Living Life on the Edge of a Cliff

Ireland keeps one-upping itself.

Just when I think, “THIS IS MY NEW FAVORITE PLACE EVER,” I go to another place, and I have to say the phrase again.

This weekend, I went to two of {seriously} my two new favorite places ever— Howth Cliffs and Cliffs of Moher. You could say that I was living life on the edge.

Thursday— Irish Sports

Before I get into the cliffs, I need to tell you about how we played Gaelic sports on Thursday morning. Instead of 2.5 hours of sitting in class, our contemporary Irish society class headed to the “pitches” for some traditional Irish sports (praaaaaise).

Sport #1: Gaelic football. I would describe this as a cross between soccer, American football, and rugby, played with a volleyball. I was pretty bad, but it was fun to try.

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[source]

Sport #2: Handball. The drills for this were a pain in the ass, but playing the actual game was fun! I liked this one the most. It’s basically squash without a racquet and with a softer, smaller ball.

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[source]

Sport #3: Hurling. Sounds horrendous already, doesn’t it? Well I played horrendously too. It’s like lacrosse + field hockey + baseball + do whatever the feck (← apparently an acceptable curse substitution here, even on daytime TV) you want. Just kidding, there are rules, but there are too many rules to remember for a rookie.

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I learned afterwards that our young instructor for the day was one of the best Irish sport athletes in the country, so… good. He saw me miss the ball about 10 times.

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that chin sweat.

Despite my skill deficiency, I had such a blast learning about the history of the sports and how to play them! Irish moves and grooves, I dig it 🙂

Friday— Howth

Howth is pronounced with a long ‘o’ sound. So like “oath” with an ‘h’ in front. Just FYI, because I wouldn’t have known.

My mom got back from her two-week tour around Ireland, and her sister was also in town! I met up with them on Friday morning for breakfast at Restaurant 104. I opted for a big, late breakfast including a goat cheese, spinach, and red pepper omelette. Then mom and I split a scone with butter, jam, and CREAM (← game changer).

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We had no plans for the day, but my aunt asked us, “Have you ever been to Howth?” I had not been, but Rachel told me I had to go, so Friday was the day! We took a fairly short rail ride out to the beautiful fishing village, and just did our tourist thing. Lots of looking around and photographing!

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The highlight of Howth is the cliff walk, so I took off on one of the paths while my mom and aunt stayed back at the beach. I wish they came along to see the beauty of the cliffs, but it was a blessing in disguise to do a solo hike.

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As I walked up the initial road, I saw some gorgeous properties along the coast. I told myself about 100 times during the whole cliff walk, “I want to live here.”

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wild blackberries!

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help, no one here to take photos with me

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I cannot explain how at peace and in awe I felt throughout the 1.5-hour walk around the cliffs. The wind was strong, the ocean was mystifying, and the solitude was rejuvenating. God exists, man.

On the walk down, I passed by some more cute houses and an abbey.

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I would have done the longer hike path, but I didn’t want to keep Madre and my aunt waiting too long. Plus, I was so parched. I ran out of water early on in my walk, so I needed hydration ASAP.

I met up with the ladies at Starbucks for some water and snacks, and then we popped into a lovely tea house for afternoon tea and cake. My aunt and I shared a pot of wonderful spearmint tea, and then we all shared a scrumptious slice of carrot cake.

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some of the best carrot cake we’ve ever tasted!! SO moist, and I’m not sorry for using that word.

Our eating schedule was weird with our late breakfast and dessert-lunch, so we ate dinner about an hour later at a restaurant called Deep. All the seafood restaurants looked fantastic, since we were in a fishing village after all.

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literally right from the boat to the market to the restaurant

We share calamari to start, and then I ate a decadent “open fish pie” for my entree.

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It looks like it’s just mashed potatoes in a dish, but there was so much fish underneath! Cod, salmon, and some others that I could not identify. Comfort food at best. Mom also shared a big piece of her fish + chips with me. The crust was perfect!

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My meal also came with a dessert (“my preciousss”), so I ordered the apple crumble. It was hot and the perfect sweet ending to a pretty sweet day.

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Thank you so much, Madre and Auntie Xay for an incredible day in Howth! And happy birthday to Auntie Xay as well 🙂

Saturday— Dublin

I had some work to do, so I laid low with Madre in my dorm room. She basically filmed a documentary of my life to show Pop, which I thought was hilarious. I did some homework, laundry, and a nice dorm workout in the morning/early afternoon. For my workout, I did a slowish 12 minute workout, followed by the first day workout in the free CodyApp KaisaFit challenge! I ♥︎ Kaisa.

