Thursday, December 24, 2009

merry crimbles!

Happy ho ho ho everyone!

I've been meaning to post for days... especially about the sharing of holidays, cookie baking & other related holiday subjects... but all the wrapping, eating & general fun got in the way. I will most likely ruminate on those topics during my few days off - AFTER I enjoy season's eatings with the in-laws!

I'm all packed up & husband, dog & I are ready to go!

Hope everyone's holidays are very merry & bright.

Friday, December 18, 2009

puppy of the day!

Friday loveliness just keeps on comin'!

My little darling was chosen as the Grown Up Puppy of the Day today on

You have no idea how happy this makes me. I just posted her pictures on the site this week & I wondered if she'd get chosen. (Do I sound like a crazy pageant mom?!) She's my universe now, as everyone around me knows, so I nearly peed myself at work today when I opened the page, expecting an onslaught of adorable other people's pups, when there she was! Those big brown eyes peeping up at me over her chew bone. *sigh*

It makes me feel all fuzzy inside to read the comments people left. People are so passionate about their animals - it's nice to know that other crazies like me are out there, loving their four legged friends & finding happiness in other folks' furry pals - even if only through photographs.

If everyone had a pup like Sausage, there would be no sadness in the world. FACT.

Here's to the doggy of the day!

friday loveliness / it's snowing!

Yaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyy! YAY!

It's snowing! For anyone familiar with Dublin, you know what I mean by snowing. Not American sized monster snow. Not shoe-able snow. Not even ball-able snow. Just a light dusting. But for this place, that's a big deal. And I'm stupidly excited about it.

I actually don't know where this photo was taken, or when, but it kind of looks like my neighborhood (the buildings, not the snow cover). Cars were (half) covered with snow when I walked the pup this morning. And jaysus it was cold! Then I stepped out of the office just now & little mini hail balls - ok, possibly passable as snowflakes - were stickin' to my head & flying around, bouncing off the sidewalk.

I love it. Makes it a little more not-so-bad to *not* be home for the holidays.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Here are the instant snaps I took the other night at our festive little shindig in Stoneybatter. Twas much fun for all. Endless cookies, Guinness & festive "Celebration Ale," Johan's homemade mulled wine, freshly shattered Christmas walnuts from Leyla. Ah, you can't beat Christmas.mentalistgirlsmore girlsa girlhatnosenose eyeman bites dogbad hateven more girls
Poor Stef just took a red nose to the eye in this one.
x mas

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

christmas nibbles

Our first Christmas party was a success! A fun, little, semi-civilized, low key success, which is kinda how I roll these days. I don't think anyone even spilled anything (I did hear someone calling for a cloth at one point, but I never saw spillage so it doesn't count). I got the instant camera out - the one that captured my fave wedding pics - & managed to catch some of the fun for posterity, but I'll have to bribe someone with a scanner at work to make them digitable for me. Until then, let's look at the food.P1060878
The baking started days before. As did the laundry, apparently. These were simple sugar cookies in festive shapes. Some stacked as sandwiches with chocolate hazelnut spread in the middle.
I like that some of them are wonky.

Some half dipped in semisweet chocolate with crushed candy canes.

These were absolutely yummilicious! Definitely my favorites. Super intense double chocolate (a delicate & crumbly chocolate dough with giant chunks of very dark chocolate thrown in just to push them over the edge). I sort of ended up adapting both the smitten kitchen recipe & the food network version. To die for, I think.P1060888
Chocolate mini cupcakes with my own frosting, chocolate with chilli & cinnamon. P1060887
Dessert station.
These were only some of the sweets! (Almost forgot to mention my chocolate dipped pretzels.) Do you like my homemade cupcake tower? A vintage cake tin, a mug & plate. Classy.P1060895
These ones didn't fit onto the sweets table. Crispy, totally bad for you almond florentines, with un-artistic chocolate drizzle. I also drizzled the salt & pepper bowls and the counter in the process. I like the composition here, although obviously the best companion for Guinness would be the chocolate cookies.

