Big Kids in the Big City

I just finished one of the best smoothie bowls I’ve ever made!

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How I made it: Last night I mixed together 1/3 c. milk, 1/4 c. Greek yogurt, 1/4 c. [dry] quick cooking steel cut oats, 1 tbsp. chia seeds in a bowl. I also sliced and froze a whole ripe banana and half a mango. This morning I added to a blender another 1/2 c. milk, the oat mixture, a lot of mixed greens, a pinch of salt, a drizzle of honey, and the frozen fruit. Then I blended ’til the cows came home (probably also ’til I woke up Madre, sorry :/ ).

This was the thickest and coldest smoothie ever, thanks to the overnight chia mixture + the frozen fruit. Topped with sunflower seeds, Honey Bunches of Oats, and sweetened shredded coconut.

All I need is a tropical beach.

Other fun eats from this week at home:

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quick cook steel cut oats (that 1/4 c. serving size is diddly squat) with butter-caramelized banana slices + Greek yogurt with the rest of the caramelized banana, chia seeds, cheerios, and sunflower seeds

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half of one of my lunches: salmon and hummus on top of the last of the spinach in the container (fewer dishes FTW)

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crockpot split soup – one of my all time faves

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overnight oats (made with the quick cook steel cut oats again, because that’s all we have at home), topped with sunflower seeds + Honey Bunches of Oats

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leftover split pea soup + salad with homemade honey dijon vinaigrette

I’ve also been eating copious amounts of Boom Chicka Pop’s kettle corn, because once you start you can’t stop.

On Wednesday I had the privilege of hanging out with some of my beautiful friends from Boston University in NYC! Casey, Connor, Louis, Adrienne, and Fiona ♥︎

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We met up in Times Square and walked almost 4 miles down to The World Trade Center from there. We lucked out with some gorgeous weather!

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I also lucked out when this famous bagel place was on the way.

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It’s called Best Bagel and Coffee, which is the most gimmicky name ever, but over 1,000 people on Yelp loved it, so I went. In Yelp I trust.

I went for bacon, egg, and cheese on a whole wheat everything bagel.

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Indeed, this was whole and everything.

Confession: This was my first NY bagel in my entire life. Like, I’ve eaten bagels in the state of New York, but I’ve never had a quality NY bagel until this day. I’ve only lived here for 12 years. I’m a slow person in many regards.

My bagel sandwich was absolutely delicious and great walking fuel while the rest of my friends built up a “hangry” appetite for lunch by the time we arrived at the World Trade Center. It’s so interesting being the only nourished one in the group. You just watch everyone else get angry and/or delirious.

After they were all fed at a gastropub called Suspenders, we walked around to the 9/11 Memorial.

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Connor is from Maine, so the big city was a bit too overwhelming for him.

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sees grass. lays down.

And since I’m queen of navigation when it comes to food places, I brought my pals to Rice to Riches (the most vulgar but amazing rice pudding place you will ever enter)…

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…and then Eileen’s Special Cheesecake (it was featured on Food Network, so you know it’s legit).

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Holla for International Women’s Day!

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A delightful amount of food, a crap ton of walking, and countless laughs with some of my favorite people (I kind of hate myself for the cheesiness of that last one…but it’s true).

When I got home, my body wasn’t sore and had a lot of energy for the first time this whole week, so I did a quick 16 minute workout in the basement (30 seconds work/10 seconds rest/4 rounds):

Yesterday started with that smoothie up there + a manicure and pedicure with Madre early in the morning, because I had to take a train right back into the city for lunch with Pop, my brother, and Christine from Boutiquefull (also my good friend from BU)! Christine met my brother and dad in NYC, since they all work down there, so Pop asked to take us out to lunch one day.

I wouldn’t usually take a 40 minute train + 20 minute subway ride just to eat lunch in NYC, but I’d do it for these folks 🙂

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We went to Harry’s Italian, and let me just say, thank God for complimentary focaccia bread.

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Also for giant meatball subs, one of my favorite meals on the planet.

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It was so fun catching up with Christine and hanging out with Pop and bro Ben!

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After lunch, I headed uptown to meet with a couple of the Sisters of Life. I signed up to be a co-worker for them, which is essentially a volunteer to help women in crisis pregnancies (with resources, babysitting, material donations, praying, just being a friend, etc.), so we just chatted about that and all about life (duh).

