Ireland – what to do, what to wear, what to remember

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I can earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

It’s been two weeks since I’ve been home and it almost doesn’t feel real…but I went to Ireland! It was an amazing trip that I never want to forget, so I thought it would make a great blog post that I can always look back on. We spent a week in and around Dublin and although the foreigners let us know plenty of times how crazy it was that Americans get so little “holiday” time, it was the perfect amount of time to see the sights and then get back to my boys. Shout out to my husband for holding down the fort with ease!

I know that I personally spent way too much time on Pinterest and blogs leading up to the trip to find out what to do and what
to wear—so if you’re here for that, check out my lists below after all the pictures.

It’s fun for me to remember that this whole trip started off at the table of a Missouri winery while celebrating my sister’s bachelorette party. Honestly if the sangria pitchers hadn’t gone down as smooth as they had, we may have never taken this trip! But, as fate would have it, we had wine, we had sangria, and the cousins had a fun hypothetical discussion about surprising our moms at Christmas with a trip to Ireland…the rest is history!

I still get excited thinking about our corny little rhyming clues on Christmas. Is there any feeling better than giving what you feel like is a good gift?! I think not!

Pictures don’t do it justice, but here are some sights we saw:

St. Patrick’s Cathedral was gorgeous on the inside but no photos allowed. Surprisingly (to us) it’s not Roman Catholic! Who knew?
The Brazen Head–oldest pub in Ireland–dates back to 1198!
Hiking in Howth was probably my favorite day! We had pretty nice weather and amazing views.

The Guinness Storehouse is a really nice museum that was so well done–beyond my expectations for a brewery museum! The 360 bar at the top was the perfect spot to sip my first Guinness. Acquired taste….but when in Rome!
Shameless sheep selfie. Rural pub tour in the Wicklow mountains! The scenery was just as picturesque as you would imagine–it was like a movie!
In Glendalough I just couldn’t get over how old everything was. Our country is so new comparably. To walk through ruins of churches and graveyards well over 1000 years old was surreal.
Pictures really don’t do any of it justice…
So maybe all the locals know it’s a tourist spot and the drinks are twice the price…but I really enjoyed Temple Bar! The Irish, of course, offered Irish coffee everywhere but this was a delicious take on an iced version
St. Stephen’s Green was like the Central Park of Dublin

WHAT TO DO – A list of some of my must-do things would have to include:

1. Visit Howth – I think the majority of our group ranked this as one of the best days. Howth is a fishing community about 30 mins outside of Dublin by train. The scenery was incredible and fresh seafood restaurants line the marina. We hiked for hours and basically logged the best days
anyone’s fitbits had ever seen. I could spend much longer than a day trip in Howth!

2. Guinness Storehouse – This was a really nice, really interesting museum. Who knew that Arthur Guinness had something like 20+ kids and that he signed a 9000 year lease for the Guinness factory?! There are plenty of neat things to see here and the 360 bar at the top with your complimentary Guinness had an amazing view!

3. Rural pub tour – this was such a memorable experience! We booked a small pub tour and our guide picked us right up in Dublin. He then drove us up the mountains to 6 unique rural pubs. We learned traditional Irish music and met with locals at locations we never would have found on our own.
We felt like this was a very authentic Ireland. They are truly a sing-songy people, but it was more genuine than I would have imagined. I don’t think they just sang corny “Irish songs” for the tourists…we got to visit some real hole-in-the walls and the live music always consisted of the same handful of folksy songs.

4.  Glendalough and Kilkenny day tour – this was a bit of a trip (around 2 hours) outside of Dublin, but we saw some amazing things. Glendalough is an area with ruins so old and history so rich that I truly felt dumbstruck around structures built that long ago! Kilkenny was a charming little town complete with a castle, of course, and fun shopping. We were even surprised by what appeared to be an impromptu marching band parade upon walking out of a shop!

WHAT TO WEAR – because I struggled with this and repacked my bag twice:

  1. Boots – It rains a lot, so we learned, and the one time I wore flats for an hour I regretted it. Tennis shoes just get soggy. I wore either riding boots or these super inexpensive duck boots 95% of the time with really thick, cozy socks. I kind of ran out of time and took a chance on them and I want a second pair now since Amazon has so many colors/options.

2. Scarves, layers- scarves are easy to pack and often times saved me when the sun set and a cold wind came in. Layers are a good idea too because if it warms up or you warm up from hiking, you don’t want to be too bundled up!

3. A hooded coat (and/or umbrella) – I didn’t follow this advice that I read so many places. I bought a cheap umbrella while there and it died within an hour along with many, it seems. The streets were lined with broken umbrella stuffed trash cans! Get yourself a good one and a coat with a hood in case you get caught in the rain!

4. Comfy/cute – for me it was a legging and tunic heavy trip, but I didn’t want every picture of me taken on this once in a lifetime trip to be so casual and, dare I say, soccer mom-ish.  Dresses were easy too and, with flat boots, still practical enough for exploring. This is an affiliate link coming up, but probably my favorite Amazon clothing purchase ever so definitely check it out! this dress I ordered for the trip is now a favorite and I’ve ordered another color. Affordable, super flattering and comfortable! I love a good Amazon find because I tried on at least 5 that did NOT work.

