Winter on Lake Monona

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With all this beautiful weather we’ve been having, I had to get outside so I took a long glorious walk down by Lake Monona last weekend. I feel so lucky to live right on the isthmus (the best geographic term, right?) and to be so close to both of Madison’s gorgeous lakes. Winter has been a tough time to move to a new city – everyone is in hibernation and there’s not so much going on – but this little thaw we’ve had has gotten me so excited for Spring. After being away from the Midwest for so long I’ve forgotten how much the cities come alive with the weather!

I didn’t expect my walk to turn into a photography expedition or else I would have brought my big camera but I had to share some snaps I took on my phone while I was out. How crazy is that ice?! I’m such a sucker for that sort of thing so these are only a few of the like billion photos I took of it.

Anyway, I hope you have a wonderful Tuesday and soak up the sun while we have it for a moment. 😎

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Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life…WTF?!

Okay, I know I’m a thousand years late on this BUT this weekend I finally finished rewatching the entire original seven seasons of Gilmore Girls and sunk my teeth into A Year in the Life. And now I have a lot of feelings…

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Let me cut to the chase: I did not like them. I thought Rory was shitty, the drama was strained, and the whole thing seemed like a big “look who we got to come back and be in the reboot!” Especially after watching the original series literally into the new ones it was like a slap in the face – it seemed like everyone was playing at Gilmore Girls instead of being in it.

Everything just seems off. Lorelei and Rory don’t have the same chemistry, Paris is getting upset seeing (not real) Chad Michael Murray at Chilton, Sookie is eating dirt and letting Rachel Ray take over her kitchen? I just don’t buy it! It felt like a totally different world from the original seasons.

Which leads me to this very important fan theory that actually makes me feel WAY better about the whole thing: Year In the Life is the only real Gilmore Girls universe and the first seven seasons are actually the book that miserable 32-year-old Rory wrote to make her life seem way better.

Frankly, I like this theory a lot more than the idea that Amy Sherman-Palladino just wrote a really shitty and inauthentic script to make bucket loads of money ten years after the fact (even though that’s definitely what actually happened).

Anyway, I’m sure everyone is completely over this by now but I had a lot of feelings and needed to share… That is all.

Operation Boozeless: Week One

So after my sort of distraught post from last week, I thought I would follow up on how my first full week without alcohol went. To be honest, not that much was different – I have in fact gone a full seven days without drinking before so it wasn’t too crazy. But I did notice that my thought process has changed a bit as I prep for a longer stint on the wagon.

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1. Pay more attention. I went out to brunch with a newer friend on Saturday and even though we have a lot in common and I really like her, we’re still getting in the groove of being friends. We’ve also spent most of our time going out together so a lot of our conversations have been wine-fueled. I love a good boozy bonding moment as much as anyone, but I had this moment at sober brunch where I thought “This conversation would be way easier if I had a drink.” What? This is really the state of my social skills? I’m better than that and my friend deserves better than that!

So I perked up, took a breathe, and listened better. And you know what? We ended up having a really good time, talked way after we’d signed the check, and made plans for another weekend. Boom! Definitely realized that I lean on alcohol sometimes because I’m just plain lazyyyyyyyy.

2. Change doesn’t happen all at once. In preparation for my boozeless month I started reading a bunch of articles on the benefits of cutting alcohol. More energy! Clearer skin! Better sleep! The list goes on, so I was psyched to become the pure, zen, Gwyneth Paltrow version of myself. Color me surprised when after 7 days I pretty much feel the same! Because duh, I’m not going to change overnight and no one is going to erect a monument in my honor for not drinking one weekend of the month.

I am still hoping that by the end of the month I feel a difference in my body (because that’s the entire medical reason for this experiment), but I need to have some patience with myself and realize that cutting  wine will not make me a super hero. Although fingers crossed I’ll feel like one by March.

3. I’m not that different after all. So on a typical Friday night when I don’t have any plans I’ll usually crack a bottle of chardonnay and then ultimately end up crying over the Gilmore Girls reboot. I guess I always blamed this on wine, but low and behold I do the same thing completely sober… This is actually sort of a relief – that I am still pretty open to expressing my emotions even if that means weeping over Lauren Graham’s face lifts.

So all in all I would say this has been an enlightening week. It’s funny what happens when you just change your mind set and how taking away a crutch like drinking makes you realize how much you don’t need it.

But this is just the beginning. Stay tuned for week 2.

Sobering Thoughts

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So I just found out that I have to stop drinking for a month. I’ve been having stomach issues and my doctor’s put me on a medication that doesn’t mix well with alcohol, so it’s 4 long weeks on the wagon for me.

And you know what? I’m scared.

I’m scared because I’m realizing how much of my life revolves around drinking. I’m disappointed in myself for becoming someone who can’t meet new people without a drink in her hand. I’m afraid that I won’t be social and that people won’t hang out with me because I’m not drinking.

I haven’t been sober for this long since I was 18.

When I lived in Ireland, everything revolved around drinking. I went on job interviews at pubs, I drank with professors at lunch, we always met our friends out for pints. But I drank alone, too, because things were hard and it made life seem less stressful and more exciting.

