Wednesday, 29 August 2012

I Love....

The sound of heavy rain when your indoors somewhere warm and cozy
Hot chocolate and marshmallows
My phone
My family and friends
Surprise emails/messages/calls
Getting post
Movie nights
Big sunglasses
Cute nicknames
Private jokes
Watching the starts in the night sky
The sound of planes overhead
Ralph Lauren perfume
Laughing until you cry
Christmas at home
My car, Suzie
My camera 
One man
Strawberries and cream
Dulce de Leche
Being with the people I love
Hats and scarves
Falling into bed after a long day at work and the gym
Chanel Chance perfume
Presents for no reasons (given or received!)
Good surprises
Disney World, Fl
Singing when I'm driving ALONE!
People that don't lie
Cotton Candy
Inspiring quotes
Seeing people laughing uncontrobably
The beach
Seeing someone you love for the first time in ages
Days off
Waking up before your alarm and seeing you still have hours to sleep

Sunday, 26 August 2012

A Surprise Weekend

What would life be like without a little spontaneity? A little risk taking? Pretty dull I'd say. The beginning of last week I was given 3 days off in a row from work and right then and there, I knew I wanted to go somewhere!
It has been the worst summer Ireland has seen for many years (and that's really saying something) so my body and mind was in need of a bit of sunshine and beach life. 
After a few hours of deliberation, I booked my flights to Malaga to visit Laura (and the sun.) on the 12th.
It was definitely a spur of the moment decision as my flight left the next day. I got home from work, packed my bag and tried to get a few hours of sleep before the early morning flight.

I don't know many families as overwhelmingly nice as Laura's. Even though all communication was through Spanish (very rusty Spanish in my case), I was made feel so so welcome and I enjoyed a wonderful 3 days with them.
The first day was a bit cloudy but still spent on the beach. Thankfully the second day saw a clear blue sky and lots of sun! On the first evening there was a Feria in Malaga centre which we went to. It comes every year to the same place and brings thousands of people.  Even though I was super tired, we had a lot of fun! It was huge, so many different tents and marquees with different food in each, some had shows of traditional Spanish dancing, and all the kids were dressed up in Flamenco outfits.. so cute! There was also a big amusement part with lots of rides.

We ate some Spanish Tortilla, a delicious gofre, watched some shows, and did some dancing... (I dance like a spastic....poor Laura and Cristina....I'm pretty sure they were trying to lose me!) After the evening, Laura's lovely dad collected us and brought us home.

La Feria




We celebrated Laura's birthday as well... spent the day at the beach, and then in the evening had dinner at home and went out for Gelato with all her lovely family.
The next morning it was time to go home... but not before a breakfast of churros con chocolate!

It was a really nice few days but went by way too fast!
Thanks so so much to Laura, Cristina and their amazing parents and grandma for the lovely weekend!

Saturday, 18 August 2012

100 Things One Year Later

Just over a year ago, I decided to start making note of the important things I wanted to do, or accomplish in my life. It was at a time when I had a lot of personal things going on and I realised life is too short to just let it pass you by. Writing this list has really given me some direction, and a stronger focus to do the things I want to do.

Exactly 1 year ago today (August 18th) I published my 100 Things I want to do list. Although I have not conquered much of the list, I am pleased to say I have crossed off 11 things and the next couple of months should see a few more gone hopefully!
Unfortunately though, some of my priorities have changed (had to change) over the past months so there have been a few edits.  It doesn't make me happy to give up on my dreams but...I will have to make new ones... Throughout the year, I have kept note of new experiences I would like to add so they are now there too!

