Monday, October 29, 2012

Holiday in Oz

Everyone loves baby llamas!  At least I think that's what they are since it's a little late to be shearing sheep.

This is where I tell you all how awesome my husband is.  Seriously, he is the best thing.  I don't brag on him nearly as much as I should.  I've been...lonely.  There, I said the words out loud to someone other than the Scarecrow.  Bless his heart, he came home from work one day and I sort of melted down.  Poor guy, he really didn't see it coming.  So I've been trying to keep myself busy outside of the house.  The Dooradoyle library and I have become excellent friends over the past couple of weeks.  Some days it's easier to get out of the house than others, especially on the days that the Scarecrow has to take the car to work.  I know it's not uncommon for expats to feel like this.  Anyone that moves to a new city I'm sure deals with trying to find their place in it.  I'm pretty sure "Eat, Pray, Love" is one of my new favorite books and there is a line that said, "Happiness is the consequence of personal efforts".  So this is me, making a personal effort.  I went to IKEA in Dublin with a couple of ladies from church this week which was a great excuse to do something different.  Had a really great time with them and it reminded me how much I love IKEA.  I didn't expect this move to be easy.  Easy or not, it's completely worth it to be in the same place as Scarecrow.

Fun Irish tid-bit for the week: Bank Holiday Mondays.  It's a free day basically, random holidays tossed in throughout the year for reasons that no one really seems to understand.  Mind you, my day has been pretty similar to any other.  The only special thing I did was bake bread.  Good news, it's delicious.  

But Scarecrow is off work this week and only had to take 4 days holiday because of today.  Score!  We're heading up to Donegal for a couple days which we're really excited about. Pictures to come!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Over the rainbow

I really couldn't help myself.  We all knew it was going to happen, it's Ireland after all.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, a rainbow. 

I saw it when I was out walking Maybell.  Or was she walking me?  Shes does this thing were she holds her leash in her mouth so it's hard to tell who is actually leading the walk.  One of her many little quirks.

One of my big accomplishments last week?  Reversing into a tiny parking spot at the Crescent Shopping Mall.  I rarely ever did that in an automatic, let alone a manual transmission!  I've done it a few times now and I must say, I'm getting pretty decent.  Look how centered!  This one I think I only had to adjust 3 times.  The overall number of times that I stall out is much less as well.  Little victories people, take them when you can get 'em.

Saturday was probably one of the nicest, most relaxing days the Scarecrow and I have had in awhile.  Woke up at a respectable hour and then lounged in bed watching Top Gear (yes, we're that cool).  He then proceeded to make Nutella pancakes.  They're really crepes if we're being accurate but he refuses to concede that they're anything but pancakes.  Call them whatever you like, I love this man!  Got up, got grubby and went out to pick blackberries.  It's getting to the end of the season but we still got nearly 3 lbs. worth.  There's a field just by our house that has blackberry bushes all around it.  If you've never done it before I warn you, you've got to really want them.  We were out for a couple of hours to get that 3 lbs., not to mention the scars we are both sporting now from reaching through the thorns.

Came back, washed the dog (who was FILTHY after tramping through the field with us) and washed a couple of the cars.  We tried out a couple new recipes and surprised ourselves with how good they really were.  Going to have to keep those in the back pocket.  Yesterday as well was really nice.  I taught the Young Women's lesson and came home to find some company at the house.  My sister and brother in-law had made a lovely dinner and we all ate, relaxed and just enjoyed the day.

I don't really have an Irish quirk this week, but more of an observation.  I recently checked out the book Eat, Pray, Love from the library.  Yes, I now have a library card here.  I think that makes the move really official.  It's been a really great read, I was inspired to pick it up by my girl who is currently teaching English in Bali.  She is fabulous.  Anyway, even if you've seen the movie you'll remember when she is in Italy and they're talking about when a city has a word.  It's the thing that everyone seems to always be thinking, the word of the street that singularly defines the city.  Of course they go on to say that Rome's word is SEX while New York City is ACHIEVE.  I looked out the window and tried to think what the word on the street in Limerick is.  I'm sure others would contest me on this point, but I have to say that Limerick's word is HOPE.  Limerick was hit really hard by the recession, boasting one of the highest unemployment rates in the country.  And yet the people here seem to hope for everything.  I hope I find a job, I hope the rain clears, I hope Ireland qualifies for the World Cup (in that case I think their word might be DELUSIONAL). 

