MSCM – Ireland Trip

Top of the mornin’ to ya. 

A lot of people have asked me about my trip to Ireland with my graduate program cohort. Unfortunately, when I’m asked how it was or what we did, I have a hard time putting into words all of the stops we made, or what it specifically was that we learned about. Primary reason being we experienced a lot and we learned a lot.

I constantly found myself being quiet (at peace) through out our trip, because of all of the inspirational people and stories we encountered. These were people we met during tours, interactions at a pub, and designated learning sessions.

Ireland, as a whole has been through so much, yet they are the most positive and collective group of people I’ve ever had the pleasure of interacting with. The peace I felt during my time there, was similar to the feeling you may have gotten when you leave a really good sermon at church. A sermon that just struck you to the core and got your attention; or the feeling you get when you’re open to hearing and experiencing new opinions and insights – a total state of learning.

If you’re at the pub grabbing a pint, they immediately know you’re not from there and will make sure you leave feeling welcomed.

Their music and dance culture is amazing.

and yes, their Guinness does taste different, better.

So with that, this is my attempt to summarize my 8 day trip with some of the most amazing and motivational people I’ve ever met.


Fresh off the plane.

Everyone who knows me, knows I am NOT a morning person. BUT, I got it together this week (for the most part) and was really excited when we hit the Irish ground (I immediately started taking photos, hence the photo from a moving bus).

Our first stop was Monasterboice Round Tower and High Crosses.


Area surrounding the Celtic Crosses.


The crew filing in and zipping up.


Area surrounding the Celtic Crosses pt. II.


Area surrounding the Celtic Crosses pt. III


Inside the Cemetery.


Beautiful farm house nearby.

Crumlin Road Gaol

Our next stop was the Crumlin Road Gaol (prison), (I’m not going to go into the history lesson of this, you can click the link to read more about it). BUT it was cool, and had a really positive spin on their atrium of the prison.


Here she is.


Underneath the Crumlin. This passageway would take the prisoners over to the Courthouse.


Tam being artistic.


Our tour guide really had our attention. Pretty sure he was telling a ghost story here.

This next photo kind of got me. Our tour guide took us into a room, which was the final living quarters for a prisoner who was sentenced to death. Prisoners who entered this room were never seen coming out of it.

They would spend weeks in the room secluded with stationed guards until their execution day. The room had a trap door built into it and when that day came, the guards were able to flip the prisoner around, strap them to the noose, and then they would drop to their death, all within seconds and no warning.


The last thing a prisoner sentenced to death would see.


Mediation Northern Ireland

The next day, we got to spend time with some professionals in the CM industry. Picking their brains in the peace process following The Troubles, the role of the community during the process, as well what family mediation looks like from the Irish perspective.


Beautiful Lauren


Joe being suave.


Here is that “picking of the professional brain”, I was talking about


Streets of Belfast ❤

Peace walls

These walls border the Protestant and Catholic neighborhoods. If you want a really good info documentary look up the Art of Conflict on Netflix. It provides a lot of good context about these murals and their possible future.

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This mural is a reminder of those who were involved in the 1981 Hunger Strike


Looking into the Protestant side of town through their wall  – There are literally walls that separate the different communities in N. Ireland.


View from the Stormont building.


Area surrounding the Carrickfergus Castle.



Ph D. Dave – inside Carrickgergus.


City of Carrickfergus


City of Carrickfergus pt. II


I can’t really put into words how SMALL this place made me feel. I could have sat here all day long BUT, it was raining and very wind/ cold… AND we had other places to be, so I couldn’t literally sit there all day long. 😉


Giants Causeway pt. II


Giants Causeway pt. III


Giants Causeway pt. IV


Giants Causeway pt. V

If you are ever in Derry – this museum is a MUST.


Inside the Museum of Free Derry pt. II


The City of Legend-Derry 🙂


Free Derry Corner.


