Holiday Gift Guide

12.12.2017





We're just two weeks away from Christmas, and the panic is starting to set in: I'm behind on my shopping. Being that I've been a procrastinator nearly my entire life, this doesn't come as a complete surprise. After years of waiting until the last two weeks (er, week) to get all of my holiday shopping done, I've become a bit of an expert when it comes to last-minute research, creativity, and pulling random memories where someone unknowingly dropped a clue as to what they might want for Christmas. And since I know these skills will come in handy, I'm worrying less about myself and more about all of you. Okay, yes ... and I'm procrastinating even further. But what better way to delay my shopping than taking the time to create a gift guide for all of the people in your lives? 

And on that note, here are some gift ideas for the: 




Foodie
$: Cookbook or Bon Appetit Subscription, prices vary
$: Cookie Mix Jar, $10.99  
$$: Macaron Pan & Kit, $29.99
$$: Ice Cream/Frozen Yogurt Maker, $59.99
$$$: Italian Pantry Gift Crate, $79.96  
$$$: Kitchen Aid, $199
DIY: Cookie Mix Jar - Buy a handful of mason jars and the ingredients included in the cookie mix jar gift mentioned above. Divide the ingredients among all of the jars. Tie a ribbon and note around the lid and there you have it - a cookie kit for all of your siblings/cousins/friends/. 
DIY: Homemade Pickled Vegetables - These look delicious and cute      



Fashionista
$: Velvet Hair Bow, $8.40 (who would've thought these would be back in style?!)
$: Red Ribbed Sweater (because red is the "it" color right now & this one has great reviews), $24.95 
$$: Bucket Bag with Hoop, $29.90
$$: Neutral Peacoat, $37.90 (I bought this for myself - it's a steal)
$$$: Copper Clothing Rack, $96.48
$$$: Booties (in brown and red, please), $124.95
Beauty Queen
$: Lip Stain Trio, $12
$: Nail Polish Set, $12.99
$: Emergency Beauty Kit, $18.20 
$$: Travel-Friendly LED Vanity Mirror (I asked for this one myself), $31.99
$$: Vanity Planet Ultimate Skin Spa System, $39.38
$$$: Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb perfume (I always get compliments), $85 for 1 oz 
$$$: Jaclyn Hill's Favorite Morphe Brush Collection, $155
Jetsetter
$: Bon Voyage Travel Journal, $15
$: Marble Passport Tag, $18
$ - $$: Travel Coffee Table Book, prices vary
$ - $$: Poncho (perfect for all those long flights), $20 here and $51 here
$$$: Spinner Carry-On (that isn't an eyesore), $135
DIY: Travel Kit - Throw together a Bloody Mary cocktail mix, shea socks, eye mask and hydrating facial spray in a cute pouch for a personalized travel gift



Health & Fitness Nut
$: Deliciously Ella Cookbook, $18.14 
$: Weighted Training Rope, $24.99
$: Compression Leggings (with a pocket!), $29
$$: Veggie Spiralizer, $39.95  
$$$: FitBit Alta, $129.95
$$$: Standing Desk, $199.99 

Outdoor Addict
$: Beanie, $15.50
$: Hot/Cold Stainless Mug, $22.25
$$: Insulated Picnic Basket and Set, $39.99
$$: Hammock, $59.94
$$: National Parks Pass, prices vary
$$$: Ray Ban Aviator Sunglasses, $168  

Homebody
$: Aromatherapy Essential Oil Diffuser, $29.99
$$: Bath Caddy, $39.99
$$: Velvet Menswear Pajama Shirt, $58 
$$ - $$$: TV Series, prices vary
$$$: Massage Cushion, $99.99
DIY: Body Scrub 



Hostess
$: Metallic Lace Cake Stand, $22.40
$: What Do You Meme?, $29.99, 
$ - $$: Marble and Acacia Wood Cheese Paddle, starting at $29.99
$$: Cocktail Shaker Set, $39.99 
$$$: Bar Cart, $119.99



Art & Design Enthusiast 
$: Agate Bottle Opener, $21.34
$: Symmetry "Objects" that can double as book ends, $14.99 - $27
$$: Domino: Your Guide to a Stylish Home, $35 for hardcover 
$$: Geometric Vase Set, $47.60
$$$: Fine Art Prints (perfect for a gallery wall), prices vary 

Some more ideas ...



