Tuesday, December 27, 2011

I find myself relaxing in front of the TV, satisfied with this Christmas season and delighted to be spending time with my family and friends. I went for a nice long walk this afternoon and stopped in a friend's house in Naas for tea, which was special. I don't generally make New Year's resolutions, normally I just focus on things I'd like to do and improve on from now on. Being out of doors a lot more is one thing I very much want to do. And taking more photos... However repetitive pictures of the Corrib River and Galway Bay are, I really love that place and will continue to take lovely pictures during every season.









And there will always be the occasional photo from Donadea Forest...





Love!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Blog Award

Ahem...

Again, again, please excuse my disappearing act. I'm at home with my family now, after a lovely few days eating and drinking and celebrating Christmas in Galway. The tree is up and everyone is home, including the dog, the cat and the gerbil... Which are all kept very separate, of course.

I'm still on hiatus, blissfully, but I wanted to stop in to thank Katri for awarding me the Liebster Blog Award:


In Katris' words...

"This Award is given to bloggers who have less than 200 followers, all in the spirit of fostering new connections. Leibster is German and means ‘dearest’ or ‘beloved’ but it can also mean ‘favorite’. The idea of the Leibster award is to bring attention to blogs with less than 200 followers.

Here are the rules:

1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you.
2. Reveal your top five picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.
4. Hope that the people you’ve sent the award to forward it to their five favourite bloggers and keep it going!"

So now, I'd like to award:

Michelle at SkuldMakesStuff
Jannek at Bolwol
Marisa at Good Good

I really like all these women for their creativity and talent and I hope you will too!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

December!

Hi!

It's been awhile, how are you all? I hope you're all enjoying the start of December and the run up to Christmas. Are you enjoying snow, rain, biting cold or sun? I know some people in Australia are probably laying out beside the pool with the kids right now and I am jealous!

It's so-so in Galway, the weather's getting colder but it's also getting wetter and not a sight of snow! I love the cold weather, it's nice to wrap up in coat, scarf, hat and gloves and walk in the mist and fog. I'm not so partial to the rain though, that's just an inconvenience.

I've been working, working, working lately, so haven't had much time to think about blogging. What time I spent out of the office and lab, I spend taking care of myself. I have tea with friends, I cuddle up in front of the fire with a whiskey cider in hand, I cook dinners and banana breads* and soups and, mostly, I read.

I read a lot.

I was an avid reader when I was in school. But once I went to college, reading became a second preference to making new friends and my many extra-curricular activities, which in fairness, aren't the worst things to stop reading for! But I missed it. I missed always having a book in my bag and stealing ten minutes to read a new chapter. I didn't stop reading altogether, but there was something missing all the same. So in August, my lovely, lovely parents bought me a Kindle as an early birthday present and I got loads of new books. And since then, I've been on a reading binge. I'm reading A Feast for Crows right now and can hardly put it down. I even snuck another paragraph into my imagination** while Paul was buying hot whiskeys in the pub last night. And I'm so glad that I'm reading again.

So that's the story. That's where I am right now. Taking care of myself and reading. Being honest, I won't have time to spare until I get my Christmas holidays and I don't really know yet what day I'm off work. And then Christmas happens and I'll be busy spending time with my lovely family and friends. So you may not hear from me for awhile - I'm too busy enjoying December!

Here's a photo of the beautiful sunrise I woke up to a few weeks ago, when I first moved into my amazing apartment. This is what I see every day from my windows, only the sun has gone away now, of course. I adore my apartment - it's the perfect size for me, it's always warm, I have a fully kitted out kitchen with a brand new cooker and oven and that view! 



Enjoy December, everyone!

xx


*I've simplified that banana bread recipe down to the bare essentials - all I use is butter, sugar, bananas and flour. And it's awesomely moist! I'm still working on my adapted recipe, I think it could use less sugar and maybe a bit of something else. Once I get it right for myself, I'll share the recipe!

**Heck, A Sond of Ice and Fire is one riveting story!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Presidents of Ireland

I'm not sure if any of you outside of Ireland are aware, I'm not sure if you'd even care too much, but last Friday, the ninth President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, was inaugurated in Dublin Castle. It was a good day. I wanted to post this up before his inauguration, sort of like a farewell to President Mary McAleese, but life got in the way. Oh well.



I mentioned Gaisce in my first ever blog post and want to return to that topic today. Although I'm now going for my Silver Gaisce Award, I already received my Gold one early last year and my Bronze in 2003. I'm going for the Silver Award so that I can have the set and get some recognition for all the extracurricular stuff I do. It works out well!


Achieving the Gold Gaisce Award is kinda a big deal in Ireland. It's at least a two year commitment, and it took me four years to get all my activities done! You have to complete four parts in order to gain the Gaisce Award.


Physical Activity

Personal Skill

Community Volunteering

Adventure 

For my Award, my physical activity was swimming, my personal skill was juggling (which was by far my favourite), my community volunteering was Society work in my University and my adventure was cotton picking in Roxborough, QLD, AU. Yes, cotton picking! And it was so fun!! I won't go into details right now though, maybe at another time.

