Jul 31, 2010

This weekend ...


The Swell Season and The Frames. I was supposed to see The Swell Season—Glen Hansard's band with Marketa Irglova (catapulted to fame by their Oscar-winning film, Once)—in January at Radio City Music Hall, but had to fly home the day of the concert for a funeral. It was very decent of Glen and Marketa to come back to my patch of the woods last night, and participate in Celebrate Brooklyn, just so I had a second chance to catch them. They sounded fantastic and the weather was better, the beer cheaper, and the seating (grass) more comfortable than Radio City. Glen was raw and honest as always—love boasting that I used to watch him busk way back when he/I was a young one—though, I'm not sure an outdoor venue is the best way to appreciate Marketa's delicate voice or to really feel their soulful ruminations on love. That said, it was so lovely to bask in their talented glow on a warm summer's night. Have to add that the park was filled with swooning and swaying couples and that there was much open boob-groping, but, it being Park Slope, of course all couples were one-part hipster toddler!
Much as I love the whole soundtrack to Once, and Swell Season's Strict Joy, the highlight of the night for me was Glen and Marketa's cover of Van Morrisson's Into the Mystic—one of my very favorite songs. Found this version on YouTube:


I made banana bread on Friday to use up too-ripe bananas (a recessionary act that will assuage the guilt of the intended purchase of a not-on-sale skirt this coming week!) so I won't be baking again this weekend. Instead, I am making. I can't support my three young camogie-playing nieces as they hone their hurling skills on a pitch in Cork, but I can make sure my sister is warm enough to stay rooted to the sideline. I'm almost done with a pair of mitts (fingerless mittens) for her, and just starte knit-up a scarf, too, to keep her hollerin' chords warm. 


Ghost Light by Joseph O'Connor. It's a work of fiction, but loosely based on the much frowned upon love story of playwright John Millington Synge and his leading lady Molly Allgood. Really hope it's all good (sorry).

Have a great weekend!

Jul 30, 2010

Pandora Bell

Sfwah! Fwyugh! puh! I wish I'd cleaned my computer screen before I came upon the delicious-looking packaging and goodies of premium Irish confectioner, Pandora Bell. Nicole Dunphy, the Willie Wonka behind the Limerick-based company says, “The Pandora Bell philosophy is that a high quality daily treat is a healthier and more satisfying way to enjoy sweet things than a mouthful of artificial flavorings." (To fully explore this theory I think I should see how satisfied I feel with a mouthful of Pandora Bell  salted butter caramels.) "Confectionery made from honey, eggs, nuts, butter have to be more delicious than sweets manufactured with ingredients that sound more suitable for a laboratory than a kitchen.” Love Pandora's sweet philosophy, the vintage-inspired packaging, and I think their cute hampers would make great gifts—there's even a wedding collection (nice touch for an Irish-American wedding).

Now, while I clean the dustballs off my tongue, can everyone else get over 3D technology and onto 4D, 5D, or whatever frickin' dimension involves me plucking one of those chocolate eggs out of my screen!

Jul 28, 2010

Hump Day Song

I have the weight of the world (well, my world) on my shoulders this morning. I don't know what to wear. I don't know what I'm doing with my life. I don't know if I should take a carpentry or silversmithing class, or just stick with knitting. I don't know how to knit anything other than mitts (fingerless mittens). I don't know if I should have mashed banana on toast or fiber flakes. I don't like Tetley tea bags. I just don't know.
Going back to bed is not an option.
This song makes me feel better because it makes me want to dance aggressively. I know most of the words. I also know where my jumper is.

sultans of ping - where's me jumper?

Sing along, it'll help you muster the strength to get to Thursday, too:

My, brother, knows, Karl Marx,
He met him eating mushrooms in the peoples park,
He said 'What do you think about my manifesto?'
'I like a manifesto, put it to the test-o.'

Took it straight down to meet the anarchist's party.
I met a groovy guy, he was arty farty,
He said 'I know a little latin man a cus man a kai'
I said 'I don't know what it means' he said 'neither do I'

Eat natural foods, bathe twice daily,
Fill your nostrils up with gravy.
Don't drink tea and don't drink coffee.
Cover your chin in yorkshire toffee.

