Monday, July 31, 2017

Remembering Ireland: Galway and Corcomroe Abbey

On the train to Galway.


Good morning! It's Monday, and we have three more installments of Remembering Ireland to go. Let's get this one going.

After all the hectic, but wonderful, touristing we did in Limerick on our one full day there, we landed in bed that evening exhausted. That's not to say we didn't round out our time there well, because we had a late supper at the Bar & Grill on the second floor of the Absolute Hotel (where we were staying). The next day we packed up and made our way to the train station, although this time we walked instead of catching a cab. It wasn't that far and it saved us some money.

This train ride was much shorter than the one from Dublin to Limerick, but it was less crowded and we had a relaxing and enjoyable time traveling to Galway, the next leg of our trip (if you'd like to see a clip of our train ride between Limerick and Galway, I posted about that awhile back here). In Galway, we stayed at the Clayton Hotel, which is actually a good ways away from city centre and the train station. Luckily, Galway has a decent bus system and we were able to get back and forth without a problem. We checked into the Clayton and that evening we grabbed some supper in The Enclosure Bar and Bistro, located in the lobby of the hotel, and then wandered across the street afterwards to the Briarhill Shopping Centre where a Dunnes Grocery Store was located. We picked up goodies for us to eat to save a few more bucks on this leg of the journey (especially since was the only hotel where we got complimentary breakfast), and enjoyed walking around seeing the differences between Irish grocery stores and American ones.

After a good night's sleep, I was anxious to head downtown as I had decided on taking a bus tour to the Cliffs of Moher. We had passed by a Lally bus tour shop after we arrived in Galway, so we headed downtown on the city bus to book our trip there. We were pleasantly surprised to find the girl working behind the counter to be an American, but we also heard an American talk on his phone during our bus trip back to the hotel that night, so Galway must be a place to live for young Americans. Anyway, I'm glad we booked with Lally, as it was advantageously perfect for us that day. We walked down the block to the main bus station, and boarded our tour bus, which was much smaller than the other tour bus lines. There was only ten of us on the tour bus: me, my best friend, a German girl, and seven Italians.

Our first stop was at Hazel Mountain Chocolate farm. Nestled in the Burren, this 300 year old farm gives tourists a hiking detour up in the hills of the Burren. As I had sprained my knee on the Bunratty Castle stairs, I elected not to take the hike, as did my best friend, and the German girl. The bus driver told us that since we weren't taking the hike that he could drive us down the road to Corcomroe Abbey for a quick visit, so we jumped on the chance.



Corcomroe Abbey was a monastery that was established, sometime in the early 13th Century (1205 approx.), by Cistercian monks. Tucked away in the Burren, it's not far from the Cliffs of Moher. Now, I have to tell you that this entire day was a stroke of luck from the get-go. It rains frequently in Ireland, and this day was no different. However, it stopped shortly after we arrived and stayed away until right before we got back on the bus. Incidentally, when we got back to our bus, three larger tour buses pulled in while the rain came pouring back down. Not only did we get relief from the rain to see this beautiful place, but we didn't get overrun by the massive influx of other tourists that stopped there as we were leaving. Lucky, no?


Exterior shot of the Abbey and outside cemetery.








The door of the main entrance.







A view just inside the doorway.



The ground, inside and outside the Abbey, are filled with graves.













Just look at that Romanesque architecture.





The tomb and effigy of King Conor na Suidane Ua Briain, the person that legend dictates commissioned the structure.



A grave from 1682.


A view from an old window that looks out onto the Burren.


Someone leaves flowers for an older grave 


This was an amazing experience, and while I'm a bit sad to this day that I missed out on the Burren hike, I'll never be sad that I got a wonderful, mostly-dry, private view of an ancient piece of Irish history. 

We are down to just two more installments -- just two more Mondays -- of Remember Ireland. Next Monday, we'll dive into the majestic beauty of the Cliffs of Moher. Until then, have a great beginning of your week!

-H.A.


Sunday, July 30, 2017

Coffee Talk: New Adventures, Writing Again, and Slow Sundays


Good morning. I know I didn't post yesterday, but I was really busy getting ready for a fun day. It was a fun day too. 





I posted recently about my extreme case of wanderlust. Whenever that happens, and I can't readily just leave the country, I strike out on adventures closer to home. Last weekend then, we ended up spending a few hours in the Iowa Mountain (the Loess Hills), only this time we headed South
instead of North. We found some neat places to check out and ended up at a new favorite winery. It was a lot of fun, and we enjoyed ourselves. Yesterday, we packed up the car and headed out for a day at a lake. We found a great spot to park, we ate, we swam, and had a good time with friends. I'll be making posts about both of those adventures in the near future, so stay tuned.



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I've mentioned before that I've started my next book. As you know, I've decided to do things differently with this book, at least in terms of the process by which I write, and so I'm taking my time. Life is also very busy for me right now, in one way or another, which means I don't have a lot of time to devote to it right now. I won't be this busy for much longer, but until then I'm just going to take my time. I want to be more mindful of my writing anyway, so this will help.