After a shower and finishing up laundry (mom spoiled me and folded it all for me while I worked!), we walked to a late lunch at the Lovely Food Co.

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I ordered the superfood salad for some veggie power in my life. It was everything I could have wanted and more. I think it had roasted veggies, broccoli, seeds, homemade croutons, and halloumi cheese, among other things.

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Mom had the smoked salmon and crab sandwich per my recommendation. She shared a quarter of it with me + some of her tomato soup.

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And since Lovely Food Co. has some of the best desserts, we had to order one to share. She chose the spiced pear cake, which was another score. Moist, perfectly spiced, and just sweet enough.

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We went grocery shopping for my week ahead, and then an hour or two later, we walked to Mass with my friends Megan and Cristen. Then it was already dinner time at Dall’Italiano! My aunt also met up with us after her day of touring Dublin city centre.

We all craved pasta, and we left satisfied.

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I got the fettuccine with beef fillet, onions, and mushrooms in a red wine sauce. Molto bene! I have 1/3 of it in my fridge for leftovers 🙂

Then it was time to say farewell to my mother for three months (and my aunt for even longer probably!). So sad, but it was great to spend so much time with her in my first month in Ireland! She had a lot of fun on her tour too.

That night I FaceTimed with two of my favorite people too— Rachel and Joe! I’m not that homesick, but I do miss my friends dearly.

Sunday— Cliffs of Moher

FaceTiming Rachel until late at night made the 5:50 wakeup call a little rough. But a nice 45 minute walk to the bus stop was enough to wake me up! Plus overnight oats.

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ugliest breakfast ever, but one of the most delicious

Megan, Cristen and I took a Paddywagon Tour, which was informative, entertaining, and eventful. One person needed to pee really badly (not me this time! although I very much empathized with her), one person got bus sick on the side of the road, a couple people almost got left behind, and the tour guide was great but also passive aggressive.

I’d recommend the tour though!

We brought our lunches, which we ate at 10:30am on the bus due to our early breakfast.

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red pesto, cheddar, hummus, basil, and rocket sandwich (threw whatever I had in the fridge into this thing and it was so tasty!!)

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Our first stop was a revisit of Dunguaire Castle, where Megan and I experienced a medieval banquet last weekend. It was just a quick photo stop this time, but it was extra pretty with this cool cloud effect going on.

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Our second major pit stop was the Burrens and the Mini Cliffs. The views were stellar even there.

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The wind was straight-up concerning though. Cristen is a very petite lady, and we all agreed that she should not come close to the edges of the mini cliffs, because there was a legitimate possibility of her blowing off.

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can you see what I mean?

Our bus driver then rushed us over to lunch in Doolin, where we all had dessert, since we had already eaten our lunches. I bought this huge slice of sweet and rich berry bakewell gateaux.

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holy moly way too much sugar for one person

Then it was time for the CLIFFS. OF. MOHER.

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They really are as phenomenal as people say they are. It was too magnificent to be true, especially since we lucked out with the weather!

So Rachel came to the Cliffs over the summer and took a jumping photo with them, so I obviously had to take one as well. Take one: too narrow of a pathway and way too windy for comfort.

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Megan: “Alison I don’t think you should jump.”

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Me: “Yeah you’re right. Safety first.”

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Compromise.

But then later, we found a less windy and broader spot for the photo.

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Then Rachel posted this photo to her social media:

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mirror image, I say 😉

It was a nice steep climb to the highest point of the cliffs, but man was it worth going up there [twice].

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Megan: “Gets to the peak. Drops on knees in prayer.”

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As always, photos can never do these kinds of places justice. If you ever get the opportunity to go to Ireland, go experience the Cliffs of Moher for yourself.

We stopped by Bunratty Castle before our 2.5-hour trip back to Dublin.

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Manmade things are just “meh” now and forevermore.

I wanted all the movement and all the veggies and protein for dinner at around 9pm. Before I ate, I did a quick 10 minute HIIT in my room to get the blood flowing and to spend some extra pent-up energy.

I finished up my big bag of rocket (arugula) with a can of salmon + hummus, tomatoes, and some unpictured carrots.

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I ended the night with blogging and FaceTiming two more friends from Boston— PJ and Louis. YAY!

Monday— WorkWorkWorkWorkWorkWork

So many things to do now, so little time!!

