Thursday, February 28, 2013

Offering Support

So often we try to make other people feel better by minimizing their pain, by telling them that it will get better (which it will) or that there are worse things in the world (which there are).

But that’s not what I actually needed. What I actually needed was for someone to tell me that it hurt because it mattered. I have found this very useful to think about over the years, and I find that it is a lot easier and more bearable to be sad when you aren’t constantly berating yourself for being sad.

- John Green

So so true.  I’ve always felt this way about being ‘cheered up’ when I’m feeling down.  Is there anything in life worse than feeling pain, but having to put on a performance so that someone else can feel they’ve done their job of making you feel better?

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

This Couple


David and Chloe have been together eight months.  They met at a friend’s dinner party and kept going outside together because they thought the other smoked.  Turns out they were both just pretending so they could get to know each other.

I once smoked an entire cigarette as an excuse to talk to a boy I liked, and I detest the things. 

I love hearing stories of how couples met.  How did you meet your significant other?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013



Amélie is probably the most beautiful screenplay ever written, not to mention my favourite fictional character of all time.  Oh, I’m making big statements today.  It’s a feel-good movie that somehow escaped my list!  (Thank you for bringing that to my attention in the comments section).

One of the (many) things I loved about this movie was how characters were introduced by their likes and dislikes.  It’s often how we’re taught to introduce ourselves when, say, learning a new language, but rarely how things go in real life.  I can’t ever recall a time when I’ve said “Hello my name is Thelma and I enjoy reading, watching tennis and going for long bike rides’.

In the movie, Amélie likes dipping her hand into sacks of grain, cracking creme brulée with a teaspoon and skipping stones in St. Martin’s canal. 




It’s funny how much those little things that make us happy can reveal about us.

Have you seen Amélie?  It’s so lovely, really!

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Sartorialist: Closer

Fiona bought me Scott Schuman’s latest book last Christmas and it has become the most popular of my coffee table instalments.  I thought I could share some of my favourite images here:


Calm in the city sartorialist











The Sartorialist was the very first blog I ever started following (6 years ago when blogging was the new thing), and I’m still a die hard fan.  What a talented and inspiring man you are, Scott!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Thing #62: Climb a Mountain


It is sort of hilarious that the mountain in question has the word ‘small’ in it’s very name, just in case there might be any doubt in your mind that I’d take the lazy option. While I was in Sri Lanka, climbing the original Adam’s Peak was on the agenda, but since it wasn’t ‘climbing season’ (don’t ask me what that means!), our lovely guide Dhammika suggested Small Adam’s Peak in Ella; similar in shape, but not in size.  Fine by me!


The terrain starts off quite flat, with a steeper incline as you near the summit.


Some of the very steep parts have steps!  Nicely played, Sri Lanka.


The most surprising thing about Sri Lanka was how much parts of it looked like home.  We could have been climbing a mountain in Ireland (except with better weather).



Bambarakanda Falls, en route.  Places in Sri Lanka have the coolest names:  Anuradhapura, Bandarawela, Pinawalla (all pronounced as they are spelt) sound magical.



At the summit!

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

Thursday, February 21, 2013


In our house, we call it Christmas Carbonara because I always make it on Christmas Eve.  It’s a treasured family tradition that we daren’t mess with.  If you were to make it, there would be nothing festive about it.  That’s why it’s okay that I’m posting the recipe in February.


A few things before I start:

1. This is not (exactly) my recipe, it’s based on Jamie Oliver’s Classic Penne Carbonara from Happy Days with the Naked Chef, except I’ve made a couple of things easier for us all and eliminated the need for a kitchen scales (…ain’t nobody got time for that!)

2. This recipe contains cream.  Before you get on your culinary high-horse, I know real Carbonara isn’t supposed to have cream but that fact doesn’t make this particular recipe any less delicious.  It’s okay to use cream sometimes.  It’s Christmas (or not, whatever…)

3.  For a dish with so little ingredients,  it’s really important for them to be good quality.  I don’t mean to lecture, but the taste completely depends on that.  Don’t ruin your life with substandard cheese.  Life is far too hard and short as it is, without having to deal with bad cheese.

3.  That’s obviously not me, or my Carbonara in the picture above (and I use Penne, not Spaghetti), but that picture encapsulates what this dish is all about.  It’s simple and unassuming and it’s made by someone who cares about you and wants to serve you a bowl of kindness.  There’s love in this dish.

Christmas Carbonara (serves 4)

What you’ll need:

500g (1 bag) dried penne (De Cecco or another good quality pasta)

10 slices of smoky bacon rashers

6 egg yolks (genius trick for separately eggs here)

250ml carton of fresh cream

150g (approx.) Parmesan cheese, grated

Olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Here’s how:

  • Cook the penne according to packet instructions
  • While the pasta is cooking, fry the rashers in a little olive oil until crispy.  Break it up a bit with a knife and fork and set aside
  • In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs yolks, cream and half the parmesan
  • When the pasta is cooked, drain and return to the pot with the egg mixture and the bacon pieces.  Make sure you do this immediately so the residual heat from the pasta will cook the eggs, but still leave the sauce silky.  (If you heat it over direct heat, you could end up with a ‘scrambled’ sauce)
  • Season well with salt and fresh black pepper and serve immediately with the remaining parmesan
  • Rocket, semi-sundried tomatoes and toasted pine nuts with a balsamic dressing is a nice accompanying salad (if you’re feeling energetic)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Thing #49: Spend a day with my Mam

In my kindergarten class, I like to think of us as a team of 31.  There’s me, my classroom assistant Irene and 29 smaller people.  Being a part of that team is fun, for sure, but 7 hours a day is tough on us too.  We deal with it by packing a good lunch and trying to remember that we’re all in this together. 