Sentimental Gifts

Framed Photo or Poem - If you're in Orlando, check out Paul's Poems
Personalized Calendar - My dad cried when I gave him one (I made mine via Walgreens's Photo Center)
Matching Jewelry Set



Gifts for Him 
Personalized Tools - Another one of my dad's favorite gifts? His axe and personalized sheath combo, made by my friend
Watch Box 
Personalized Travel Game Set 
Travel Kit
Joggers 




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10 Holiday Traditions to Get You in the Spirit

12.05.2017



December 1st just happened to fall on a Friday this year, and if that isn't a sign that this holiday season is going to be a great one, I don't know what is.

For those of you who have read my previous holiday posts (childhood memories and favorite films), you know just how much this time of year means to me. As a little girl, Christmastime was pure magic ... and now, as an adult, I still love everything about it: the smell of the fraser fir trees, the music and movies, decorating, shopping, baking, parties, and best of all, the way everyone comes together and opens their hearts to others.  

Like me, most of my family members and friends are Christmas enthusiasts; but every year, I run into a few people who "don't understand the excitement." I understand that the holidays can be stressful, lonely and difficult, especially for people who have experienced loss or hardship. Everyone is in a different situation, but at the end of the day, I'm a firm believer that everyone deserves to feel some sort of joy during the holidays. For that reason, I'm sharing some of the traditions I enjoy every year (with a few new ones I plan to add this year) in the hope that they inspire you to go out and enjoy this time of year for yourself. Here are 10 things you can do - alone, with family, with a S.O. or with friends - to get into the spirit of the season. 

P.S. Being that this is my favorite time of year, I have a couple posts planned over the next few weeks, including a gift guide and my favorite memories of 2017.

*See the girl on the far right in my photo? That's my best friend, and this past Sunday, she got engaged! Told you this holiday season was gonna be a good one. Congrats, Jess!

Tradition #1: Pick out - and decorate - a real tree

Every year, we pick out a real Christmas tree from a vendor who brings the trees in from out of state (typically North Carolina) or, in this year's case, from out of the country (our tree hails all the way from Canada!) A fake tree is obviously easier and more cost-effective, but trust me, there's nothing like a real Christmas tree. The smell is heavenly, and you know how they say having flowers and plants in the house can help boost your energy and endorphins? Imagine what a tree can do. 

Tradition #2: Spend an entire morning or night watching holiday films - in holiday pajamas

I can't think of anything more cozy than curling up on the couch with coffee, hot chocolate or wine and watching back-to-back holiday films. At least twice every December, my friends, family and I will get into our Christmas PJ's and glue ourselves to the couch for a few hours while we watch Elf, The Holiday, Love Actually, A Christmas Story ... you know, the essentials. To make the movie-watching experience event better, one night every December, we set up a projector and screen out in our back patio so we can watch a film outside next to our fire pit. The trick here, of course, is finding a night that's cool enough to do it ... 

Tradition #3: Walk around the most decorated homes in town while drinking (spiked) hot cocoa

My mom started this tradition years back when I was in elementary school. We'd grab a few friends, pour some hot cocoa into travel mugs, and drive over to one of the nearby neighborhoods that was known for having the best lights and decorations. It's something we still do every year (only now, we spike our hot cocoa with Rumchata. Trust me on this. It's a game changer). 

Tradition #4: Host (or attend) a tacky sweater/tacky pajama party, complete with cookie decorating 

Every year, I host a tacky sweater or tacky pajama Christmas party complete with cookie decorating. It's nostalgic watching everyone try to neatly decorate their cookies like kids (heads up: it isn't as easy as you'd think). We listen to holiday music while we decorate, eat and drink like there's no tomorrow, and end the night with a movie. Something I plan to add this year is a gift wrapping station, so my friends and I can get our wrapping done as a team. Extra points if you guys decorate a ginger bread house! 