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Today is Sunday, and like I have for the last several months now...I'm taking it nice and slow. I have always been one of those people that moves fast. I like to get things done and get them done now, but as I've gotten older -- especially over the last couple of years -- I can feel myself being more deliberate with my time. I think it has a lot to do with how quickly time is going by for me. The older you get, the faster it goes, and I think in an effort to enjoy my fleeting time on this planet...I'm moving slower and more thoughtfully. I want to relax and enjoy my time all while living with purpose.

In no place in my life will see this play out more evidently than on the weekends. Saturdays though, I often have something I need to do. Not so much on Sundays. I've set aside that day as my day to get up late, drink coffee for a long time, and just relax. I usually round out the day by doing something outside, weather permitting, or just getting out of the house. Slow Sunday, I call it, and it's almost my favorite day of the week. In fact, the weather is gorgeous so I have my windows open and I can hear the birds singing, crickets crinking, I'm in my pajamas, and I'm on my second cup of coffee. It's a gorgeous day, and I'm just going to sit here and enjoy every second of it before the rest of my household wakes up.

Enjoy your day my friends,

H.A.


Friday, July 28, 2017

Autumn is Coming



Okay, okay...so I might be jumping the gun a bit, but, hey, I'm excited! The other day at work, my supervisor handed us all our new calendars for August -- we have office calendars we print off that shows the important dates and coworker vacations -- and I had to pause for a moment. I work at a college, and in less than a month the Fall semester will begin, and in less than two months, it will officially be Autumn.






To my faithful, long-time readers, you already know of my deep abiding love and affection for my favorite season. To those of you new to my blog, let me tell you that there is nothing more amazing, beautiful, awe-inspiring, and magical than Autumn. This is especially true here in the Midwest where we are fortunate enough to experience the look and feel of the season. Autumn means cooler weather, beautiful & warm foliage, bonfires, spiked apple cider, hayrides, pumpkin patches, bountiful harvests, and Halloween.






When I say there's something magical about Autumn, I mean it. I can picture myself, right now, walking among the gold, bronze, and ruby-leafed trees of the forest. I'm wearing a light jacket or a long-sleeved shirt while a gentle, ever-so-slightly cool breeze surrounds me and christens me with clean, crisp smells. Leaves crunch under my feet while the sun hangs low on the horizon, and I can hear nature all around me as it revels in the perfect temperatures.






I can't wait to go to pumpkin patches and drink mulled cider while Nature Girl runs and plays. Of course, who could forget about Halloween? Only the best holiday in the Universe....well, at least according to me.

I know we have a little ways to go, but we're getting closer my friends, and I. Cannot. Wait.

Happy Friday to you all! Enjoy our not-quite-Autumn-yet weekend. 

-H.A.


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Ipsy's July Glam Bag



Hello, and welcome back to my site! It's time to reveal my latest glam bag from Ipsy, so let's check it out.

The bag and the card. The theme for July is Over Easy, and the bag has a character called Gudetama. I have no idea who it is, although Nature Girl told me it's a cute character created by Sanrio, the same company responsible for Hello Kitty. The card says to head over to www.ipsy.com to check it out, but I haven't yet. Let's check it out, shall we?




The contents of the bag.





First up: tarte's Rainforest of the Sea Deep Dive cleansing gel. It's a facial cleanser, and I'll be trying it soon.





This is Chella's Tantalizing Taupe Eyebrow Cream. One end is a soft, angled brush, while the other end opens up into a small tub of eyebrow cream. I've already been using this every day since it arrived and I love it! It makes perfect eyebrows that taper off perfectly at the end. It's my new favorite thing!





Next up is Caudalie Vinosource creme. It's a face moisturizer and, from what I can tell, is wine-based. I've heard of wine's antioxidant properties, so I imagine that has something to do with it.





Seraphine's Ginger + Gold Peach & Gold frosting blush looks delicious. I love blush, and can't wait to try this sumptuous looking color.





When I first saw this I was like, "Oh man, not another treStique lip gloss in frosted cream!" If you've been following me for awhile, you know I've received that lip stick several times already. Fortunately, this is actually a concealer stick, and I am happy for that. Hopefully, it works well. I will keep you posted!


And there you have it, another month's ipsy glam bag. If you're curious about ipsy and love makeup/beauty supplies, I highly suggest checking this out. I put a link for their website under the first pic. Enjoy!



My latest book, The Box, is available through different retailers for $3.99! If you like short, campy, horror books, you will love The Box

Pick it up by following this link: The Box by H.A. Larson 



For information on my other books, link up to my Pronoun Author Page.





Monday, July 24, 2017

Remembering Ireland: Grange Henge




Good morning! I have my coffee and my breakfast, so I'm ready to get this Monday started. It's also time for another edition of Remembering Ireland. Last week, I showed you all Bunratty Castle and the fun time we had there visiting the Folk Park and attending the Medieval Feaste. If you remember, I mentioned that our day in Limerick was incredibly busy. First we went to the Hunt Museum and St. Mary's Cathedral before heading back to the hotel. Before we even went to Bunratty, we took a quick trip to Grange Henge.

