sonahoodie

Another whole month has gone by and I don’t really know what I’ve done. Mostly, I’ve been watching this girl grow and change at a rapid pace, alternating between feeling completely competent and utterly useless, and still — still! — trying to wrap my head around the fact of her existence. Maybe it’s because I’m a much slower learner than other people seem to be, but it always takes me a good long while to get used to a new situation. I finally feel like I’m just settling into this totally different life.

sona1

sona4

sona3

I turned 30 at the end of May and to be honest, felt exactly the same as before. Last year I had planned a big birthday party and ended up cancelling it because I was super-duper grouchy and not wanting to be around people (I later figured out that this maybe have been related to early pregnancy hormones or maybe I was just being a pill). This year I really did want to celebrate with friends and family, so we threw a super-classy barbecue where we forced people to bring their own meat and mostly just bought sides from Costco. There was also this delicious cake from the Lighthouse Cake Company, probably my favourite bakery on the island. It was supposed to feed 50 but it fed, um, maybe 25?

cake

gingersona

The absolute best part of my birthday was a surprise visit from my friend Julie and her daughter Elyse, who was born just three weeks before Sona. Mark had allegedly gone out to a business meetup, then called when he was around the corner, saying that he’d picked up a surprise and would I please go hide in my office. I went in there, and when given permission to come out, I was cursing the dog for barking and waking up the baby, plus wearing my most voluminous muumuu and no bra. I kind of stared blankly at Julie for a second and then started screaming. It was the best thing ever. My heart felt so full and I was so indescribably happy — for her company, then for her husband’s (he came out two days later with [way-too-good-for-me] Sauternes, because he knows I love them), but most of all for the opportunity for Sona and Elyse to meet for the first time.

sona5

They don’t live in the some city, or even the same province, but my dearest hope is that they’ll grow up together and have a friendship even half as strong as mine and Julie’s. I value it so highly and I want Sona to have a Julie, or a Liz, or a Heidi. I am so lucky that I have those three and many more besides.

faketwins

sonaelyse

elyse1

sonaelyse2

Life is slowly starting to return to normal, or at least a new version of normal. The weather here has been glorious, and we’ve been getting out a lot. This past Saturday we checked out the first farmers’ market of the year, and I picked up some amazing technicolour dream eggs.

colouredeggs

farmersmarket

I’m finally getting back into my office and starting to sew again. It feels so good to be doing that. To be honest, I thought I might never feel creative again; those first three months were just so all-consuming that I couldn’t imagine being able to make time for my little business. However, I’m very happy to report that I am slowly finding both the time and the impetus to make things again. This probably matters to no one else but me, but it does feel important. I already know I want Sona to grow up seeing both Mark and me taking time for ourselves to do things we love.

Speaking of things I love:

sonasmile

sona2

sonamonkey

And one more extra-dumb one for good measure:

beards

Back sooner rather than later, with a recipe round-up and hopefully some exciting news!

Read More...

sonagirl

I haven’t blogged in well over a month and I haven’t made anything remotely crafty in well over two. At the moment, my whole life is composed of dipe-dipes (diapers) and chub-chubs (Sona) and fat-fat (Luka) and coming up with stupid words for things, and sometimes frantically making and eating cookies.

wwchocolatechip

I had done so much intensive research about labour and birth and somehow didn’t really read much about the actual business of, you know, being entirely responsible for the life of a small human being. But really, even if I had, there’s no way I would have been able to comprehend how completely all-consuming it is. I feel like I’m just starting to emerge from the sleep-deprived haze of the last ten weeks, and finally beginning to understand and accept how drastically life has changed.