WHAT TO REMEMBER (so maybe this part is for me):

1. Our rush to come in out of the rain one afternoon while lost and tired from hiking only to stumble upon a pub with quaint live music and the best atmosphere, a happy accident!

2. Meal time – our group didn’t separate often, but the whole 9 of us sitting down to lunches and dinners all week really made the trip.

3. How happy we were to find that pub on top of the mountain in Howth! Lord knows we had hiked our hearts out and didn’t pack drinks or snacks.

4. Those three old men in a pub somewhere in the Wicklow mountain area, singing  old Irish music, singing in Gaelic, reciting poetry, telling jokes, sharing sandwiches with us and talking about their parents farming back before the Easter Rising. We felt like we got a really genuine bit of Ireland there!

5. Our hurried shopping off Grafton street in the hours before our flight when we stumbled upon Ohm Diva! We didn’t know where we were going or what we would find but this perfect little store and vintage shop and it’s owners/employees fit the bill. Now I follow them on Instagram and feel like a little bit of me is a Dublin local-ha!

If you can’t tell, I would recommend a trip to Ireland.  Let me know in the comments if you have every been or plan to go!

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painting over bathroom tile

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I can earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Only one more week til Easter and it’s getting to be that time of year where I get into spring cleaning/organizing and like to tackle a project or two. Right now I have a half-finished bathroom facelift that is driving me crazy so that will be first on my list. It is the third bathroom at our house that I’ve painted tile in and I am so happy with all of the results. It took a handful of blogs like this for me to take the plunge, so if this is what you needed then check out my pictures below!

Can you paint over bathroom tile? If you only knew how many times I have Googled this phrase! Most of the bathrooms in our mid century house have the traditional look of the time–square tile going up the wall in the entire bathroom. And while we are lucky the builders didn’t go with mauve or baby blue, there was just something about the 60 year old bisque tiles that I wanted to freshen up.

I took a few tutorials’ advice and went with an oil-based high-gloss white paint. I have used a tile refinishing kit as well (and I’ll review that one at some point) but I like this method better.

Today I’ll show you the second bathroom I painted tile in because it is my favorite and it’s completed. For your viewing pleasure I give you my TWO before photos. The previous inhabitant of our boys’ bathroom was a teenage girl, hence the purple.

I knew I needed to paint it, but for some reason I felt like I needed something dark to go over the dark, so I chose navy. Notice the vanity was painted too and although I did weakly attempt to sand it down…I ultimately chose paint as an easier route.

The paint goes on pretty much… paint. I wish I had an amazing step by step tutorial to give you but there isn’t much to it! Anyone can do it. I will say, I think it’s best to do 2-3 light coats and I always start by painting the grout lines with a brush.

After all the grout is covered, then go back and finish the first coat over the entire surface of the tile and use a foam roller. Be sure the tile is very clean and dry before beginning.

We chose Alabaster by Sherwin Williams for the walls (we were expecting more of an off white, but it worked well and really made the room feel bigger) and some leftover grey paint for the vanity.

Throw in some Shutterfly canvases on sale, an Aldi rug that doesn’t exactly match but cost less than $5, and a plant that you cannot kill (seriously all you black thumbs check out Sansevieria , which sounds like a Harry Potter spell but is actually the name of a plant I have personally kept alive for over 3 years) and I think we ended up with what we were going for! It feels much larger and cleaner and I think that we managed to keep the mid century vibe and original charm.

As far as holding up, this is the boys’ bathroom which gets plenty of use and it has held up great for about a year so far. It is worth mentioning that we don’t shower in that bathroom, so the walls aren’t getting sprayed down every day. But if you can imagine two boys under 3 at bathtime–you know the tile is getting soaked.

I know it’s not for everyone, but if you don’t want to rip out tile and are in need of an update, this is pretty hard to beat. For anyone out there Googling Can I paint my bathroom tile? I say go for it!

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10 Easter basket ideas that aren’t toys

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I love something concrete like a stocking or an Easter basket for gifts because once it’s full, it’s full. Sure we have those occasional spill-over Easter basket items…but for the most part, I like finding stuff to actually fit inside the basket!

Maybe it’s because I am a minimalist wannabe but the basket is the perfect size to delight a child without overwhelming them with plastic toys. Since I have a growing aversion to excess toys and the overflowing playroom still bursting from Christmas…I am doing a mostly non-toy list below.

And it’s still fun!

At our house we have an ongoing request from our 3 year old for “a lab.” If dad is on a trip, can he bring back a lab? If he’s good at school, can he have a lab when I pick him up? Will the Easter Bunny put a LAB in his basket? You get the idea.

And you might be thinking he is referring to a sweet, gentle puppy dog. But no, actually our child is fixated on a owning a laboratory where he can turn people into robots and take over the world (he says these things!)…thank you so very much PJ Masks.

