Nov 28, 2009

Love Olive

I came across the Love Olive brand while slip-jigging the blogosphere this morning, and while I don't love olives, I do love Love Olive's design and packaging. I usually kick the olives out of the way of the cheese on my Greek salad, but the gorgeous earthy olive colors and textures, and vibrant typography of Love Olive's packaging looks good enough to eat (that I'd be tempted to try the contents, too!)

Based in Glenavy, Co. Antrim, Love Olive is a new brand for Ireland's biggest olive wholesaler, supplying the finest olives and Mediterranean foods to trade, and directly through their retail outlets in Derry and Dublin. Love Olive's daunting mission is to educate the notoriously unadventurous Irish palate:

"For years my Love Olive colleagues and I have heard people up and down the country say, ‘I don’t like olives, they’re awful’, when we’ve tried to tempt them at various farmers’ markets. Nine times out of ten, these good folk have never even tried an olive and have their minds fixed on not liking this most fantastic, versatile and healthy food. Being people who love a challenge, and who believe passionately about the quality of our product, we don’t let this deter us.
Quite simply, we believe that we have an olive for everyone, and we just need people to bring an open mind and a willing heart to the taste table."

I wish Love Olive was selling their goods online so I could stock up on some beautifully packaged jars of gourmet olives to give as unique Irish hostess gifts this Holiday season. I'll definitely be looking for them next time I'm home ... or sending my sister out to the shops and post office this week!

For tips on olive-loving and store locations, visit Love Olive's website

Nov 21, 2009

What to Wear: Ireland-Appropriate Shoes

My brother was telling me yesterday that my hometown of Ennis, in Co. Clare, is flooded. The River Shannon burst its banks and schools, stores, and most roads into the town are closed. Apparently half the country is under water; A state of emergency was declared in Cork City, due to widespread flooding, and the Irish Farmers Association revealed that farmers in the West are experiencing the worst conditions in 20 years. This is a cruel physical drowning for a country already drowning in debt and despair.
Sigh. Not to make little of this weather-drama, but it does remind that you should always pack a pair of practical shoes for a trip to Ireland. Now, I would never waste valuable packing-space on a pair of bulky wellies, because, while I am typically guaranteed rain on a visit home, it doesn't usually flood as though staged for the release of Roland Emmerich's 2012. Besides, it's easy to pick up a cheap pair of classic black wellies/waders/a dinghy there if you need them.

I would pack these cute and waterproof short "Tatum" booties from Keep. They're made from a DWR (durable water repellent) canvas with a natural gum rubber sole. I could totally see myself wearing the fetching purple pair in all weather—here in Brooklyn and at home in Ireland.

Find them (on sale for $40!) at Keep Company

Nov 18, 2009

Spotlight: Kate + Ava Collective

With Irish people it's generally any excuse for a party; with Irish women it's any excuse for a party dress. I'm not sure how many new party dresses will be added to the wardrobe this year given the depressing state of the Irish economy, but for the sake of the Irish fashion industry and young labels like Kate + Ava, I'm hoping Irish women will at least decide to drown this long year's sorrows away in typical Irish style, supporting homegrown designers, and sparing no tinsel!

If I was looking to splurge on an Irish designer right now, I'd shop Dublin-based, Kate + Ava's Autumn/Winter 09 collection. Established in 2006 by Kate Reilly and Ava Cassidy, Kate + Ava presents the Irish woman with feminine, tailored designs in rich, luxuriant fabrics like wools, silks, and jerseys. They cater to a confident and stylish woman, who knows what suits her, and prefers to invest in quality, classic pieces that will stand the test of time.

The collection ranges in price from €200 for shirts and skirts, €450 for coats and evening wear, and €300-390 for most dresses.

Dear Santa; when you are flying over Ireland, please swing by Kate + Ava and pick up this
gorgeous menswear-inspired black dress and chic little black-and-white number, too! xoxo J

Kate +Ava
Online stockists: Divine, Seagreen, and SuzanBelle.

Nov 13, 2009

They Must Be Irish: Isobel And Cleo

For a small country, Ireland has a very big head. See, we believe that behind every good person is a great Irish granny... it's cocky, but it's also usually true (Barack Obama, Princess Diana, Muhammad Ali, John Wayne, etc.).
Maybe that will explain why I was so forward as to write to Scotland-based designer, Isobel and Cleo, to force her to confront her Irish roots/confirm me as a long-lost cousin. I mean, how could the maker of such truly exceptional high-drama couture knitwear garments and accessories not be Irish?