But I think I’m the most scared that I won’t be able to do it. That I won’t even be able to make it a month. That drinking is too hard wired into me to let it go, even for the sake of my own health.

And I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. Not the only one who asks herself on Sunday morning if maybe it was too much. Gives herself pep talks on the way home from the liquor store to justify a bottle of wine I will drink alone. Judges people at parties who say you don’t have to drink to have fun.

Well, I guess I’m about to find out.

What’s Your Morning Ritual?

I know it’s a little late for New Years resolutions, but I’m starting to feel settled at my job and finally have more energy to dedicate to life outside work (whaaaa?). I’ve been an aspiring morning person for a long time so I picked up Laura Vanderkam’s book What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast for a little advice…

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In it she talks about using mornings to focus on personal growth through activities like exercising, writing, or meditating and sustaining them over long periods of time. She claims the benefits of morning rituals: people feel more fulfilled, have long-term career success, and are more focused and productive during the day. Her reasoning is interesting:

“Getting things down to routines and habits takes willpower at first but in the long run conserves willpower… Ultimately, self-control lets you relax because it removes stress and enables you to conserve willpower for the important challenges.”

I like the idea and, in turn, have been getting up early to write for an hour before work (almost) every day. Here’s what I’ve liked and disliked so far…

Pros

  1. I feel like a superhero! I’ve gotten up, eaten breakfast, caught up on email, and written for an hour before most people in my building are even awake.
  2. I like investing in my creative life. My job is really technical and it’s nice to still flex my artistic muscles even if its not my main focus right now.
  3. It makes me more focused at work. I’ve had a chance to brainstorm and daydream before I even get to the office so I’m not so distracted.

Cons

  1. Waking up is hard. I love sleeping, hate mornings, and it’s so easy to get derailed.
  2. Writing now feels like a chore, which duh is the point, but I’m surprised at how quickly I burned out on something I love. It make me wonder if I’m fostering my creativity or forcing it.
  3. It’s another thing to push through. Sometimes my writing goes great and I feel awesome, but other days I feel frustrated or disappointed, which is a tough way to start the day.

Looking at my list, I definitely feel like it’s worth it to keep up my writing ritual (it was actually kind of tough to come up with cons!), but it makes me wonder if I’ll eventually lose my love for it because I’m forced to do it everyday. Or will I just love it more because I do it everyday? The jury’s out.

So, I’m curious: do you have morning routines? What do you do? Is it something you love to do or something you feel obligated to do? Any tips on keeping it up? Hit me up!

Weekend Roundup: Packing Up!

Back in Chicago this week, I’m starting to get ready for the big move up to Madison, but also trying to enjoy the time I have left around here. Of course I’ll be back in like three weeks for Thanksgiving and I’m only like 2 and a half hours away anyway… But it still feels like a big move! This week has been filled with the highs and lows of apartment hunting, frequenting my favorite guilty pleasure food spots, and a whole lot of hometown team pride. I’m not a Cubs fan, but it’s pretty fun to see the city light up as they head to the world series next week – historic stuff 🙂

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What I Did This Week

1. Went to my first Blackhawks game of the season! The rest of the city may be cheering on the Cubs, but I’m staying true to my favorite guys in Chicago. They played the Flyers, which I always find funny because my first Hawks game was in Philly and I have never been booed more in my entire life… It turned out to be such an exciting game and, of course, a Hawks win! Hopefully I’ll manage to get out to (and afford 😰) another game sometime soon!

2. My mom and I headed up to Madison to start the apartment hunt and it’s looking pretty good! We managed to find a place right downtown that is available before my start date and isn’t a creepy murder basement, so fingers crossed all the paperwork goes through. I’m soooo excited to start decorating and organizing my own place, finally! Updates on all that to come.

3. Before heading out of town on Saturday my mom and I stopped by the Madison farmer’s market to grab a little breakfast and oh my god was it so overwhelming. When I think farmer’s market I think quaint little booths and chatting with the stallkeepers over coffee, but Madison’s felt more like a trading floor – people bustling around, yelling and crowding stalls, I almost got elbowed in the face a few times… Good to know Wisconsinites get rowdy for their fresh produce.

Culturally Consumed

1. Loved reading the comments of this Cup of Jo post “What Do You Like About Yourself?” I’ve noticed several bloggers starting to engage more directly with their communities and, frankly, I think it’s awesome. Like this is what the internet is for: cultivating great little groups online and then being able to talk about real shit. I’ve always admired that about Joanna’s blog, too; she always manages to be open and honest because she’s created the right context for the kinds of conversations she wants to have. Have always loved her blog and really like the direction its moving in.

2. Have been paging through Grace Bonney’s In the Company of Women over coffee the last few mornings and have discovered it’s a lovely way to start the day. Practical wisdom and reminders that life is hard and wonderful and your dreams are worth fighting for. I’ve always admired women who know exactly who they are and aren’t willing to compromise that and this book of chalk full of them. Would make a great graduation gift.

3. Finally caved and bought these beautiful boots! I’m always nervous about buying clothes online because half the time they don’t fit or I don’t like them, but Lord and Taylor was having their family and friends sale so I finally just went for it. Fingers crossed that they look as beautiful on me as they do in the photos. They would be perfect day-to-night boots for chilly Madison winters.