In no particular order:
  1. Go on an African safari
  2. Get married
  3. Have my children
  4. Travel around Asia for 3 months
  5. Travel South America for 3 months to Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Mexico
  6. Have breakfast in Paris with my other half outside the finest bakery in the sunshine
  7. Make my parents and sister proud
  8. Live in the States again
  9. Live in Tunisia
  10. Travel around North America for 2 months, visiting Boston, New York, Chicago, California, Colorado, Seattle and DC.
  11. Take a romantic trip to NYC
  12. Take photography classes
  13. Become a semi-professional photographer
  14. Learn how to bake and do it a lot! . . .
  15. Own at least 3 different properties around the world
  16. Learn how to use Photoshop
  17. Get my Irish drivers licence
  18. Be promoted in the Four Seasons . . .
  19. Transfer to somewhere else in the world, either temporary or permanently
  20. Experience true human flight - see video! :
  21. Be in the cockpit of an airplane for a take-off or a landing
  22. See NYC by helicopter (As in the scene from 2 Weeks Notice!)
  23. Travel around Tunisia for 3 weeks
  24. Plan my own dream wedding
  25. Take part in a photoshoot
  26. Do a photoshoot (hopefully many of them)
  27. Write an autobiography
  28. Speak Spanish fluently
  29. Speak Tunisian Arabic fluently
  30. Move to a Spanish-speaking country for 3-6 months straight and study and speak ONLY Spanish, no English!
  31. Write a successful blog and have over 100 followers
  32. Buy an amazing camera
  33. Join a gym and use it!!
  34. Buy a small picnic basket
  35. Have a picnic in Central Park, NYC
  36. Buy a really expensive handbag
  37. Open a restaurant
  38. Visit the Sassis in the Netherlands or have them visit me in Dublin
  39. Visit Asia in Poland
  40. Visit Gloriana in Mexico
  41. Be the best mum and wife I can be
  42. Have a guest bedroom in my home, always with fresh flowers by the bedside and an open door for all visitors
  43. Have a cinema system at home
  44. Own one property with a lot of land
  45. Go camping and roast marshmallows over an open fire
  46. Get back into tennis
  47. Take a course on interior design
  48. Take up the piano again and learn at least 2 new pieces
  49. Learn a bit about flowers and gardening and plant my own small garden
  50. Build one of my properties from scratch, designing it myself
  51. Visit the North Pole and go sledding with reindeers
  52. Go to a music festival
  53. Attend a film festival
  54. Go to an opera
  55. Do something with my teeth so I don't always have to wear a brace!
  56. Swim again with dolphins
  57. Snorkel again in a coral reef
  58. Get my face drawn by a caricaturist
  59. Visit a famous museum
  60. Become GM of a resort
  61. Own my own business and be my own boss at some point
  62. Learn how to drive a stick shift
  63. Go back to university to do a masters
  64. Learn French again and speak is as close to fluently as possible
  65. Redecorate my room at home
  66. Help my family with money
  67. Return to FL soon, at least for a visit and as much as possible
  68. Visit Greece
  69. Go on another cruise
  70. Holiday in The Maldives
  71. Holiday to Bali 
  72. Holday to Bora Bora
  73. Go to Friguia Park
  74. Attend an arts and crafts class
  75. Grow my own fruit and veg
  76. Throw a themed party soon
  77. Camp in the dessert
  78. Dance Salsa - well! 
  79. Win the green card lottery
  80. Go on my first skiing holiday
  81. Work some time from home
  82. Help someone achieve their dream
  83. Start a proper savings account!! 
  84. Organize my old clothes, and donate to a charity and/or to someone that needs them
  85. Open my own hotel
  86. Own a boat
  87. Take time off work or work part time for a while when I have my children
  88. Invent a perfume and design the bottle
  89. Invest in a small property and rent it out 
  90. Take a life coaching course
  91. Send my mum and dad on a surprise holiday
  92. Organize a reunion
  93. ***************
  94. Find a job that I can earn some extra money from home (data entry etc) 
  95. Explore a jungle or rainforest
  96. Try Paragliding
  97. Put a message in a bottle and throw it out to sea
  98. Ride along vineyards on horses with someone I love
  99. Go Tree Camping  LOOK!  
  100. Go whale watching
  101. Take a flight lesson(s)
  102. Have the smell of Le Meridien in my home
  103. Take a self-defense/martial arts class
  104. Buy a horse and learn how to horse-ride
  105. Do a diet/fitness challenge like Insanity (because of my work it would definitely have to be adjusted so I will make one up!) 
  106.  Buy a new puppy (a husky/st.bernard)
  107. **************************
Ok, I realise this is more than 100, but  who cares!!
I encourage anyone reading this to do something similar... it really helps you get things done, and writing things down definitely makes your aspirations more real and do-able!! And it feels awesome when you cross something out!! 

Here's to another year and to taking chances!

    Wednesday, 15 August 2012

    A Little Hidden Treasure

    Two weeks ago, I visited the Medina in Tunis for the first time... it looked similar to the one in Sousse only bigger, but with one hidden gem : THIS !!

    We had to walk down side alleyways and hike up rickety stairs to finally reach this beauty but it was totally worth it. We were at the very top of the Medina, looking down over the city of Tunis. It was like something from Aladdin. All we needed was the magic carpet.

    Happy Wednesday everyone!

    Wednesday, 8 August 2012


    There aren't many places on earth where I feel completely happy.. but Tunisia is one of those places.
    Last week was particularly special because I got to share my 'second life' with one of my best friends, Dearbhla.
    This was our third adventure in 5 months and it too, was special. It could not have come at a better time either. SERIOUSLY.
    It was a busy 9 days, between seeing friends, beaching it, tending to burns that 47 degrees will give you, and enjoying hotel life. 
    There's no better place than El Mouradi Palace at summer time. There's something special about it : the music, the smells, the people from all over the world on their holidays. Beach all day, lovely dinners and shows every night. There's a special atmosphere that you can't find anywhere else.
    "The Palace" is a place which holds a lifetime of memories for me - I grew up there. It is my favorite place in the world.

    Days on the beach...

