Top 10 Places I Want to Visit In Ireland

St Patrick’s Day is just around the corner, so I thought I would share my Top 10 list of places to visit in Ireland. Ireland is near and dear to my heart. I have ancestral links back to the country on both sides of my family tree, so I have always felt a special bond with that country.

While I’ve been to the country, I haven’t seen much of the country. So, when I go back, these are the top places I intend to see/visit…Cliffs of Moher… As equally gorgeous as it is dangerous, the Cliffs of Moher is on a lot of “must see” lists.

Giant’s Causeway

Giant’s Causeway… Technically, this is located in Northern Ireland, which is a part of the United Kingdom, but I still count it.

Inis Mor… Part of the Aran Islands, located in the western reaches of Ireland, this little island has become quite a tourist destination especially with the release of the movie, “The Secret of Roan Inish.”

Dun Aonghasa… If you’re into history, you’ll love this place. Also part of the Aran Islands, Dun Aonghasa is one of many prehistoric hill forts on Inishmore.

Dingle Peninsula/Ring of Kerry… Located within Killarney National Park, this road trip takes the visitor to a variety of sites including castles, waterfalls, and stone forts.

Blarney Castle

Blarney Castle/Blarney Stone… If you want the gift of Blarney, it is said if you kiss the Blarney stone – you’ll have the gift of eloquence. However, my grandfather was certain that if you had Irish flowing through your veins, you already have the gift.

Kinsale… A fishing village in Cork that is incredibly colorful. Little row houses painted in yellows, greens, blues, pinks, purples, and every color in between.

Rock of Cashel

Rock of Cashel… Also known as Cashel of the Kings and St. Patrick’s Rock, is the traditional seat of the King of Munster.

The Burren… Located in County Clare, the Burren is a cracked pavement of glacial-era limestone, with cliffs and caves, fossils, rock formations and archaeological sites. And if I’m ready for a break, I can head over to Doolin village to rest my feet and listen to traditional Irish music.

Trinity College… Located in Ireland, this university has many wonderful sites but the one thing that is of particular interest to me is their library. The long room has an impressive book collection and even served as inspiration for Hogwart’s library in the Harry Potter books.

How about you? What places would you see, if given the chance to go to Ireland? There are so many wonderful sites, it was difficult for me to narrow it down to just ten.

Top 5 Non-Traditional Valentine’s Day Gifts

Whenever Valentine’s Day rolls around, the traditional gifts given (typically to women from men) include chocolate, flowers, jewelry, and lingerie, or some combination of those items.   These types of Valentine’s Day gifts are so predictable, they are considered boring and cliché.  However, here are five non traditional Valentine’s Day gifts, which are sure to elicit the appreciation, love, and gratitude attached to this holiday.

  1. Cook a delicious meal… Nothing warms the heart like a nice meal that is cooked by you.  It beats the expensive restaurant hassle, and the effort will score you a warm hug.  And, if that delicious meal is her favorite… Well, you’ll be golden.
  2. Household chores… While this may sound mundane, it really does work – especially if your Valentine is primarily responsible for household chores.   Simply putting a load of laundry in the washer, folding the laundry, vacuuming the carpet, or emptying the dishwasher and reloading it, can work wonders on the spirit and put your Valentine in the mood for some serious romance.
  3. At Home Date Night… Valentine’s Day often results in crowded restaurants and emotional pressures that often turn the experience into something dreaded.  What better way to avoid all of this then to be creative and plan a Date Night at home.  Whether you do #1 on this list, rent a movie the two of you have been meaning to see (complete with home-popped popcorn and Red Vines), or cuddle up on the sofa to watch those shows you’ve had sitting in your DVR – the time and planning you took to create this date night will definitely be remember and appreciated by your Valentine.
  4. Skip the flowers and chocolates… If you would rather purchase something that speaks to the heart, figure out what your Valentine actually wants.  For example, I’m not a fan of cut flowers so I would rather receive a plant.  When Valentines from days passed would give me cut flowers, it sent a clear message to me that they weren’t paying attention.  If you aren’t sure what they really want, ask their best friend(s) or family members.  Whatever it is you purchase, it is going to send a clear message so you’ll want to make sure you get it right.
  5. Valentine’s Coupon Book… Take some time and create a coupon book.  Each coupon is good for redeeming of 1 item.  The items can be anything from lunch at your Valentine’s favorite restaurant to the purchase of a book your Valentine has been looking forward to reading.  What is great about this gift is it stretches throughout the year and doesn’t put as much pressure on you to find the perfect something to tell your Valentine how much you care.  The coupons are generic enough to leave it to your Valentine to supply the choice of what to do/purchase, but gains you the love and appreciation for taking the time to create the coupon book and dedicate your energy to seeing each coupon through.

What creative, non-traditional Valentine’s Day gifts can you think of? What are your favorite Valentine’s Day gifts?  Please share in the comments section.

Chinese New Year

Did you know that not all New Year celebrations are created equal?  The Chinese celebrate their New Year a little later than the rest of the world – typically in late January or February (depending on the year).  And while me nor my family are Chinese, we have made it a tradition to celebrate the Chinese New Year every year.  Because of this, I thought I would give a little run-down on the Chinese New Year.

There are a variety of traditions that walk hand-in-hand with the Chinese New Year.  These traditions include…

Fireworks – Fireworks are used to drive away evil.  At the stroke of Midnight on the Chinese New Year, fireworks are launched to chase away the evil and welcome the New Year.

Wearing red – Legend has it there was a mythical beast that would come out during the night of New Year’s Eve had harm people and animals and vandalize property.  The mythical beast was fearful of the color red, so people would wear red for protection and to bring them good luck.  Keep in mind, wearing the color red is not limited to clothes.  Decorating your house in red is also said to bring good luck.

Red Packets – Also referred to as money envelopes, are little decorative (and red) envelopes of money.  They are typically given to children, but many families give them to all members of the family.  For example, in my family, we take turns being the person who gives out red envelopes to family members.  The thought behind the red packets is it will bring luck, keep the recipient healthy, and provide long life (as well has keep away evil).  However, there are rules to the amount of money to give.  There should be no coins, give an even amount of number (i.e. $10 or $20), but never give anything in the amount of 4.  Four is bad luck.  For the best luck, it is best to give in an amount of 8 (such as $80).

Food – Food is a big deal.  It is important to provide a bountiful meal, and the New Year’s meal is often limited to close family.  Items including dumplings, new year’s cake, fish (of some sort), and rice balls (such as Tang Yuan).  All these items are meant to bring good luck for the new year and to share the bounty with loved ones. 

The Chinese Zodiac – This is a very popular aspect of the Chinese New Year.  The Chinese Zodiac is similar to western civilization’s version of the zodiac, it encapsulates 12 different animals – each representing a year ever 12 years.  If you were born within that year (which is not on a January – December calendar), you are under that animal’s sign.  For 2019, it is the year of the Pig and is symbolic of wealth.

Also popular during Chinese New Year celebrations is the parades that include dragon dances, fireworks, lanterns, confetti, etc.  While I’ve never attended these big celebrations, I’ve heard a lot of positive things about them and attending one (or more) is on my bucket list.  Typically, my family likes to keep it quiet… Staying home, decorating in red and gold, wearing red, and eating great food (which we attempt to make and not go to a restaurant).  What about you?  Do you celebrate the Chinese New Year? Tell me what you’re doing.