Coming Up Next

1. A few photos from Boulder that I didn’t manage to get to last week – I know I’ve been behind on everything lately, but hoping that I’ll get back into a routine when I’m a little more settled.

2. Some of my favorite quotes from In the Company of Women. It’s also totally inspired me to start an interview series with influential women in my life here on the blog. I sort of don’t even care if anyone else reads it, I think I would get a lot out of putting something like that together. Grace Bonney must be so wise after interview all these awesome people!

3. Some home decor inspiration that I’m feeling and a few ideas I have for the new apartment! I’ve never had my own place before and I’m out of my mind excited to have complete control over everything. As a child of divorce and an avid traveller, I haven’t had all of my shit in the same place for over a decade so the idea of having all of my clothes in one closet is like completely mind blowing. Stay tuned!

I’m Moving to Madison!

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If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve already heard, but I wanted to announce on here that I’ll be moving to Madison, Wisconsin in the next few weeks! I’m starting as a Technical Writer for Epic Systems in November and couldn’t be more excited for this next chapter. I’ve been to Madison a couple of times since I’ve been home and will be heading up again this weekend to do some apartment hunting (if you have any leads, let me know!) and it’s a gorgeous little city. I’m so excited to get to know my new home and to hit the ground running at work!

If you’re a Madison local or have been recently, I’d love to hear any recommendations you have for restaurants, bars, shopping, or fun things to do around town 🙂 And of course, if you’re ever around Wisconsin, hit me up for some cheese and beer!

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Weekend Roundup: The Wild West

This week I got the chance to go out to Boulder, Colorado and visit my dad and stepmom who are in the process of moving out there. I’ve been hearing about Boulder for years and I finally get what all the hubbub is about – beautiful scenery, great downtown filled with restaurants and shops, and you’re never further than 10 minutes from an amazing hike. Although it was a relatively short visit, it was so fun to see what they’re up to and let me say, it certainly doesn’t suck. I’m back in Chicago now and here’s a little bit more about my week…

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What I Did This Week

1. Before I left for Colorado, I spent an excellent Saturday afternoon with my family at the Lagunitas Brewing Company’s Tap Room here in Chicago. Crisp beer, decadent nachos, and a band with a washboard player made for a pretty awesome day. It was a little bit impossible to find (hint: the entrance is next to the parking lot – go figure), but the trek made the beer taste that much better. Fun for both the brewery inclined and the professional beer drinker 🙂

2. On my first day in Colorado, my dad drove us out to Denver for the Dweezil Zappa concert. Him and my brother are huge fans and even though I didn’t know much of the music, it was clear that these guys are unreal musicians. Fun, weird, and filled with hippie dads, the whole thing was certainly an experience. Plus, you can’t go wrong when the tour is named “Dweezil Zappa Plays Whatever the F@%k He Wants”.

3. Yesterday was my beautiful mom’s birthday. We spent the day brunching, drinking mimosas, shopping, and eating – so just another average day, right? We even got a dose of lacrosse in there seeing my brother’s team make it into the championship finals game! We had appetizers and drinks and a glorious steak dinner at Wildfire before heading back into the city. Cheers to you, mama! I love you!

Culturally Consumed

1. I picked up this book by my favorite Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, at the spiritual bookstore in Boulder (because of course they have one of those). This time in my life is bringing a lot of change and, along with that, a lot of uncertainty and fear. I have so many of his books already, but I felt like it was time to read this one – will let you know how it goes!

2. Visited the Saks Off 5th store on State Street in Chicago this week and oh man is it good. I highly recommend it for investment pieces like cashmere sweaters and winter coats because they seem to carry a lot of those right now. I walked out with this cashmere sweater in navy for half off and these cole haan sneakers for 50 bucks!

3. Late night Maddie + trolling Twitter = me buying Repeal the 8th art for my future apartment. Bought this beautiful print through the Someone You Love campaign and cannot wait to frame it and put it up for all eternity. I’ve been looking for a piece of art from Ireland forever, but nothing felt personal until I saw this baby. Feminist, colorful, and I think it will compliment my other pieces beautifully. Definitely check out the rest of the pieces in their online shop – a great gift for the Irish feminist in your life!

4. Speaking of other things I don’t need for an apartment I don’t have, my mom gifted me the most amazing salt and pepper shaker on this earth. Guys, I’m completely obsessed. It’s beautiful, hilarious, and practical! I also think this totally shows my priorities – art and kitschy home goods over furniture and kitchen ware. I like this about myself.

Coming Up Next

1. I’ve got BIG news coming up this week! I’m waiting till everything is finalized, but I’ll definitely be sharing a huge life update very soon!

2. I’ll be sharing some photos and journals from my trip out west – think snowy mountains, yellow and red leaves, and some wildlife up close and personal. I’ll also let you know what my favorite spots out in Boulder were and things I was super thankful I packed.

3. I’m on the prowl for some new fall boots (both over the knee and booties) so I’ll be sharing a round up of the ones I’ve been eyeing. It also seems like there are a million sales going on right now so I’ll be sure to include some discounted options. Till then!