Then comes a time of day that I find grossly unfair.  It’s affectionately referred to as ‘Mama Time’ (or time to go home).  When I announce Mama Time, I smile and cheer along with everyone else but its all just an elaborate ruse while I try to hold it together for one more day.

My Mama Time comes but twice a year: Christmas and Summertime.  I can’t even get the concept that I have a Mama into these 3-year-old brains I’m working with, let alone the idea that I don’t get to see her every day.  I want them to understand, though.  I want them to appreciate their Mamas, like I do mine.  I think that the older I get, the more I appreciate the woman who raised me.  Living away from her might have something to do with it too.

When I do go home, it is a sense relief, rather than excitement that I feel to be reunited with my Mam.   I cling like lint to our old and familiar routines.  We don’t even spend a lot of quality ‘just-the-two-of-us’ time together (like American sitcoms have told us we should), but there’s no doubt in my mind that she is happy that I’m there and that she savours it just as I do.  Even though I’m 26 years old, it still feels reassuring to know that there is someone in the world so reliably happy that I exist.

Last Summer while I was home, my Mam took a week off work to hang out.  A whole week!  I can’t say we spent the entire week together.  Other stuff got in the way and the house wasn’t going to clean itself… Mam knows about my list though and every time I took out my laptop, she reminded me it had to be a whole day.  I did the same every time she reached for the hoover. 

One day that week, we decided on a whim to drive to Avoca café (an hour away) for an early lunch.  Then we lazily shopped for bargains at Kildare Village, mainly staying in stores to avoid the rain.  At around 3 p.m., my mind drifted back to my usual work routine (when I’d usually be finishing school) while we were strolling around a photography exhibit by John Minihan.  Mama time never felt so good.

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

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

How to Pet a Cat Vs. How to Pet a Dog

how to pet a cat1

How to pet a dog

As a dog person, I loved this!  (via Huffington Post)

Monday, February 18, 2013

Thing #39: Do a charity swim on St. Stephen’s day


It started, as it always does, with an off-season trip to Curracloe Beach.  Usually, I stay on the sand wrapped in layers, letting the December wind touch only my nose and fingertips. This time around, I took it all off. First my hat and scarf and gloves and coat. Then my jumper and pants and top. This was no regular striptease.  It was the annual St. Stephen’s day Charity Swim!

The funny thing is this:  I am a pussycat when it comes to the cold.  I routinely complain when the temperatures drops at all here (in the desert!).  The AC is never on in my apartment and when I visit friends, I’m always armed with slipper socks and a hoodie.  Temperatures are creeping into the 30s at this time of year, but I still go to bed with a hot water bottle every single night.  I also have this circulatory problem called Raynaud’s Disease that causes my fingers and toes to turn completely white (like a corpse’s) in the cold…

…so, I was expecting this to be hard.

What I wasn’t expecting was how amazing it would feel too.  There was this buzzing atmosphere where everyone was nervous but psyched to be there.  My brother, Richie and a  bunch of my relatives decided to do it too and an even bigger bunch showed up to clap us on the back afterwards.

I had tried to imagine what the water would feel like a hundred times before the day (I fretted so much- it consumed me!).   I was surprised that when the time finally came, stripping off was actually the coldest part.  The sand is icy-cold and I distinctly remember the feeling of the wind biting my ribcage.  But after you do a crazy-girl run into the sea, the water feels strangely warm once you’re submerged.  Anyone who knows science might explain this to me?

It is (one of) the most invigorating natural highs I’ve ever experienced.  Honestly, I didn’t even want to get out when we did.  I could have swam and whooped and high-fived for at least another five minutes.  When we did, there was our Mama Bear holding out my trusty hot water bottle wrapped in a fluffy towel.  And there was our sister Fiona with a flask of delicious hot chocolate.  Hooray for nice people!  And hooray for raising money for a great cause (Wexford Hospice)!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Fun Pix Fridays #33










Secret to a happy marriage

The end of a love-themed week of posts.  Yesterday, I hugged all the kids in my class a few beats longer than usual and gave each one a kiss on that little space between their eyebrows (since I loved that when I was little).  I hope you all had a nice Valentine’s day too!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Inside the Card

Yesterday, we covered the best Valentine’s cards.  Today, I’m going to tell you what to put inside the card too.  I’m all over it this year.

vday card inside

Happy Valentine’s Day!  Go out there and smooch your loved ones.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Best Valentine’s Cards

If you think Valentine’s day is stupid, you’re right.  You’re absolutely right.  I will generally agree with all your anti-Valentine’s day arguments.  But maybe there is someone in your life who doesn’t think its stupid, and maybe because you care about them you should just shut your damn mouth and send a card.

Here’s how to celebrate Valentine’s day and still be cool:


Lumberjack Valentine

Food valentines

Foodie Valentine


obi wan for me

Valentines for nerds


The highest compliment

seal of approval

The Seal of Approval


I love you (most of the time)

p.s. Last year’s favourites!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

You’re Mediocre!


Valentine’s wishes by the comic genius that is Gemma Correll.

(More stuff by GC here and here)

Monday, February 11, 2013


Disney has a lot to answer for when it comes to my expectations of the lengths men will go for me.  Nonetheless, it is Valentine’s week and if nothing else, a time to celebrate unrealistic expectations.  So here’s Paperman: A Short by Disney.  Watch it if you have 6 minutes to spare.

You’re welcome.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Daily Dishonesty






via Little White Whale

Lovely little lies from Graphic Designer, Lauren Hom.  Thanks Gloria!