Monday, November 30, 2015

Settling In Back at Home

I've been back home from the trip for almost two weeks now.  Thank you all so much for your comments on my blog - either here on the blog, on Facebook or Instagram, or even in person.  I'm so glad so many of you enjoyed hearing about what we were doing every day.  I wish my everyday life was so exciting, so I could keep writing such exciting things for you all.

I think I'm right back into the swing of things.  It took a bit for me to get my sleep schedule back on track.  Most evenings for about the first week I was ready for bed by 6PM!  That was rough, since my evenings are usually spent driving my kids to all of their activities!

In case you were wondering (and I KNOW you all were), here is all of the deliciousness that I purchased in Ireland.  I was actually hoping to buy sock yarn everywhere, but to my surprise they didn't have it many places, unless it was a bigger specialty yarn shop that carried most of the same stuff I could get back home.  So most of what you see is Aran weight, and I didn't want to buy a huge ton of it in any one place (like enough to make a sweater) because then I'd be plum out of money, and I wanted to buy stuff at each of the stores I went to.  This leaves me in a bit of a sticky situation however, because now I only have enough to make small things such as mittens and hats, which is fine, but the 100% wool is pretty scratchy.  I've been searching for patterns for a way to line mittens and hats with polar fleece.  Wool is extremely warm, but doesn't feel the greatest up against your skin, in my opinion.  

I think this one missed me the most.  I'm sure she was well taken care of, because she sure doesn't let you forget to feed her dinner.  I think she just missed her mommy snuggles.

This was what I was greeted with on my first day back at work.  It sure made me want to go right back to the rainy Irish weather!  Winter is here!

Also in my first week back was the annual Christmas City of the North Parade.  We were all very glad that it was DRY this year.  No rain, hail, sleet, or snow.  Dry feet make ALL the difference on parade night.

The dance studio got the girls the COOLEST lightup shoes this year!  The pictures really don't do them justice.  They looked so awesome coming down the street!

I was happy to find out that Andy successfully made the JV team at school for hockey while I was gone.  I was not disappointed to have missed the tryouts.  There were several of Andy's good friends who didn't make the team this year.  It's so hard on them!  I wish there was a spot for everyone like there has been every other year in youth hockey.  :(

Sock #2 of this pair was finished up at the dance studio while Morgan was practicing her duet.  She and her friend Megan are dancing to a Bonnie and Clyde number this year.  I got to get a sneak peek the other night, and it's turning out to be my favorite!  I say that every year, and I don't know how her teacher could possibly have topped last year's dance, but she has.  It's freaking awesome.  hehe.

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and it was great.  I ate too much, spilled red wine on my shirt, and gained some weight.  We played cards, watched parades, watched football, looked at the black Friday ads and confirmed our decision that no sale was worth battling those crowds, and of course ate.  Tell me our Thanksgiving wasn't the only one with teenagers spending the majority of the day on their phones???

Everyone has their own post dinner traditions, right?  Ours is bowling.

She likes to support her big brother and his hockey team too.  As long as it's from the couch.  

The tree hunt is complete!  We went back to Pine Knob Tree Farm again this year to cut down our Christmas tree, and I just love the one we got. 

We got it back home and in some water on Friday morning, 

and then headed to the rink for the season opener!  It felt so good to be back!

Saturday's game was in Roseville, which allowed us a quick drive to and from "the cities" for more hockey.

I sure appreciated the nice four day weekend.  I got some laundry done, some knitting done, and Morgan is working on a project for school of making a dress from scratch, so we worked on that too.

Today is back to the grind, and hopefully I can get my eating back on track to lose some of those pounds I put on in Ireland and over Thanksgiving!

I hope you all enjoyed your Thanksgiving as well, and are on the right track to having everything in line for Christmas!  It's only 3.5 weeks away!  Yikes!



Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Journey Home

Ready or not, the day to leave is here.


So long, luxury vehicle.  You have served us well.

I was a little unsure of what to expect from a security standpoint due to the recent terrorist attacks in Paris.  So we set the alarm for "holy crap it's early" and made our way to the airport. Thankfully, we made it through check-in, security, and US customs without any issues.  This left us with a bit of time for a hot chocolate...

And to cast on!

It's getting lighter outside and time to board, but not before a completed cuff.

Two movies, a few episodes of friends, and a lot of knitting later,

And I spotted the Statue of Liberty.  I was that weirdo stretching over the poor lady who had the window seat, so I didn't get very good pictures, but she slept most of the flight and liked my knitting, so I like her.

Got the cuff, the leg, the heel and part of the foot done on the plane, and finished off the toe while waiting in the Newark airport! I've never knit a whole sock in one day before, and the day wasn't even half over!

This was the view from our gate!  

I had no idea I'd finish an entire sock on my way home, so of course I packed everything I thought I wouldn't need in my checked luggage.  This included my scissors (plus I didn't want to risk them being taken through security).  I still had two flights ahead of me, and couldn't cast on the second sock until the first one was all the way done.  I had to cut that yarn somehow!  FYI, gate agents aren't allowed to keep scissors at their desks either.  So I did what I had to.  I used my teeth.  Desprate times, man.

Sock #2 cast on! Woot Woot!  Kelly and I parted ways in Chicago.  She headed to Madison, with a slight delay due to a questionable pin in the front tire of the landing gear (?!?!) but made it home safely.