Tradition #5: Throw a holiday card photo shoot

My family hasn't sent a Christmas card since I was in elementary school and my sister was in preschool, but after being inspired by a friend's hilarious, throwback-style family Christmas card (hi, Erin!) I'm asking my parents to revisit that this year. If they turn me down, I'm taking one with my cats (actually, I'll probably do that either way). I love the idea of having family or friends over for a fun weekend Christmas card photo shoot. At the very least, it'll make for some laughs and great memories.

Tradition #6: Listen to some carol singers - or throw back some wine and sing the carols yourself

When I was a Brownie Girl Scout way back in the day, I spent an evening caroling around my South Florida neighborhood (in other words, I was literally the only person singing), and it made me so jealous that I didn't live in a snow-covered town like the one in Home Alone, where carolers are probably not a rare sighting. I was fortunate enough to see carolers a couple years ago in Tennessee and they were actually amazing singers. If there's a holiday parade or festival in your area, I recommend checking it out solely for the carolers. It's an age-old tradition everyone should experience at least once. 

Tradition #7: Visit a holiday-themed park, carnival, store or bar

Aside from the theme parks here in Orlando (where the decorations are beautiful and extravagant, but you need to pay to step inside), there are three places I love going every holiday season: 1. Disney Springs (which is free to visit) is always decked out in decorations this time of year. One of their most recent additions is a Christmas tree walk where you'll find several trees that are each decorated to represent a different Disney film. They even blow fake snow overhead, which is probably sad to those of you who live in states with actual seasons ... but as a Floridian, I'll take what I can get. 2. Frosty's, a Christmas themed bar in downtown Orlando (it's open all year, but it feels extra special in December) serves holiday-themed cocktails and plays Christmas music all year round. It also fake snows every hour. #Florida. 3. The Christmas Palace, a family owned and operated store in South Florida that has been around for decades. They have an insane amount of Christmas decorations for purchase that feel straight out of the North Pole. For those of you who have kids, Disney Springs is not to be missed. I'd also add Santa's Enchanted Forest (in Miami) and Ice! at Gaylord Palms Hotel in Orlando. 

Tradition #8: Go ice skating

I'll never, ever skate on a frozen body of water, so I really appreciate ice skating rinks, or better yet, the pop-up outdoor rinks that always appear during the holidays. Whether you're great at it or terrible at it (is there anything better than you and your friends laughing at each other as you take turns slipping and falling?) it's a way to enjoy the holidays with some physical activity - a nice break from stuffing your face and watching movies on the couch. 

Tradition #9: Volunteer 

One of the most defining moments in my life happened during the holidays when I was about 12. My mom had me fill baskets with everyday items I found completely unexciting - a toothbrush, toothpaste, loofah, bar of soap, etc. - and went with me to a local homeless shelter to give the baskets to the people there. I remember feeling almost embarrassed, thinking the recipients of these baskets were going to be completely let down by their "gifts." I'll never forget the looks on their faces when we presented them with these baskets. The adults and the kids were so thankful, relieved and happy to receive these items I never thought twice about in my life. It's a memory that has stuck with me to this very day, and reminds me to be thankful, humble and giving. Nothing feels quite as rewarding as helping another person or simply making someone's day brighter. If one thing will bring you joy this holiday season, I promise you, it's volunteering your time or money.

Tradition #10: Watch the Christmas Day parade while unwrapping presents (in your holiday pajamas)

Is there honestly a better way to spend Christmas morning than opening gifts and watching the Macy's Christmas Day parade in the comfort of your own home? Nope. This is how we spend Christmas morning every year in my family, and I wouldn't have it any other way. We make it even more special by making a decadent breakfast together and drinking mimosas in what my mom calls her "fancy glasses." If you don't already have a Christmas morning tradition in place, then you can look forward to starting your own this year.