If you have that level of specification at your house, then maybe you don’t need this list. I personally love reading gift lists and getting ideas for all those last minute items I can find on Prime.

So here are some ideas for a fun basket that isn’t full of toys!

1. Chalk, bubbles, kites – bring on spring time with these easy to find, affordable crowd pleasers! So a kite is sort of a toy but it’s not a sit in the toy chest kind of toy.

2. Books – Our first Easter as parents we filled the basket exclusively with books. Now that we have so many at our house I only need to put one in there for them to share. Our little guy is stuck in an Eric Carle rut so I am looking to add to the collection!

3. Umbrellas and/or rainboots – it’s not all clear skies and sunshine! We found a tiny umbrella at the Dollar Store about a month ago and it’s a huge hit with our 3 year old.

4. Bath stuff – I enjoy giving and receiving bath items because they are a limited use item. Just like bubbles and chalk—you use them, they bring joy, they get used up, they are gone! (Unlike tiny cheap toys that end up at the bottom of the toy box.) I have bath bombs from Lush going in our baskets but I did these easy bath color tablets for Valentines and they are perfect gifts too!

5. Beach towel, flip flops, beach bag – this is especially fun if you have an early summer vacation coming up because they are things you actually need and would be buying anyway!

6. Gift cards –Giving experiences is all the rage now and for good reason. Give them a movie theater gift card or admission to a local children’s museum and be happy your play room doesn’t actually burst at the seams.

7. Gardening supplies – I think this is just springy and fun. Get them outside and cultivate a green thumb from an early age…I wish I had because I struggle now! Try this sweet little watering can and/or small shovels, gloves, etc.

8. Glow sticks – Sometimes on a Friday night we go a little wild and toss a handful of these cheap glowsticks in the bath tub for the boys and turn the lights off. They love it. I may even bust out a glass of wine for rave bath night. Wild times at our house, wild times.

9. Child plates/silver wear/cups – Sippy cups are gross. Keep it fresh and buy some new ones with whatever cartoon is the flavor of the month! I love those fun dump truck forks and character plates too. Anything to get them to eat their dinner, am I right?!

10. A lab – Do you want to join the madness? Truthfully I think this will fall slightly short of his expectations since he is expecting a full-blown BUILDING. But this chemistry set is the best we can do. I think we’ll use food coloring and glow sticks to color the water and then… work on our plan to take over the world I guess…

What are some of your favorite Easter basket items? Let me know in the comments!

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it takes a village

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I can earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

I’m officially a blogger again! It has been a while since the last time I blogged regularly and even though I have wanted to start one back up many times, I could never settle on the subject matter. Since quitting my old blog from college I now have a real job, have gotten married, got a dog, had two kids, bought a house, and even got a Kitchenaid mixer…so it seems only natural that my blog will be one in a sea of many—a “mom blog.”

They say it takes a village to raise a child, a phrase I wholeheartedly agree with and would even like to expand upon. It seems these days that it takes a village to determine the perfect grey paint color, or come up with a million ideas fora 3 year old’s lunch box, to know if it’s okay to paint my bathroom tile (is it?!), or how to make royal icing. It takes a village, of mom blogs at least, to show me exactly how their pallet coffee table turned out, how they meal plan with Aldi groceries and how they make their Erin Condren weekly spreads look so pretty.

I may not have the perfect niche subject that brings readers flocking to my blog, but I know that my all too common Google searches about anything from what to pack for Ireland, to stocking-stuffer ideas or even how long to boil eggs are directing me to the sites of other women much like myself. Maybe they like to write and they also like to watch a little HGTV so one day they find themselves in their bathroom painting tile. (You CAN do that, right?!) Because I did….thanks to the four women who were gracious enough to take pictures of their own painted tile and who told me and the whole internet that it would be okay. Sure these weren’t technical tutorials–but they were mom blogs and they were good enough for me. It takes a village. So I’ve decided to join the village blogging about life and whatever that entails.

A little about me—I’m a 28 year old (for 2 more weeks) full-time working mom of two little boys and a Catahoula Leopard dog. My husband and I have been in our Mid Century mod house for almost two years now and have developed an appreciation for the architecture and furniture of the time period.

We may spruce things up here and there, but any home projects I post should include us being true to the house. Often times I try to be a Pinterest mom but I don’t get too hard on myself when I lean more towards Amazon Prime mom. Then again, I DO have that Kitchenaid mixer (and a sewing machine!) so you never know. You’ll be the first to see if my cookie decorating and seamstress endeavors will have me going pro.

I have a new-found interest in attempting to keep house plants alive and a strange love for the fine art that is baby sleep. ( read Babywise if you are sleep deprived, just saying). In fact, I’m sure it was on a blog not unlike this, that back in the early days of 2015 I learned some key baby napping skills that led to an actual baby nap. What I did with that blissful two hours, I don’t know. I’d like to think I did some dishes, since pre-2016 us didn’t own a dishwasher (the horror!). Or maybe I slept when the baby slept.

In reality, I probably read another mom blog.