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But this weekend was more than worth it.

Hope you all have a marvelous week!! Go outside and feel the wind in your hair if ya can.

So tell me:

Have you ever played a foreign sport before?

Have you ever taken a solo hike?

Have you ever been to the Cliffs of Moher?

What is the most beautiful natural phenomenon you’ve ever witnessed?

Two things you did this weekend!

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Tamales, Kittens, and Lizards, Oh My!

That’s not how it goes, I know.

This is the absolute last day you will read about my adventures in Florida— promise. Dad and the rest of my family left for home yesterday, and mom and I are headed home via auto train today! I must admit that I’m quite excited to be going back to New York, even though Florida has been awesome. T-minus 20 days until it’s time for Boston!!!

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Sharing the marvelous Florida finale on Katie‘s blog!

My awesome 10-year-old cousin, Amy, asked me every day this weekend: “Did you do your moves and grooves today?” She’s now my youngest blog-reader (to my knowledge), and this is a little shout-out to her and our countless games of 2048 on my phone.

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Watching the favorites vlog

Friday

When do most people like to go to the beach? When it’s hot and sunny, right? Well, my family likes to hit the waves when the sky looks like this:

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So ominous

The last thing we wanted after a grueling, hot day at Universal Studios was more sun. These clouds were pretty intense, but once the lightning cleared, we swam in the ocean while it was raining. At one point, we were the only ones in the water, which was both concerning and awesome. Moves: fighting the waves and running back and forth from the car to the ocean. 😀

Afterwards, the beach hunger monster hit us hard, so we went to dinner at a waterfront restaurant called Milliken’s Reef. Mom and I shared the crab cakes and broiled scallops. So delicious!

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We went home to celebrate Uncle G’s birthday with some ice cream cake!

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I don’t like Chips Ahoy, but this ice cream cake was pretty darn good to someone who’s not a huge fan of chocolate. Happy birthday, Uncle G!

Saturday

The healthy family and I started the day off with some outdoor (HOT) stretching, a little bit of kung fu, and indoor core work. I’m serious about the kung fu. They taught me some basic kicks and jumps, and I basically felt like Mulan. Later in the afternoon, we went to the Mall at Millennia, where my mom and aunt shopped. Meanwhile, in the Microsoft store…

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Attempt at advertising + #operationbeautiful note

Who thinks someone will actually visit my blog after seeing that? Because I don’t think I would visit a website someone wrote about on a Microsoft tablet. Too sketchy. I do hope someone believes that #operationbeautiful note!

After eating fantastic Thai food for dinner with our other family friends, we went to Downtown Disney for a lovely nighttime stroll.

Sunday

Mom, Dad, and I went to a wonderful (and wonderfully early) morning Mass before dropping off Dad at the airport. Then we took our guests to the final attraction of their Florida vacation— the Orlando Farmers’ Market! I had just eaten breakfast before we went, but when there are free samples and your family wants you to share tamales with them, you gotta eat.

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Tamales + fresh pineapple mango juice (so good)

I’ll consider it one huge brunch.

Oh, we also found free kittens.

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Uncle G should be called the cat whisperer.

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Free kittens anyone?

A post shared by Alison (@alison_grooves) on

These were the only cats I’ve ever met that made my heart melt. And no, we did not take one home, because although they were free and absolutely adorable, the cost of raising them is through the roof. College tuition says no.

Mom would also not be a fan. She resents cats for reasons of the past.

I did the most intense moves I’ve done in a while yesterday, and it was so fun! I did Lori and Michelle’s latest workout. Eventually, the sad time came to drop off my cousin and her parents at the airport…and then there were two. Mom and I have been wrapping up household cleaning and maintenance, which is like the depressing part of movies when all the fun is over and everyone has to go home.

In other news, a lizard made its way into our house. Eeeeeeek! Mom and I had our back door wide open to take in the patio furniture. I guess a lizard was inside the screen covering the patio (that is meant for blocking out wildlife……), and it decided it wanted some AC. We didn’t want to kill it, but Mom ended up smacking it too hard with a broom in an attempt to hold it down for a second. Poor fella.

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I took this picture of a lizard inside the screen covering on Saturday. This very well might have been the one that came in. Eerie, eh?

So that’s our odd weekend for ya! Swimming in the ocean while it’s down-pouring, holding kittens, and chasing lizards.

New York, here we come!

So tell me:

What did you do this weekend?

Are you a cat person?

