Dec 28, 2010

Snow Day/A List of Lists

view from my dining room window (doesn't it make you want to jump?)
test-driving my new snow boots
losing a snowball fight

We woke up to Irish weather in New York yesterday. "Irish weather" used to mean pelting rain, but this year it means snow—lots of it. I spent the day ploughing ... through a few feet of snow outside my door, a box of Roses, a new book, and Lego instructions. It was the perfect snow day, and also the perfect day to catch up on some of the "best of" lists popping up about the place. Of course, I'm far too snowed in mentally to actually compile my own list, but here is a list of lists making me feel like I am in touch with what's going on at home ... until it's a new year and I'm behind again!

The Telegraph's Five Best New Irish Acts (Villagers, Babybeef, Solar Bears, The Cast of Cheers, Adebisi Shank).
The Irish Times Page Turners: The Books We Loved Reading in 2010, the books that earned pride of place on some well known Irish shelves this year.
The Irish Independent's So What Did You Read This Year?, a list of favorite books from well-known Irish personalities. 
Nialler 9's Irish Albums of 2010 Poll Results (the results as well as the full list of 124 contenders is worth a look to see what a great year it was for Irish music).
The Irish Times: After the Headlines, the Reflection, Six Irish men and women who made the headlines in 2010 reflect at the end of the year.'s Best Irish Movies of 2010 roundup.

I'm sure there will be more lists as the week winds up/the year winds down, so I'll keep an eye out for any others of interest. Now, back to eating/making videos of my cat/sleeping my way out of this blizzard ...

Dec 24, 2010

John Lennon is singing to me "And so this is Christmas. And what have you done?" Not much John Lennon, but I've been sick all week. I've been planted on the couch, hugging a pot of tea, and warming my arse to the glowing Christmas tree (which looks warmer than it actually is). I spent the week sleeping,  shopping online, and feeling sorry for myself because my kids don't know how to make tea. Somebody, please call Social Services. 
I'm finally feeling a bit better today and will be taking full advantage of these few days before I have to face "Another year over and a new one just begun." Many of my week's to-dos (make mince pies, make Christmas pudding, learn a Christmas song on tin whistle, knit a tea cozy) have been bumped to next year's Christmas list—which at first felt a bit depressing but now feels like a neat and tidy gift sitting under next year's tree.  I haven't done much John Lennon, but I know that as well as questioning what I had done you were hoping I have fun, so I will focus on that this Christmas Eve with ice-skating, hot-chocolate-drinking, shopping, painting my nails red, wrapping gifts, and drinking Santa's stout. I hope that wherever you are, you are also focusing less on what you have not done, and more on the fun!
Nollaig Shona Duit/Happy Christmas to you and thanks for stopping by!

xo Jac

Dec 21, 2010

Merle O'Grady

Save me from myself. 

Merle O'Grady jewelry is thirty percent off right now at Just sayin' it might be a nice way to treat the most important person on your list (ahem, you!) to something nice to kick off the New Year!

Dec 17, 2010

The List

"It doesn't hurt to put it on the list" I heard my seven-year-old say to his friend as they sat to write their letters to Santa the other day. Dog? It doesn't hurt to put it on the list! Swimming pool? It doesn't hurt to put it on the list! iTouch, iPhone, iPad? Hey, it doesn't hurt to put it on the list! Movies, mansions, 64 crayons (a mercy item), flat-screen TVs ... their lists grew long as their dreams gained steam, and much as their lists did hurt Santa, I didn't have it in me to burst their bubbles—dreaming big sounded like so much fun! So, instead of worrying that my kid confirms multiple "Kids these days" theories (as well as the suspicion that I am raising a chancer), I have decided to practice reckless wishlisting, because ... well, it doesn't hurt to put it on the list!

1. This oak, ash, and walnut table made from sustainably managed forests in Ireland, by Irish designer Gearóid Muldowney of Superfolk.