My Ultimate Guide to Dublin

Although I’m already back in the US, I wanted to make sure to put together a list of all my favorite spots in Dublin while it’s still fresh. I love giving suggestions when people visit, so I wanted to share the spots that I have loved eating, drinking, dancing, shopping, and touristing over the past year. I put together a budget friendly guide earlier in the year and so many of those places I still love regardless of what I’m spending, but I wanted to share what I consider the best of the best in Dublin, too.

This guide has got a little bit of everything: food, drinks, nightlife, tourist spots, day trips, and even my favorite nail salon. I feel like putting this together was as much for me too because I want to remember all the great places I loved going and where I have some really amazing memories. I want to be able to read this guide in 10 years and revisit all my favorite spots!

Just a note: Since I lived near Trinity, a lot of these places are in the center of the city, which is where I spent the majority of my time. I say this because I know there are a lot of great spots outside the city center, too, I just didn’t frequent them.

Anyway, I hope these suggestions are helpful and if you’re visiting Dublin anytime soon, you have to let me know! There are definitely places that didn’t make it on the list that I might think are perfect for you – so feel free to message me, email me, or comment below!

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Best Hotels

The WestinWestmoreland Street – Located right next to Trinity and across the street from Temple Bar, it is definitely a prime location. Plus, it has the reputation for being one of the nicest places to stay in the city. I’ve had friends stay here and say it was lovely.

The WestburyGrafton Street – Another prime locale, The Westbury is right in the middle of the best shopping and eating in the city. But if you’re not in the mood to venture out, don’t worry, the hotel is known for its fabulous afternoon tea. I haven’t stayed here, but stayed at its sister hotel in London, The Marylebone, and that was probably the best experience I’ve ever had a hotel. I can only imagine the service is just as fantastic.

The MorganTemple Bar – My dad and stepmom stayed here when they visited me over the summer and at first I was worried about them staying in Temple Bar, which is the loud party district. But with a room facing away from Fleet Street and thick curtains, you couldn’t hear a thing! I was really impressed. The location is just as amazing as The Westin, since it’s across the street, but The Morgan is cheaper, if you book ahead. We had the best time people watching, sipping wine, and chatting outside the hotel’s bar – would definitely recommend!

*A note on this: I’ve never actually stayed in a hotel while in Dublin, but these are the places that I’ve heard from friends, relatives, and reviews are the best. I do know they’re all very centrally located and highly rated.

*Another note: Whatever you do, don’t stay in a hotel on Harcourt Street. The hotels are cheaper in that area for a reason: it is the home of the two biggest clubs in Dublin and it will always be loud.  Unless you’re going for a party weekend or a hen party or something, I would avoid!

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Best Cafes for Breakfast & Coffee

Keoghs Cafeoff of Dame St – My favorite spot for an afternoon coffee. My lovely friend, Aoife, showed me this spot and I’ve taken myself back numerous times to read, work, or just sit with a cup of coffee and relax. Get the cappuccino and raspberry scone with cream and jam – the cream is unreal.

LemonDawson St & South William St – The best place for a relaxed breakfast. This was our favorite Saturday morning breakfast spot for it’s outdoor seating, chill atmosphere, and hearty food. Perfect when you want more than a coffee, but don’t want to go all out for brunch. Get the Crispy Complete Crepe or the Strawberry Supreme with nutella.

Bewley’s (if it ever reopens) – Grafton St – Full disclosure, I’ve only been here once like 3 years ago, but it made that much of an impression on me. It’s a Dublin institution, but has been closed for the past couple of years for renovations – it keeps threatening to reopen, but it’s not looking great. If you are in town and it is open, go for the full Irish breakfast, it’s a classic.

*If you want something quick but hearty for breakfast, order an Irish breakfast roll. You can get them in most places that do sandwiches (I like O’Donovan on Pearse Street) and at a lot of rest stops along the highways, if you’re traveling. They’re basically everything in a full Irish breakfast on a small baguette. Be prepared for a food coma, it’s intense.

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Best Brunch 

Brasserie Sixty6George’s Street Upper – My go-to for a nice boozey brunch. Great egg dishes and a hearty Irish breakfast, if that’s what you’re looking for, but with a lovely wine selection and mimosas a plenty. Get the eggs and lobster and a glass of Marble Leaf wine.

Hatch And SonsSt. Stephen’s Green – Love for brunchy comfort food. They’ve got all the breakfast classics served with thick brown bread and the best jam everrrrr. Get the double baked eggs and take home a jar of jam for mom.

*There are definitely other great places around, but, for some reason, I just didn’t really brunch that often while living there. I’ve heard San Lorenzo’s is a great spot, same with The Fumbally, Whitefriar Grill, and The Exchequer‘s champagne brunch.

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Best Lunch

EathosBaggot Street Upper – Hands down my favorite lunch spot in Dublin. It’s a little on the expensive side for lunch so its more of a special occasion spot, but it is seriously the best food and the portions are huge. So it’s like 2 for 1, right? Order the lentils and the chicken thigh or tuna.