The most awesome tour guide – Garvin

This man, was able to speak to us about his personal Bloody Sunday experience, without any hatred or upset in his voice. He had so much positivity that he made you want to hug anyone who had ever done you wrong.


View from atop of Derry’s walls.

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Inside St. Patrick’s Cathedral


St. Patrick’s Cathedral


Gorgeous architecture. Gothic and Romanesque arches 😉


Phoenix Park – 1,750 acres of pure green!

So, hopefully this gives you some idea of the experiences and stops we made in Ireland.

With that,

and the rest of the day to you”. 


2014 Dragon Con – thousands of nerds in one place

This was my first year ever going to Dragon Con, and let me just say it was awesome. It had that feeling of being with likeminded friends, except you knew no one but everyone was still smiling and gawking at all the creative and well done costumes.

I mean, WELL DONE.

The kind of well done, that, you should dress like that everyday or at least once a week. Its something to be proud of, especially if you made the costume.

Its just really comforting to know, that I like to dress up and pretend to be one of my favorite characters, and so do other people. Lots of other people.

Here’s some stuff from the weekend.

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Zelda girl waiting in line for SIR PATRICK STEWART, which BTW he was such a sweet man. I wish I could have hugged him, and have him tell me a story.

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Happy Grieco.
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Star Lord.

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Nerd Xing.

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Rev. Newlin dancing on Lafayette.

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My only complaint were all the girl Lokis. SO MANY, SO STUPID. Sorry, not sorry…

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Waiting in line for the BSG panel… my heart was oh, so, so happy.

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That moment Mary McDonnell walks out in her Laura Roslin suit and is SO excited about it.

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Best part of the day, is yelling at the top of my lungs “SO SAY WE ALL”, led by Colonel Tigh. Tears every time I replay the video.

Northern California – Trip to Tehama Angus Ranch (June 2014)

This June the Avrit side of the family had a family reunion, and we were lucky enough to be able to join… I had been dying for another California visit so, needless to say, I was so thankful we could go.

First stop, Sonoma, CA to visit Grandma & Grandpa. DSC_0698 2 DSC_0702 3 They have a loaded garden. Watermelon, corn, lemons & oranges. Grandma makes to die for jellies, curds and jams… DSC_0722 17 Next stop, Fenton’s. If you’ve seen Up, you’ve seen Fenton’s, you just might not have known it. 🙂 DSC_0737 29 and no, i did NOT eat that entire ice-cream.

(I’ve been eating better, working out regularly… and man, seeing this really makes me see the difference.)
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Headed north!

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So, once we got to the ranch and parked, we were walking towards the house and we got buzzed by a little plane! It was Jonathan’s uncle, just having some fun. I think we could see him laughing at our faces from the ground.

Within the next 20 minutes, Jonathan was up there flying around.

This is their take off.
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I didn’t feel brave enough to go flying until the next day and his cousin took me up, and I cannot describe how amazing it is to see the world like that. Probably as close as you can get to being a bird, without parachuting or hang glinding.

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Piggy – pig.

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Jonathan’s aunt was determined to get me to try all sorts fruit this week, and I ended up loving all of it! I was even eating blackberries with milk and sugar. SO good.

Nothing i’ve seen this far in my life is as pretty as Northern California. Especially the fruit.

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Dinner! Outside! DSC_0867 101

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We can’t eat dinner outside in the south…. you will get eat up with mosquitos, and yes, the phrase is, “eat up”.

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Grill talk.

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Andrew loves Michael.

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We had a mini-family reunion, here. DSC_0936 138

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Can someone please make this famous photo? I love this so much! ^^

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After dinner we went four-wheeling, my love.

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bruddas! (Scaring the cows)….

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Madeleine on a four-wheeler for the first time. She just kept screaming. 🙂

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A’mond trees.

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2nd Anniversary – trip to the zoo.

So, this post is actually relevant to the 2014 year!