Share your favorite holiday traditions below! 



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A Month in the Life

10.27.2017

We're somehow already at the tail-end of October, and yet I'm just now starting to really sink into the holiday season. Over the past few days, I've purchased everything I need for my Halloween costumes, I baked my first holiday-themed dessert of the season, and the weather finally dropped (into the 60s - yay, Florida!) I swear, people are suddenly happier, nicer ... and more patient on the roads. Can you tell I love this time of year?

After a summer-long hiatus, I thought the gorgeous, endorphin-boosting weather and upcoming holiday frills would be the perfect time to bring back "A Month in the Life." Without further adieu, here are a few things I'm loving and looking forward to this month. :)

The '70s Called; They Want Their Clothes Back

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Striped sweaters, bell bottoms, corduroy, hats ... did I step into a time machine earlier this month? Either way, I'm not complaining. '70s fashion is one of my favorites, whether we're talking retro-cool or disco diva, so I couldn't be happier to see it everywhere. This top, which I ordered on Nasty Gal (they're having a 50% off sale!), makes me feel like Jackie and Kelso's third wheel - minus all the drama. I'm looking forward to pairing it with my Brixton fiddler cap

Binge-watching? Stranger Things Have Happened.

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During Hurricane Irma, my friends and I decided to take advantage of the eerie weather by watching an equally eerie show. After hearing endless hype around Stranger Things, we decided to give it a shot ... and somehow ended up watching the entire season within 24 hours. Needless to say, we were HOOKED. It's so well made and really felt like we were watching an '80s film (what is it with all of this time travel?!) I plan to make this cake, which is supposed to taste like Eggo waffles, for the season 2 premiere. Eleven would be proud.

Play [Live] Music, and They Will Come



Last week, I stumbled upon Sofar Sounds, a "global community where guests and artists come together to experience music in an intimate and respectful setting at a secret concert." I thought this was such a great concept, for both musicians and music junkies (like myself). Here's how it works: if you're interested in attending a show, you sign up on the website and are entered into a lottery. If you get in, Sofar Sounds will send you the secret address to the concert and all the information you need. You can also sign up to be an artist, or even apply to host musicians and guests in your own space! 

Not All Families Are Created Equal

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If I'm being completely honest, I haven't dedicated nearly enough time to reading ... and I have about 50 unread books sitting in my "home library" (AKA the space underneath my desk). I told myself I wasn't going to purchase one more book until I read through at least half of the ones I own, but then I saw the movie trailer for The Glass Castle. It left me with goosebumps (and almost made me cry), so naturally, I googled it and learned it's based on a best-selling memoir. You can probably guess what I did next. I may have gone against my promise to myself, but I'm happy to report that I've finally immersed myself in another book - and it is so. damn. good.

Fame Can Cost a Fortune

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I'm not necessarily a Demi Lovato fan (although I'll admit right now that the girl can sing) but this YouTube documentary, which details her rise from a bullied elementary school student with big dreams to the international star she is today, reveals dark secrets from her past, including her drug addiction, eating disorder, and depression, and how together, they almost cost her her career. It's a chilling look into not only addiction and depression, but how difficult day-to-day life can be for celebrities who start their careers off at such a young age. 

Ain't No Rest for the Wicked

The best friends who scare together, stay together. Image via
Had to save the best for last, of course! Halloween weekend has officially arrived, which means my home is decorated, my costumes are (almost) ready to be worn, candy is being (OK, has been) consumed, pumpkins are being carved and movies are being watched. In other words, I'm already exhausted - hence the title for this section of my post. Last year, I did a short post featuring last-minute costume ideas for all my fellow protagonists out there. You can see a few more on my Instagram here and here. Additional costume ideas from my past include Rosie the Riveter, Red Riding Hood, a mermaid and pirate. You might need a few accessories for these, but chances are you already have the majority of the outfit already hanging in your closet.

Happy Halloween!