Dancing in the disco, bumper to bumber,
Wait a minute, where's me jumper, ( x4 )

Dancing at the disco, bumper to bumber,
Wait a minute, where's me jumper ? ( x5 )
Oh no.
Dancing at the disco, go, go, go.
Dancing at the disco, oh no, oh no, oh no.
Dancing at the disco, go, go, go.
Dancing at the disco, oh no, oh no.
It's alright to say things can only get better,
You haven't lost your brand new sweater.
I know I had it on when I had my tea,
And I'm sure I had it on in the lavatory.
Oh no.
Dancing in the disco, go, go, go.
Dancing in the disco, oh no, oh no.
Dancing in the disco, bumper to bumper,
Wait a minute, where's me jumper ? ( x5 )
It's alright to say things can only get better,
You haven't lost your brand new sweater.
Pure new wool, and perfect stitches,
Not the type of jumper that makes you itches
Oh no.
Dancing in the disco, go, go, go.
Dancing in the disco, oh no, oh no.
And my mother, will be so, so angry.
And my brother, will be so, so angry.
And my girlfriend, will be so, so angry.
And my dog, will be so, so angry.
Cos I was dancing at the disco, bumper to bumper.
Wait a minute, where's me jumper ( x5 )
Oh no !

Jul 27, 2010

Acts of Random Kindness

 I forget to be kind. It used to come naturally, like blessing myself when I saw an ambulance, but somewhere along the way I fell out of practice. I have moments when I remember, like that time I had an umbrella-fight-of-kindness with an old man ... Walking by an old man trying to fend off the pelting rain with only a wimpy newspaper, it occurred to me that I should give up my umbrella; it was the right—and kind—thing to do. Only, he didn't want my umbrella. I wanted him to have my umbrella. He didn't want my umbrella. I wanted him to have it! He really didn't want it. I really wanted him to have it for Christ's sake, and I wanted to walk him across the street, too, but I didn't want him to have a heart attack (for fear I'd get arrested for killing him with kindness). So, I had to walk away—tail, umbrella, and kindness between my legs. 

Since then, I've been rude to old people.

Thinking back on it now, I wonder if maybe that old man just wasn't used to random acts of kindness?

Enter Irish clothing company/movement, ARK—Acts of Random Kindness. 

Founded by twenty-year-old Cameron Stewart, not-for-profit ARK wants you to carry out one act of random kindness—buy a stranger a coffee, give up your seat on the bus, ask your barista how they're doing today, tell someone their skirt is tucked into their knickers—every time you wear their clothing. You look good, do good, and even better, inspire people around you to look good and do good, too. Love it. It kind of reminds me of TOMS Shoes' earnest (and hugely successful) business model—"For every pair you purchase, we give a pair to a child in need." Though, I'd imagine it's easier to quantify shoes than kindess. 
So far, ARK has a cute range of t-shirts for men and women, as well as a recently added line of fetching underwear to encourage "Undercover acts of kindness." (To launch the line, a bunch of guys donated their clothing to a charity shop as their 'Ark," and then ran through the streets of Dublin in their Ark underwear!)

Love the simple idea and heart behind this company. Their products are pretty cute, too, and I imagine will just keep getting better, as Ark attracts even more talent to its noble cause.
Watch Cameron's very sincere TedX talk to learn more about the Ark movement, what he thinks about our growing "iPod society," and why an Act of Random Kindness is the answer. Then order yourself a t-shirt/pair of knickers, and instead of just making a style statement, style yourself into action (just be careful with old people and umbrellas!)

Jul 26, 2010

Designer Laura Eliason

Want does not even apply here; I need.