    Me and Dearbh

    Me and Roos

    Noor, me and Roos

    Beaching it!

    My Dutch family who I love so much!

    The day we were almost blown off the beach by a hurricane! Ah good hair day.

    "Now everyone wants to get UNDER the hat!!"

    To Sousse( via Noddy Train!) 

    Last week I met my 'brother's' sister's new born - baby Samir. He is so beautiful. A little creature, so helpless and dependant ... his little arms and legs , and eyes just looking up at you. I could have sat admiring him for hours and hours (I sort of did.)

    Eyes like his Uncle Ali

     A little bit of Irishness.... Ok, I realise the hat is large enough to act as a flotation device for him...give him a few months to grow into it.

    At the Hotel...

    It's funny - when the term 'at the hotel'  is used in my house, in any conversation, it does not refer to the Four Seasons, where I've been working for over a year,  it does not refer to my sister's hotel either, nor the hotel I worked before in Florida, or any hotel in the local area- it has always been THIS hotel:

    My 2nd home

    I don't know what it is, but the Tunisian night sky is always something amazing. The moon is so clear; the stars too, especially in Winter. If I wouldn't look like a weirdo, (or maybe if there's no one else around!) I love to look up and admire it...I find myself wondering who else is looking at the exact same sky, or the exact same star as me at the same time from somewhere another side of the world. When you look up for long enough, you're sure to see one shooting or falling.

    Yummy desserts...

    At a show..

    Elise, Dearbhla and me and Noor

    A trip to Hergla ...
    Me, Souhir and Ali took a drive there one's about 15 minutes away from Port El Kantaoui.  It's so beautiful there- the water is so clear, full of little coves, and during the summer, lots of families on picnics, or going fishing and swimming.

    My future sister-in-law!

    A little bit of tennis...

    Best laid plans..... Dearbhla and I had agreed we would play tennis or run every day... did not happen.. but from the days we did play, we had some visitors.

     Tennis with some of my favorite people in the world!

    Evenings of Shisha and ice-cream...

    Dearbhla's first trip in a louage... the lips show the smile, the eyes show the terror!!!

    Waiting my visitor from Tunis

    It's Ramadan now and a special time to be in Tunisia. For 1 month, the streets are quiet during the day, life begins at sunset when the fast is broken. All cafes are completely full from 21:00 until 3 or 4 in the morning with families, children and friends. Ramadan is a time for doing good - speaking good of people, giving to charity, prayer and general kindness and generosity to others. Everyone is tired during the afternoon, and if not working, taking a nap is the best thing to do! Life comes back to everyone after dinner and last week we had a delicious Ramadan dinner in Daddy's house with lots of laughs, amazing food, and the best company.

    No food like home-cooked:) Cous Cous, Brik, and Chorba yummy!

    Before and after dinner games! 

    After each piece was placed correctly, there was a great cheer "Yayyyy!!!" and a round of applause from everyone to which Yazmine replied (each time) it was HER who in fact, got it. When it was finally finished, she was excited to tell her mommy that SHE did it alone!! Bless her patience, if I was alone, I would have given up before dinner.


     Sisters time!!!

    As we were flying from Tunis, we decided to go the day before to visit a friend for the day and night at his hotel. It gave us the chance to explore the capital city of the country I love so much. A car picked us up, Zied came with us too, and brought us the 2 hour drive to Tunis. Most of the drive we were giving Dearbhla an Arabic lesson... she'll be almost fluent when she goes back! Well, she'll be able to tell jokes, count, call people crazy and tell people "it's very hot today" over and over again.
    Our bags went on to the hotel, and we went straight to the Medina for some shopping.

    On Ave. Habib Bourguiba

    We visited another hotel from the El Mouradi chain which I had never seen before (except from the air arriving into the airport)

    When we arrived to the hotel, our bags were waiting for us...

    Dearbhla's book nicely placed on my bag! Arriving as guests of the General Manager, I'd say there were a few laughs before we got there!

    We got massages/facials/manis and pedis that afternoon at the hotel and dinner in the evening. After that, we went to Sidi Bou Said. Being a summer night in the middle of Ramadan, it was nearly impossible to find somewhere to sit in a cafe but we managed it in the end. It's such a beautiful place with such a nice atmosphere. We had a walk around to admire the views, picked up a cotton candy(!) and then sat down.
    For the entire time we were there, there was a group of people having a sing-song for at least an music, just singing traditional music and enjoying their evening. I didn't get too many pictures in Sidi Bou Said this time but if you want to have a look at how beautiful it is, in daylight : Click and scroll down a bit

    The famous door of Sidi Bou Said!

    It's always a good time for cotton candy

    The cat jumped over under the moon

    The next afternoon, we left the 40 degrees and sun to return to 14 degrees and rain. Lovely. I guess it's time to start planning the next trip... :-) 
    More pictures to follow soon!!