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Five-Minute Garbanzo Bean "Salad"

10.11.2017





A few months ago, I had one of those crazy weeks where cooking a decent meal is pretty much out of the question (I was basically living off of apples and peanut butter). And while apples and peanut butter are a delicious and classic combo, it got old quick and wasn't doing much to fill me or keep me focused. After reaching a point of desperation for something more nutritious, I decided to go on a scavenger hunt through my fridge and pantry to see what I could gather. I only had about eight things to eat in total; thankfully, I'm always up for a food challenge. ;)

What I found in my fridge was everything I normally eat on a salad (tomato, cucumber, red onion and feta cheese) ... but there wasn't any spinach, lettuce or dressing in sight. So, I reached for some garbanzo beans and olive oil in my pantry. I chopped up the tomato, cucumber and onion, and tossed them in a bowl with the beans (which I drained and rinsed), feta cheese, olive oil, and a dash of salt and pepper. It might sound boring, but this "salad" ended up being surprisingly flavorful (note: I used basil and tomato feta instead of regular - it's a game changer) and was easily one of the healthiest and most satisfying meals I've ever thrown together in less than five minutes. I still make it often, even when I have a fully stocked fridge and pantry ... and plenty of time to spare.

*You can always replace olive oil with a Greek salad vinaigrette. I did this once and it was delicious!

Ingredients:
1 can garbanzo beans, drained (and rinsed, if desired)
Cucumber
Tomato
Red onion
Feta cheese (basil & tomato feta is the way to go here - trust me)
Olive oil (or Greek vinaigrette)
Dash of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, if desired

Directions:
Finely chop up the cucumber, tomato and red onion
Add in beans; mix all ingredients together
Drizzle in olive oil or dressing; mix together
Add salt and pepper; mix again

Enjoy!


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11 Days in Ireland

9.01.2017



It's been a year since we were in Ireland, and I still think about it all. the. time. I don't know if it's the fact that there's live music everywhere you go, a pub on practically every street corner serving the best pint of Guinness you've ever tasted, the gorgeous landscape, the country's enchanting history, or the fact that the Irish are some of the friendliest, happiest, most fun people I've ever come across in my life, but case in point: I fell in love with this country. So much so, in fact, that I got sentimental while boarding my plane to leave after my 11-day stay. Truly, it's the kind of place you miss, even while you're there.

At the tail-end of last July, we were on our way to Ireland after a three-and-a-half day stay in London (which you can read about here) and I couldn't have been more excited. Usually, when my expectations for a trip are set as high as they were for this one, I'm let down, but that wasn't the case here. Our visit kicked off with us walking out of the airport in Cork and hopping into a rental car, which my dad drove effortlessly for the entire duration of the trip, adjusting to the opposite sides of the car and road like a total pro. And from that moment, our adventure began: iconic landmarks, bustling cities, traditional Irish food, a lot of Guinness and nights spent out with friends who helped keep our stay from feeling overly touristy. Here's a glimpse into a trip I'll never forget in a country that stole my heart.

A few notes:

  • There are a lot of photos in this post (and they still don't cover everything we saw and did!) but I promise they're worth scrolling through. Not-so-fun fact: I forgot the charger for my professional camera on this trip, so the photos were mostly taken on my phone. I can assure you everything pictured below is way more beautiful in person.
  • You don't see many photos of the nightlife and pubs, but trust me when I say there were a ton. We went out every night ... I just didn't take many photos to prove it. 
  • Check out the list below for an overview of our trip. 


Day 1

Drive through Kenmare

Having a "the hills are alive" moment in Killarney National Park 






The Killarney Plaza Hotel, our first hotel stay in Ireland. It was right next door to several pubs, and they had a delicious Irish breakfast spread (as did every hotel and B&B we stayed at during our trip)

The prettiest church on our walk. If you look closely, you can see a wedding party. :)

Day 2


Ross Castle










Preparing to horseback ride through mountains for the first time ever (fun? yes. painful? also yes.)