These knitted fringe high waist Irish linen trousers, are begging to be flung wildly about to an Irish jig. And how could you not have passionate Irish blood–or at least, gallons of strong Irish tea—coursing through your veins to design such a high-drama, high-fashion, and yet, highly-practical jacket like the "Utterly Intense and Time Consuming Cropped Layered Rectangle Jacket," worn above with the Irish Jig pants. (Love that the detachable hand-knit fringe collar can be worn separately as a scarf.)Sigh! The elegant and feminine angora racerback tank ... the funky knit tights ... the woolly-wonderful knit shirt-dresses ... the inspired "Granny 'Fro Balaclava!"

Pray tell Isobel and Cleo, do you have an Irish Granny?

"Unfortunately I am not of any kind of Irish descent that I am aware of, BUT I am a big fan of all things Irish; I work part time at an Irish pub, lived near a city full of Irish descendants in the states—Boston, I'm ALWAYS falling in love with Irish boys, and one of my closest friends in Scotland just got engaged to an Irish guy!" —Isobel and Cleo
I'm clinging to "that I am aware of"...and lining up all single males in the family!

Note to boring Irish knitwear Industry: employ/adopt Isobel and Cleo now before they take you down!

Isobel and Cleo's Shop

Nov 11, 2009

And Now, Over to the Weather-Desk

Sunday was a glorious day, made all the more glorious by rust-colored leaves filtering the sunshine. Cold breezes had introduced themselves and announced their intentions earlier in the week, so this warm brilliant day was a gift from the Samhain gods, a parting embrace from summer. I found myself sitting outside on a coffee-shop bench with a few hours to kill, and a cup of tea so watery that my barista had surely just waved the overpriced tea-bag at my cup of tepid water.
My bench was on a busy corner where many paths crossed; hurried moms and worried moms, hipsters and not-so-hip'sisters, and locals returning from morning worship at the church, mall, or gym. I was struck by how hurried all connections were—by the lack of weather in their conversations. How-are-you greetings were answered with elevator-pitch responses with no pause for air or weather...

"How am I? tired – party last night – organic cider – polluted hangover – you?" "Bloated – two bagels – in denial – gluten intolerant – sigh!"

...Before I knew it they were talking bowel movements.

It seems all conversations so quickly degenerate to bowel movements (or shite) these days, and I've decided it's because we don't stop to talk about the weather first. When I talk to my mother over the phone on a Sunday, we always establish weather conditions first, to set the scene. It makes me feel closer to see what she sees outside her window, and warms us to our conversation. And my grandmother always devotes at least a paragraph in every letter to the week's weather—even more if there have been any juicy weather-related deaths.
I miss talking about the weather, and not just the perfunctory "I'm freezing" gripes. I miss, "that wind would put hair on your chest," "great weather for ducks," "frigid" "brutal," and "bitter" cold, and "treacherous road conditions" (with half an inch of snow!)
See, talking about the weather makes you a nicer person. If you stop and sniff the air, ponder the chances of precipitation, classify and categorize the clouds, and quantify the freshness of the breeze, there's a good chance that instead of competing for most inflated innards, you (and the person you crossed paths with) will instead notice the beauty around all weather.
Give it a go!

"Isn't that a glorious day? Are we in for a heatwave would you say?"

Nov 10, 2009

Irish Farmers Take It Off For 2010 Calendar

I have a feeling it's going to be an off year for sales of calendars like Irish Castles, Irish Cottages, and Irish Pub Fronts, and I wouldn't be surprised if sales of NYC Firefighters 2010 suffer, too! Why? Promising 100% Irish Beef, The 2010 Irish Farmers Calendar is now on sale, and it features some strapping Irish Farmers strutting their pasty white bellies and muck-covered wellies to support Bóthar, an organization that gives farm animals to needy families in third-world countries.
These lads might be more interested in the breed composition of the Irish sheep population, but they have bred a new definition of sexy with their wax-free, tan-free, and ab-free physiques, and smouldering sensitive-with-a-shovel looks!

Mr. February sips tea in a meadow

Mr. March listens to his iPod in the barn

Mr. April checks on the latest liver fluke forecast in the Farmer's Journal

Mr. September serenades a sow in the hay

While our three December lads set off to turn turf and fetch the cows

Great stocking stuffer, office-gift, or gift for the Ireland-lover in your life.
Get your calendar at