KC PeachesNassau St, Pearse St, St. Stephen’s Green, & Dame St – My regular lunch spot while I was in class. Great sandwiches and hot food, but the real MVP is the salad bar where you can stuff a box full of veggies, grains, and chicken salads. Also, they delicious coffee and a huge assortment of pastries. Get the California chicken salad, the steakhouse sandwich, and the cheesecake brownies.

SproutDawson St – The place I go if I’m feeling uber healthy. They specialize in seasonal, local, organic foods and have an assortment of green juices and super healthy desserts, if that’s what you’re into. Get the falafel wrap, the turkey salad, and the supergreen juice (I swear, it’s actually good!).

Mama’s RevengeNassau St – My go-to burrito place. Burrito spots have kind of exploded around Dublin and, to be fair, they’re all pretty good, but I always find myself craving Mama’s Revenge. If you’re coming from the States, you might find it too special, but when you haven’t had proper Mexican food in many months it really hits the spot. Get the chili burrito with veggies.

Super Miss SueDrury St – Best fish and chips in Dublin. I don’t care what anyone else says, this place is bomb and the best place for your fish fry fix. You can do takeout, delivery via deliveroo, or sit on the long bench outside with a glass of wine. Get the student deal, if you can.

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Best Casual Dinner

Fade Street Social – Fade St – My favorite place to take family and friends for casual, but amazing food. Their dishes are rich and unique and I have always had a great experience there. Full disclosure though, I think they were hit with some sort of health code violation recently, so I would check it out beforehand. If you do go, get the truffle hen egg foam, the soft shell crab, and the mini lobster hotdog.

The ShakespeareParnell St – Best hidden gem of Dublin; I always take my friends here when they visit. I know you probably don’t think of Korean food when you think of Ireland, but this place is truly awesome. Sort of hole in the wall, but delicious food, cheap pints, and relaxed atmosphere. If you’re lucky, there’s a guy who makes hotteok in the back sometimes, a sort of Korean pancake topped with nutella or tomato sauce and cheese. Get the bulgogi bibambap and the kimchi pancakes.

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Best Fancy Drinks

The Rooftop at The MarkerGrand Canal Square – Hands down the most beautiful spot for rooftop drinks in the city. Amazing cocktails and if you go at the right time you can watch the sun set and the entire bay begin to light up. It’s gorgeous. Book ahead if you’re a big group or show up early if its just two because they’ll sometimes make you wait around for no reason. And look nice, that always helps. Get the Marker Dream and the Classic Champagne Cocktail.

Sophie’s at The DeanHarcourt Street – Another beautiful pre-dinner drinks location. With views of the Wicklow Mountains, an airy interior, and another fabulous cocktail menu, it’s the perfect option for drinks during bad weather (which, let’s be honest, is most of the time). Get the 6:30 Wake Up Call.

Vintage Cocktail ClubTemple Bar – The best speakeasy in town. Tucked away down a dark street in Temple Bar, you’d never even know it was there, except for a door with stickers that read “VCC”. Ring the doorbell or wait for someone to come out and you’ll suddenly be in a prohibition era luxe bar and restaurant. Head to the smoking area on the top floor to grab a seat (if you can) or just stand around sipping the craziest cocktails in town. Skip the food (you’re not missing much), and get the Apothecary’s Delight or the Rosy & Jim.

Best Fancy Restaurants 

The Winding StairLower Ormond Quay – This may be my favorite restaurant on the entire planet. It’s just exactly everything I love: amazing, decadent food, awesome service, gorgeous views overlooking the river, but without the pretension of a “fancy” restaurant. It’s a particularly wonderful date spot, so if you’re in town with someone special I would highly recommend it. And try to sit near the book cases – we found an old Irish book from the 1920s there once with rugby game scores and journal entries jotted into it, so cool. Their specials are always unreal (if they have beef cheek, get it!), but I also love the steak or the clams with the bread and butter pudding for dessert.

Hugo’sMerrion Row – A great spot to take your parents. A little bright and fun restaurant with great food and wine and really lovely service. Let’s just say I took an especially picky family member here once and even they liked it, so it’s definitely worth putting on the list. Get the lamb or the chicken.

Best Dessert

Murphy’s Ice CreamWicklow St – My favorite place for a rich, creamy splurge. This place is soooo good. They have crazy flavors like lavender, brown bread, and gin (made with real Dingle gin!) and some of your standards like caramel and cookie, so there’s something for everyone. My fave combo is the sea salt and the caramel honeycomb – delicious!

YogismGeorge’s Street Arcade – For a little guilt-free pick me up. I may have gone to Yogism a few too many times while writing my dissertation, but it makes the perfect little treat after a long day. It’s your pretty standard froyo situation with classic tart yogurt and toppings a plenty, plus if you guess the weight of your cup at the end you get it for free! I love the classic flavor with strawberries and kinder bar.

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Best Pubs

Since this is Dublin, it shouldn’t be surprising that Best Pubs is the lengthiest section of this guide. The rumors are true, there are so many good places in Dublin that it’s really hard to go wrong, but these were the ones that I frequented, would go out of my way for, or generally think are notable.