What is the craziest creature that has been inside your house? 

Am I Smarter Than a 5-Year-Old?

Hello, hello!

Can I just thank you all so much for your well-wishes on my post about my family’s near-death experience? We are feelin’ the love. ♥ We’ve just been taking it in these past couple of days, but we’re a-okay!

I’m sorry that I was MIA from MIMM yesterday (I’m not even trying sound cool), but I was spending some quality time with my aunt, uncle, and cousins who spent the night at our house. Getting to see them is so fun, and you’ll see why when you read on about my cousins. I also always love talking with my aunt (my confirmation sponsor) and uncle (my godfather).

Mom and I got to cooking and baking while we were waiting for our guests to arrive. I love any excuse to bake, so I decided to make brownies (using this recipe) that everyone seemed to enjoy (thank God— I’ve never used anything but box mix before).

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Hors d’œuvre spread.

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Yum.

Our guests (which also included my great-aunt, who lives near by) arrived Sunday night at around 5 PM. My 5-year-old cousin, Angela, and I did not hesitate to start getting crafty with some Do-a-Dot art and drawing. We had a contest to see who could make the most pictures, and she cranked out about five while I only had four. She doesn’t mess around.

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This cutie, Joseph, was the biggest ham for the camera. He really knows how to work it! Just point the camera to him and he is all smiles for ya.

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Before we knew it, my mom had set out a feast for all of us. We decided to go Sandra Lee-style with the semi-homemade method. 30% of the food was made by my mom and the other 70% was takeout from a Chinese restaurant. 100% of the food was fantastic.

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It’s like Thanksgiving again.

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Spoons ready!

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We were all like happy, full babies.

We had to opportunity to have a very technological conference with my other aunt, uncle and cousins through FaceTime while our grandparents were on the phone line.

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Angela slept in my room for the night, so we had a super awesome slumber party looking at the glow-in-the-dark stars on my ceiling, admiring my multi-colored night light (listen, those are just conveniently there from like, 5th grade), and talking about not being able to sleep and other deep things such as what we would wear to the princess Grand Ball. And let me tell you, Angela is one of THE most intelligent 5-year-olds I’ve ever met, so I can seriously converse with her about this kind of stuff. She speaks more articulately than a lot of my friends even. Juuuust sayin’. She was hyper on half a brownie too, so we talked until 11:30, which is pretty late for Angela. Girls just wanna have fun! 😉

Some tidbits from 5-year-old Angela:

“I want to go get socks from my mom’s room, but I don’t want to go downstairs and bother her…I guess I’ll just have to manage.”

“I was up for an hour after midnight and I just couldn’t go back to sleep so I prayed a decade of the rosary… I also helped Mommy and Daddy clean up the kitchen, open the curtains, and move the shepherd closer to the stable….Yes, I know it’s so frustrating that I couldn’t go back to sleep!” 

“You know what? If you want to fall asleep, DON’T have chocolate before bed…The only time you can drink hot chocolate is if it’s super cold that not even ten blankets can keep you warm! You’re so cold that you HAVE to drink the hot chocolate and then put another blanket on top of you.” 

Do you see how bright this child is?  I definitely did not know how to use “frustrating” in context or how to pray a rosary at five years old. Her parents are fabulous teachers.

I woke up bright and early to make breakfast for everyone. I also will take any excuse to make big breakfasts for other people. ‘Tis my absolute favorite meal to make AND eat!

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Waffles or pancakes? (This recipe for the waffles + this one for the pancakes)

Eggs, fruit, and congee were also included in this bed & breakfast service. 🙂

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You know they’re good when you have pancake on your nose!

We immediately used up our energy from breakfast for running around the house playing bus driver and tag and walk-the-baby. The Game of Life also happened. And yes, Angela played— counting money and all.

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After a while, we were hungry for lunch! My mother just threw together another feast in about 10 minutes flat. Typical madre.

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The woman can do wonders with leftovers.

I so wish our guests could have stayed longer, but they have other family members to visit this Christmas— they’ve gotta spread the love! Every minute spent with them is such a blessing.

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Lazy eye.

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The one time Joey doesn’t look at the camera!

Goodbyes were sad, but hugs and kisses make everyone feel better.

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Today is Christmas Eve! *jumping of excitement* We’re taking advantage of our vicinity to NYC today by going down to see the tree and other festive sights of the season!

So tell me: What are some funny/thoughtful things you’ve heard from a child? What did you do this weekend?