently no one had seen anything like it in the country’s 41-year-history.  There was general uproar over it but nobody really knew where to direct their outrage.

It reminded me how much I love storms, so long as I’m tucked up inside somewhere and can watch it listening to Radiohead.  I was outside at the time.  Of course.


This is where I should have been.   It’s like being outside without all the fuss of being outside. 

Now, who’s going to be my Sugar Daddy and buy me a place like this?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Thing #4: Go on a road trip


Three be the things that maketh a road trip:  good music, good snacks and good company.  Stick to that recipe and you can’t mess this up.  It’s about as complicated as a three-piece jigsaw.

I started by securing the company.  I picked Lucy up from Dublin Airport and after I was done hugging her for an awkward length of time, we set off. 

Lucy worried about how my navigation skills would compare with her Tom Tom and I worried about how her bladder would hold up during the trip.  She kept asking “Are you absolutely sure you know where you’re going?”, to which I repeatedly answered “Do you need the toilet?” as if it were a valid response.  We both should have had more faith.  As uncomplicated as it was, when I did get us to our destination without any hiccups and within the expected timeframe, Lucy regarded me as if I had some kind of superpower.  In some ways, it was like watching someone tie their shoelaces and saying “Holy shit, that’s amazing!  How did you do that?”.

Killarney was our first destination since we were doing that run I told you about.  It was also where we met up with Marie who had went to the effort of making this welcoming sign:


The kindness didn’t stop there.  She came with breakfast, in the form of her Mam’s homemade scones (good snacks- check!), acted as tour guide for our stay and introduced us to the best ice-cream in the world.  Officially.


It was the first time Lucy ate brown-bread ice-cream, which is an Irish specialty (I think?). It’s one of those don’t diss it before you’ve tried it situations, so please eat it first and then try to tell me you’re not obsessed. I won’t believe you. I totally won’t believe you.

When we were in the car again, it was on the way to Marie’s  home place, near Bantry in Co. Cork.  We passed this sign-post along the way. (Love!)


Marie’s mother welcomed us into her home with Christmas dinner (in July).  Seriously, she cooked a Turkey for us and served it with Ham and all the trimmings.  It was entirely too charming.

The downside was there was none of my usual turkey-induced napping afterwards and we got back on the road to return to base camp.  We celebrated the end of the trip by drinking Guinness (another first for Lucy) in the smallest Irish pub I could find.


Just for fun, here are my favourite songs to drive to:

Guns n Roses – Paradise City

Foo Fighters – Wheels

Republic of Loose - The Steady Song

Lissie – Go your own way

Wheatus- Teenage Dirtbag

The Pixies – Here Comes Your Man

Iggy Pop – The Passenger

Red Hot Chilli Peppers – Road Trippin’

Billy Idol – Rebel Yell

Lonestar – Walking in Memphis

Live – All Over You

Fatboy Slim – Praise You

Mick Flannery – Tomorrow’s Paper

AC/ DC – Thunderstruck

Kerbdog – Mexican Wave

The Saw Doctors – Red Cortina

Johnny Cash – Folsom Prison Blues

Vanessa Carlton – A Thousand Miles

The Eagles – Life in the Fast Lane

Rodrigo y Gabriela – Tamacun


We travelled 605 km on our trip ( 615km if you include the 10km we ran!) on laughter and ice-cream and tunes and oh yeah,  fuel, because that’s important too even though I didn’t include it in my original  3-part recipe.

€5 has been donated to UNICEF Ireland for the completion of this ‘thing’.  Click here if you too would like to donate online.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Thumper Rule

This year, I’m trying to live my life right and pretty much do what Oprah (and Thumper’s Father) tells me to!

My Grandmother used to always say “If you can’t say something nice about someone, say they have nice teeth”, which led to confusion in my childhood self as to what to say if they didn’t have nice teeth either.  Of course she meant that you could always find something nice to say about anyone if you looked hard enough.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Thing #2: Run 10K

oldest marathon runner

This is Fauja Singh and he is the oldest marathon runner in the world.  At aged 92, he ran the Toronto Waterfront Marathon in 5 hours and 40 minutes.  The reason I’m telling you about this man is because his was the motivational voice in my head to run a measly 10K in Killarney last Summer.  And his will be the annoying, taunting, jibing voice in my head as I prepare to do it again this year.

I mean, after I’ve read that he can do 42K at aged 92 (92!), I can’t unread it, can I? And then can I really look in the mirror every morning and feel good about myself if I don’t muster the energy required to do a quarter of what he does at a quarter his age (give or take)?

I know what you’re thinking.  You don’t come here to think about running.  You come here because I talk about comfortable things- little t covers the pyjama pants of conversation topics.  And now here we are in January and I’ve caved and I’m talking about running like everyone else.  I’m sorry, I’m sorry about that.