I came home from my four month backpacking trip around Australia and New Zealand and immediately fell into finishing off my application for my Gold Award, which included a very extensive portfolio full of narratives and pictures and colour. And in April of the next year, I was standing in Dublin Castle waiting for my name to be called. It. Was. Awesome. I walked up on stage, shook President McAleese's hand, she asked about the cotton picking and then photos were taken.


I know it really doesn't seem like much, but it meant a lot to me. I put so much effort into my Gaisce Award, the ceremony made it all feel worthwhile and important. And I was in Dublin Castle, hanging out with the President!

I'm one yoga class away from achieving my Silver Gaisce Award, which is also quite exciting! The ceremony for Silver Awards is much smaller. It'll be held in my University (without the President of Ireland) next semester. It will be a very special day for me because I'll have achieved three Gaisce Awards over 9 years of activity in my society and University.


It's my birthday next week. I'll be 25, yay!

Hope you are all enjoying the week!

Fiona

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Painting Nice Things

So everyone loves blackboard paint, right?
Well, I know I do!


I went through a bit of a painting phase at the end of October and made some nice things:


I painted LOADS of glass jars with blackboard paint, the idea being that when I buy something in plastic packaging, I immediately pour the contents into a nice glass jar and write on the blackboard label. It makes my kitchen cupboards so much more interesting! I've been wanting to debrand my home for a while now and this is just one step towards that.



A rusty old bread tin became a button tin using the same blue paint that was used for my baking shelves and more blackboard paint.The blackboard paint actually didn't work well with the tin, so I can't really use it with chalk, but the tin is magnetic so I just added some pretty French word magnets!


Using that blue paint again, and more magnets, I made this notice board type thing. I really love this! It was made using the lid to a biscuit tin and I hot-glued a ribbon on the sides so that it could hang. I plan to make more of these after Christmas, when biscuit and sweet tins are in abundance.

Little projects like these are what I love!

I'm moving into a lovely one-bedroom flat with amazing views of the Corrib river this weekend. I'm excited to have a new space to work with and make my own. And that view... Wow! I'll write more about this when I move in properly and decorate a bit.

Happy November everyone!!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Sewing with Oilcloth

When I was in Cardiff, I found some amazing varieties of oilcloth at very cheap prices. Oilcloth costs €25 a metre here in Galway, so £7 for a metre was nothing to pay! It took some rearranging of my carry on baggage, but I managed to get it home!

And I made things, as crafters are wont to do.

I had never worked with oilcloth before, but it was quite a breeze! I did have to change the thread tension a bit though... and, being honest, I can't remember to which number I changed it. As it's a polymer (polyvinyl chloride) and not a textile, if you pull out some stitches, the holes will remain, which is why I used my pins sparingly. But it ran very smoothly through my machine and I found that I got these little pieces out very quickly.

I made:

A soapdish


A covering for the hole in my bike basket




And a little bag for all my biking stuff and my lunch





Just a few quite functional things to brighten up my life!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Spanish Holiday: Barcelona

It's Sunday.

I've spent a fantastic long weekend with my sister and various friends. I'm back in work tomorrow after a four day break.

I don't want to spend all this rainy day off on the computer. I really want to play Super Mario Galaxy on the Wii.

I'm also shattered with tiredness.

And so, I'll be sharing Barcelona with you through photos and a few sparse words.

Enjoy.







Gaudi architecture:

Parc Guell...




And Sagrada Familia.







Churros con Chocolate.


We had drinks in two amazing bars. First was La Caseta, which is well hidden in the small forest at the top of Montjuic. We arrived just as it was opening, had red wine and lemonade, watched the sunset and looked out over the incredibly busy ports of Barcelona. It was a bit magical.







Next, Palau Dalmases, which was a few doors away from our accommodation, but of course, we only found it on our last night there. The drinks were super expensive, but it was all about the setting.


Ah, Barcelona. You were alright.

Hope everyone had a good weekend!

Fi

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Ramblings

Stopping in, in the midst of my Spanish Holiday posts, to say hi! I actually meant to post this early last week, but you know how real life gets in the way...

So here's a few bits and pieces I wanted to share with you!

At the end of September, my sister Emer opened up a solo exhibition in Tallaght, Dublin, that will run all through October. I love Emer's work, her photographs are incredibly beautiful and vivid! The exhibition opening was great and it was nice to see so many people turn up to support Emer. If you're in Dublin, I'd highly recommend checking it out. All information you'll need to visit are here on the gallery's website.



While at home for the opening, we went for a walk in Donadea Forest, which was, as always, lovely. The autumn colours were really showing and the weather was lovely and crisp. This is what I imagine autumn to be like in most "normal" countries... It lasted about two weeks here in Ireland. And now it rains quite a bit.






The return of autumn brings with it the return of the academic year and  Societies. And it keeps me very busy! This year, alongside my other commitments and interests, I joined the Organic Gardening Society in NUI Galway and am loving it! The garden is great and it's so nice to meet new people who are all so different and lovely.

The Society needed someone to write a fortnightly article for the SIN newspaper and I gladly took on the role. I really like writing and am trying to improve this skill. My first article was published last week. You can find it here in the archives - Volume 13, Issue 2. I'll continue to write regularly for the newspaper and enhance the profile of the Society, all while availing of lovely home (ish) grown produce!

Just a few bits and pieces on this blustery Thursday evening.

Hope you're all well!

Fiona

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