sonabonnet

To be completely honest, there are times when I really mourn my old carefree life. I’d always heard people say that raising kids was the hardest work they’d ever done, and I’d kind of dismiss it, or not even really think about what they meant, but now I can say with all certainty that there is no truer statement. She’s only ten weeks old and I already feel like I’ve been tested in so many ways. There have been nights that ended up with all three of us crying simultaneously, while the poor dog slips away to his bed and probably curses his woeful situation. There have been moments when I felt like my heart was breaking wide open, and I can feel myself resisting that, because it is so scary to feel that vulnerable and I know I have so much at stake now. There have been days when I’ve just thought, “Man, this is really, really boring” and wished for time to go faster, and then immediately felt guilty because everyone says to just enjoy it now because it does all go so fast and I know I’ll look back on this intense period of my life and wish I had been more present.

 sonasmile2

I know that we are actually blessed with a very easy baby, for the most part. She’s not always a great sleeper (neither is her dad), but over the past few weeks we’ve all been working really hard at it. I am the kind of idiot who has literally fallen asleep on the back of a motorcycle while speeding over pothole-strewn roads in Vietnam, so it is hard for me to relate to this. I just close my eyes and sleep, easy-peasy, no big deal.

sonasmirk

She’s really started to smile and laugh and coo and respond to us in the last couple of weeks, and that makes all the difference in the world. For example, I no longer believe that she solely thinks of me as a giant floating boob! The other night I was nursing her at 3 a.m., underneath her tree, and she looked up at me and broke into a huge grin, and I was so happy I thought I would burst. I am self-aware enough to recognize the complete cheesiness of that statement, but I swear it’s true.

sonasmile

Luka is mostly indifferent towards her, though he does give her a sniff and/or lick every once in a while. He’s just such a giant baby himself that I don’t think he’s capable of being especially protective or fond of her. She’s sleeping in her own room now, though, which probably helps. He does push her door open when she’s sleeping and he’s making his rounds of the house, determining that we’re all where we’re supposed to be. That might be as good as it gets with him, though.

lukacouch

I’ve been making a list of all the things we’ve been eating and reading, and I’ll post that next time. I’m starting to feel like myself again, slowly but surely, though definitely a different version of myself — one who sleeps half as much, does laundry three times as often, and loves infinitely more.

sonadad

Read More...

Whew! That was an unexpectedly long break. I have a good excuse, though:

sona6

Sona Grace Garrison was born on March 7, 2014, after 28 hours of labour and the complete disruption of our plans for a home birth. She was a week overdue, which at the time seemed excruciatingly long, but now I’m so glad I got ALL THAT EXTRA SLEEP. I think of it so fondly now.

sona1

I’m still processing the whole experience, and know I will be for a long time. I’m still in shock that I’m someone’s mother, that we made her and I grew her and now I feed her and she’s really here. I know these are such clichéd, mundane observations, but it’s really all I think about these days, along with where my next meal’s coming from, because I am eating like a crazy person (but so is she).

sona2

Shortly after I gave birth, I was lying in bed thinking about how even though I planned and prepared for the birth I wanted and it didn’t go that way at all, I was still completely content with my birth experience because I felt so cared for and supported. I had the most amazing midwives, doula, and Mark was a total champ. I completely abandoned my ingrained never-nudeness (despite once asking Mark if he thought it was possible to give birth with underwear on) and I only snapped once, when Mark innocently tried to eat a banana right next to my face. A few days after having Sona, I was reflecting on my labour and tried Googling “feeling proud after giving birth”. Such few results came back, and all of the suggested searches were things like “feeling sad after giving birth”, “feeling disappointed after giving birth”, etc. I don’t want to discount anyone who has those feelings, but I’m so grateful that I have such positive feelings about how it went.

sona3

The baby is yummy and scary and we’re all just figuring things out together. We have an amazing support network, and still there are times when it is terribly overwhelming, but then she does something fantastic like make this ET-ish face and we fall further in love with her.

sona4

Her first name is the Hindi word for “gold”, and we settled on it fairly early on. Her middle name is for Mark’s mom, although to be 100% honest, I have wanted to use Grace as a middle name since well before I met Mark, so it was also a happy coincidence.

sona5

Mark is now freelancing, which is the greatest blessing. I honestly don’t think I could do this without him, though I know I’d figure it out if I really had to. I have a million more things to say and no words yet, so I’ll leave you with this sweet face; my little lady, my golden girl.

sona7

Read More...

crib

When Mark and I were getting married, waaaaay back in 2010, I remember a lot of people asking us what our “theme” was, and I’d always stare blankly and be like, “uhhh…marriage?”. We really didn’t have a theme, or specific wedding colours; it was more a slightly batshit crazy amalgamation of whatever stuff we liked (mason jars! the Jeopardy theme song!) and whatever, it all kind of went together or maybe it didn’t, but we were surrounded by stuff that was important to us.