2. Some (as much as you can carry) tough-but-chic bling from Macha Jewelry.

3. A large python and leather tote (for travel/work) and a small woven leather duffle bag (for lunch/nights out) from Pauric Sweeney.

4. Breville Pie Maker so I can make Mince Pies, mini apple pies, and meat pies; Williams-Sonoma.

5. A wool and chiffon peekaboo dress (to show off my abs from the boxing class I will take in January) from Irish designer Emma Manley. Oh, a stylish wool-and-leather cape, too, (for February when I turn back to jelly.)

6. A wild wool dress and georgette blouse from John Rocha.

7. A handknit and personalized teddy bear by Dublin-based KnitByMommy.

8, 9, and 10. Okay, I'm running out of steam here. It's really not as much fun as I thought—too much built-up guilt and not enough imagination. For 8, 9, and 10, I will borrow from the boys and just say iPad, mansion, and dog.

I'd also settle for slippers and pajamas.

Dec 14, 2010

Follow You Down to Red Oak Tree

James Vincent McMorrow is definitely my favorite artist of 2010 (and he has first dibs on the title for 2011, too). Here he is singing on the streets of Montmartre after playing La Cigale.

He makes me want to sing, plan a trip to Paris, grow a beard, and follow him down to that red oak tree ...

Dec 10, 2010

Yes We Can't!

From iconic to ironic: Shepherd Fairey's instantly recognizable "Hope" poster gets a breath of fresh/funny air with Turtlehead's "Yes We Can't" t-Shirt, featuring Irish Taoiseach Brian Cowen. (If I designed this t-shirt I would add a disclaimer : "This t-shirt is for ironic wear only; do not use to spread despair!") 
Definitely a contender for St. Patrick's Day., $26/€25

Dec 9, 2010

Avoca Spool Scarf

Love these 100% lambswool Avoca scarves available online at one of my fave stores (for creating personal wishlists), Terrain. I normally think about Avoca in Duty Free in Shannon Airport where the idea of reupholstering a yet-to-be-sourced vintage armchair in soft and lovely Avoca blankets competes with the idea of me sitting on my existing sofa wolfing down Butlers chocolates. Butlers chocolates are usually two-for-the-price-of-one while Avoca offerings are usually one-for-the-price-of-two, so I usually pad my thighs and wishlist by choosing the chocolate as my traveling companion.

Enough about me and Duty-Free; these Avoca scarves would make a lovely gift for a nice neck on your giftlist. (I hope you buy one so I can feel better about swiping the idea of wrapping scarves on a spool!)

P.s. How cute are these chocolate Christmas treats from Butlers?

Dec 8, 2010

So Here It Is, Merry Christmas!

I'm getting my Christmas tree tonight so I'm busy getting in the Holiday spirit today. In my imaginary world, "getting in the Holiday spirit" means I've been planted in front of a roaring fire all day, drinking rich hot cocoa, and holding hands with the carolers who came to my door. In the real world, I've been planted in front of my computer screen, drinking too much tea, and holding hands with the school nurse who doesn't know how to handle a parent who under-reacts to a seven-year-old's claims of illness ("a blast of fresh air and he'll be fine!"). 

Minus the roaring fire, handcut marshmallows, and touchy-feely carolers, I'm cramming for my tree-finding expedition with Christmas music; I love Christmas songs and love to be surprised by new versions of old favorites. I was delighted to see that Carosel recorded an acoustic version of Slade's Merry Christmas Everybody; it's a simple and lovely version and makes me want to drink mulled wine, knit socks, and bake reindeer-shaped cookies for the school nurse. Yay! Holiday spirit!

Dec 7, 2010

We Want Blood, The Mighty Stef

With lines like "Well, I'm drunk as a parish priest on the lies that you told us" and "Hey Mr. Politician, it's time to depart," The Mighty Stef's We Want Blood, "a universal song of disgust at the powers that be" might just be the soundtrack to Ireland 2010, the reaction to Budget 2011 (announced today in Ireland), and maybe even the new national anthem.
Warning: there's a little "colorful" Irish language if you have sensitive ears.

