May 27, 2011

This Weekend


I caught Glen Handsome Hansard performing solo at the Temple of Dundur in the Metropolitan Museum of Art last night and I have a feeling I will be falling slowly all weekend. The event was in celebration of the exhibition Guitar Heroes: Legendary Craftsmen from Italy to New York, and included a private viewing of the exhibit and free beer courtesy of Harpoon Brewery. Add good company, a beautiful summery evening, and the fact that tickets were $25, and I hate me, too.
I wish I had recorded something to share but I wanted to fully experience the setting and intimacy of the event (and not watch it through a viewfinder), and the guy in front of me had big ears. There was also the matter of free beer ...
detail shot of a silkscreen poster created for the event by Hero Design Studio
Hansard performed a few new songs he's been working on as well as a few of my faves ("Say it to Me Now," and "Falling Slowly"), and he also had his friend Mark Geary join him onstage for "It Beats Me." I found this recording of Geary and Hansard performing the same song together a few months ago; just imagine it in the Met with amazing acoustics and backdrop and you'll get the idea.

Glen Hansard w/Mark Geary and Jake Clemons "It Beats Me".

The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers. I picked up a second-hand copy of this 1903 novel last year and turned to it rather desperately this week after an unsatisfying experience with Pete Hamill's Forever. Per the LA Times: "Childers' central character, Carruthers, enters the story as little more than a peevish dandy but evolves into an agent of daring ... The novel's climax, a fog-bound journey in a dingy, goes on for 50 pages and more, working as a masterful exercise in suspense because Childers makes his readers really feel that any one of many fateful moments of chance might indeed halt his heroes' escape and lead to their death."
Penguin Classics just released a new edition with a spiffy new cover and an introduction by the author’s great-grandson.
Available at Target

Rachel Allen's Favorite Food at Home
I'm picnicing this weekend to kick off the unofficial start of Summer, Memorial Day weekend, and planning to recreate Rachel Allen's chest of sandwiches—a loaf of bread hollowed out to hold sandwiches made from its bready innards (I'll make it sound better at the picnic).

Have a wonderful weekend!

May 24, 2011

A Bit Lost

Sometimes I buy a book because I like the cover, or the art, or because the title speaks to me; other times I buy a book because it has won an award, and I like to pretend that I am up on such things. I'm going to buy A Bit Lost, by Irish author and illustrator Chris Haughton,  because I love the cover and the art, and because the title speaks to me (like most titles in the reading level ages 4—8 section for some reason), and it just won the 21st Bisto Children’s Book of the Year Award. 

Haughton’s book tells the story of an accidentally orphaned owl, who, after falling from his nest while sleeping, sets out with the help of new friends to find his way home to his mommy. All together now: Awwww!

The Bisto Children’s Book of the Year Awards are a celebration of excellence in children’s literature and illustration and are open to books written in English or Irish by authors and illustrators born or resident in Ireland and published between 1 January and 31 December each year. Previous winners include John Boyne for his book The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick for her books You, Me and the Big Blue Sea and There.

P.s. the book is titled Little Owl Lost in the US which does not speak as much to me (because I'm "a bit lost" most of the time ... and not an owl.)
Buy Little Owl Lost 
To see Bisto's Honor Award recipients and to check out other Irish writers who were shortlisted, visit Children's Books Ireland.

May 23, 2011

Is Féidir Linn (Yes We Can!)

photo by Dara McDomhnaill, The Irish Times
If Irish tourism stats were quantified by quality and not quantity of visitors, Ireland would be having a record year so far—what with the Queen in town last week and Barack and Michelle Obama visiting today.

I've been listening to Radio 1 all morning, watching live coverage on TV3, and surprising myself with a few sniffles and tears. Patriotism is a funny thing ... it can really catch you unawares. I'm swelling—and welling—with pride and I won't listen to the little leprechaun on my shoulder telling me I'm getting soft.
I loved listening to Joe Duffy's show this morning and found myself aching for home (he has that effect); it's that easygoing nature, the colorful language, and the ability to find the humor in everything—i.e., ourselves, the weather, the Presidential car getting stuck on its way out of the US Embassy!—that I miss so much.
Thanks to the Internet, I could watch the Obamas shake hands with crowds of locals in Moneygall—Obama's ancestral hometown (sidenote: I was seriously impressed at how Barack and Michelle really took their time and reached deep into the crowds to say hi), and then follow them into Ollie Hayes's pub where there was genuine warmth, conversation, laughter, and the official welcome of a pint of Guinness. Was aching again—this time for a decent pint—after seeing Mr. Obama knock his back. (Michelle had a ladylike half-pint, though I'd have liked to see her hold up a pint glass—you know she can handle it.)
For a few moments it felt like any bar in any town in Ireland, with locals (in their Sunday best) having a pint and shooting the breeze ...

If I worked for Guinness, I'd be feverishly dummying up some new campaigns right now, jumping off the President's observations that "it tastes so much better here" and we keep the best Guinness in Ireland for ourselves. And surely Discover Ireland will be all over tapping into, and motivating, the huge Irish American population to follow Mr. Obama's lead and track down their own roots. All things going well, the quantity of tourists for the second half of the year will match the quality of the first half (ahem, just a coincidence that I also happened to visit in the first half of the year!)