All the Sisters of Life are just pure JOY. Ugh. Love ’em.

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stopped into this church as I was speed walking to catch my train back home

Last night we went to flavor town (as Guy Fieri would say) for dinner. In other words, I roasted/grilled a bunch of veggies, Madre made salmon and rice, and we dug in.

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grilled eggplant with s+p

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Moroccan roasted carrots (olive oil, salt, pepper, Moroccan spice, brown sugar)

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honey balsamic roasted brussels sprouts!!!

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the crispy leaves are the best, and I pretty much ate all of them straight out of the oven

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homemade roasted bell peppers for the first time ever

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Madre’s perfectly cooked teriyaki salmon

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altogether now

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Madre bought apple strudels, so I ate one a la mode of course

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Fancy, eh? The occasion was our friend Brother Sam visiting for the night!

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‘Twas a lovely evening of food, fellowship, and watching embarrassing home videos with the guest.

I’ll catch ya back in Boston! I need to buckle down and study, because I spent 75% of this spring break reading blogs (#noragrets).

Hope you all have a blessed weekend!

So tell me:

Do you like to sip or eat your smoothies? Eating them out of a bowl with a spoon is the superior way, but your opinion is still welcome.

Have you ever eaten a real New York bagel?

One fun thing you did this week!

The Most Low Key New Year’s Eve

Happy 2017!!! That’s such a weird year number, but I can’t wait to see what it brings.

Saturday started with a fun stair workout to mix things up:

10-8-6-4-2 sets of stairs with two 5# dumbbells. This circuit in between each set:

I like this one a lot! After stretching and showering, I helped Madre prepare lunch for some family friends who I hadn’t seen since I was in diapers (so basically meeting them for the first time!). I made the salmon by baking it with a marinade of garlic salt, pepper, mustard, honey, and dried dill. It was one of the best salmons I’ve ever cooked!

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Madre did most of the cooking though. She made sautéed vegetables, brown rice, Chinese sausage, pork ribs, and pasta with meat sauce (“for the kids”). As always, everything was fantastic! Madre is amazing.

We ended the meal with her fried bananas, clementines, and some mint chip ice cream that was sitting in our freezer. We defy all common food combinations.

Once our house guests departed, we headed to vigil Mass. After that, I felt a wall of exhaustion hit me — the kind where I don’t want anyone to talk to me, because it takes too much energy to respond (or at least respond without sounding really grumpy). So I napped!

Soon after I woke up, we left for our 8pm dinner reservation at Seasons 52, a restaurant I had visited once before and wanted to return to while we were in Florida. They serve up a lot of delicious seasonal dishes that are sophisticated but not intimidating, healthy enough but not obnoxiously healthy.

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We all shared a braised short rib flatbread and blistered shishito peppers to start, which were both super tasty.

For me entree I ordered the caramelized sea scallops with leek and butternut squash risotto, broccolini, and lemon butter. I LOVE scallops and these were great!

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We like to share bites of all our dishes, so I had a bite of Madre’s roasted pork tenderloin with mashed sweet potatoes, Ben’s seafood paella, and Pop’s lamb shank. All got a big thumbs up!

Our last dessert of 2016 was a trio of the famous Seasons 52 “delights” — classic desserts in mini glasses. I got the pecan pie, Madre got the chocolate peanut butter torte (this was my favorite!), and Ben got the raspberry cannoli.

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With full and happy bellies, I drove us home for the New Year’s countdown. There were fireworks going off from every direction (I think Disney was setting off a show every hour), so we didn’t even have to go anywhere to experience the celebration. Good thing, because my whole family was in bed before midnight, haha.

I spent the first hours of 2017 FaceTiming Rachel! It was cozy and fun 🙂

On the first day of 2017, I spent the whole day chillin’ at home. I…

  • Slept in. I feel like my sleep deficit is finally catching up with me.
  • Moved and grooved. I stretched (oh so sore from Saturday’s workout), tried to learn a dance on Youtube (lol), had a dance party by myself, and did Colby’s first workout of her 10 day holiday workout challenge!
  • Blogged (2016 recap here!)
  • Caught up with a couple friends
  • Listened to a great podcast
  • Caught up on other people’s blogs
  • Made breakfast for dinner

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open faced egg, Canadian bacon, and cheese sandwich + sautéed spinach

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more bread for dessert — toast with butter, honey, and cinnamon (tastes like a cinnamon roll!)