End of March was our 2 year anniversary!! 🙂 Crazy, how I feel like we just got married. I can still feel the excitement of everything like it was last week. I can also feel the anxiety of when my dress wouldn’t zip up, but lets not go down that dark path…
Anyway, we had a big trip planned in June to go out west, so for this year’s anniversary, we decided to do a little stay-cation. We got a hotel in Midtown, did some yum-sushi and then went to the Zoo Atlanta. I know that sounds a little lame… but I hadn’t gone to the zoo since Willie B was still a live… which… was a REALLY long time ago, and I’ve been wanting to go.

First thing I realize when we got there was, animals are weird. Cats and dogs, they are normal but everything from the African realm of the world is weird…

I mean, have you ever really looked at a Flamingo?
First of all, they are pink. Not your typical animal color.
Secondly, they put their head somewhere on their back, down a magical hole or something.
Third, how the heck are they stable? I couldn’t imagine being a yogi 24-7 and being in Tree Pose all the time.
That being sad, I feel like its the existing Unicorn of the world, and if I was ever on a safari and came upon a flock of these guys in a waterfall just chillin’, I’d probably bust into tears from their majesty.

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I promise they did this all on their own. I didn’t pose them to make a heart shape.

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Obligatory, photo of Jonathan taking a photo. 🙂

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The whole time I was watching the elephants, I kept waiting for them to get into formation and do their song and dance like in the Jungle Book.

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Things kind of got hot ‘n heavy in the bird room. DSC_0334 125

Some even looked away…

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but then others kept about their normal routine. You know, looking cute and asking for peanut butter-bird seed.
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I kept freaking out that I was going to get pooped on. Thankfully, neither of us were hit.

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DSC_0374 103Giraffes were the funnest to watch, I think. They really have the most friendly personality, (in captivity)… I know they can get pretty gnarly with their head swinging when they get pissed.
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Primates are my least favorite thing to see. Honestly. Maybe its too many viewings of Planet of the Apes, maybe its the fact they can literally, bash your brains in… mild paranoid…I dont know. These guys are beasts.

I respect them for their beauty, power and intelligence, but they scare the crap out of me.
While we were viewing them, 2 of them got into a tif and it was like utter chaos. I’ve never been to a dog fight, but that’s exactly how I would imagine one to be. A loud scream starts it and the next thing you know apes are running around gathering the posse and people are making a scene. Really unsettling.
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Dr. Zaius was there.

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Momma and her baby.

DSC_0436 56This one is my least favorite. The fangs… anyways.

Sociologically speaking, primates are some of the most interesting animals. They have a leader, they have rules and they have  communication… I loved learning about the way their culture is. In school we learned about this Anthropologist who basically adopted a chimpanzee named her Koko and raised her with her son. Her son spent so much time with the chimp he started picking up behaviors from Koko. When chimps don’t like you, or are mad at you, they turn their backs to you.. in going through the majority of the photos from our visit… they all had their backs turned to viewers at some point.

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Probably, the closest thing to meeting a dragon I’ll ever get.

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I kept waiting on these guys to start speaking in Parseltongue…
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DSC_0476 32and now on to cuter, more snuggly things.

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LA, Hollywood, & Santa Monica – July 2013



Last 4th of July, I got to visit Los Angeles, for the first time with Jonathan’s family. Jonathan’s mom’s longtime friend let us stay with her in Redondo Beach, which was perfect; it was a 2 block walk from the beach, a drive to all the big touristy places, a walk from some of the best gelato/ prebiotic yogurts EVERRR and SHE was an amazing cook. Thank you for letting us stay with you!

You’ll be able to see, my favorite thing about LA was the food. Its sad, but its the truth.
I’ve been super bad about blogging – but here are some shots from the visit.







I think y’all all know this guy.


At the Chinese Theatre! I was semi bummed, because they were doing construction on it and had a wall up. So no shots of the entire thing.



*Queue the  theme song*


Live long, and prosper, y’all.


Hand prints of Judy Garland. 🙂


and my lady, Fräulein Maria.