I had a bit of a longer layover until I could head back to Duluth, which allowed me to bump into my girl Tricia, who was flying home from a weekend in Nashville!  So good to see you, T! How fun that we crossed paths!

I made it home and got tucked in my bed by 11:30 PM.  Exactly 24.5 hours after that alarm clock went off.  It was my favorite bed of the last 11 days.

The family did well without me, but I think Nate is glad to not be on 100% of the driving duties for the kids any longer.  I was welcomed home to a clean kitchen, clean children's bedrooms, open arms, and puppy kisses.

And now, the kids are at school, the hubs is at work, and I'm snuggled on my own couch, with the pup, the blog, and my own coffee.  The third load of laundry is almost done, and the afternoon will most likely call for a nice little nap before the driving routine for the evening commences.  I have one last day of "vacation" before heading back to work tomorrow.




Sunday, November 15, 2015

Day 10 - The Last Day

Well, we knew the last day was coming, but that didn't make it any easier.

We were both really really hoping for no wind, rain, and fog this morning, so while we waited for our breakfast, Kelly went for a closer look.  No such luck.

One more yummy breakfast.  Good thing I don't eat like this every day at home.  The pants are fitting a bit tighter than they were at the beginning of the trip.  Morgan is going to be very disappointed in me that I never tried black pudding.  The black round thing in the middle of my plate here is white pudding, which was really very good, but we never did order black pudding, which has an additional ingredient in it.  I'll let you google it if you don't know what it is.

This really isn't a great depiction of how nice this B&B was.  The O'Connor House in Doolin is certainly one I'd recommend.  I wish we were here in this cute town in the summer with some better weather where we could go explore a little down by the water.

If the weather had turned out better today, we were going to try and go back to the O'Brien castle and Cliffs of Mohr, but since it wasn't, we decided to take a little detour and head to Nenagh.  This was the town I stayed in 20 years ago when I was here with my friend Katie.  

We had to head through the Limerick tunnel to get there.

I really wanted to just drive through the town to see the things that have been stored in my mind for the last 20 years!

Nenagh Castle is still standing proud in the center of town!

This is the pub that Katie and her cousin took me to.  I think it was just called The 44 back then and I remember it being red and black, but hey, paint! Ha!

This is St. Mary of the Rosary church in Nenagh.  We went to mass here last time, and the inside is ridiculously gorgeous!

We found the road that the house was on that I had stayed in, but I couldn't remember exactly which one it was.  Thanks Kelly, for taking the detour for me.  It was so cool to be back there!

We headed to our final town on the tour and got some lunch and did some more souvenir shopping (nope, no yarn purchased today here!  I really don't think one more skein would have fit in the suitcase!) and had one last touristy item on the agenda.

Bunratty Castle.

But first, let me take a selfie.  Haha!  

This was the hair BEFORE spending three hours walking around in drizzle.  Dear Lord, my hair does not do well in drizzle. Fo shizzle.

This one was built in 1425, and also has some O'Brien ties.

Can you see the resemblance?  I don't think my nose is quite as pointy, but they do have some big hair...

This tour was self guided, which I liked.  They host medieval banquets and private parties in here.  Wouldn't that be cool?

They've done a great job of restoring and including the old furniture and clothing.  This was a knight's room.

This is the very tiny staircase down to the dungeon!

Huge tapestries showed signs of wealth and status.

The view from the top of the tower!

Whoa, deep.

Also included in this tour was a cute little "Bunratty Folk Park" which is sort of a museum of about 30 buildings showing how the people of the area lived in years past. 

An old farmhouse...

This was in a farmhouse in a slightly wealthier area.

They had peat fires going in all the fireplaces.  

The Ardcroney Church of Ireland was moved here and reopened in 1998.

Baaaah!  Yarn!

We saw a few of these trees around, and the picture doesn't really show it very well, but they are really unique. I can't tell if it reminds me of a really bad fake Christmas tree, or some child's toy made out of pipe cleaners.  They are pretty cool looking!

We didn't do all of the tours we could have along the way on this trip, which was fine.  I did really like this one, where you could go on your own pace, and there was a ton to see.  I should have gotten some better pictures of the spiral staircases in the castle.  I can't imagine running up and down them during an attack or something wearing the clothing they had to wear back then!

After out three hour tour, we were going to check into our B&B, but it wasn't ready, so what were we to do?

We stopped into The Creamery pub for my daily Guinness.  I wish I had gotten the name of all of the bartenders.  I know there was a Daniel, Evan, Declan and Connor.  (Connor is blurry in the background of that Guinness pic right up there👆) Oh and Liam sang to us that one night.  

We headed back to the B&B to freshen up (I just loved this cute little tree in a small nook at the B&B), rest our tired legs, and try to repack everything into out tiny suitcases.  I think the suitcases shrunk in the last week.  Couldn't have been all the yarn purchases.  Nope.

We headed out for dinner to the original Durty Nelly's - an almost 400 year old pub.  

Since we are old and have been going nonstop for 10 days, and had a huge day of travel ahead of us, we didn't stay for the music that would start in a mere 3 hours (I just couldn't!) so we headed back to the beds to call it a wrap!

The castle was right across the street and looked so pretty lit up at night!

The pretty Parkhouse B&B in Bunratty was one of my favorites.  We had to leave too early in the morning, so we didn't get our breakfast from this one, but the home is so pretty!

What a whirlwind!  Tomorrow will bring 24 straight hours of travel to get me home to my own bed.  For as much fun as we had, I can't wait!