Doyle’sCollege St – My most suggested pub in Dublin and an all around great place to grab a pint. I can’t quite put my finger on what makes Doyle’s so special, but I pretty much always made a point to bring people here if they’re from out of town. Just a great spot to have a beer and a chat.

The Ginger ManFenian St – Another favorite, especially if I’m looking to sit outside and have a chat with whoever happens to be sitting nearby. A more social pub than Doyle’s, in my opinion, and there’s just a great energy about being there.

The ShakespeareParnell St – Best dinner and a drink. I’ve mentioned this place in my budget friendly guide and in my favorite restaurants and now in my favorite pubs. This place is just my favorite, y’all.

Grogan’sSouth William Street – Fun fact: the first time I came here was for a job interview cause that’s just how they roll in Dublin. This place is a total old school, old man pub where you can get arguably one of the best pints of Guinness in town along with homemade cheese toasties they keep in a mini-fridge on the counter. Not pretentious in any way, just awesome.

The Brazen HeadLower Bridge St – The oldest pub in Ireland! I usually bring people here after a trip to the Guinness factory cause it’s only a few blocks away. It’s another spot with great atmosphere and their traditional Irish food is super hearty and delicious. They also do traditional storytelling nights here (although I’ve never been) that sound pretty excellent.

The BargeCharlemont St – Best pub on a sunny day (pictured above). The Barge really comes alive in the summer on those rare beautiful days. I used to walk past it every day after work and definitely stopped more than once to sip a cold pint along the canal.

The LombardLombard St – Our local pub. I couldn’t have this list without mentioning the Lombard since it served us so well all year. Just a block away from our apartment, it was always so nice to get a pint here after a long day or order a plate of chicken wings if we weren’t feeling like cooking dinner. Really nice people and never too crowded or loud.

GravediggersGlasnevin – Definitely stop by here if you’re up at the Glasnevin cemetery and the botanic gardens. The story is that the gravediggers would stop by here for a pint before they started their shift, sometimes leaving the casket they were about to bury on the table in the pub! But if you ask they bartender, he’ll say it’s just a story… with a wink.

The PavTrinity College – The true Trinity experience, especially when the weather is nice (pictured below). Grab a 4 pack of cans and sit out on the grass with half the student body for an afternoon of sunbathing and total relaxation. This basically got me through my dissertation tbh.

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Best Whiskey Bar

Dingle Whiskey BarNassau St – My go to when I’m feeling something a little stronger. Dingle has a great selection of single pot Irish whiskey and their bartenders will always point you in the right direction if you’re not sure what you want. My favorites are Writer’s Tears, Redbreast 12, and Green Spot.

Best Nightlife

Dicey’sHarcourt St – A Dublin institution. Located right next to Copper’s, the other big club in Dublin, Dicey’s will be crazy every night and is perfect spot to go out and dance all night. They play pretty good tunes and have 2 euro pints on certain nights. I’ve ended up here more times that I would like to admit…

XicoLower Baggot St – Best place to start the week off right. Xico has become infamous for its half price Mondays so think 2 euro shots of Tequila and a wild crowd, plus they play some of my favorite music in the city. They might give you a little trouble getting in, but stick it out, they never really turn people away.

The Czech InnTemple Bar – For when you just don’t care. I love this place because they truly do not care about being cool. They serve up some strong long island iced tea and I’ve known them to play the Taylor Swift 1989 album in its entirety on the dance floor. Great spot for when you can’t be bothered with the fuss of properly going out.

Workman’sWellington Quay – A popular spot amongst friends. The music is a little trancier than I like, but they have an enormous outdoor smoking area that is great for having a pint and a chat if you’re not in the dancing mood. I love this place because it feels like you’re at a giant house party.

Best Late Night Food

ZaytoonCamden St & Temple Bar – Hands down the best drunk food ever. EVER. Conveniently located at the drunk hotspots, right by Coppers & Diceys and in Temple Bar, they serve up enormous, delicious kabobs with all the toppings. I really can’t describe how satisfying it is to eat this after a night out. Plus, it makes unreal hangover food so its the gift that keeps on giving. Get the chicken doner meal with garlic cheese chips.

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Best Events

Longitude FestivalMarlay Park – The Lalapalooza of Dublin. If you’re around in July and are looking for something a little out of the ordinary, I would definitely recommend Longitude. It’s a much smaller festival, if you’re used to the ones in the states, which is actually so nice and it features a great mix of local artists and big names. We had a blast seeing Kendrick Lamar here last summer.

Gaelic Football or Hurling Matches – Croke Park – For sports fans and skeptics alike. I am not the biggest sports person in the world, but it was so fun going to a GAA game this summer. Both Gaelic Football and Hurling are traditional Irish sports and people get so into them, it’s fun even if you don’t know what’s going on. I don’t know exactly when the seasons are, but check the GAA tickets page and stop by Croke Park for an afternoon. It’s definitely an experience.

Music at Whelan’sCamden St – For great live music. Between their awesome lineup of musicians and their intimate venue, a concert at Whelan’s is pretty special. My dad dragged me to a random blues concert when he was in town and it ended up being my favorite thing that we did. Plus, if you’re lucky you can see amazing musicians (Hozier, Glen Hansard, James Blake) up close and personal for pretty cheap.

