Thursday, October 23, 2008

Top 10 Reasons I am Excited for Winter:

... besides the snow, of course!

1. Ice Skating - I went for the first time in YEARS last winter and it was so much fun! I definitely plan on going pretty often this winter. It's so cheap at the student rate over at Leddy Park.

2. Hot chocolate - I plan on having a constant supply of it on hand in my apartment all winter. There is nothing better than coming in out of the cold and warming under a big blanket to a cup of hot chocolate.

3. Peppermints - What is winter without a bowl of peppermints somewhere? Hello!

4. Candles - Granted, I have candles on hand year-round, but each season calls for its own special scents. Winter? Vanilla, pine, and cinnamon! mmMMmmm!

5. My miniature Christmas tree - A couple years ago Mom sent me this uber tiny Christmas tree complete with miniature ornaments and battery operated lights. Setting it up was enough to put me in the Christmas spirit, but once it was sitting there on one of my little bookshelves it just lit up the room with positive energy! Nothing like a pick-me-up from home!

6. Christmas in general! - I LOVE giving gifts at Christmas. I love the feeling in the air. I love the way people are actually NICE to each other. There's just something about the holiday season that makes people glow.

7. My annual visit to Alaska - This is even more of a big deal this year because ever since I've come to college I've made two trips home per year. A few weeks at Christmas, and then usually about a month in May. However, this year I didn't travel home AT ALL over the summer, so my trip to Alaska in December will be my first time home in a whole year! I am SO excited!

8. Twinkle lights - I think I threw a bunch of my out for storage reasons when I came to Ireland (no big loss, they cost me a whole dollar a set at Wal-Mart three years ago, haha!) But I can't wait to go buy some more and maybe even get neat ones to put in my room from Christmas Tree Shops or something.

9. Snow tubing and sledding - I'm going to have to hit up the after hours Country Club sledding and tubing this year. I know we're not supposed to do it, but I also know that tons of people do it anyway and gosh darnit all, I am going to be a rebel and enjoy the hills God put in Vermont for us to play on!

10. Hockey games - I miss hockey! I'm hoping Dad will hook me up with some Aces tickets when I get back to Anchorage. And then of course I have to support the Champlain guys... especially when they play Castleton ;) Heck, maybe I'll even check out some UVM games. I'll have a great excuse if UAA gets their butts to the east coast this season!

What are YOU excited about this upcoming winter season?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Autumn is here, and in full swing!

Can't you just feel the wind turning your cheeks pink?

Malahide Adventure

Well I've been trying to come up with a way to get myself up off my lazy butt the past few days and go do something cool. Unfortunately, I dropped the ball on going to Oktoberfest, Dublin. But yesterday I got motivated and I hopped the train (4.20 euros roundtrip) and went up north to Malahide. Malahide isn't a very large town, but it DOES have a castle. Umm... COOL! I wandered around the town for a while until I finally saw a sign:

I actually ended up passing about 10 of those signs, but the walk was very nice. It was a perfect autumn day, the air was crisp, seriously - perfect hoodie weather! Wandering through the park leading up to the castle made it very easy to transport yourself back in time and wonder what it might have been like to make the same walk in a schmancy dress with layers of petticoats, maybe a parasol.... the whole nine yards!

So I didn't look quite royal... and it's not a very good picture, but hey! I went by myself and felt like a giant loser asking someone to take a picture of me every so often. Not that I'm sure I looked like LESS of a loser by periodically stopping to snap pictures of myself, haha. Oh well!

Finally! The castle! It wasn't quite as grand as I had imagined, but it was neat to see regardless. I definitely wouldn't mind going back with some company for a tour, some hot chocolate, and better pictures!

Thank You Rays!

For keeping Red Sox fans silent this coming winter season. WOO HOO!
Better luck next year, suckers!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

On My Mind

Sorry I haven't written in a few days! I've been trying to get better about keeping up with this thing a little more regularly to alleviate the stress of having to talk about an entire week or so worth of events all in one entry, but it just hasn't worked the past few days. It's starting to be the first busy time of the school year. Mid-terms are upon us shortly which of course means so are the bigger essays, cramming an entire novel into one week, gallery reviews, and the dreaded 'E' word: Exams *gasp!*

In addition to school, Mom reminded me that I have nowhere to live in January. Ouch. So I've been perusing Craigslist in some sort of attempt to find an apartment. I think I have a few prospects, but then I realize how much time I've spent on Craiglist and panic because I should have been studying.

Add to all of that I'm fairly certain I will be looking for work when I return to Burlington. With the whole Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae crisis, me returning to my job as a legal real estate intern is not looking bright.