I recently came across Laura Eliason's designs,  and—having a bit of a weakness for crocheted necklines and interesting jewelry—I decided to find out more about this Cork-based designer. Unfortunately, Laura Eliason is not my long-lost cousin, and so she will not be furnishing me with a complete wardrobe of gorgeous, custom dresses and jewelry to make up for the lack of Christmas cards all these years. Sigh. Fortunately, her cool dresses, jewelry, and hairbands are all available for sale in her Etsy store, Arguing the Mobius, and you don't have to be related to commission a custom order. Laura also has a great blog/window into her studio, LauraEliason.com, where she shares designs in progress, and where I learned she is a heart-transplant to Ireland (i.e., she was born in the States, has lived outside it—Russia, Switzerland, UK—for more than half her life, and—awww—moved to Ireland for grá/love!) She describes her new home as "The one place where you can not possibly say the grass is greener elsewhere."
I'm loving Laura's crochet neckline dresses, and my head is filled with all sorts of Autumn-appropriate versions in rich and vivid colors. I'm also loving her jewelry offerings ...

Her pieces are truly unique; each piece is unusual and also limited to a single occurrence (a numbered tag indicates its place in a series). Love that the earring designs represent patterns from Laura's handknit fabrics, and that the pendants have different handpainted designs on each side so they can be worn two ways.
Yes, need.


Jul 23, 2010

This weekend ...

Oh fair weekend, where have you been all my week?


Chariot by up and coming Co. Meath band, The Cast of Cheers. Their debut album is available for FREE download at Bandcamp.


Once Again, The Irish are Leaving Home
"After almost 20 years as Europe’s strongest economy, during which hundreds of thousands of Polish, British and North American immigrants flocked to Dublin for work, the Irish are once again a nation of emigrants."

Focus on People and Jobs, Not Bankers and Bailouts
"The ESRI predicts up to 200,000 people will emigrate between now and 2015."

 "The Irish are among the most loath in Europe to consider emigration — yet by next April, economic necessity will have forced 120,000 workers to leave the state in search of work."

5,000 Each Month Are Looking to Emigrate
"More than 5,000 highly educated Irish people will be forced to leave the country over the next month due to unemployment."


Irish Apple Cake. I know, I've made this before (I'll take a better photo this time). I know, it's too hot to put the oven on. I know, I should try something new. I also know that I'm PMS'ing and hot Irish Apple Cake with heavy cream WILL happen tonight and nourish me all weekend!

Have a great weekend!

Jul 21, 2010

The Builder by R. Alverston

I just preordered a copy of The Builder by Spokane singer-songwriter-director Rick Alverson. It's his first feature film and stars actor Colm O'Leary as an Irish immigrant carpenter who goes upstate New York to build a house. I haven't actually bought a movie in a long time, but for some reason this one speaks to me. I'm always interested in how the Irish immigrant experience is portrayed, and there's a lot of buzz about this movie online; I'm hoping it's a keeper. It's available for preorder now at Jagjaguwar and on July 27 at Amazon.

The soundtrack sounds great, too, with music by Bon Iver, Califone, Gregor Samsa, Pan American, Robert Donne, and Spokane. The description of the soundtrack mentions "A faithful rendition of an Irish traditional song that features the brother of The Builder's Colm O'Leary, Eamon, on bozouki and backing vocals. The song's lyrics—Don't care for fine mansions in the earth's sinking sand/Lord, build me a cabin in the corner of Glory Land—might serve as a jumping off point for the movie itself."
Listen to "A Cabin in the Corner" here and Sharon Von Etten's haunting "I Couldn't Save You" here.


Jul 20, 2010

Be Mine: Teacup Print Purse

Dear nasty budget devil resting on my shoulder,

Before you assume that I am being reckless in buying a little purse I do not need, let me tell you that I am only considering this cute little Orla Kiely purse on sale for $49 (it was $109) at Swirl because I want to be more careful with my money. My current wallet has a wimpy little change compartment which means the money is literally sieving through my hands, leaving a trail of all-important pennies behind me. Also, its unfetching design does little to encourage actually stopping and thinking before I spend. This teacup print purse however has a secure penny-pinching-clasp design, and its cute and adorable print will distract me at the point of purchase every time. It's also water/flood proof. Did I mention I love teacups?