Putting together the baby’s room has been a similar process — we don’t have dominant colours, or an animal theme, or matching…well, anything, but it’s been a labour of love in ways I can’t even fully describe. Almost everything in the room is handmade, either by us or someone we love. We don’t have a diaper genie, or a fancy crib (so far we’ve bought every single item for this baby secondhand, with the exception of the stroller/carseat combo), but everything in there was made with so much love and excitement and anticipation.

animalbutts

This print was the first thing I purchased after finding out I was pregnant. It’s classy, it’s timeless, you’d have to be a monster to not love it.

mobile

The mobile pattern came from Etsy, and I also purchased the fabric panels so that putting it together would be nice and easy. I made it in one gloriously lazy day spent on the couch, and it was such a fun, satisfying project to work on.

shoes

I had a several-day stint of making baby shoes, which are really kind of stupid and impractical but OH MY GOD SO CUTE. From left to right: Felt baby shoes, baby shoes pattern from Etsy, felt baby booties from this shop (can’t find the specific listing, but there are tons of shoe patterns available).

lambsoftie

This lamb softie was really quick to sew up and the only thing I would change would be to use the same grey felt for her body as well.

 maggierabbits

Of all the things I’ve been making for baby (another post of clothes is forthcoming), I think these Maggie Rabbits have been my favourite. I love all of Alicia’s patterns (I currently have about four of her projects on the go) but these might be my very favourite. They’re completely handstitched (except for the clothing), and the perfect project for a rainy day. I’m not going to lie; baby might not actually get to keep these ones. These might just be for me.

There are many other things I could show you, like the beautiful shelves Mark made to fit into a very oddly-shaped, specific spot, or the rapidly-growing collection of baby quilts, but here is the thing I love most about the room. It’s a bit bizarre and out-of-place, but we made it together and I love it so much. Behold baby’s tree:

tree

tree2

There’s an owl to watch over her

owl

and several well-hidden birds as well.

bird

There are leaves cut out of old children’s books

leaf

and gauzy Bodhi leaf lights.

leaflight

I’m not sure where the idea came from — though I think Mark was the one who suggested it — but working on this together was so much fun. The “trunk” is PVC piping wrapped in burlap, and the branches are cut from a huge twisted filbert tree from the front of our house that we let dry out for a few weeks and then attached to the PVC with screws. There’s a wooden mount at the back of the tree securing it to the wall on two sides, so little missy can’t pull it down when she’s having a tantrum. I know that when Mark and I look back on this pre-baby, nesting time, some of our fondest memories will be of putting this tree together, talking about how we want her to feel like it’s a little bit magical in there. In the wintertime, maybe we’ll hang snowflakes from the branches. Next fall, perhaps we’ll find an old bird’s nest to place up high in the tree. Mark might make a little squirrel to peek out from behind the trunk. We can adapt it any way the three of us want. I anticipate many nights nursing her underneath her tree, trying to stay awake and thinking about how seven and a half years ago, I walked into a coffee shop to meet someone, and now here she is.

tree3

Read More...

star

I had meant to update during Christmas, show off pictures of our (very miniscule amounts of) decorations, our little tree, etc., but December got away from me in a rather lovely way. This year, for the first time in ages (maybe ever?) I truly felt relaxed, not stressed about gifts, not overwhelmed by malls and awful music, and crazy consumerism. Mostly that’s because we ordered a lot of gifts online, drew names within Mark’s extended family, and just chilled the eff out. The baby was a good distraction because I didn’t have the energy to do a lot of shopping, and anyway, we’re both trying very hard to slow down and be in the moment. I feel like my new year really began at that mindfulness class we took in November.