Best Nail Salon

Tropical PopicalSouth William St – For some quirky pampering. I know this is a random thing to include on this guide, but Tropical Popical truly is in a class of its own. A favorite of Saoirse Ronan, this little nail salon is filled to the brim with personality: cheetah print uniforms, flamingo decorations, Lilt soda served up in a coconut glass, plus some very talented nail artists. I like to get the file and polish because you get the whole experience, a manicure that lasts a week, and it’s only 10 euro.

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Best Shopping

Brown ThomasGrafton Street – The ultimate upscale experience. To be honest, I have done very little actual shopping here and a lot more wandering around looking longingly at everything. Ireland’s top department, it has all the great designers, a sprawling makeup floor, and an entire room devoted to Louboutin shoes. 😍 Their sister store, BT2, is across the street and is more my speed with younger designs and (somewhat) cheaper prices. If I was ever looking for something special or any kind of investment piece, this is where I would go.

Harlequin VintageDrury Street – My favorite vintage store. I pop by here every few weeks to see what’s new and I always head upstairs to their sale section. I’ve gotten some really fun pieces here: mom jeans, a crazy 90s romper, a beautiful navy trench, and a vintage Escada sweater for 10 euro. Be in the mood to dig around a little bit and you’ll certainly find some treasures.

Om DivaDrury Street – For a little bit of everything. It’s a little shop, but it certainly packs a punch: they have fun modern brands when you walk in, beautifully curated vintage in the basement, and a top floor filled with Irish designers. I love supporting local artists when I can and their stock is all around beautiful and quirky. One of my favorite going out tops is from here (made by a local designer) and I got the most beautifully fitting vintage dress here too. Definitely worth a stop in.

Bow and PearlRanelagh – For knits, jeans, and ladylike dresses. So I know I’m a little biased because I used to work here, but I had to include it because there are legitimately things I loved about the shop. Firstly, the Janet Byrne Knitwear: if you’re looking for a beautiful handmade Irish knit, but don’t want the same fisherman sweater that everyone else has, look no further. They’re definitely a splurge, but they are seriously gorgeous, so soft, and come in a million colors. Also, if you’re looking for unique formalwear, they always have a great selection of fun, ultra-feminine dresses and skirts. Plus, the staff is seriously the best, if I do say so myself 🙂

Kilkenny ShopNassau St – My go to shop for gifts. I made a huge dent here before Christmas and again before I came home because they have the largest selection of Irish made goods in one place. I like to pick up extra boxes of chocolates (with whiskey or Bailey’s in them, of course), locally sourced soaps and candles, and scarves and pashminas made from super soft Donegal wool for family and friends. I’ve always admired the kitchen wares there, too, but never found a good way to get them home. A great one stop shop for nice and not kitschy souvenirs.

Ulysses Rare BooksDuke St – For the English nerd. For anyone who loves books, especially Irish literature, Ulysses is a must see. They carry first edition Joyce, signed copies of Samuel Beckett, and beautiful antique children’s books, maps, and illustrations. If you’re looking for a gift for a bibliophile then you’ve hit the jackpot – it may be pricey, but you’ll find some really special here, I’m sure of it.

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Best Tourist Attractions

Guinness StorehouseSt. James’s Gate – You gotta say you went. Although a little pricey (around 17 euro) The Guinness experience does a good job: it brings you through the history of the famed Irish beer, how its made and distributed, their advertising campaigns, and you can enjoy a fresh pint up at the Gravity bar which boasts a 360 degree view of Dublin. Guinness is also filled with great restaurants, so I always like to get lunch there as well. Definitely great for any beer buff.

The Long LibraryTrinity College – Also very touristy but this is actually one of my favorite spots in Dublin. It’s in the same building as the Book of Kells at Trinity, which is also cool, but the real masterpiece is up the stairs past the book and into the Library. It often gets compared to the Great Hall at Hogwarts and holds hundreds of old volumes kept by the college, plus its famous rows of marble busts. It’s seriously breathtaking and a pretty quick trip, so I highly recommend it.

Glasnevin Cemetery and Botanic GardensGlasnevin – A little off the beaten path. If you want to get out of the city center, I would recommend heading up North to the Glasnevin Cemetery, which is attached to the Botanic Gardens. The cemetery is the final home to many important Irish figures, including Michael Collins and Éamon de Valera, and is a quiet, contemplative refuge from the rest of the city. Walking tours are available, but I’ve always preferred to wander around.

The Botanic Gardens, next door, are my favorite place in Dublin. With several enormous public green houses you can spend hours wandering through rooms of lush flowers, fun cacti, and tropical trees. It is especially reinvigorating in the midst of a dreary Irish winter and feels like a tiny afternoon’s vacation. Plus both the gardens and cemetery are completely free to visit, so there’s really no excuse not to visit!

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Best Day Trips

If in you’re in Dublin for longer than a weekend and want to see more of Ireland while you’re around there are definitely a few easy day trips that will get you out of the city. There are many tour companies, such as PaddyWagon Tours and Dublin Tour Company, that have bus tours available, but it’s also possible to strike out on your own if that’s not your thing.