My favorite #SnapandSave: laughing my nerves away while horseback riding
through the gorgeous Gap of Dunloe in County Kerry




The cutest little cafe



Kate Kearney's Cottage, where I had one of the best mangers 'n mash I've ever tasted.

Day 3


Tea and delicious scones (I had three) at the Skellig Mist Cafe 
View from the cafe



Chilly, beautiful day in Valentia Island

The locals were swimming; we were wearing sweaters







The sweetest reminder on our walk


The beautiful Kerry Cliffs, which give the Cliffs of Moher a run for their money





Skellig Cliffs in the background (Star Wars fans might recognize these


Pictured below: walking through Killarney (such a cute town!)


Ended the day at Murphy's for some Gin (yes, gin) and Lavender flavored ice cream. So. Good.

Day 4







After a pretty lengthy drive from Killarney to Bunratty, we met up with friends at Bunratty Castle for a Medieval-style dinner (AKA eat with your hands) 
Post-dinner drinks at Durty Nelly's (est. 1620!), one of the handful of pubs we popped into while in Bunratty 


Hotel #2: Bunratty Manor

Day 5 


Met up with our Irish friends for another day of exploring
Ready for our walk through Folklore Park

This local was preparing an incredible apple pie right below us that smelled like heaven




Rumored home of Irish fairies


Our third hotel, The Aran View, which had a distant view of the Cliffs of Moher

Day 6
A rainy, cold and windy day at the Cliffs of Moher, but that didn't stop us from enjoying the view, which these photos really don't do justice

Pictured here: one of my worst nightmares (to be clear, this is no one in my family)







Castle on the Cliff

After climbing down the cliffs, we made our way to Aillwee Cave, which was eerie but really cool (and not for anyone with a fear of dark spaces or heights)



Our first stop in Galway: Checking in at The House Hotel, which was beautiful with a vibrant modern interior, lively scene and delicious breakfast. I highly recommend it if you're staying in the area!

Ending the day with an evening stroll through Galway's Latin Quarter before getting ready for some pub-hopping (Dail Bar isn't pictured here, but was my favorite pub)

Day 7


Enjoying the colorful alleys and streets of Galway





A drive to Sky Road, which is apparently one of the most dangerous drives in the world




One of the handful of beaches we stopped at on our drive down (with a beautiful view of me reaching in my back pocket for my phone ... thanks, dad)

Day 8





Morning walk through Galway (don't go to Ireland without visiting. It was such a fun city with a lively pub scene and great shopping).  








After another long drive, we arrived at the gorgeous Highfield House - the absolute cutest bed and breakfast - in Trim, where our friends live



The hostess (who was so friendly and hospitable) had tea and scones ready for us by the time we arrived

A walk through Trim to Lenihan's/James Griffin Pub



Day 9 




Feeding the donkeys outside of the Highfield House is a must - they're so sweet

Trim Castle, where Braveheart was filmed





After another long drive (it's the best way to see the country!) we arrived at The Morgan Hotel in Dublin, which had a glamorous feel to it and is right on the corner of the popular pub-filled Temple Bar area


Gorgeous view (and pint) from The Guinness Storehouse. Seriously, visit for the panoramic views from The Gravity Bar. Totally worth it.

Reaaallly intense flash, but the memory was too fun not to share: behind the bar at The Old Storehouse (ask for Rory - he was awesome) where I learned how to pour a pint of Guinness the right way.

Day 10


Walking around the city


Trinity College. We missed the library where they filmed a scene in Harry Potter (still bummed about that) but plan to stop by next time we visit.


Coolest shopping center

A "Central Park" right in the heart of Dublin
Early dinner at The Bank on College Green (stop by even if you're just grabbing a drink; it's a beautiful spot)
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Temple Bar, already filling up for the evening 

Day 11






Another day spent happily walking through Dublin 
A #SnapAndSave of our breakfast at Queen of Tarts. Their french toast is out of this world. 







On our way to see Riverdance at The Geity Theatre (much better than I anticipated - it's a must-see!)



Our last dinner of the trip: bangers n' mash and Guiness at Bruxelles

Stay beautiful, Dublin.