The first weekend of December, I whisked Mark away to nearby Salt Spring Island, one of our favourite places and a short 35-minute ferry ride from home. I had been wanting to do something nice for him for many reasons, but mostly because he has been a rockstar these past few months. There have been many times when I’ve felt him holding me together, and though that sounds gross and co-dependent, all I mean is that he has been a true partner in every sense of the word. I am so happy to be married to him, and I see how hard he tries all the time, and how he sneaks into the baby’s room to sit in the glider, how he talks to her every day and suggested we learn “Two of Us” on the mandoline and guitar so she could hear it in utero and then maybe recognize it out here in the real world, how he is always the first one at a dinner party washing dishes, and how all children flock to him because they can sense his genuine radness. I love him, yes, but I just also like him so much. I wanted to say thank you in some small miniscule way, so I booked a room at a beautiful, tucked-away bed and breakfast. We had such a relaxing time, and just wandered around the town, went to a Christmas craft fair, contemplated attending the chili cookoff and Raffi concert (!!!) but decided against it, enjoyed the soaker tub in our room and ate schnitzel. Weird and wonderful. We also visited the ridiculously amazing headquarters of the Salt Spring Island Cheese Company, where we met a little friend and bought a few snacks.

ssidog

ssicheese

Also in December:

Luka slept. A lot.

sleepyluka

sleepyluka2

sleepyluka1

My grandmother called from India with a list of girls names for us (I can’t read my writing on a lot of these):

names

I bought more fabric and started making baby things like a crazy person. More on that in an upcoming post, but I made several of these super adorable and very easy owls. These things came together incredibly fast and were very satisfying to make.

stuffedowls

fabric

I made and drank a lot of hot chocolate. I use this recipe but usually add some cinnamon, cayenne pepper and nutmeg. Don’t skip the immersion blender step — it seems fussy but transforms the texture of the milk into pure velvety goodness.

hotchocolate

We rang in the new year with two of our best friends, a dog that had made his way up to bed several hours earlier, and four and a half pounds of Pok Pok chicken wings. I stayed up until almost two, which is almost unheard of for me even when not pregnant. I woke up the next morning to the smells of the best breakfast ever, and in fact I may already have peaked in terms of breakfasts for 2014. Thank you H & A.

pokpokwings

nydaybreakfast

2013 was a very good year in many respects, especially from June on, but I have a sneaking suspicion that 2014 will be even better.

Read More...

teaembroidery

Quiet November days, and I’m so glad life has slowed down a little bit. We had an impressive number of visitors this fall, and all of them were so easy to entertain; the kind of friends to whom you can abruptly announce that you’re taking a nap and then pass out for three hours in the middle of the afternoon, knowing that they’ll be just fine.

Our friends Megan and Kristopher came out for a few days, and seeing them was great and all, but they brought their golden retriever Molly (named after a fellow redhead) and I basically exploded. Witness this ridiculous kitchen floor cuddle puddle:

cuddlepuddle

Luka and Molly got along just fine, but neither of them showed too much interest in the other. I think Luka’s more of a guy-dog dog. And a guy dog. Sorry, did I say “guy”? I meant to type “gay”. Luka is clearly a gay dog.

lukamolly

Here is what happens when you slather two dogs’ noses in peanut butter and then take out your camera:

lmpeanutbutter

lmpeanutbutter2

lmpeanutbutter3

In the evenings we would all pile onto the couch for cocktails (everyone else), mocktails (me, ugh), and dog love. Look at these handsome gentlemen and their furry companions! By the way, I fully realize I have now become the biggest, stupidest idiot posting pictures of my dog every time I blog, but wouldn’t you rather see that than pictures of my meals? No? Okay then.