It wasn't all gluttonous sweets, mind you. We had this unusual thing - carmelized onion & apple tart. P1060894P1060904
Plus husband's wonderful mediterranean quiche (sundrieds, olives, spinach & feta), his curry paste marinated chicken breast, chicken fingers, cocktail sausages & Quorn spicy "chicken" nuggets, my favorite. Do you like the Santy table cloth & scary clown paper plates? Neil picked those.

Speaking of cocktail sausages...P1060900
Please look at what her feet are doing. Too cute.

Pre-party living room, all nice & clean & full of pup. 
Notice our new tree topper? My dream of an all pint-of-Guinness Christmas tree is happening very slowly...P1060885
Homemade felt Guinness pint ornaments.
I've made a grand total of three. Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 14, 2009

happy monday

This post on design*sponge made me think of you, Kristy. All the dreamy puff balls made from coffee filters, larger than life fairy tale theme pairing tree stumps with paper cut-outs & candlight. It reminds me of that wild window display you saw with your mom a while back. I had a lovely Christmas bash at my house on Saturday. I thought my decorating skills were pretty good, but this spread makes my house look like chopped liver. (I did however put tea lights in recycled spaghetti sauce jars - so great minds do think alike.) Ah, holiday decorating. It's fun, isn't it?

All this seasonal eye candy helps to lift me from the dark Monday doldrums. So much so that I'm going to get the photos from Saturday & stick 'em on here shortly. Ho ho etc.!

Friday, December 11, 2009

friday yumminess

Happy Friday, world.

I forgot that when I first started this makeshift-online-journal-project-thing, I had hoped to start some repeating posts, like Friday Loveliness (or Bowie Fridays), Curry Saturdays or Sausage Mondays. Cause it sounded fun. Yet I haven't really. Oh well, I'm not very consistent.
I am however completely consumed by baking at the moment. And here's why: tomorrow, the husband & I are hosting our first ever soiree as a married couple. What fun! Remember our first Christmas tree? Yep, this is the first Christmas PARTY. And as homesick as it makes me to miss the annual Howley Jowley Christmas Bash back home, I was reminded recently about how things don't stay the same & how that's a good thing. I think of that in reference to the new change to my lifelong routine, the infamous Trading of Holidays, which most married couples have to deal with.
As much as I fear change in general & love the fact that I'm nearly thirty & still wear my flannel lollipop pajamas everytime I go home, I'm no longer 100% sad about staying in Dublin for the holidays. New traditions & all that. (Though I still cry when anything vaguely related to "Home" or "Holidays" features in a sitcom - and god help me if that 80s Hallmark ad comes on!)
Hence, I'm going whole-hog for this Crimble gathering. Our house is tiny & basically a cramped dump hole, but we've gone all festive, threw tons of tinsel around the place & I'm going cookie mad - starting tonight! (well, technically yesterday) I shall report back on the success or failure of the following sound-like-they're-to-die-for recipes:
* melt in your mouth chocolate sable cookies from smitten kitchen
* shout out to the old country Italian festive florentines
* various dunked & non-dunked shapes of sugar cookie
* & my own concoction of pretzels, chocolate for dipping, broken candy canes & whatever nuts I have on hand
*oh & probably peanut butter stuck in somewhere for good measure ;)

There will be plenty of non-cookie food too, of course. Namely, Neilo's famous quiches. Delectable (I hope) photos to come.