No one likes a downer, especially this time of year. I'm usually more interested in dipping cheese cubes in christmassy musical fondue a la Cliff Richards, Shakin Stevens, Band Aid, and Wham, but this year, I'm feeling The Mighty Stef's grit and anger, and its peddlars-of-pissed-off influences like The Pogues, Johnny Cash, Nick Cave, and The Rolling Stones.
The Mighty One's new album,  TMS and The Baptists,  was released at the end of November, and contains "nine new songs of sin and redemption where hope and hopelessness walk hand in hand down the wet streets of Manhattans Lower East Side to the dingy graveyards of Berlin where the record was conceived, written and recorded." 
I'm planning much sin and redemption over the next few weeks so this is exactly what I need to be listening to.

Free download of We Want Blood on Facebook (click "Shop Now" tab)

Dec 2, 2010

Tea and a Thought: Pro(ductive) Bono

I had a lovely three-hour tea-time with a friend yesterday catching up on all that has happened since we last saw each other, a year ago. A year is an awful long time so we both had to talk at the same time to catch up in three hours. Sadly, I have several friends I don't see often enough for us to be able to talk one at a time, and it just makes me wonder, "Where does the time go?" and "How does Bono do it?" (Not that this is an entirely unnatural train of thought, but to clarify, I had just heard an interview with Bono when I was lamenting being too busy to see friends regularly.)

Bono seems to do it all; he saves the world, entertains the world, and has tea with world leaders in his spare time. He breaks his back touring, has three new albums ready to roll (a rock album, a dance album, and a meditative psalms album), and to be sure he covers all genres in your music library, he's been working with the Edge and Julie Taymor on a soon-to-open-and-way-over-budget rock opera, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.

Oh, and he showed up on the back of my magazine this morning, too, getting his  Next Top Model on with his wife in a charitable Louis Vuitton ad campaign shot by Annie Leibovitz.

I'd hate him if it wasn't so cool to hate him.

Of course, who knows if Bono actually manages to see friends with all this gallivanting? Sigh, I bet he does. Anyway, I guess the point is that if he doesn't it's because he's busy for real, not busy in a vague/uncharitable way like I am. Of course, he probably doesn't sleep, hence the 24/7 sunglasses. I could do it all (or at least the carrying-the-Louis-V part), and see friends, too, if I didn't sleep for eight hours every day and sometimes spend two hours watching home improvement shows. I should be more like Bono.
(tick tock, tick tock)
You know, "Be more like Bono" just became Resolution #1 for 2011. Actually, it's really the only resolution I need, as all my other resolutions (i.e., "wear leather pants") are implied. Wow, 2011 is going to be great!
I wonder if Bono has a therapist? Maybe I should get a head start there ...

Nov 30, 2010

Lola Dee Pom Poms

I was looking for a winter hat with a pom pom. That's not true—I was actually looking for a winter hat with three pom poms, two of them of the gigantic variety to knock sense into me with every bouncy step. Anyway, I didn't find my winter hat—or sense—yet, but I did find Cork-based Lola Dee, maker of charming and fanciful pom pom headbands.

I'm thinking a pom pom headband would make for festive, and easy, party dressing this Holiday season; I mean, who's going to notice the rest of your outfit when you make such a statement on your head? I'm not entirely sure I wouldn't look ridiculous with a giant purple pom pom growing out of the side of my head, but then, I'm also not entirely sure I take enough fashion risks these days. A few giant pom-pom-knocks to the head and I won't care either way!

Nov 26, 2010

Green Friday!