menanddogs

Speaking of meals, we made a dutch baby for breakfast the other morning, which, aside from being a really unsettling name for a dish, is basically just a glorified excuse to eat Yorkshire pudding for breakfast. Which I am obviously totally fine with.

dutchbaby

I bought a new chair for my studio and I’ve been spending long hours in there getting a bunch of new things ready for my shop. I have so much intimidation and lack of confidence and fear surrounding it. Does anyone else wonder if they’re constantly doing things the “correct” way? I sometimes feel like Mark is my sounding board for everything, and though that can be helpful at times, I know it’s not always super healthy. I probably need to be okay with making more mistakes, but I feel somewhat paralyzed at the thought of that. I guess I’d better figure this out in the next three months before I have to teach someone else how to be confident.

plaidchair

riverluka

thankyouseal

Mark and I took a day-long class on everyday mindfulness last weekend. We signed up at the last minute, and to be honest, I didn’t really want to wake up and go to the class when the time came. It ended up being such a wise decision, though. Despite a few hippy-dippy-ish moments (like another student who “namaste”-d us all at the end, UGH), it really reset something inside me. I hadn’t realized how competitive and irritable I’ve been feeling lately, and how overwhelmed I’ve been by the need for constant stimulation. I know this is a byproduct of our society, and that in some ways I’m better than other people, but still I’ve been backsliding into the the distraction abyss . Mark and I have been talking a lot lately about how we want to be present for our kid. I would prefer if she didn’t know the words “Instagram” or “Twitter” for at least a few years, and though I know she’ll be exposed to it everywhere we go in the world, I also want her to feel like she’s more important than our phones or iPads or Kindles or whatever. We both came home and quit Instagram, and then I went to dinner with girlfriends, and then we went to a birthday party for our friend Alex, and our daughter kicked me in the junk the whole time, and that was better than any number of “likes” on some shittily-filtered photo.

shadowlight

(Back soon with store updates and a list of delicious recipes).

Read More...

Oh hai blog! I vaguely remember you. I got so distracted by road trips and choir and baby things and visits from friends. September and the first half of October have kind of gone by in a huge blur, to be honest. I hope time keeps moving this swiftly until the end of February, because it feels like an eternity away from now.

We drove out to Shuswap Lake (fun fact: I was conceived there!) towards the end of September and met up with some very dear friends. Our friend Jeremy’s family owns the most beautiful cabin on Little Shuswap lake — calling it a cabin is actually ridiculous; it’s a newly-built, five-bedroom house — and we met up with five of our closest friends there.

 

We spent two blissful days doing pretty much nothing. Two of us were pregnant and needed frequent naps. We watched my favourite movie, made and ate delicious food, sat out on the deck, some of us kayaked, I read Archie comics. We even had a pie-tasting competition. Shuswap Pie Company blew the other pies out of the water. We had the chance to visit their restaurant as well and OH MY GOD BUTTERMILK LEMON PIE. We bought two frozen pies to take home and I’m almost scared to actually eat them because then they’ll be gone.

We then made a very hasty trip out to Calgary to pick up some of my childhood belongings, like the most beautiful smocked dresses that warrant their own post, and a set of 1950s china that travelled from Singapore to India to Calgary to Victoria in order to be used for the first time. We put it to good use at Thanksgiving and it made me so happy.

The day after getting back, two of my closest girlfriends from high school came out for the weekend. It was great to see them and all but the real star was one Brooklyn Marie, six months old and practically edible. Mark and I basically fought to hold her all weekend.

Luka wasn’t really that into her, but we figured it was good practice for next year.

So much to say and show you and write about. We’re heading down the Oregon coast this week for our last baby-free holiday. Life is changing, but I like it.