Season's Eatings!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

concrete garden update

I don't know if I have good news or bad news - I just know I haven't written about my gardening adventures in a while.
We were gone for nearly a month & the weather was changing pretty dramatically at that time. Needless to say, things were looking pretty wild when I got back. Bulbs seem to be popping up already (anyone who knows - is this normal?) The things that were dying are definitely dead, except those stupid tomatoes refuse to move. We got two decent ones out of the whole lot. The rest just teased me, hanging on in mini green form, then stalemating. I'm over it though.
I think I screwed up my first attempts at growing vegetables in containers, unfortunately. Could this be the result of not thinning properly?World's Saddest Carrot
Introducing, the World's Saddest Carrot! This is, believe it or not, a vast improvement on the "onions" I was supposed to be growing in another pot. I pulled out a tester and there ain't nuthin' down by the roots. Smells like an onion though.
According to the seed packaging, these two items should be ready for harvesting NOW. I'll leave things a while longer. Maybe it's all this climate changing going on that means you can't trust the standard growing times anymore. (Climate change? But isn't that all a myth anyway? ;)
Well, one good thing is the late blooming hydrangea. Seems she had one more ruffly bundle to offer before retiring for the winter. How hydrangea growth
So, it's a mixed bag for the moment. Some dead stuff, some things growing slower than expected, and then some green life popping up & making its tentative debut in the world. Here's to the new year! I hope it's full of onions, carrots & pretty spring flowers.
ranunculus overloadbulb popcorn salad & mystery bulbs

Monday, December 7, 2009

monday flowers / wedding star: Weeds Floral

It's cold, I didn't sleep well over the weekend & I'm WICKED thirsty, still I'm in pretty good spirits today. Must be the encroaching Crimbles. In any case, even though it's winter, I feel like looking at beautiful flowers today. How perfect that I happen to have a few pictures of the lovely wedding magic that our florist created for us!

Catherine Thompson, of Weeds Floral Design, was quite possibly the most helpful & talented person I had the pleasure of working with in planning our wedding. I found her early on, which unfortunately meant I had months upon months to become obsessed with flowers & change my mind I don't even know how many times. The only firm thing I knew starting out was that I wanted the flower element to be somewhat simple & subtle. No need to spend thousands on expensive (and wasteful) decorations when you're getting hitched at the Four Seasons, right? I don't really like the idea of too many cut flowers or creating waste or using environmentally un-friendly products either. Also, I love succulents. We were getting married in a desert region & I wanted to pay tribute to that. And I love the color green. So, that's where we started - low cost, simple, seasonal & local plants, greens & natural shades, succulents. From there, I must have changed my mind a million times (a pink accent color? purple? succulent bouquets? roses? orchids?) and would you believe I never even really made a solid decision regarding bridesmaids' bouquets?

And yet somehow, Catherine came up with this.

My bouquet was a beautiful bundle of cream garden roses & ruffly hydrangea (that I like to think matched the ruffles on my dress). Accented with big green leaves & those greyish, green little branches (I'll have to find out the name) that somehow brought my muddled vision of a natural, desert vibe meets vintage glam meets down home romance to life. Can't you just see it? (Oh & you can't quite see it here, but it was tied with a deep green ribbon, laced up with a thinner golden ribbon & decked out with a dangly green & purple cluster of beads. Gorgeous.)
And the maids' bouquets took my breath away. This is the thing that I had left unclear in my haste & Catherine created something more beautiful than I could have imagined! Delicate purple orchids mixed with lavender hydrangea, bits of green, some cream colored orchids for accent, tied up with ribbon & rafia. It was beyond description for me! Exactly the unique, exotic yet classic tone that I could never put into words. I mean, I almost wore a Hawaiian gown to this wedding & Neil was my cowboy. You can see how many ideas we had!


She also added the most lovely little touches to the already fantastic Fountain Terrace, where we had the ceremony. Lucky for us, the venue had these brown, wooden folding chairs that perhaps some people wouldn't like, but to me they were perfectly suited to the small bundles of cream sweetpeas tied with deep purple ribbon hanging down to the ground, the scattered lavender petals on the aisle, the imposing fountain with its trickling sounds & crazy tropical statues. It amazes me now, looking back, how perfect this setting was for us & our "look." Again, Catherine's beautiful choices added just what we needed to add a subtle signature of our own to the Four Seasons. Can't you just get that 1950s Palm Springs, Hollywood playground, laidback glitz thing we were going for?