Now that I have the Thanksgiving gobble-gobble-wibble-wobble over with, I can heartily fling myself headfirst into Holiday shopping. I usually fling myself arseways, but this year I'm trying to head-off shopping problems by reminding myself regularly that 'tis not the season to shop for me. 'Tis the season to shop Irish and to help out Irish makers and shakers, so with that in mind I'm shopping up Irish gifts for friends and family/me. Here are a few lovelies that are currently triggering my annual one-for-me-none-for-you shopping reflex:

 Silk purses by Bag Noir
  Mohair and silk scarves by Ruby Star Knits
Sweet little handfelted bears from Ememem
Sheepskin stool by James Carroll; Linen pillows by Kaftansarafan
Journey Through the Stars ring by Mercury Orchid
Prehnite necklace by Abigail Percy; Seaglass and silver necklace by Irish Sea Glass
Cozy woolen wrist warmers from Pooka Designs
Pretty tea bowls by Heart of Ireland
Thanks in advance to An Post and the United States Postal Service for taking the fall for me (again) this year; "lost in the post" sounds a lot better than "kept it for myself."

Nov 23, 2010

Codes: Starry Eyed

Codes - Starry Eyed from Codes on Vimeo.

Loving this new single from Codes' debut album Trees Dream in Algebra. Codes are an alternative/electronic quartet from Dublin with Keane-Muse-Coldplay-like soaring vocals, stadium-worthy choruses, and infectious hooks. Their album was released last year in Ireland to rave reviews, and with a summer of festival appearances, gigs, and starry-eyed fans/critics behind them, they're all set to take off. Hoping it won't be too long before they land on this side of the Atlantic.

Stalk them on Facebook
Codes are not yet available on US iTunes, but you can find Trees Dream in Algebra in their Big Cartel store or download this single from

Nov 22, 2010

Keep Going!

Love/want/need/must have this "Keep Going Sure It's Grand" print by Fergus O'Neill. It speaks to how I feel about, well—everything! Another (ahem, less formal) version says "F@*k It Sure It's Grand."

Nov 19, 2010

This weekend ...


Aidan Higgins' autobiography, A Bestiary. It was originally published in Ireland and the UK as three separate volumes—Donkey's Years, Dog Days, and The Whole Hog—and captures this highly respected writer's life growing up in Kildare. I've actually had this book for a while and just never felt I had a window wide enough to commit to it, but today I picked it up (to press leaves in it) and I'm committed; it might be a while before I put it down again. I was in love seven lines in ...
"My first conscious memory is of our village being flooded, which would have been 1933 when I was but six years old. Our nanny, Nurse O'Reilly—a longshanked rawboned bucktoothed Cavanwoman of indeterminate age who took no nonsense from anybody but her superiors, who knew her place—would have been unable to push the pram much beyond the Abbey on the outskirts of Cellbridge, through the water lapping against the wall of Flynn's bicycle shop and flooding Darlington's forge."~Aidan Higgins (Donkey's Years)
Also reading

"Was it for this?" and editorial in Friday's Irish Times about the shame of accepting a bailout from the European Bank. 
"The true ignominy of our current situation is not that our sovereignty has been taken away from us, it is that we ourselves have squandered it."
"Ireland" is the first word I've been hearing on the radio every morning of late, and the last word at night, and if there's no such thing as bad publicity, I'm hoping that the constant repetition of Ireland, Ireland, Ireland will drive up tourism next year. If I worked for Bord Failte (hey, call me Bord Failte!) I'd offer less of a Bored Failte and hop on all this publicity to create a clever new ad campaign. Maybe I'll send them a few ideas ...


Nollaig Shona (Merry Christmas) wrapping paper from Belfast-based Placed design. Love the clean, uncheesy design, and love the idea of wrapping friends' gifts in Irish. $14 for 5 sheets

from The Cottage Log
Perhaps it's the anticipation of all the rich foods I'll be piling onto my plate/waistline next week, but I'm suddenly hungering for simple brown bread, like Nana makes it. Thinking to try out an Irish Brown Bread recipe found over at The Cottage Log (via Ill Seen Ill Said). I miss brown bread and butter and know already there's no way my two hands can make anything to rival my grandmother's, but I can't be at her table often enough for my appetite, so it's time I tossed some flour with some buttermilk.

Have a great weekend!