Read More...

babysweater

We got back from Ireland late on the night of June 26. At 3:00 a.m. on June 28, unable to sleep and desperate to confirm the situation one way or another, I snuck out of bed, tiptoed into the guest bathroom, and took a pregnancy test. As I waited for the timer on my iPhone to count  backwards from two minutes, I went back and forth in my mind about what I wanted the outcome to be. I am of the firm belief that one should not get one’s hopes up practically ever, for in my mind, if you always expect the worst scenario, you can only be pleasantly surprised. I think this makes me a solid pessimist, or at the very least, a total downer to be around. I kept repeating to myself that we’d barely even tried, there was no possibility of all the magic and science that needs to happen for a baby to exist, and anyway, I had a lot of life stuff to figure out. I just needed to know that it wasn’t real so that I could continue with my life and drink without guilt.

I’ll let Luka explain what happened next.

lukatest

After staring at the pee stick, trying to process what was happening, I walked back into our bedroom on shaky legs, and peered at Mark in the  darkness, trying to see if he was anywhere close to being awake. He very sleepily asked, “So, are you pregnant?” and I answered in the affirmative. He then yelled, “HOLY SHIT, REALLY?” and leapt out of bed like his butt was on fire. I turned the light on, he hugged me and then I cried like the baby we’re expecting in six months. Luka jumped out of his bed and joined the party. It was one of the most perfect moments of my entire life.

We stayed up talking for an hour or so, then I made him go back to sleep because he had to get up early for work. There was no chance of sleep for me, though, and after laying awake in the darkness for about half an hour, I eventually crept downstairs, and sat on the couch for the next few hours, Googling pregnancy symptoms and due dates and midwives (and, in the interest of full disclosure, the phrase “do babies ever come out wearing clothes”).

We are currently alternating between abject terror and extreme giddiness. I was pretty sick for most of my first trimester, so that kind of distracted me from the reality of the situation; it all felt very abstract to me. I was fairly convinced I wasn’t even pregnant, that I was wasting the midwives’ and our doula’s time; that I’d have to explain to everyone that — just kidding! — I somehow screwed up, the nausea was psychosomatic, the excessive naps were just because I loooove sleeping. It wasn’t until we heard the baby’s heartbeat on a Doppler scan, and I made our lovely midwife promise that she was sure it was the heartbeat and not just some weird similar-to-a-heartbeat sound my uterus was making, that it actually felt real. I know people have babies all the time, and yet this feels like the most special, surreal thing ever. When I first met Mark, I didn’t want kids at all. I was so convinced of this that I had it listed on my MySpace page (yeah, it was 2006) and it initially scared him off. Seeing him with his niece and nephew, and all of our friends’ children, completely changed my mind. I already know that he’ll be the best dad ever. I’m almost envious of our kid for just how much he or she will think that Mark invented the moon. I am also scared that I’ll have to be the bad cop all the time (I’m the one who does most of the yelling at the dog), but that’s a risk I’m willing to take. This is the kind of guy who spends 45 minutes setting up a blanket fort when his niece and nephew come over for a sleepover, then introduces them to the pure awesomeness that is Labyrinth (okay, maybe I also had something to do with that).

blanketfort

All of this is to say: Shit is getting real, February 2014. I think this is happening.

Read More...

A whole month went by! Look at that. Truth is, I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather and haven’t had much creative productivity. This in turn makes me feel very guilty, which leads to avoidance-napping, so it’s all a bit of a vicious cycle. I talked to Mark about it today and we came up with a plan that feels manageable. I am also starting to suspect that 90% of success is faking it until you make it, something I am AWFUL at. This TED talk is something I’ll be thinking about for a long time.

My best friend and all her bridesmaids came out here this past weekend for a pre-wedding canning party. We made three recipes from this amazing cookbook: strawberry preserves, raspberry preserves, and pickled garlic scapes. I had a minor hissy fit halfway through the weekend when I realized that maybe I HATE CANNING, but we all took turns and it came out okay. We played badminton and went to bed early and ate Thai food. Mark went camping up island, so Luka missed him but also revelled in the attention he got from five ladies — though you’d think from his reaction upon Mark’s return that Mark had been gone for two years rather than two days.

Speaking of Luka, I really can’t get enough of this dumb dog lately.

He’s just such a sweet idiot, and his farts are so horrifically awful, and I love him so much. It’s very confusing.

