Tis’ the day to cut down our Christmas Tree

Every December, buying our Christmas tree is a major event in our house.  Okay when I think about it more, it is ME which makes it a bigger deal than it and I love the memories it brings for me and the kids.  As a child, we never cut down our tress – we just bought  one from the local seller and brought it home and put it up.  I have no cozy memories of tree farms  and I want that for my little ones.


Our first year in Dublin, we set out on an adventure to cut down our own tree and ended up at Slade Valley Christmas Tree Farm. and it was brilliant.  The tree was lovely and I want a good experience again this year with a bit more atmosphere.  You can’t beat a real tree which we pick out, cut down and enjoy in our home.  Plus a real, freshly-cut tree looks and smells great.

Only this year we willtry a different tree farm in the Wicklow Mountains – Wicklow Way Tree Farm in Roundstone.  Their  website looks great, clearly a full campaign was put in place.  If for some reason we could not find it, there are several in Wicklow so I’m sure it would be fine.

While it seems far, the drive from our house was just over 1 hour so not bad at all and we were into the mountains.  There was a bit of snow the night before and much more expected Sunday along with the fact that Nils is heading to the US for a week, we took advantage of this one day we had to get the tree in the mountains.

Once we reached Roundstone it was very easy to find our way – these blue signs lead us right to the farm.



The farm was lovely – the staff was very friendly and informative and the instructions were clear.  Tag the tree, flag down a guy in blue and then relax and warm up while they cut down.  We parked the car and got out wellies on as the ground was very mucky and wet.  It wasn’t even 5 minutes before the kids noticed the white fluffy snow which fell last night and they were off and going crazy in it.



We walked a while trying to find the right tree… kids played with the snow while I keep searching for the right one.  A few measurements and we found one that we all liked.


After Soren watched the man cut down our tree, we had complimentary hot chocolate and minced pies & treats while we waited for our tree to be brought down from the field and a net put around it.


Overall the experience was great – we’d highly recommend this tree farm to anyone who is looking to go pick out your own tree.  The cost was very reasonable too at £8. a foot, you can choose how much you want to spend.

Only problem is that our tree this year is a bit taller than before so I don’t have enough lights to cover it so tomorrow, we’ll go buy more led bright lights to add to it.

Will post a photo when completed with loads of new glass ornaments.

And the final decorated tree.

Glasnevin Cemetery Halloween Mid-Term Tales Tour

Today we met up with friends to take the Children’s Mid-Term Tales Tour of the Glasnevin Cemetery.  Glasnevin Cemetery hosted a one-of-a kind Halloween tour for children aged 6 – 12, running  The tour will be given by the Ace of Spades, who will terrifically terrify you with tales of gruesome truths and funny folklore. Are you curious to discover how the legend of the headless horse man came to pass or perhaps you’d like to hear the story of the unfortunate Vincent brothers and the cursed ‘Black Aggie’ statue?   The tour guys Alan and Warren very amusing!


We first ate our lunch at the Whitworth Pub where the kids had their faces painted and then we headed off for a quick look at the decorated pumpkins at the Botanic Gardens.

With their faces painted and costumes on – we set out for the tour with Alan and Warren.

maebh and nina faces

It was really fun and the cemetery is really nice –  after being here for 3 years, it was our first time.   It’s a very peaceful, beautiful place and next time we’re at the Botanic Gardens for a walk through, we’ll pop over here being so close it’s a must.


Fall in Ireland = Blackberry picking

Back home in New England it’s a big tradition to visit farms, go apple picking, pumpkin picking and leaf peeping and eat all things pumpkin spice in the autumn. It’s the season I miss most!! 

Here, sadly, we might spy a colourful tree and  I freak out. There is this ONE tree near the Dart station which I point out each time I drive by on the way home.   f I remember, I’ll take a photo of this poor one tree.  Weather permitting, we’re going to pop over to the Botanic Gardens next weekend – hopefully some nice leaves will be on the trees/ground.

Soren was at soccer practice, Maebh and I set off behind Deer Park and picked some blackberries.

For some reason, all the lovely bushes along Howth Celtic were crushed down by a bulldozer – not sure why but I must ask Michael next home game.


Sadly all these bushes were toppled and crushed.

I have no idea what to make with them so they are in the freezer until we decide what to do – probably a crumble.



Aviva Stadium: Ireland vs. Uraguay

Yesterday we took the kids to see the friendly fixture against Uraguay as part of the 2018 World Cup series the the Aviva Stadium.   Luis Suarez played for like 10 minutes – probably part of his “contract fulfillment”.

We all first met up at the Bloody Stream for a couple pints then headed in on the DART – Howth to Landsdown Road (super easy!). Funniest thing is Soren was at a playdate earlier so he didn’t join us until the Sutton stop.

I have never been there before so was happy that we all went together.   We will do a stadium tour another time.  The stadium is beautiful, new, loads of bars, food stands.  Speaking of stands and bars – there was a rule you could not bring your beer to the stands!  They loosened up the rule in the second half.  But as I am a self-professed​ beer snob, I would not waste my money. Plus, I had two Hoegardens already at The Bloody Stream.