I’m off to San Antonio tomorrow for SEEK, a Catholic college students’ conference, and I’m pumped!!

I also just want to say thank you for being you. For your support this past year, your kind words, your prayers, and your existence. Much love to you ♥︎

So tell me:

How did you spend NYE and the first day of the year?

First Friendsgiving

GUYS, I HAD AN AMAZING DATE THIS WEEKEND.

Actually, I had many dates!

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🙂

I didn’t fall in love with an Irish boy, but I did fall in love with these luxurious Medjool dates that a patient brought into work last week. What have I been doing without these things my whole life!? They taste like caramel and maple syrup!!!

My supervisor at work told me to take the box home on Thursday, since they knew I had a big Thanksgiving feast that night where I could share the bounty of dates.

How was your Thanksgiving, American friends? I don’t feel like it happened, since it’s not celebrated here in Ireland, and this weekend was the first time I really missed New York. My family mom was sending me lots of photos of the Macy’s Parade and the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, which tugged at my heart a little bit. New York is the BEST place during the holidays!

But my friends and I here got down with the holiday spirit here in Dublin too! Two lovely ladies in our program took it upon themselves to organize an epic Friendsgiving on Thursday night, and the event totally surpassed everyone’s expectations.

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all out with the decor and table settings!

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the masters behind the night: Edna and Becca

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In true Thanksgiving fashion, there was so much food. Edna and Becca cooked a lot of it, others contributed more dishes, and the rest made monetary contributions. It worked out quite well! I contributed sausage and apple stuffing (my favorite Thanksgiving food) using this recipe.

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The only thing that put a damper on my night was that I was not hungry AT. ALL. My stomach had been in a funk in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, so as much as I wanted to eat all the delicious food, I had zero desire to put anything into my stomach. Fortunately, though, the night proceeded very slowly, so I had time to slowly digest appetizers…

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…before the main course. By then it was only a little bit uncomfortable to eat, so I got to try a good number of dishes!

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turkey (possibly pork though?) with sausage and veggies + cranberry sauce + brussels sprouts galore + stuffing + goat cheese pomegranate salad + roasted carrots + butternut squash + mac and cheese + mashed potatoes + mashed sweet potatoes

I nearly cleared that plate. #Perseverance. Everything was delicious.

There was also an immense dessert selection, so I told myself: “Choose wisely. You have limited space even in your dessert stomach.”

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apple pie a la mode + cake (that our program director bought for us!)

Sufficiently stuffed.

Even better than the food, though, was the company. I am beyond grateful for the wonderful people in my study abroad program. They are all gems.

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last four photos compliments of my friend, Cassandra

Thank you to everyone who made the night a complete success!

The rest of my weekend largely involved reading Harry Potter, watching Harry Potter, working on an essay, and eating leftovers. Megan and I are on the fourth HP book, and we are falling in love with the wizarding world more and more.

(Side note: I took the sorting quiz again, and I’m actually a Hufflepuff. I don’t know how I feel about it. I was starting to embrace Slytherin.)

I have all this leftover celery from my stuffing, and since I don’t love celery by itself, I tried ants on a log.

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I don’t really get it. It’s like…why would you ruin peanut butter with celery?

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leftover pork and apple sausage + caramelized onions with sage and thyme (I have way too many herbs left over) over spinach

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the best leftovers

Megan and I made some new food yesterday too — pancakes! We used this recipe and finished the whole batch between the two of us. “Four servings” is a suggestion, right?

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banana pancakes for me, chocolate chip for Megan

As always, I ate my pancakes with plain yogurt, peanut butter and maple syrup.

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Me: “Don’t judge me for this weird thing I’m about to do.” *puts yogurt and peanut butter on pancakes*

Megan: “It’s just not my ideal pancake, but I respect that. Peanut butter isn’t weird. The yogurt is a little weird. But as long as you enjoy it.”

Thanks, girl!

Our plethora of pancakes was breakfast and lunch. At night, we ate more carbs in the form of pizza at Independent Pizza Company.