What is the word on the street in your city? Post your city and your word here.  Doesn't matter if someone else has already posted for that city.  I'm excited to see what you all come up with.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Of course it's green in Oz

And here's the news from the island:

Maybell is now known to be afraid of dogs, cats, cows and apparently donkeys.  Learned this on a recent walk.
General Conference weekend, awesome.  Obviously the time change makes watching the sessions at the chapel at the exact times difficult.  Saturday they showed the Relief Society broadcast in the afternoon and the Saturday morning session in the evening.  Sunday morning was the priesthood session, 1pm was the Saturday afternoon session, followed by the Sunday morning session at 5pm and the Sunday afternoon session at 9pm.  We didn't go to the Sunday afternoon session at the church but it still made for a marathon day, especially for the Scarecrow.  It was really amazing, especially the Sunday morning session.  For those unaware, General Conference is the major conference held twice a year in Salt Lake City, UT.  The president and other general authorities of our church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, address the world on topics that are important and relevant to our time.  Things like dealing with adversity, family relations, all kinds of things.  Here's the link to watch the broadcasts if anyone is interested:

182nd Semiannual General Conference

Elsewhere in the news, Scarecrow, Toto and I are all trying to be more active.  I was really proud of Scarecrow last week.  He plays soccer off and on with some fellas but he's been "off" for quite a while now.  So he's going to start playing with these guys again on Wednesdays while Toto and I are at the church for Young Women.  As for me, I'm trying to get back into yoga.  I was practising earlier and realized how COMPLETELY out of shape I am now.  Downward dog is always uncomfortable at first.  When I first started really seriously with yoga I finally got to the point where it was what it was supposed to be, relaxing.  Let's just say that today downward dog was more like face planting chihuahua.  So thank you, Yoga Download, you and I are going to be good friends after all is said and done.

 And now, we come to the portion of our program where we highlight those pleasant little oddities of Oz.

Many of you who know me know that I'm a bit of eco-geek.  In a lot of ways, Ireland is ahead of the States when it comes to cutting down on waste, saving energy, etc.  And so, here are a few of my favorite GREEN things about the island that has 40 shades of green:

  • If you want a plastic grocery bag, you have to pay for it.  Check out this NY Times article on it Bagging It.  It's not a lot, 5 or 10 cent 22 cent (shows how often I pay for a bag!), but it's enough to make you stop and think.  Even better, it's enough to make you think before you leave the house, "Do I have reusable bags in the boot?"

  • Alright, so I felt like a bit of a lunatic taking these next couple of pictures.  What freak goes into her bathroom and takes a picture of her shower?

The thing is, our shower is just that awesome.  It has a tankless water heater which has a lot of great perks.  A) You only heat the water you need ($$$) and B) the water is hot almost instantly which makes for a blissful shower experience.  And yes, that is nice to have.

  • This one is somewhat self explanatory.  It's becoming more popular even in the States.  You too can have a little more control over your water consumption.  So one dot is for, ahem, "One" and two dots are for, well, "Two".  The waterways thank you for making the informed decision.

  • So this thing, while more energy efficient, is a bit annoying at times.  It's a condenser dryer and doesn't need a vent, meaning it can be anywhere including interior walls.  There's a water tank under it that you empty out periodically.  Hence the "condensing" bit.  If you put really damp clothes in it doesn't always dry that efficiently.  But once the clothes air dry (which is what we do) it gives them a nice fluff.  And your conscience feels good about being kinder to the environment.

And so begins another week.  Here's to bluebirds and rainbows.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A girl needs more than ruby slippers

Welcome to October in Oz!

Well, today has been interesting so far.  Scarecrow's sister who has been visiting from New Zealand with her munchkin flew home today after a 4 week stay.  Somehow, with 6 adults and 2 kids still in the house it feels a little emptier.  Looking forward to winning the lottery and going for a visit soon!  Safe travels!

Secondly, a great big shout out must go to my Meg of Honor and her fabulous blog Musings of Meg.  She was one of the huge driving forces behind Scarecrow and I's wedding being such a big success.  I'm flattered that she dedicates a post to the details of her cake baking secrets.  Anyone who was at the wedding knows how delicious both the wedding and groom's cakes were, so go and check her out for some of the back story!  Who knows, she may even give you the recipe. 