Such is the life of a 21-year old college girl.

I'll just keep looking forward to my November of travel, finally seeing my family all together for Christmas, and reuniting with Josh shortly thereafter.

Friday, October 10, 2008

In the news today:

1. New York messes up absentee ballots and put "Barack OSAMA" on them. Really, people? Really? I'm sorry but 'S' is nowhere near 'B' on the keyboard and I think we've heard the name Obama enough at this point not to make this error. Typist needs to be fired for being a pig-headed fool.

2. Connecticut becomes the third state to legalize gay marriage. Woo hoo! Of course, in standard political mumbo-jumbo (i.e. 'keep everyone happy' speak) the governor said "I do not believe their voice reflects the majority of the people of Connecticut." Of course.

3. Palin's ethics are under question in a closed-door hearing. I knew her neat little hockey mom act couldn't keep up forever. This is what really gets under my skin about dirty politics: Do they NOT understand that it is going to come out one way or another? Or do they think it's like homicide and cancer - "it can't happen to ME!"? Because honestly, the media is going to catch wind of whatever it is you're doing, especially when you accept the nomination for Vice President. I guess we'll see what the Alaskan law-makers decide.

Please Christmas Don't Be Laaaate!

Oh yeah. It's happening. Megan and I have busted out the Christmas music WELL aware that it is only October 10th. No Halloween or Thanksgiving under our belts. We are worse than the stupid department stores! Don't judge us - we miss home!

And we LOOOOVE Frank :)

And they're OFF!

Last night Stephen and Lilly took us out to the race track to watch the weekly Greyhound races! I thought this was neat since my high school mascot was the greyhound and I had never actually seen one in real life before. We were each handed a racing book which was entirely Greek to me. It took watching a few races to understand what exactly was going on. The books highlighted each of the six dogs to partake in the race telling you when the last time it raced was, what place it came in, how many lengths it won/lost by, how many seconds ahead/behind it was, an even a little blurb at the top about its performance. Then there were screens out in the middle of the track telling what the betting odds were. So I watched a few races before I thought "Ah, what the hell?" And I bet 2 Euro on Kilhedge Queen.

Ah what the hell? I WON!! I ran through the stands with a grin on my face like a child on Christmas morning and pushed my way through the crowd to the betting stations to collect my winnings. Thirteen Euro! I wish I could make 2 Euro turn into 13 everyday! I lost a couple more races before finally winning again in about the 8th race of the night. I only won 9.20 that time and called it quits. By the time I walked away from the track I had won enough money to cover what I spent on dinner and a pint earlier in the night and recovered all of my bets. I broke even. Overall I'd say it was a GREAT way to spend a "free" evening!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Five Things I Miss About America:

1. Ranch Dressing. Seriously, you don't realize how much you take this stuff for granted until you don't have it at your fingertips anymore. And I am a HUGE fan of the ranch dressing. I eat it on chicken strips, french fries, pizza crust, fresh veggies, everything!

2. Sunday NFL. Admittedly I didn't even follow the NFL before college. However, after spending three years living in dorms full of take out food and screaming college guys in your student lounge you learn to like it... love it even. And while I'm attempting to follow the games on it is just not the same!

3. Driving. Period.

4. My girlfriends. Ireland is fantastic all on it's own and I'm meeting a bunch of really amazing people, but I can't help thinking about how great it would be to share this with all of you! Can we please take a couple weeks out of our lives sometime in our 30's and travel around the world somewhere? We have to make plans before the retirement community here ladies!

5. Country music radio. I quit listening to it for years when I was in middle and high school, but getting back to my roots was the best thing I have ever done when it comes to music. And now!? AH! There is NO good American country music to be found anywhere! I have come to rely on but I'm not entirely sure how reliable it is as far as what can be found on WOKO or Eagle Country.

Gobble Gobble

Guess what I just booked! :D
Yep! My trip over Thanksgiving break from Dublin to Paris, Milan, Venice, Florence, Rome, the Vatican City, and back to Dublin! Who's excited? Pick ME!!

Monday, October 6, 2008

May the road always rise up to meet you...

We made it home safe and sound from our trip across the country! Even though we only spent two full days on Ireland's west coast, I feel like we saw SO much! Friday afternoon, after spending a solid three hours in Art class, we all grabbed our bags and hopped in taxis over to the train station.

All aboard!

When we finally arrived in Galway three hours later we trudged around the block a few times until we got a decent set of directions and found our hostel.

