Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Sorry for the hiatus, but as most businesses get a bit hectic around the holidays, I suppose it makes sense that life does too.

I made a trip down to my parent's house about 2 weeks ago so that I could retrieve my car, came back up to my apartment so we could do our own 'family' Christmas, and then headed back down again. We never managed to acquire an actual Christmas tree, so I used a recently purchased house plant (thank you Ikea) to take up the position.

My parent's have much better decorations...

The second time I went down to my parent's house for about 5 days. I left Wednesday to drive down, knowing that the weather was going to get really terrible. Turns out I didn't leave early enough because the typical 3.5 hour drive was almost 6 hours due to snow, wind and ice. I made it in one piece however, so it was worth the extra time. It always seems to amaze me how every year, without fail, people drive like morons during blizzards. I saw like 15 cars in the ditch, 3 of which actually happened right in front of me. Just because you have a truck or SUV doesn't mean you're not going to spin out...

We got quite a lot of snow, I'm not sure of the exact number but it was at least 10 inches on top of the 12 or so we already had. And then it warmed up and rained so everything melted, followed by sudden freezing, so of course now everything is covered in ice.

Anyway, the holidays were good. My family has developed a tradition (accidentally) of some small disaster or another by way of exploding food and drinks every time we have a nice dinner. This year was no exception. We managed to knock a crystal glass into a bowl of potatoes, send wine spilling over onto the floor, and send a cork flying across the room - up to the ceiling, bouncing off the fan, and back again. At least we keep company entertained with our shenanigans.

Every year my Dad's side of the family always gets together and we have a sort of pot-luck Christmas. We meet at the church in his hometown (as most of his family still lives there, or very near by) and every one has to bring a couple of inexpensive presents for the grab-bag. I brought a reusable bag, blanket and candle from Ikea.

After eating lunch, we all sit in a circle and take turns opening presents. The rules are you can either grab something from the middle or steal a present from someone else. This goes on until all of the presents are opened. There is usually one or 2 'hot' items that everyone fights over. Usually this is a Green Bay Packers or Vikings blanket (or something of the like) or a case of beer. This year however it was home-made cinnamon buns.

On the opposite end there are always a few presents that no one wants, like dollar-store games or a coffee mug. One year we brought a packet of sponges as a joke, but my aunt really like them! haha. I suppose you can always use some sponges. I walked away with a small crockpot (that I stole from my uncle,) so I think I did pretty well this year.

I leave you with my favorite part of the drive to and from my parent's house. Near the boarder of Iowa and Minnesota there is this small section of land that is just covered in windmills on both sides of I-35. There is just something really majestic about them, and the best time to see it is at sunset - which it just so happened to be while I was passing through. I'm not sure if the photos really do it justice. You'll just have to take notice if you're ever in the area, or take my word for it.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Remember This For Later

On Saturday my friend/mentor, Allen Brewer, had an opening at the Umber Studios in south Minneapolis. His drawings are absolutely amazing. If you are in the twin cities - or are going to be anytime between now and Jan. 11th, I highly recommend you go check it out.

I personally have never been to this particular gallery before - and shame of all shame, I had never even heard of it! But I'm very glad I have been enlightened because it's a great space, and from what Allen tells me, the owners are wonderful people. I will certainly been keeping an eye on the going-ons of Umber Studios and fully intend on being a frequent visitor.

Here are a few shots from the opening. Enjoy!

Friday, December 11, 2009


Well I made it back safe and sound, going from the land of green to the land of white. We had a blizzard the other night and got about 10 inches of snow - a fine welcome home present if I do say so.. haha. It's not so bad really, my parent's got almost 15 inches.

Since returning, I have been spending my days unpacking and trying to help set up the new place. Both Ryan and our new roommate have 2 jobs each, so needles to say they haven't had much time to do 'domestic' apartment stuff, so I figure that's the least I can do considering they moved all of my stuff for me while I was gone. It's surprisingly time consuming unpacking and organizing - especially when you're not sure where everything is. But I've made some serious progress.

The other day my new roommate and I had a sad attempt at putting up Christmas lights on the porch. Turns out it would be a better idea to measure how long the porch is before you buy the lights... haha. We got 2 boxes of blue l.e.d. lights which covered about 1/4 of the porch. We also got a blue l.e.d. rope light to put around the door - oh man! Those things are horrendous to put up! You're supposed to screw in these plastic clips first so that the rope stays in place. Trying to use tools and tiny screws with numb fingers is very difficult, however, we accomplished that task. Then you're supposed to shove the robe into the plastic clips... we broke all but 2 of them. Uugh! We gave up after that. We'll have to unscrew the rest and try again.. but we both felt completely defeated (and cold) so we have yet to try again.

I have also made some progress on the work front since coming home. I have updated my website, so go check it out!

Well, I suppose I should go be productive. I still have several boxes to go through, including the one I'm currently using as a night stand... haha.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Last Day

Today is my last day in Ireland..! I can't believe 3 months have passed already. It's weird how time works sometimes.

I just finished cramming everything I've accumulated during my stay into 2 bags. I'm going to have to say goodbye to a few pairs of shoes (I brought them knowing full well I was going to destroy them wandering around muddy fields and walking in the rain.) but I had to make room for new ones =) haha. I'm going to have to wear about 4 layers of clothes tomorrow - but as I remember it's cold on the plane and absolutely freezing in the Philly airport, so perhaps it wont be so bad.