Trip overview 

Day 1 (7/28)
Drove through Kenmare, southern portion of Ring of Kerry and Killarney National Park
Lunch in Kenmare
Checked in at Killarney Plaza Hotel & Spa
Late dinner at Allegro near hotel, then Sheehan's Pub/The Grand a few doors down for late night entertainment

Day 2 (7/29)
Jaunting car ride to Ross Castle
Horseback riding through Gap of Dunloe 
Tea and coffee at The Coffee Pot, bangers 'n mash and Guinness at Kate Kearney's Cottage 
Day 3 (7/30)
Tea and desserts at Skellig Mist Cafe in Portmaghee (amazing scones!)
Lunch at The Royal Valentia Hotel on Valentia Island in Knightstown 
Climbed the Kerry Cliffs. We missed the Skellig Chocolate Factory but heard it’s great.
Dinner at Milano's pizza in Killarney next to the hotel
Dessert at Murphy’s Ice Cream, which is handmade in Dingle (Gin + Lavender = best combo) 
Day 4 (7/31)
Checked in to Bunratty Manor
Bunratty Medieval Banquet
Drinks at The Creamery Pub, Durty Nellie’s and Bunratty Manor
Day 5 (8/1)
Tour of Bunratty Castle & Folklore Park: tea, coffee & dessert there
Lunch at Durty Nellie's (good mushroom soup, soda bread & minute steak; fair fish 'n chips)
Arrived in Doolin at Aran View Hotel, close to Cliffs of Moher
McGann's Pub (larger pub) - delicious baked salmon, veggie soup and salads
McDermotts Pub (smaller) - good music & later hours on the Monday Bank Holiday
Day 6 (8/2)
Cliffs of Moher, Brian's Tower, Ailwee Cave and partial drive through The Burren and pretty town where Dunguaire Castle stands
Arrived in Galway; checked in to The House Hotel Galway
Dinner and drinks at Dail Bar
Day 7 (8/3)
Trip into Connemara, to Clifden and Sky Road with beautiful high views; drove through Ballyconneely and Roundstone
Lunch at Odowd's Pub - oceanfront views, good salmon, veggie soup, seafood chowder and shepherd’s pie
Drinks at The Quays Pub and Dail Bar back in Galway
Day 8 (8/4)
Walked & shopped in Galway; Eire Square, Spanish Arch, Latin Quarter, etc.
Drove to Trim; stayed at The Highfield House, Trim -- beautiful! Geraldine was an amazing hostess
Dinner at Franzini, drinks at Lenihan’s Pub
Day 9 (8/5)
Fed the donkeys down the street from The Highfield House
Tour of Trim Castle (Braveheart)
Drove to The Morgan Temple Bar Dublin
Guinness Storehouse 
Old Storehouse Pub on Crown Street 
Day 10 (8/6)
Walked around the city
Walked around Trinity College
Lunch at The Bank
Old Storehouse Pub in Temple Bar again

Day 11 (8/7)
Walked around the city
Brunch and tea at Queen of Tarts
Saw Riverdance – amazing!
Spent last night in Temple Bar area

Takeaways

- The Irish really know how to make a delicious veggie soup; I had one at practically every restaurant we went to. Don't go without ordering one (same goes for bangers n' mash and Guiness!) I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the food here.
- Most hotels and B&B's offer a full Irish breakfast. They're delicious and will fill you up for the first half of the day.
- There are actually a ton of gluten-free options, which really surprised my family (my dad has celiac's disease and is a picky eater, so we were worried about the options of food for him). We were pleasantly surprised!
- The hosts/hostesses at the smaller hotels and B&B's are incredibly friendly and knowledgeable. Be sure to get to know them so they can give you their best kept secrets and recommendations (same goes for the locals). 
- It required a lot of driving, but I'd highly recommend making the trip from Killarney to Galway to Dublin. It was perfect, and as I mentioned earlier, you see so much driving through the country that you'd normally miss. 





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