As sketchy as 'Sleepzone Hostel' sounds it was actually a very nice place to stay! Megan and I ended up staying in a little bungalow suite across the street from the main part of the hostel, but it was really cozy and quiet so we didn't mind too much. Once we got our things settled into our rooms we trekked across town to find our meeting place for dinner. I sampled some garlic mushrooms and drank a Smithwicks before my main course of fish and chips (with loads of vinegar and salt, of course!). And just to be responsible I ordered a glass of still water (because you have to specify still or sparkling here if you don't want a surprise). Turns out my bottle of still water cost over 2 euro! In the future I will know to order TAP water!

Saturday morning we met our bus outside the hostel and ventured north a bit out of Galway into the Connemara. We stopped at a hotel with a convenience shop inside to stretch our legs and grab some drinks. I opted for a canned diet coke since cappuccinos come in cups the size of thimbles and cost 2 euro - what a rip!

In the next town we stopped for lunch and a wander through some shops. The country towns in Ireland are so adorable! The really striking thing about the countryside in western Ireland is all of the stone walls all over the place. Our driver explained to us the two purposes of these walls. The first reason is obviously to separate plots of land and the second is so that the sheep and cows to have protection against the wind in bad weather. He also explained that the stones are not cemented together so that little crevices are purposely left for the wind to blow through thus making the walls less likely to topple over. While walking along one of these walls I stopped to have a gander at a cow. The cow thought to stop and have a gander back. We had a staring contest.

Since our Director, Stephen, is a geologist we pulled over at a coral beach to have a look!

Our original plan for our day in the Connemara was to go on a hike, but we weren't fortunate enough to have cooperating weather. However, since we're all a bunch of loose screws, we had our driver pull over and we decided to have a go at a hike anyway! Needless to say, it was incredibly short-lived due to the intense wind and sideways rain and we were soaked to the bone after fifteen minutes.

All was not lost. Soggy socks and dripping bangs can always be cured by eerie Irish mists rolling over a beautiful castle!

Alright fine... it was still super windy, but the pictures are SO worth it!

To reward ourselves after a long day of being drenched we went out for some pizza, ice cream and smoothies! mmmMMmmm!

Yesterday the weather was MUCH more cooperative. While Megan and I walked to breakfast before meeting the bus we thanked God for blue skies and then giggled at the prospect of gorgeous pictures if the weather would actually hold. And boy were we lucky! Although there was a brisk feel in the air the skies remained clear and it just felt like the most perfect autumn day imaginable. First stop? Another castle... Ireland is amazing!

When we stopped for coffee a little while later I couldn't help but recognize what an incredible photo opportunity I had been given. The Burren House was located just off the coast with a lush green lawn and an incredibly serene vibe. I only hoped I could capture it.

A bit later we traveled through some terrain surrounded with limestone. Stephen took the time to give us a lecture on limestone which was incredibly interesting. I learned that the straight lines we saw were carved by glacial movement and that some extremely rare vegetation grows in the crevices.

Unfortunately I don't remember the technical term for the crevices... but hey, I have a career in law and not science for a reason right? Upon further exploration we found limestone monuments, but it was too hard to tell which ones were legitimate and which ones had been stacked by other tourists.

Next up: A church

Ancient Irish structures make me feel tall!

And last but certainly NOT least - The Cliffs of Moher (not less)

Obviously we are all illiterate...

The whole gang! All nine of us students with Stephen and Lilly:

And to finish it off, I will leave you with some images of the rolling green countryside in the west of Ireland:

PlASStic Surgery

Do you think it's mean to write a post card with this photo to your boyfriend explaining to him about the coupon for free plastic surgery you were handed on the streets of Galway... and then talk about how poorly it went and will he still pick you up from the airport in January?

Oops, haha! Hey, a girl has to keep an army boy's spirits up somehow!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Aaaaand... we're off!

Tomorrow afternoon all nine of us 'pioneer' students are hopping the train along with our fearless leader Stephen and our sweet Swedish friend Lilly and heading out to the beautiful west coast of Ireland. We'll be staying in a hostel in Galway and gallivanting around peet bogs, traditional Irish pubs, the Cliffs of Moher, and so much more. I am so excited and can't wait to share pictures with you all when I come back to Dublin!

Until then... Cheers!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

An Even Greener Emerald Isle

This is what Ireland is doing to take their part in greening up the Earth:

When you go to the grocery store here they don't ask you "paper or plastic?" at the checkout. Instead they ask you if you would like to purchase a plastic bag. Of course, if you forgot to bring a big bag or just plain didn't know this would happen to you then you either purchase a plastic bag or you carry all your groceries home in your arms. After spending about 5 Euro on plastic bags I finally invested 1 Euro into one of these reusable bags. What a great idea! Can you imagine this happening in the United States?

What are you doing to help green up the world?