We drove. A lot.

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I love this photo so much. I grew up an only child, and never had a sister. I’m so thankful I finally do, and its this chick!


Lunch at this place called Cheebo. Oh, yum. Get the Chicken Salad Sandwich and eat all the chips covered in Cholula you can.




Santa Monica. Beautiful.



Dinner at the Sonoma Wine Garden.
So, I love Southern food.
Let me just be clear on that. BUT, I don’t think I have ever gone somewhere and actually tasted the freshness in what I was eating like I did in LA. First of all, I never opt for the healthier looking food, but that fruit tray was amazing. I know, everyone uses the word, “amazing”, but really. It was.
Lets move on to that salad. Grilled peaches, arugula, crunchy proscuitto and the icing on the cake… burrata. If you have never had the pleasure of eating burrata, you need to find the closest place that you can, to try it. It is fabulous. Sad thing is, from what I’ve read, its a really complicated cheese and most people won’t bother to make it. Therefore, hard to find… I have DREAMS about this salad.



Going back to what I said before, the whole only child thing, yea, so not only did I get a sister, when I married Jonathan… I also got a brother. Dang, I did good.


Walking Venice Beach.


Shootin’ some b-ball outside of the school…


If you need cheap, worthless sunglasses… you know where you can go.


Ordering, probably the best, fish tacos I’ve ever had.

Just shut your mouth. Right now.


She’s going to be the coolest when she’s older. No question.


So, I got obnoxiously excited when we found this dude with the plaid cut off shirt. I thought he was Blake from Workaholics… but it wasn’t. 😦





This little guy, is gonna be big.


Just incase anyone is planning a trip to Redondo Beach, PLEASE, PLEASE, hit up 22 Degrees. The yogurt is freshly made, all natural, and inventive. I had some crazy flavors: lavender, rose, chocolate/ cayenne pepper & a “mystery” flavor which, I think they said was seaweed. Phenomenal!

The Goat Girl – one of my favorite people.

I know I’ve written about Anna (, before but this lady is doing all sorts of self-fulfilling things right now. I’m jealous in more ways than I can explain. I love that she and her husband live this simple (and by simple I am by no way demeaning them) life, where its just them, their house, and their animals. They love every minute of it.

I really admire Anna, because she is doing what she wants to do with her life and there is really no thought of “will we make it”, she just goes and knows that it will work. She and her husband are a self-sufficient system, working for themselves, building things and selling what they make (or raise) with their own hands (YOU NEED TO CHECK OUT HER SOAPS).

I just love how they are able to sustain themselves without much want or need, everything they might needs is pretty much provided for them by the animals and land they have.

I’m hoping that one day, I can work with Anna taking photos or helping her start up her soap business :).

Ignore, or do not ignore my silly goat commentary below, I just look at these pictures and hear them talking to me… its weird, I know.
Here she is loving on one of her babies.

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This lady is like, “MILK ME!”
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“These guys suck on my teets all the time…”
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“These guys are cray, but I wov you.”
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*Sultry goat*
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“Um, did you say treats?”
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“Please sir, can I have some more?” 
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The end. (goat butts are the cutest).

I blog? – OBX Delayed, delayed, delayed.

If this was a friendship, I don’t think I would have a friend anymore! Ugh, I cannot believe I have been so bad.

I’ve not really been too busy to write a post, I just haven’t, AKA lazy.

Shame on me, I know. I may not even really have people who look forward to my little ditty blog, but I just hate not keeping up with things.

So. Here is my first big trip of summer. Nags Head, NC. My husband’s family does basically a family reunion every year with his dad’s side of the family. We all eat, sleep and tan together for 7 days. Some of us don’t tan, but the majority of us do play cards.
The expected and infamous question – “Who wants to play Hand and Foot?” Can you family members hear that question in Grandpa’s voice? I’m about to say it out loud right now as I write. Love it. If you have never played Hand and Foot, you have not played very many good card games.