De Bruir Leather Goods

It was my sister's birthday a couple of weeks ago. We don't usually exchange gifts, probably because we both suffer from postofficeitis, but this year I wanted to mark the occasion with a little surprise. Along with postofficeitis, I am prone to a brainpox known as "The best of good intentions," so I decided to up my sister's chances of actually getting something by shopping Ireland's Etsy shops.
Given that my sister swipes a handbag from me every time I'm home (unless my mother beats her to it), and that every Irish woman I know has a serious handbag fetish, I thought I'd shop her up a nice handbag. A long search later I concluded that much as Irish people love to have handbags, they don't love to make them. Seriously, there is such a dearth of attractive Irish-made handbags, that if I was any bit industrious, I'd be taking a handbag-making class right now.
Anyway, this is all a long backstory to how I discovered De Bruir leatherwork, a small design studio in Co. Kildare. 

Using traditional saddlery skills and combining both hand and machine stitching, De Bruir specializes in a range of high-quality leather luggage, technology holders, and document sleeves that you can tell will just keep getting better looking with age. 

Ahem, and speaking of looks, it doesn't hurt that your raw and ruggedly handsome luggage, iPad or iPhone cover was handcrafted by a raw and ruggedly handsome Irishman, Garvan De Bruir. De Bruir uses a variety of soft tactile leathers and robust saddlery leathers in his designs as well as natural felts and real sheepskins, and can customise designs to suit all stationary and technology needs. He's also a sculptor and furniture designer, too. 

I almost ordered this gorgeous Parachuter bag for my sister, thinking with a house full of kids and animals she might appreciate having it at hand. But then it occurred that 1. she might prefer a real parachute, and 2. she'd also prefer that I save my pennies so that I can cover every gadget I own in luxe De Bruir style. 

I got my sister soap.

DeBruir's Etsy shop

Jul 19, 2010

I Don't Write Like James Joyce

I write like
J. K. Rowling
I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

I tried I Write Like—a new statistical analysis tool which analyzes your word choice and writing style and then compares it to those of famous writers—just for kicks. Now, I'm kicking myself, because no matter how many different passages, shopping lists, and letters from my grandmother I submit, I don't get anyone I actually want to write like. Instead of James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, or Nuala O'Faoilean, I get Stephen King, David Foster Wallace, and J. K. Rowling. Maybe I should stop being so snobby and just start writing those bestsellers ...

Paste a few passages of a blog entry, love letter, journal entry, or unfinished novel at I Write Like, and see who you'll be competing with for shelf space at Barnes & Noble.

via GirlFromTheHills

Jul 8, 2010

Hello Abigail Percy

I've been hanging out in that lazy, hazy,  place between work and play this week. It's where I don't allow myself to get out of bed at 6, I don't do dishes until 4, and I don't leave the house until 5. It's also where I excel at mini-golf, fail at rollercoasters, and eat fried chicken for supper three days in a row. If the term "staycation" wasn't so last year, I'd say I'm on one. And I like it.
Anyway, it was while staycationing about in my air-conditioning this morning that I came across Abigail Percy Designs, and the discovery made me sit up straight for the first time in days. Originally from the West End of Glasgow, Scotland and recently relocated to Belfast in Northern Ireland, Abigail Percy's jewelry is inspired by "a personal love and fascination for historical repeat pattern design, particularly floral." The domino-discovery of Percy's beautiful jewelry, her homewares line, a collaboration with equally talented partner, Ryan Bell—Abigail Ryan, and Ryan's own jewelry and handbag line—Desire Lines, is enough to exhaust my attention, budget, and internet access for the next few days.
Sigh, by the looks of things Abigail Percy does not slack about padding her staycationing-arse with fried chicken and honey mustard sauce ...

Abigail Percy Jewellery

Abigail Ryan Homewares

Desire Lines (by Ryan Bell)

See what I mean? I'm so exhausted from all this wishlisting that I need a vacation.

Get your shop on:
Abigail Percy Jewellery
Abigail Ryan
Desire Lines

Get your stalk on:
Abigail Percy's Blog