I guess all this post said was that I’m now a crazy dog lady. I think I’m cool with that.

Read More...


We’re back from 17 days in Ireland, and I don’t really know where to begin. This trip was wonderful on so many levels, and I’m still feeling the effects of it, four days after returning. I suspect I will be for a long time.

We started out with a few days in Dublin, then picked up our rental car from an extremely irritable guy who I bluntly told, “You seem really grouchy!” Poor Mark had to do all the driving because I am apparently incapable of driving a stick shift, having tried to learn in Heidi and Alex’s car, during an evening that ended with a trip to the mechanic, and a thousand spluttered apologies.

Before we left, I had really wanted to book all of our places ahead of time. This is due to many factors, but mostly my paranoia about not having a place to stay and also maybe I’m a bit of a control freak? Mark gently persuaded me that it would be better to just get there and go with the flow. I am so, so glad we did this. It meant that we had the freedom to listen to people’s recommendations, and to go anywhere on a whim. We had our GPS, Scout. We had a car to sleep in in the extremely unlikely event that we couldn’t find a bed for the night. We had the small log of sweet Irish butter I insisted on carting around. We were fine.

Galway was definitely my favourite larger town. I had “Fairytale of New York” in my head for two days straight (I wanted this to be the first song we danced to at our wedding but was roundly vetoed by Mark, who insisted that the lyric “you’re an old slut on junk” was not terribly romantic BUT I BEG TO DIFFER). Magic happened in Galway, but we’ll get to that later. The second night we were there, we found a pub having a trad session, grabbed ourselves a couple of pints of Guiness, and soaked it in. We met a very sweet local couple who gave us a bunch of ideas for our trip. The husband asked us, “So, what part of America are you from?” and after telling them we were Canadian, Mark shot back, “I don’t know, what part of England are you from?” They were pretty amused. Also that night: Mark tried some Bushmills 16-year-old whiskey and looked as happy as I’d ever seen him.

We sort of followed the coast, meandering and stopping to take pictures of the stunning views. It was slightly overcast and there were a couple of times it absolutely poured, but that was okay. I kind of liked it.

We took a daytrip to Inisheer, one of the Aran Islands. The water was so rough that people were throwing up left, right and centre. It was worth the horrendous boat trip, though. The island is only about 12 km in circumference, only 300 people live there, and we pretty much walked around all of it.

Towards the end of the day, we got absolutely pelted with rain and wind. Using the flimsy umbrellas we had brought was futile, so we didn’t even bother, and by the time we stumbled into the local pub, we were completely soaked through. We still had a couple of hours to go before the ferry would come for us, so we ordered some food and drinks, and sat at a table, playing crib and drying off. A group of three very drunk Irish fishermen joined us and it was one of the best afternoons in recent history, resulting in my new favourite phrase (said in a drunken Irish accent): “Aye, Ronan, you’re a failure of a man.”

The Dingle Peninsula was as stunning as everyone had said it would be. At one point we pulled over, climbed up a giant hill, and had a 360-degree view of the water all around us.

We pulled off a hat trick and made it to all three Murphys Ice Cream locations. I am not really an ice cream person — I would take a warm dessert over a cold one any day — but this stuff pretty much blew my mind. Mark kept laughing at the expression on my face the first time I tried it, because I looked so distraught and happy. I got the sea salt flavour every single time and switched up my other scoop. Caramelized brown bread was stunning. I would go back for this ice cream. Mark left this note at the Dublin location:

We found an old deserted castle on the side of the road and snuck inside. For goody two-shoes, rule-abiding Canadians like us, this was very exciting.

I could say so much more, but I don’t really need to. I was in a really anxious, sad state before leaving, and I came back a different person. I know it’s not as easy as saying that Ireland helped me feel better, but what if it is?

(P.S. After repeatedly trying to persuade Mark to buy a bottle of that 16-year-old Bushmills in Ireland, he finally broke down and purchased it…in the Calgary airport.)

Read More...