Not only did we have our sweet little Kiwi nephew visiting, but we also live with Scarecrow's other sister, her husband and their munchkin.  This Sunday was his christening and it was a lot of fun.  He's such a character and handled it all beautifully!  I had to laugh because I held onto the tiny Kiwi nephew during the service and if I had a nickle for every time someone came up to me and said, "You sure look good holding a baby" or "This is great practice for you" I'd have a lot of nickles.  Good to know THAT'S international as well!

As far as daily life goes it's been much the same.  I did go last week to a meeting of the local International Women's Organization here in Limerick.  A friend of a friend told me about it ages ago and I finally got the time and the gumption to go and see what it was about.  They were very sweet, the majority older ladies (though I was assured that there are younger members) and I felt completely welcomed.  I'm hoping to get more involved with them.  They have a monthly chapter meeting, which is what I attended.  They also have an assortment of activities throughout the month including a book club, a crafts group, dinner group, etc.  I'm particularly excited because at this chapter meeting they had a woman come and speak about doing genealogy in Ireland.  Naturally the LDS church came up and it was funny, when she asked if there were any Latter-Day Saints in the group I was the only one to raise my hand.  She then thanked me for all the work the Mormons have done in promoting family history and record indexing.  Not only that, but she's involved with the local theatre scene and has passed my number on to a local theatre group director to help me get involved.  When I  told her I have a mostly technical background (mainly lighting and set construction) she got particularly excited, so maybe that'll lead to something.  As I said before, I'm anxious to get "my" life here.  There's Eoin's life, our life, but as of yet my life is still pretty blank.  Here's to filling that canvas!

I've been taking nice long walks with Maybell and it's been a great time to walk and reflect.  I know I'm not completely unique in being an expat.  And I thought on this most recent outing with my sweet little companion, what are those things that I would DIE without?  I'm not materialistic in the slightest, but I've found that having certain things has made my life infinitely easier and I couldn't possibly manage without them.  I'm sure this changes from person to person and from country to country.  I plan to add to the list as I discover more about life entails here.  Don't worry, the Scarecrow is one of those things I couldn't possibly live without.  Believe me, I've tried!  However, not everyone is as lucky as me and can have him so I left him off the list.  But for anyone thinking of moving abroad, here are a few things to get you started:
 Things I've found I can't live without
  1. My GPS - I jumped up and down like a little kid when my parent's brought this over.  Thank you Amazon wedding gift cards!  I instantly felt my independence sky rocket when I stuck the micro SD card into the slot.  Scarecrow said he would get me maps more often now that he knew how happy they made me.
  2. A scarf - It's Europe.  Need I say more?  Not to mention it's a proven fact that if your neck is warm the rest of you instantly is as well.
  3. My phone, equipped with Whatsapp
 I would be LOST without this.  I don't have international texting, but I do have free wi-fi on my phone.  This little app works with wi-fi to send texts, pictures, videos and audio to anyone else who has the app.  It's only $1.99 to download it (unless you have Android, it's free).  Literally, this is how I stay connected to friends and family in the States.  If you do not have it yet YOU SHOULD!  And you should tell me so I can make sure I have your number in my phone!  Even if you're just going on an international trip, get it.  Anytime you have free wi-fi (data is crazy expensive when you leave the country) you can send a text to anyone anywhere in the world.  Love.  Love love love love love.

    4. Ipod, especially for those long walks with Maybell (don't worry Scarecrow, I always leave one ear bud out to listen for cars).
    5  .My rain jacket I got for $15 at Kohl's.    A friend of Scarecrow's sister was visiting and she said something very wise which I think is soundly true, especially here in Oz.  It's not bad weather, it's bad clothing.  I was walking the dog and it had been showering off and on all day.  We left during a sunny spell, but I took my rain jacket anyway.  Wouldn't you know that 5 minutes before we got home we were caught in the rain?  And wouldn't you know it didn't bother me one bit!  Dress for the weather you have, not the weather you want.

On that note, I leave you with one more shot from my walks with Maybell.  This house is on our road and I think it's the cutest house in the world.  Someday, maybe someday.