It’s an all nighter sometimes.

I’m going to try posting the photos a little differently this time, maybe more in a story mode. We’ll see how we feels about it once its posted, (I didn’t mean to sound like Smeagol).


Historically, we all stayed in one house.. I’m pretty sure there are 17 of us total and we just keep adding more to mix. People getting married and having kids… needless to say, it can get cramped (next year there will be a new baby girl to play with – I am SO excited!! ).
This year, us “delinquents” got a house all to our selves. This is a photo of the migration from our house to the dinner house. Andrew is clearly pumped. DSC_0022


The house! ( his family has been in the same house on vacation for like, 14 years )

The view. DSC_0070

This is Michael. I think he just learned how to do this during the week we were here. 🙂 DSC_0115

Andrew and Madeleine during dinner. They are biffles.DSC_0121

Again with the view. Something about this place during dinner time… the colors are so warm and the sound of the waves is majestic (that word, may or may not, apply – but I don’t care). DSC_0142


THE HAMMOCK. I sleep in this thing every year. Its underneath the house, near the hot tub; so no one really goes down there during the day . I can sleep in the shade out of the hot, hot, heat. 🙂


Some of you may know what this is. It’s an outdoor shower… and it is amazing. Especially when all 17 of you want to get ready for dinner at the same time, people sometimes forget about it. 🙂DSC_0156


Hollywood – Teaser


So, I’ve realized I’m starting to get bad about updating my blog. And I’ve decided to do it some on the go and from my phone. That way, I’m not neglecting something that I really enjoy doing.

Right now, I’m in LA. As in, Los Angeles, as in California. I’m a southern girl true to my soul – but something about the west coast has always pulled at me. Specifically San Francisco, but LA is in the same state and more fancy.

I hope to have some big boy camera photos to share with you soon! I’m the mean time, here’s the Hollywood sign for your viewing pleasure. 😉

Side note – I had the most awesome salad and fruit/ cheese plate that I know you will get a picture of.

N’awlins – the place you go to eat. Spicy food. And love it.


SO, most people, ( and by most, I am just assuming) like to go to the beach or some place warm for their one year anniversary… Jonathan and I like to go where we can eat and try yummy beer.

Can I just tell you how much I love good food?
I love good food. 

When I told people we were going to New Orleans, the first thing they said, “Oh you gotta eat here”, or ” You gotta drink this”. So we knew what we were getting into from the beginning.

As soon as we scooped out our hotel, we hit the streets. I needed to know where Café Du Monde was in relation to where we were. We also saw Liv Tyler on the way, she’s the 3rd picture from the top. Yea, the one of the back of 2 people’s heads.

I think the first day was my favorite photo day. We got there right at dusk – the warm, yellow light was aglow and making everything gorgeous. We wandered the patio area of Café Du Monde a while, deciding if we should jump right in, or wait… We decided to wait.
We ate dinner at this place called the Gumbo Shop. Étouffée and Jambalaya. mmmm.

Then, after that, we hit up Café Du Monde. At 10:30pm. We got coffee and beignets. No shame in our game.
I wish so, so badly, we had one in Atlanta, but then, I don’t…

The next day, we slowly woke up, ate brunch at this place called Little Vic’s. Coffee, Pizza and Gelato. Uh, yes please. Plus, the guys that worked there were super great.

Basically the rest of the 3 days was walking, exploring, eating and gawking.

The last day, we rode the trolley, visited the WWII museum and ate at NOLA’s only microbrewery, Crescent City Brewhouse. This place is a definite place to visit. We spent $80 on lunch, and I don’t regret a single thing about it. 🙂 Gumbo, dark beer, blackened fish, a po’ boy and bread putting later, we waddled back to our room. We had good intentions to visit Pat O’Briens to sit through some dueling pianos, but I just couldn’t even manage thinking about sitting somewhere, and pretending to be comfortable.

Such a great cultural city, full of life and history.