But you should know that before Mr. Singh’s voice got all up in my head, I was under the impression that I could only run when I was being chased.  “If you see me running”, I’d say,” call the police!”  When you start (from scratch), it’s slow and it’s hard.  It’s dang hard.  You won’t like it at first, and if you’re me you won’t like it ever.  “I hate running”, I’d declare defiantly to anyone who would listen, “I hate every second of it”.  “Then stop doing it!” (came the obvious response), but I’m no quitter and there it was, on my list, so I was going to do it.

It turned out the race was lovely.  It’s called the most beautiful road race in the world and I believe it.  It was a cold but calm, drizzly day (perfect for running) and the 10K route circled the scenic lakes of Killarney, one of Ireland’s most stunning areas of natural scenery.  Most of the loop is off-road and at times, it was quiet enough to hear the steady rhythm of your own breath.  No annoying cheer-leader types to deal with until the last kilometre so that’s a bonus.  Last year, they had some guys playing steel drums at the 9K mark and free massages and hot tubs at the finish line.  Awesome touches in my opinion!

I had thought I was keeping up running out of perseverance to see things through to the end, but then after July 14th (race day) came and went, something weird happened. I didn’t feel like chucking my running shoes into the nearest bin.

The week after the 10K run, I drove to Oak Park in Carlow and ran a 4K loop and possibly for the first time in my life, actually enjoyed it. Instead of listening to Mr. Singh’s voice in my head, I had Jay-Z rapping to me through my ipod about being super-rich and all the ladies that love me.  I probably looked really cocky.

Again, apologies for the January motivational speech.  I’ve turned into the annoying cheerleader I loath so much.  We can talk about peanut butter tomorrow, and they’ll cancel each other out.

On the other hand, if you want to sign up for this year’s race (you can do a marathon, half-marathon or 10K; they are all on the same day), do it here!

€5 has been donated to UNICEF Ireland for the completion of this ‘thing’.  Click here if you too would like to donate online.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Emergency Compliments

emergency compliment

emergency compliment1

emergency compliment2

In case of emergency, when your usual bunch of reassuring fans friends aren’t around, there is always Emergency Compliment (.com).  I love both the concept and that most of the compliments are based on things we are secretly and inexplicably proud of (but would never be complimented on under normal circumstances).

Thursday, January 10, 2013



I read this recently in Quiet, by Susan Cain and just thought, Jesus Hemingway Christ, I’m an introvert!:

"Introverts, in contrast, may have strong social skills and enjoy parties and business meetings, but after a while wish they were home in their pajamas. They prefer to devote their social energies to close friends, colleagues, and family. They listen more than they talk, think before they speak, and often feel as if they express themselves better in writing than in conversation. They tend to dislike conflict. Many have a horror of small talk, but enjoy deep discussions."

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Best of… December 2012

dec betty2

via Le Blog de Betty

Love this!  In fact, the best thing about December might just be all the men in woolly hats.

dec addicted1

via Because I’m Addicted

Scrap that!  I forgot about Christmas.

dec sj2

dec sj1

via Sincerely Jules

dec betty3

dec betty1

via Le Blog de Betty

dec sart1

dec sart2

via The Sartorialist

dec streetpepper1

via Street Pepper

dec village1

via Village

dec vj1

via Vanessa Jackman

More on pinterest.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Best of… November 2012

nov coco2

via Cocogroove

In November, it was frequently hitting 30°C here, but I was dreaming of chillier climates and shopping online for a parka to see me through three weeks at home (I eventually settled on this one!).  It served me well and the novelty of the cold and rain didn’t wear off while I was home.  Besides, winter clothes are the best kind… if I could only get over that exhausting indoors-outdoors, layers on layers-off routine!

nov vanessajackman1

nov sart1

nov toast1

nov toast2

nov toast3

via Vanessa Jackman, The Sartorialist and Fashion Toast

When I got home, my beloved leather and knits were all mine again, and completely acceptable (if not advisable) to wear with regularity.

nov locals1

nov sj1

via The Locals and Sincerely Jules

Candy stripes and flimsy shorts were not.  I guess that’s one of the benefits of straddling two opposing climates.

nov sj2

nov sj3

via Sincerely Jules

I had an opportunity recently to buy designer bags at an insanely reduced price; one which I ended up passing up on after the search for this Celine one proved fruitless.  I really really re-ally wanted that one, so much that no other would suffice.  One love and all that.  Is there a word to describe missing something you never had to begin with?  There should be.  That’s how I feel about this.

More on pinterest

Monday, January 7, 2013

Memory Bank

memory bank

This year on January 1st, I started this thing.  Instead of banking savings (okay, I never actually did that!), I’ve begun banking memories.    It’s an effort to focus more on emotional value than financial value, or in other words, on the stuff that really matters.  True riches. 

The idea is that you fill a piggy bank (I’m just using a big jar) with little notes of jotted down memories as they happen.  Then as the year draws to an end, you empty it and read and remember and toast to how much richer you’ve become!