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mozzarella, parma ham, arugula, tomatoes, and parmesan — perfection

And now I have pizza leftovers for dinner tonight 🙂

Moves and grooves have been a little less intense recently because of my mild bursitis, but I’m still doing some fun HIIT with lower impact exercises. I miss all the walking I normally do around town, but now I get to focus on stretching, which I have not been doing enough this whole semester. I’m paying for it now.

Hope you all have a great start to the week! I thank God for you ♥︎

So tell me:

Your three favorite things about this Thanksgiving weekend if you celebrated!

Do you like Medjool dates? 

One thing you’re excited for today. Less than three weeks before we go back to the States, WHAT!? (Not that I haven’t been loving it here, but I’m excited to go home too.)

Challenged

I’m forgetting that the weather usually gets colder once fall hits.

I have to wear socks and sweaters in my dorm room, which currently seems like a foreign concept to me. Like, I can’t just be in athletic shorts and a t-shirt all the time now? I have to “keep warm”!?!?

That doesn’t mean I’m giving up cold overnight oats though.

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strawberry banana peanut butter overnight oats overfloweth

Also, who knew strawberries were so good in Ireland!? I feel like I already talked about this. Deja vu.

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Lunches have been looking mighty similar these days, but I don’t hate it. Eggs and veggies are always welcome in my belly.

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As are cheese and carbs.

Lunchtime is a madhouse these days, because we often only have a one hour break to come back to the kitchen, prepare our meals, eat them, and then walk back to class. Plus all the cleaning and maneuvering around 10 other people doing the same exact thing. It sounds like I’m complaining, but I kinda love the rush of “we all have to eat! NOW!”

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Food brings people together 🙂

I would say that the challenge of sharing a kitchen is nothing compared to the moral and mental challenge of my classes so far. It’s not that they are too academically difficult (yet), but all my courses (contemporary Irish society, ethics in healthcare, and healthcare practice and policy) have something to say about the Catholic Church and all the hot topics that surround it these days.

And I get it– just a mention of the Catholic Church stirs up a lot of hubbub.

Sure, I get uncomfortable in class being one of the two practicing Catholics here (especially because everyone knows that I’m a devout Catholic), but I’m loving every minute of it. Not because I want to get all defensive or play the victim, but because I need to be challenged in my beliefs. I want to know what others think of “people like me”. I need to dig deep into why I believe what I believe, and facing the (sometimes stinging) commentary of those who oppose my beliefs is one effective way of doing that.

(p.s. I’m not leaving the Church anytime soon.)

The best part? We all still get along and respect each other. And there have been a couple of very kind people who have shown their appreciation for my POVs, even if they don’t necessarily agree. This was especially comforting yesterday after I expressed my opinions in class, practically shaking with nervousness. (I’m not kidding, but I’m also not asking for pity.)

I might make a vlog expanding on all my thoughts later. My brain is exploding with thoughts and reflections all the time these days!

Anyway, let’s get back to food for some relief from this rather serious topic. Dinner this week has been pork chops with sautéed onions, potatoes with red pesto, and roasted broccoli. A delicious and satisfying meal. Yay for fats!

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Moves and grooves have been short and sweet. Except on Monday when I did a 50 minute Fitness Blender HIIT workout. Tuesday was 35 minutes of yoga + a slow and easy 12 minute lunchtime workout, and yesterday was a 100 burpee workout! 🙂

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that’s all the time it took! gotta leave time for stretching!

It’s nice to get in some kind of movement before I sit for 5-6 hours of class throughout the day. But sleeping is also a priority, which is why my workouts have been “squeezed in” so much lately. I’ve been waking up wanting to go back to sleep FOR.EV.ER. (whoa, that sounds more morbid than I intended).

I used so many parentheses in this post.

I hope you all have a fabulous Thursday! I will be playing Gaelic football and possibly some other Irish sports today for class. God help me.

So tell me:

Have you ever felt challenged in your beliefs in school?

What have you been eating for dinner this week?

Do you forget that the weather changes too?

What is your favorite quick workout?

“Dessert Rejuvenates Me”

My room is decorated!!

With wet t-shirts and damp underwear. They’re donning my windows, armchair, desk, and radiators because the laundry was finally installed in our dorm, but my exceptionally large load of laundry was not sufficiently dried in one dry cycle.

