Samara O'Shea

Archive for July, 2010

Here’s To My Friends

Friday, July 30th, 2010

Here on this last Friday of July in the Year of our Lord 2010, I would like to pimp out two of my good friends. First up is Blake. I met him in late 2006, and he quickly became one of my dearest comrades. He is my homosexual husband—in other words, the man I would marry if he weren’t gay. Blake is a fitness expert and spiritual guru. He has written a fabulous e-book called 100 Tools to Change Your Brain, Body, and Spiritual Being, which can be purchased on his website. Let’s tip our hats to Blake.

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Blake and I being silly—in a very serious and artistic way.

Next up is Karina. Karina and I have known each other for eight years. She’s been talking about launching a food blog forever. Then one day it appeared. Stop by at EATPretty. The site has a clean design and clever content. Karina calls herself a “flexitarian.” That is one “who leans toward vegetarian, low dairy foods.” It’s a great site for health-conscious foodies. Let’s now raise our champagne glasses in Karina’s direction.

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Karina and I earlier this year.

I hope you enjoyed meeting my friends. Have a wonderful weekend!

Going Dutch

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

Travel Tales Part Two: After jumping from city to small town to city in Ireland, it felt good to put my bags down at the hotel in Amsterdam knowing I wasn’t going to have to pick them up again for four days. Going in, I knew the two things that most people know about Amsterdam: pot and prostitution are legal. Other than that, I was open to discovery. My first (and favorite) realization was the gorgeous city itself. When one thinks aesthetically pleasing European city, Paris and Rome come to mind. To my pleasant surprise, Amsterdam can architecturally hold its own also. While there is no Effie Tower or Colosseum, the canals are a unique wonder (albeit a bit smaller), and the buildings are striking.

Fun Fact*: The staircases in Amsterdam are insanely steep. I’m talking ladder steep. At the top of every building is a large hook (not really visible in the pics below, sorry). This is how furniture is moved in and out—attached to the hook and through the window.

*This is a not-so-fun fact if you are wearing stilettos or intoxicated. Woe is you if you are wearing stilettos and intoxicated.

Some photos:

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A canal at twilight.

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A canal at lunchtime.

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A canal blessed with my presence.

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The Dutch are friendly folk.

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Wooden shoes galore.

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I had to try a pair on.

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We saw this beauty on a bike tour through the countryside. If you go to Amsterdam, go on the bike tour. The terrain is flat, so even if you’re not the best biker you’ll be fine.

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The Van Gogh Museum is the best single-artist museum I’ve ever been to, and I haven’t been so awestruck by an artist’s versatility since the Frida Kahlo exhibit was in Philadelphia. I also discovered that VG was quite the letter writer. I’ll let you know if I read anything good.

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Getting ready for the World Cup.

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It was a treat to be in Amsterdam on World Cup day. Despite the eventual loss, I’ve never seen an entire city so excited. I got completely caught up in the national pride—even if it belonged to another nation. I also visited the Anne Frank House (of course!). I wrote about that moving experience for .

ReadyMade

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

Check out my write-up in the August/September issue of ReadyMade magazine —pages 60-61. My piece isn’t on the website (yet), so you’ll have to seek out the issue at a CVS near you. I’ll let you know if/when it goes online.

Living in Thatch

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

Going to Ireland, like going most places in Europe, feels like stepping back in time. Buildings and streets are smaller and history is all around. It may be the site of a castle or of a building obviously built in the 1600s, but there is something on just about every corner that will take you to a time you never knew and (yet somehow) are completely familiar with.

The weather was autumn-like the whole time we were there, which was fine by me as it was 98 degrees and above with hardcore humidity back home (still is). We started in Dublin and spent a day/night there before heading to a small town called Nenagh (pronounced Neena), where my friend Lisa lives, and then we went all the way west to Galway. I loved both the big cities, and it was lovely to see provincial Ireland as well. A few photos:

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A stereotypically beautiful picture of Ireland on the Aran Islands, a short ferry ride from Galway. It’s the only place in in the country where they still speak Gaelic.

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This cafe, also on the Aran Islands, has a roof made of thatch. Yes, thatch. Though it looks small on the outside, it’s actually quite big and they serve a divine potato gratin.

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My cousin Kate on a windy day, which is pretty much every day in Ireland.

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I enjoy seeing the language I know and love used in alternate ways. This is a sign at Trinity College, Dublin.

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Rohan’s is one of the oldest pubs in Nenagh. Once upon a time, all pubs doubled as general stores. Rohan’s is the only pub in Nenagh that is still both a general store and bar. It’s pretty sweet—in an early 20th-century kinda way. And what would a century-old bar be with a Facebook page!

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I took this at the James Joyce Center in Dublin. Honestly, I was disappointed with the center. In fairness, it’s difficult to have a museum/center dedicated to a writer. What the writer leaves behind are the words, and that’s more than enough. A museum dedicated to one artist, however, is a different story entirely. In Amsterdam, we went to the Van Gogh museum. That was incredible. Amsterdam blog to come . . .

From Hong Kong, With Love

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

Hello ~ I’m back from my trip. I am at once exhausted and well rested. It’ll take me a few days to get myself situated in order to share my experiences. Stories are coming – I promise. For now, I would like to present this fun photo sent to me by my new friend Jim. He’s living in Hong Kong teaching English at a local university. He took For the Love of Letters out of the library and noticed the record card was fairly active. How exciting to know my words are reaching people on the other side of the planet. Thanks Jim!

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Surprise! Surprise!

Friday, July 2nd, 2010

Late last night Lorissa, web-designer extraordinaire, told me she had updated the site. She turned that around quickly! Please look to your left. You’ll see the lovely new “On Wedding Vows” link at the top of the first information bar. To your left in the middle, you’ll see the “Order Wedding Vows” link. I recommend starting with “On Wedding Vows,” which will lead you directly to “Order Wedding Vows.” The “Order Wedding Vows” page will then take you to the Sample Vows page and a fun new page called the Last Letter.

Look around. Enjoy! If you see any mistakes or have any suggestions, please let me know. I am going to wait until I get back from vacation (see link below for details) before I announce on Twitter / Facebook / in the bridal Blogosphere that this is up and running. Let’s keep it on the DL until I return. Shhhhhhh!

The Emerald Isle

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

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You may think with a last name as Irish as mine, that I’ve been to the motherland many times. I’m sad to say it isn’t so, but that is about to change—tomorrow. I am headed to Ireland for the first time in my 30 years. Yay! I will be tasting the local fare, chatting with the natives in every pub, and avoiding the Internet at all costs. I’ll blog upon my return.

In the meantime, check out my write-up for Tranquility du Jour on leaving a trail of safety breadcrumbs as you travel.