Now, when most people think of a henge in Europe, they think of Stonehenge. While certainly the most famous of henges, there are actually henges spread out throughout Ireland and the U.K. Since there was one a half hour drive south of Limerick, and the largest stone circle in Ireland, we figured we shouldn't pass it up. Known as Grange Henge, or the Grange Stone Circle, it's not accessible by public transportation so we hired a cab to take us there.





Grange Henge is just west of Lough Gur (or Loch Goir in Gaelic), a large lake in the region. A sign at the Henge tells you about the lake and it's relevance to the circle.





I tried to get a picture of the entire circle while still being able to see the stones, but this was the best I could do. While Stonehenge is made of large monolithic stones, most other henges are made of "smaller" stones, although you can see the largest stone in Grange Henge at the upper left-hand corner called Rannach Chruim Duibh, or Crom Dubh's division. Crom Dubh, or Dark Crom is a mythological figure of Irish folklore.





Here is a nice shot looking along the left-hand side of the circle. You can see the largest stone again in the upper right-hand corner, just off to the left of there. See it?





A shot moving along that same side of the circle, this time you can see Rannach Chruim Duibh in the exact upper right-hand corner.





The original main entrance to Grange Henge.





Visitors to this old, sacred site leave offerings to the gods here. Here we see a statuette, some simple jewelry, some bones, and coins. These were placed on the stone just to the left of Rannach Chruim Duibh.





In this photo, I'm standing right next to Rannach Chruim Duibh.





This is the road sign outside the standard Irish stone gate that surrounds the private property this henge is on.





The sign is old and cracked, but gives good information about Grange Henge. See the diagram on the right? It even has all the stones drawn out below that.


While it was raining the whole time were were there -- which kept us from staying longer -- I really enjoyed this. There was something surreal about this experience, even more so the castles and the cathedral. This henge dates to the Neolithic/Bronze Age and has been standing here since 2500 - 1800 B.C.E.! I was so awe-struck thinking about the ancient peoples who had stood here before me, centuries ago, as they prepared for their ancient rituals and celebrations.

Well, that's it for today. I'll be back next Monday with Galway. Until then, have a great Monday, and I'll be back Wednesday with this weekend's fun.

-H.A.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Latest Libations: 8th Edition



Good morning. I know I said yesterday that I would do an Ipsy post, but I'm going to wait until next week sometime. It is high time though that we have a libations post! So, here we go.




I tend to stay away from commercial ciders and beers for the most part, but I picked up this Strongbow Cherry Blossom in a mix-a-six pack awhile back. I like to get dark, heady brews and balance them out with lighter, and at times, fruity brews. This one wasn't bad, but I think the cherry flavor kind of masked the lower quality cider. I've never had their original cider though, so I don't have much to go off of.





New Belgium, like Boulevard & Lucky Bucket, make some of my favorite brews. This is their lovely Tartastic, which is a lemon ginger sour. It's not a sweet beer, but rather a crispy, tart ale that is perfectly refreshing on a warm day.





Boulevard puts out special 12-packs sometimes that will offer a few of their tasting room brews, and this Spicy Rye Ale is one of them. It's a dark rye with the perfect blend of spices to make this a true taste sensation. If you like dark beers with complementary notes, you will love this one.





My husband picked up a case of classic Coors, a good old-fashioned Grandpa beer. I begrudgingly had one, as I didn't remember ever liking Grandpa beers, but you know...this isn't as bad as I remember. I think my refined beer palate has grown so much over the years that I have some appreciation for these older brews.





I love, love, love radlers, so when I saw that Boulevard was selling Ginger Lemon Radler, I knew I had to grab a six-pack of it. It's sweet, lightly tart, and delicious.





Aunt Sally, made by Lagunitas Brewing, is a hoppy, tart, sour mash ale. I wasn't as thrilled with this as much as I had hoped to be. There's too much going on - with such a mixture of different beer types - that it's hard to enjoy. I would skip this one if I were you.





Snake Bite Apple Cider Shandy (with a splash of cranberry) is made by T.W. Pitcher's Brewing. It's a nice shandy with a great fruity taste. It's pleasant and perfect for summer. Incidentally, I recently had their Blood Red Grapefruit Radler recently, and, man, it's a new favorite of mine.





Being the huge Iron Maiden fan that I am, I had given up hope of ever running into their Trooper beer. I started going to a different brew shop recently, and found a four-pack of this. While I kept one can for collection reasons and had high hopes, I didn't like this beer. It was a cheap, not very tasty, pub ale. 





Last, but not least, is Infusion's Vanilla Bean Blonde. I've had this on tap before and loved it, but find their bottled version to not be as tasty. It's a bit sweeter and the vanilla bean is more visible in the tap version than in the bottled version, but it was still a good brew to drink anyway. It is a bit disappointing to be expecting something and not exactly getting it, but still, it's worth the price as it's still a lovely beer.



And there you have it, another installment of Latest Libations. I hope you get to try these brews, or some new ones, soon. Happy drinking!



My latest book, The Box, is available through different retailers for $3.99! If you like short, campy, horror books, you will love The Box

Pick it up by following this link: The Box by H.A. Larson 



For information on my other books, link up to my Pronoun Author Page.