Howth – For a taste of the sea just down the street. This is definitely the easiest day trip to take from Dublin. You just hop on the DART train to Howth from Pearse or Connolly station and within in an hour you’ve replaced city streets with boats and lighthouses. Check out the Howth Pier and St. Mary’s Abbey and definitely grab some local seafood – it’s the best! I did a post about Howth a few months ago, if you’re interested.

Galway – For a cultural capital on the West coast. Full disclosure, I haven’t spent a lot of time in Galway, but I’ve passed through on several occasions and it’s a really lovely spot. Known for their festivals and emphasis on the arts, it’s definitely worth an afternoon wandering around the downtown and checking out what’s on. Plus, it’s home of the claddagh ring if you’re looking for a gift for someone special. You can read about my stops in Galway here and here.

The Cliffs of Moher – For some epic views. I would actually recommend a bus tour for this trip or, if you’re doing a road trip around the country, to stay close to the cliffs and get there early. There’s just no good way to get here without a car and it gets so busy during tourist season, but it’s seriously so beautiful that you don’t mind the crowds. I’m so glad I crossed this one off my list – it’s stunning. I recently put up a post about the Cliffs, if you’re interested.

Belfast – For a taste of Northern Ireland. Belfast is a little much to do in a day so I would actually recommend staying overnight to see everything. The main attraction in town is the Titanic Museum, which explains how the Titanic was built (in Belfast), the history of the shipbuilding industry, and tells stories of the those who were onboard. I also hear the City Hall and St. George’s Street market are great to check out also. I visited last fall and this past summer and have always wanted to spend more time in Belfast!

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So there you go! All my favorites in Dublin and beyond! This has seriously been so fun to put together and I hope it can be a helpful to anyone planning a trip out there anytime soon (which if you’re not, you should be!). Living in Dublin has honestly been the best thing I’ve ever done and to be able to share this experience with so many people, both online and in person, has been really special. I feel nostalgic for Dublin all the time and I can’t wait to get back there as soon as I can!

Let me know if you have any specific questions about anything and if you have favorites too, leave them in the comments! I would love this to be a sort of running document of the best places to go. Thanks a mill and I hope you love Dublin as much as I do! 💕

Weekend Roundup: Sweet Home Chicago

It feels really good to be home. The last several weeks have been crazy to say the least, but no matter where I go in the world there’s nothing like coming back to familiar places and loving people. I’m honestly just starting to feel settled back into the US and a big part of me still feels like its in Ireland, but having some down time to write, run, and catch up with my favorite people has been really centering. Here’s a little recap of what I’ve been doing, reading, and loving this week…

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What I Did This Week

1. Got dragged to a visiting artist lecture at the School of the Art Institute by my mother, a former student, and actually completely loved the whole talk. The artist, Tal R, is this sweet, silly painter from Copenhagen who preaches being “irresponsible” with art, something I totally resonated with after years of being told to be diligent and thorough while making theater.

2. Sat in on a rehearsal of my friend Kevin’s contemporary choir at Northwestern and heard a preview of their super interesting piece “Consent” by Ted Hearne. The text of the piece is a combination of love letters, marriage rituals, and text messages from the Steubenville rape case and explores the ways we use language of ownership and sexual violence to express romantic relationships. Haunting and fascinating. Looking forward to seeing more of his upcoming concerts!

3. Headed up to Concord Music Hall to catch Kaytranada with my brother and our friends. Although I wasn’t sure what to expect, it ended up being a fun night of DJs and dancing. I loved one of the openers, I think a local female DJ, but didn’t catch her name – if anyone knows, would love to hear more of her!

Culturally Consumed

1. Finally got around to reading Animal Farm after all these years. Such a quick read, but I see why its required reading in high schools around the country: political commentary, easy to grasp and specific metaphors, and it’s actually engaging – I read the whole thing in like 2 hours. Feels good to start reading for pleasure again!

2. This ultra-brief gem from one of my very favorites, David Sedaris, on this election. Just when I think things can’t get worse too…

3. Love this new series that Cup of Jo is doing. I’ve always been fascinated by personal style and its so fun to hear people talk about why they wear what they wear. Especially obsessed with her use of the phrase “bitchy accessory” to describe a structured, see-through bag. Like I resonate with that term soooo much – definitely need more bitchy accessories (and clothes and shoes) in my life.

4. Also, I know that Stranger Things has already had its moment in the sun, but I would like to take a moment of silence for Barb. She was the real MVP.

Coming Up Next

1. Heading out West on Sunday for a little bit so stayed tuned for some picturesque views and me pretending to be outdoorsy.

2. A HUGE guide to all things Dublin that has actually taken me a century to put together, but I’m super excited to share.

3. A to-do list for all things fall! Fall has always been a huge time of change for me (and this fall is no exception) so I often feel this time of year the way I imagine people feel about new years. Time to get into new habits, shed harmful and distracting practices, and open myself up to saying yes more. I know it all sounds so cheesy, but we all need some inspirational cheeseballs when we’re going through shit, am I right? Stay tuned!