In order to sit together, we swapped our tickets with another coach, so our tickets were in premium section 324 which was great but the rest if the group was up in 511, we moved 1/2 way thru. There the kids would be with their pals and it made going home a lot easier.

On the DART on the way home, some of the boys were cracking us up climbing the poles and trying to do chin ups, etc. A little brother was the best!!

Great night and all was safe – there was a no bags policy in place but it was outside in the crowds which was my most uneasy period.  I did not see one armed Garda – yes, I still have strange feeling about the fact that most of our police do NOT carry guns!!  A few issues with drunk losers but thankfully that didn’t  escalate.  Anyway on the DART, no worries only laughs at the climbing monkies.

Fun time with a great group of kids and parents and awesome that we won!

Little Museum of Dublin

Last week, I was attended a special guided tour of the “Little Museum of Dublin” with a women’s social group to which I belong.

It is located in a lovely Georgian house just opposite St. Stephens Green, down from the Hibernian Club, where the club’s monthly meetings take place.  A person from the museum came to the club and spoke about the museum – unfortunately, I was not able to attend that, so when I saw the tour, I jumped on it.

After this tour, I’ll bring the kids back for a visit.   Soren would especially enjoy the U2 exhibition.   They have worksheets available at the museum for children of all ages that can help you get more out of your visit.   Plus the tour guides in the museum can give your children some special attention pointing out a fewinteractive artifacts in the museum, they let your kids handle – but do ask!  Take a photo of them in the old Dublin school desk, or making a speech from JFK’s lectern. The more they get involved, the more they learn.  They do things with schools too.

The Little Museum of Dublin tells the story of Dublin in the 20th century.    All items are donated  or are loan which makes it even cooler. They are always looking for interesting items, so if you have something historical here in Dublin – reach out to them!  

While we waited for the tour to start, we were free to explore the room downstairs which was a photographic exhibition. Then upstairs, a guide named June, brought us into two large rooms where you navigate your way from the early 1900’s to the 1990’s.  There you’ll see the story evolution of the society, from a political, social and cultural point of view.  She pointed out some key things.  Unfortunately when I tried to get back into the first room, to take photos, there was a private tour happening, so I could not re-enter.  The reason I didn’t take photos at first is 1) I wanted to pay attention to what she was pointing out and 2) there was way too many people. In addition to our group there were 6 additional adults, so photos would be an issue as there would no doubt be a person in the photo.  Having learned my lesson, I did manage take some photos in room #2.

There are more than 5000 artifacts on display, from bicycles, newspaper articles, photographs and rare objects like the lectern (stand) used by John Fitzgerald Kennedy when he visited Ireland and a first English edition of James Joyce’s Ulysses.

There is a permanent exhibition about the famous Irish band U2 up on the second floor. There are a lot of photographs, signed albums, concert tickets and other memorabilia on display. There’s even a Trabant car in the middle of the room which I took a photo of – yep with a person in the corner, but no matter how long I waited, I was NEVER alone for a second in any room.

I highly recommend visiting this museum whether you are from Dublin, Expat like our family or just a tourist in for a few days. They do a great job showing how Dublin has evolved over the last hundred years and the tour lasts 29 minutes – so even those strapped for time can squeeze it in.
I just saw that in addition to visiting the museum, they offer a 60-minute walking tour with an expert local guide Donal Fallon called WALK THE GREEN MILE.  It takes place on the weekends.  If interested click on the link and book in – they sell out.  In fact, all tours of the museum sell out often so best to book online.

Sketching at National Gallery and Hugh Lane Gallery

Today Maebh and I spent the day in the city center checking out the National Gallery and then the Hugh Lane Gallery. Both had family-focused drawing events on today so it was perfect timing for Soren to be invited to a football birthday party and us girls spent the day in the city.

We took the DART in which is a big adventure for a 6 year old and the bus home – with the high hopes of being at the top of the bus in the front row.  Had to settle for second to front as the people who were there were still there when it was our stop.

First up was the National Gallery.   Each Sunday from 11:30 am – 1:30 pm they have a free family event where kids are allowed in to a small area to participate in the artist-facilitated drop-in session in the atrium. These sessions are inspired by the collection and our exhibitions, are suitable for tiny tots upwards.  Each week they have a guest artist encouraging each child to explore the week’s theme. There are also free family tours taking place at 12.30 pm.  When we return with Soren, we’ll pick up a children’s audio guide at the information desk and take a family tour – which we did, but will get to that later.

It was packed, so we got a number and had a drink in the cafe before going back in.  Not sure if it’s best to arrive at 11:00 to be one of the first it at 1:00 to be one of the last?

This is the schedule for the future events.