I had an amazing experience here. I have learned more in the past 3 months than I have in the past year - but that's what a good job will do for you. Not only did I learn about design, but I also learned a great deal more about Ireland and Irish culture. I've decided to compile a list of some of my observations:

- According to American standards, everyone here is a raging alcoholic. (at least everyone I met)

- All of the students wear uniforms and get to freely wander around during lunch

- The most common style for guys is a track-suit, and they all have pretty much the same haircut. The men wear button-down shirts and sweater vests.

- The women get fake-tans to go out

- Every bathroom is the nicest bathroom you've ever been into - especially at the pubs/clubs. They all have marble-color tiled floors and the doors are floor to ceiling.

- Heating is expensive, so people just wear a lot of sweaters and blankets

- The phrase "your man" is commonly used, but not necessarily meaning someone that you know - it's more of just another way to refer to someone without saying their name.

- They say call me "on" instead of "at"

- In the suburbs there are groupings of houses that all look the same and are called estates. Each estate has it's own name like The Maples or Avalon. The address for each house is a number followed by the estate name instead of a street name - Example, 23 Avalon, Arklow, Co. Wicklow. Houses that are on their own in the middle of no-where usually have a name instead of a numbered address like "Mary's House"

- Food goes bad very quickly because they don't use as many pesticides here

- It's totally socially acceptable for older adults (over 50) to go out to the club and dance and have fun with people half their age. I met a guy at a club in town (Sally's) once who was 81!

- The majority of people are obsessed with X Factor

- Everyone talks about the weather. All the time.

- The men drink Guinness. The women drink a lot of girlie drinks like Mike's Hard Lemonade

- Irish people are not big fans of the British

- Everyone travels around Europe. It's very common to take a weekend holiday to Spain... lucky bastards

- Most people who have visited America go to New York. The next most common city is Miami

- Everyone seems very politically aware and want to know your opinion

- Guys buy drinks in rounds for everyone in the group and take turns paying

- They say "ya know that kind of way?" or "that kind of thing" instead of just "ya know?"

- Rain, Rain, Rain, Rain, Sun, Rain, Rain, Rain, Rain, Drizzle, Rain = your weather forcast for the day, everyday

Now I'm heading back to the midwest without much but some vague ideas of what I'm going to do when I get there. I'm not worried about that though, on the contrary, I'm quite excited that at this point my possibilities seem pretty endless. A new beginning to make my life whatever I want it to be. That's not something most people can say...

Farewell land of Eire. I hope we meet again soon.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Fashion Shows

As of last night I have now been to 2 fashion shows around town and I thought I can't put off sharing the photos any longer.
The first fashion show I went to was a couple of weeks ago at the Arklow Bay Hotel in Arklow. It was a charity event for a high-school. (secondary school? I'm not sure what they call it here to be honest but it's not 'high school') It cost 10 euro for a ticket and we each got a free raffle ticket for the chance to win a variety of gifts ranging from candles to gym memberships. I didn't win anything, but I don't really need candles and a gym membership in Ireland wouldn't do me much good...

As we walked in we were given a free glass of wine and some cheese. The room was packed! There were a lot of families and kids from the school. The show started with a brief introduction from school members and the mayor of the town - then of course, fashion!

The show was really long. It was almost 3 hours long - but I had a really good time. The models were all local people - including a lot of kids from the high school. There were clothes from shops in town to try and promote shopping local. They had also handed out the shop local voucher books that we designed. It was really cool to see so many people looking through a book with my illustration on the cover of it.

I took a lot of photos from that night - most of which didn't turn out because the models were bookin' it down the runway and didn't stop long enough at the end to get a clear picture. I think they were all just nervous, which is understandable. But I did manage to get a few less-blurry pictures. I know I could've just used the flash but I hate the way that looks - at least from my camera. There were a lot of male models - mostly high school boys, but they were impossible to photograph without the flash. They didn't bother to stop at the end of the runway they just turned around and quickly walked back off stage.. haha.

Anway - here are some photos. There are from Dunnes Stores (equivalent to Target) Oxygen & McMullans (both local boutiques,) Warehouse and a Bridal collection. I can't remember now every store they had represented there that night, but I'll point out the outfits I do remember.

This first set is from Dunnes.





The rest I can't remember exactly where each dress is from - but aren't they so cute? The overall theme for the night really was "Christmas Parties" so that's why it's mostly party dresses.

Last night my co-worker and I went to Gorey, which is about a 15 min drive from Arklow, to attend a small fashion show at a boutique called Contra The store is the perfect size, I think. Not too big, not too small. It was all decorated for christmas and for the show. The clothes were really nice and I saw plenty of things I really wanted, but it's a little bit more on the spendy side (especially for someone who is about to be unemployed as of 5pm today...)

When we walked inside we were greeted by a nice saleswoman handing out free glasses of champaign. We wandered around the store looking at everything while we waited for the show to begin. I was hoping I could find some christmas gifts for my sisters - a nice shirt or some accessories, but like I said, it was a bit spendy and I didn't see any purses or necklaces that I could see them actually wearing.

After about a 1/2 an hour, the show started. It was another long show - probably 2 hours, but it was really fun. And after 3 glasses of champaign I got really camera happy and nearly filled up my memory card with photos. I won't share them all because that would be ridiculous - but I do have a fair few.

These are all of my favorites outfits from the evening:

After the show there was a frenzie of woman trying on clothes - including my co-worker, who walked away with 3 new adorable dresses (at a 10% discount) They also had the make-up artists who did the models' makeup in the back of the store so you could get your eyes and lips done for free! I didn't part-take but I thought that was a really cool idea.. Buy a new dress - get made over - and have a night on the town! Fun fun fun!

Our evening ended at a pub down the street (of course...)

It was a great night. I've decided I much prefer watching fashion shows than being in them.. even though you sometimes do get perks like getting into the venue for free or discounts on clothes..