The Presidential cavalcade is on its way to College Green in Dublin right now for a gala celebration and a public address later this evening. The crowd—and Obamas—will be entertained by Irish musicians like The Sawdoctors, Imelda May, the Coronas, Mundy, and Sharon Shannon. Not sure if the Corrigan Brothers will be there, but surely this song will be belted out as some point during the President's visit:

Follow the rest of the day's events on TV3

May 22, 2011

My (Half) Day of Rest

The world didn't end yesterday but our Gaelic football season did, so for the first Sunday in ages, I find myself without a sideline to pace/a ref to begrudge. My day is my own, which means I can catch up on a little reading, correspondence, TV, baking, and lounging. Just as I was thinking this out loud, my man-half walked in and suggested that we should go grocery-shopping (and that I should drive so it can take twice as long and be twice as dangerous) and my son asked if his favorite sweats have been washed yet ... Okay, so half of my day is my own.

Watching ...

Episode 1 of "Kitchen Hero" by Irish everyman-chef Donal Skehan. I quite like his easy you-can-cook-too style, and his Donald Trump comb-over (minus the bald patch), and hope he'll keep adding episodes online for those of us [fortunate enough to be] outside the RTE TV-license zone. I'm thinking I might have to have Donal's Apple and Blackberry Oaty Crumble for dessert tonight.
Episode 1
GoodMoodFood Blog

Saddened ...

and kind of shocked by David Lenehan of ZX Code's visit to a ghost estate, built on the site of a beautiful old mill on the Owenmore river about 5 miles from Sligo town. It was finished in 2006, fell into neglect and disrepair, and is now waiting to be demolished. This is what a burst real estate bubble looks like. So sad to think of the the mill that had been there for over a century ...
via @AnnieAtkins

Listening/Watching ...

When I discovered ZX Code, I also discovered Mayo minimalist/ambient piano composer Conor Walsh and the perfect soundtrack to my quiet Sunday afternoon. Walsh has been composing music for ten years, and drawing upon elements of traditional, experimental, and minimalist genres. David Lenehan has filmed a few videos for Walsh and I especially love his latest video, "The Front," filmed in an old hotel.
Stalk Conor Walsh on Facebook
Watch/listen on his YouTube channel and Soundcloud

Until Monday my friends...

May 17, 2011

Emma Manley A/W 2011

Loving the Autumn/Winter 2011 lookbook teaser images being posted daily to Emma Manley's FB page:

Sigh, I was all about summer until I saw that mohair and leather Draper Wrap.

Get your daily Fall fashion fix on her Facebook page

May 16, 2011

Ciara Sidine

I have a love hate relationship with Mondays. Today it's all love, maybe because I haven't had a Monday in a few weeks. Or maybe because it's raining. I perversely love rainy Mondays. They're a good excuse to polish off the Godiva chocolates sitting in the fridge. I don't have a roaring fire to cozy up to, but I have a kettle and Shadow Road Shining, the rootsy debut record of late musical bloomer Ciara Sidine (aka Ciara Considine).

Love that Sidine—one of Ireland’s best-known literary editors, a mother of two, daughter of novelist June Considine, and niece of writer Dermot Bolger—just recently decided to step away from the day job to indulge a lifelong ambition to become a singer-songwriter. 
In an interview with the Irish Times she said, “If you have a talent it’s quite easy to just keep it to one side and not mention it to anybody ... but as you get older, it sort of burns inside you. As I got older I felt increasingly that it didn’t matter what the outcome might be – I just had to give it a go.” 
Seems her "go" has been very well received so far; Hotpress declared her "One of the most talented singer/songwriters to emerge in Ireland in decades" and GetReadytoRock said she's "One of the most exciting new vocalists I’ve heard in quite some time."

Sidine's voice has the perfect amount of longing for a rainy day, and her story just the right amount of inspiration/kick-in-the-arse for anyone with something burning inside ... on a Monday.

Stalk her on Facebook

May 10, 2011

From Over Here

My sister is visiting from Ireland for a few days so I've been missing in action—mostly shopping action. (If anyone needs a guided tour of Old Navy, H&M, Forever 21, Century 21, Gap, and Macy's, I'm your woman.) Today, we're going to squeeze in a little sightseeing and relaxation before she heads home tomorrow; we'll walk over the Brooklyn Bridge, take afternoon tea, shop Union Square, and then (sleep through) a Broadway show this evening. She's paying her daily respects at Century 21 this morning while I catch up on work, e-mails, and breathing, so I thought I'd hop on here quickly and share a really fascinating photo project I came across the other day.

Irish designer Paul May, a graduate student at NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program, wanted to create a "physical representation of the way Ireland is covered in the New York Times" to illustrate when Ireland has been covered, who and what the articles have been about, and how that coverage has changed over time. "From Over Here" is a series of laser-cut cardboard cards, one for each month between 1992 and 2010, representing news about, or related to Ireland. The size of the card represents the numbers of articles from that month (hence the top card is huge, representing the recent attention the Irish economy has received in the media), and the people and topics mentioned in the articles are etched on each card.

all images copyright Paul May

I've been fascinated by the idea and image of Ireland "from over here" since I first moved to the States sixteen years ago, so I'd love to rifle through these cards to see and feel exactly how "Ireland" has been communicated to the United States— and world—over the past twenty years. It doesn't look like there are any plans to exhibit this tangible news project as yet, but here's hoping ... and watching what May comes up with next.
See more photos of this project in Paul May's Flickr Album
Paul May on Twitter

May 3, 2011

Tea Diver

I'm fighting off a sexy Rod Stewart voice/cold this week and diving into bed or onto the couch at every opportunity. I'm also diving into pots and pots of tea and feel my diving experience would be much more satisfying if I had a Tea Diver.

AbelPartners Design Studio's Tea Diver design is inspired by the shape of "Korean traditional diver, Meoguri, which only relies on a string of Oxygen tank to explore the deep sea." Cute take on the traditional tea infuser and so much more fun than my boring tea pot. Meoguri and I will have hours of fun diving up some strong and soothing brews and getting our diving certifications. 
Seriously, I might never use a tea bag again.