I honestly might go frontier-style and start washing my clothes in the sink and air drying them, since laundry will be at least 4.50 euros each time. Yikes.

These past couple days:

Wednesday

We had an orientation for our internships that will start in November, and one thing that the presenter said that struck me was, “It’s not always about what you do on the job. It’s about who you are and how you are.” In other words, in Ireland at least, it is just as— if not, more— important to be social and interactive with your coworkers as it is to be constantly diligent and focused on your tasks. Forming good relationships can be more valuable in your work experience than merely doing what needs to be done.

I know I can get so caught up in doing my job that I forget to talk to people or even refuse to go to social functions. But there’s so much more to a work/learning environment than burying your nose in the work, and I’m excited to really allow myself to do that here and find that balance between work and “play”.

I get it, universe. It’s not all about “just doing well.”

In other news, look at these bathrooms on campus.

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The vibe is, like, Hulk meets hospital. It also smelled strongly like Skittles, which was pleasant.

Lunches recently have been eggs in some form with butter and carbs in some form.

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Thursday

One of my new friends, Kendall, woke up (semi-)early to work out with me before our morning class. It was a fabulous morning too, so we did it outside. YAY. We did a 30 minute HIIT:

7 min AMRAP:
  • 10 burpees
  • 20 reverse lunges
  • 30 plank jacks
  • 100 high knees
[30 sec break]
7 min AMRAP:
  • 10 pushup to T
  • 10 broad jumps
  • 20 spiderman planks
  • 20 air squats
[30 sec break]
7 min AMRAP:
  • 10 side plank side crunch each side
  • 10 side lunge to knee twist each leg
  • 30 mountain climbers
  • 20 split jack lunges
[30 sec break]
7 min AMRAP:
  • 10 in and out pushups
  • 20 sumo squat hip looseners
  • 15 plank to ankle taps each arm

The project manager on campus told us as we walked back to our dorm, “You know you’re making all of us feel guilty right?”

I wish I had answered, “JOIN US NEXT TIME!” But that would have been weird, so we just laughed.

Another Ireland lesson: Milk and yogurt expire much more quickly here than in the States. I almost poured curdled milk into my oatmeal yesterday and then I finished my extra sour Greek yogurt last night.

Lunch was 100% safe though.

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peep the potatoes with kerrygold butter, salt and pepper ♥︎ ♥︎ ♥︎ 

The strawberries from the local grocery store here are also 5x better than Costco strawberries.

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The most frustrating moment of my Thursday was walking 45 minutes somewhere to pick up a bus card, but finding immediately upon walking into the office that the card machine was out of order. *heart drops to stomach* I hated the thought of wasting 90 minutes, but I loved the walk, and I even got to stop into a beautiful church to pray for a bit!

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This photo doesn’t do it justice. I walked in and froze for a couple seconds because I was in such awe.

We had our first Irish language lesson last night too. The professor is the sweetest and most joyful woman I’ve met in a while. The language still eludes me a bit, but it’s cool to learn about it!

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Leftover beef burger for dinner!

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split in half and eaten on top of toast with BBQ sauce, mustard, greens, white cheddar, and caramelized onions

This burger thing was the best culinary idea I’ve had in my 1.5 weeks living in Ireland (which isn’t saying much, given I’ve been living off oatmeal, chicken, and eggs).

Later, a few of us went out for dessert at Restaurant 104. They had “proper bread and butter pudding” on their menu, so I knew we had to go. And that’s just what I ordered!

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WITH raisins @Rachel

I also tried some of my friends’ sticky toffee pudding and [unpictured] “Death by Chocolate” cake.

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Everything was divine. When we all finished, Megan announced:

Dessert rejuvenates me. It’s my life source.

I’m so excited to be traveling Europe with this gal.

Now it’s Friday morning and I’m typing up this blog post! I need to do some schoolwork before going on a cliff walk later today. I did Blogilates’ Extreme Abs 3 (never gets easier) just ate some PB&J banana egg white oatmeal porridge to fuel the day:

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Have some good craic* this weekend!!! 😉

*craic is pronounced “crack” and means “fun”

So tell me:

What kinds of produce are much better abroad than at home for you? 

What is a recent frustrating experience for you?

What are you eating for breakfast this morning?

Do you like bread pudding?