8 January…Group of Cavalry in the Snow, by Jean Louis Ernest Meissonier. With Jane Bowe
15 January… About Face with Susan Farrelly
22 January…As Still as a Statue with Beth O’Halloran
29 JanuaryThe Magic of Chinese New Year with Fala Buggy
(In association with the Dublin Chinese New Year Festival)
5 February… Me, Myself and I with Libby Simington
12 February… Lights and Lanterns with Louise McGrath
(In association with the Dublin Chinese New Year Festival)
19 February Light, Darkness, Drama with Edel Campbell
26 February… Dots and Spots: The Terrace, St. Tropez, by Paul Signac. With Valerie Moffat
5 March… The Animals of Spring with Kate Dick
12 March… Colours Around ‘The Sunshade’ by William John Leech. With Elizabeth Archbold
19 March… Artist Inspirations with Joe Coveney
26 March… Special Someone with Fiona Harrington
2 April… The Triumph of Cúchulainn by Louis le Brocquy. With Vita Ryan
9 April… Rock the Baroque with Janine Davidson
16 April… Design a Treasure Hunt with Jo May
23 April… A Party at the Palace with Eimear Murphy
30 April… The Gleaners, by Jules Breton. With Frances Coghlan

Today session was About Face with Susan Farrelly.  The artist discussed various faces and the kids using cups, made circles and various faces.

about faces

At 12:30, we took the half hour free family tour which was great.  The tour guide spent just enough time with stops at five paintings in one gallery room- explaining them, their styles from impressionism, pointism, abstract, etc and did a great job interacting with the children and naturally, Maebh’s had was straight up interacting. She showed five paintings including: Monet, Lavery, Picasso, Yeats and Signac.


As the cafe in the National Gallery was packed and not a seat to be found, we ended up at KC Peaches for a quick lunch.  We split a blat (bacon, lettuce, tomato and avocado) sandwich, which was yummy but was not my first choice. I would have preferred the spicy chickpea sandwich but I knew it would be too spicy for her. And based on the size and price, it was evident we’d be splitting something.  It was yummy but I do have a gripe with them as they do not have a children’s menu nor a child version of their sandwiches.  I don’t see why they don’t offer a half sandwich portion for kids?!  Seriously, why would I buy her an adult portion knowing full-well, she could not eat a whole one herself.    Would we return yes, of course, but would go with both kids and they could split one leaving me to my favorite chickpea whatever!  Oh yeah, check out the drink which she insisted on having only to hate it (too sour)!

We then headedover to Pennys and Hugh Lane Gallery for the second art event of the day.  We had high hopes of getting her some new shirts in Penny’s but we are right in-between seasons, so was not much.   She did spy a sequin two way shirt which she has been dying to get for a long while and at €3, I couldn’t say no.

One way is Elsa the next is Olaf.  Better believe she is wearing that on Monday to school!

At the Hugh Lane Gallery, we along with a couple other kids were there at 3 pm sharp for a sketching session.  They were brought into a room with Olive, the instructor who had them first look at different photos and see if they could spot umbrellas.  After a while discussing the paintings, history, style, etc they were to sketch them.

Overall the hour was very pleasant and Maebh enjoyed it. We will be back for future events with Soren too.  After we poked around the gallery looking at he various exhibitions including the Renior, Monet, Manet and Francis Bacon studio.

Afterwards we walked to our bus (she really wanted the bus home vs DART) and stopped in an arcade on O’Connell Street to play a few games!  Fastest €5 ever spent! 🙂

All in all was a great day and look forward to doing it again.  I personally am going to visit the National Gallery again soon (either alone or with a friend) but children-free so I can go from room to room and take a tour, etc.  There are so many things in Dublin I want to see some with kids and some without.  I am having a tour of The Little Museum of Ireland in a couple weeks.

Halloween Pumpkin Decorating @ the National Botanic Gardens, Dublin

Last year during our visit to the National Botanic Gardens in Glasnvein, our kids learned of a pumpkin decorating contest held at every year the week before Halloween – so you better believe come Halloween this year, our kids will be all over it!  A classmate of Soren entered last year – so assuming he’ll be there again this year.  And a girl from soccer told Maebh she was entering too, so we’ll be sure to look for her entry too.

The decorated pumpkins which are being entered into the contest are due this Saturday so were in full action on getting their pumpkins ready.

After much internet searching including Pinterest.com and thinking, the kids have made up their minds.  Soren’s pumpkin is going to be an eye.

Here are a few photos of the current pumpkin state …. will be sure you post the final results.

see the eye?


Maebh’s is a pink pumpkin with melted crayola crayons dripping down in.  With some feathers on it she is going to call it sparkly feather – or so that what her plan is with it.

But the paint used on Maebh’s pumpkin didn’t stick and it peeled off, she decided to change it up.  It is now covered with glitter and has melted crayons down the side and will sit on a plate of feathers.

and the final pumpkins which are ready to be entered …

and the FINAL PRODUCTS – Feather Sparkles and Eyeclops were entered today in the contest.

I took some photos of the other pumpkins which were also submitted.  Very cute & creative ideas.  Of course, Trumpkins are a hit this year during the presidential election.

So many creative pumpkins – it was a lot of fun looking at each one.