I just have to post this pic, too. Look at how perfect Jessie's outfit is? We knew we struck gold when we stumbled upon that dress in Dublin (in the first place we looked, actually). Look at the purple shoes! Everything about this wedding seemed to be a happy, perfect accident. (Didn't me & Neil eat at *Serendipity* one night? Now, who's getting corny?) Catherine's flowers are the perfect compliment to the vintage-style tropical floral design on Jessie's dress.
And Jackie's dress was a last minute find, after the first dress we initially picked turned out not to fit properly. Wasn't this just meant to be? Can I use the word perfect again?
Back to the decor. I say decor because Catherine went above & beyond flowers for us. Like I said, we didn't budget for (or want, really) a massive flower element in the wedding. We had some other elements of decoration though to add our personality (which is sometimes hard when you're using an already-dressed hotel setting). Sure, it still looked like a 5 star hotel (not a bad thing!) but we made it our own with our own photo frames, handmade signs & posters, vintage cigar boxes, a display of vintage Vegas postcards found on eBay in lieu of a guest book... Plus, Mexican wrestling masks & Guinness hats & an instant camera to capture it all. And all of this Catherine helped make possible. She helped us get all of these bits & pieces halfway around the world & put them all into place for us on the day. We couldn't have pulled it off without her & her team. (What about when you think, half an hour before the wedding, "Um, how am I going to get my video camera downstairs? What am I going to do with my purse?" - Catherine to the rescue!)

More pics -
A few more elements we came up with that really took things up a notch visually: the brown bamboo mats I picked up in Ikea, the giant green monstera leaves as mats beneath the arrangements & the cupcake tower, the blue & clear mason jars we sourced ourselves & sent to Catherine. All the little tea lights, our Day of the Day bride & groom, the girls' bouquets put into jars on our sweetheart table, the old printing blocks I found & used as backwards table numbers.... I'll use the word one last time: PERFECT.

Just like Weeds! Thank you, Catherine. Now, can we do it all over again?

*** All above photos are copyright Jill Jennings & Highland photography. Please do not reproduce.***

Saturday, December 5, 2009

even merrier saturday

If you happened to miss last night's post about the Christmas tree... never mind. I hadn't realized that my video was a little messed up. (That's what you get for uploading videos on the sly with the volume turned off, while pretending to "work" at... work.)
Anyhoo - this should be better. (Note the John & Yoko style audio at the end :)

Happy Christmas everybody.

Please note that after watching ourselves on video, we realize that a) we eat a lot & b) we need some belts!

Ho-dee-ho ho.

our first tree from susie morrell on Vimeo.

love in the indian ocean

Feeling a little sentimental, I decided to watch something I hadn't seen in a while. A short film I made last year with footage from our trip (of a lifetime) to the Maldives. It is quite possibly the most beautiful place on the planet, both the natural surroundings & the people. It seems rather appropriate to post it now, since it includes a young couple taking part in a traditional Maldivian wedding ceremony, as well as our friend Ahmed serenading us with a happy anniversary song. (We were there celebrating the anniversary of meeting each other, which now happens to be our wedding anniversary.)
Funny, I don't know why I hadn't thought of this little film sooner.

Love in the Indian Ocean from susie morrell on Vimeo.

Friday, December 4, 2009

merry friday

we got our first christmas tree the other day. this marks our first christmas together as a married couple, our first christmas together period, our first christmas with sausage... so many firsts. so for posterity, i filmed it being brought to life.

enjoy & season's greetings.

our first christmas tree from susie morrell on Vimeo.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

wedding star continued - Whirlingturban

A while back I had the good intention of highlighting all the stars that contributed to my awesome wedding & I also had the intention to start blogging with some regularity. Well, trying to do anything with regularity while planning a wedding (even a small one!) is kind of futile. So now that I'm married & trying my best to rejoin reality (kinda trying) I'd like to revisit one very special contributor to The Best Party I've Ever Thrown.

I mentioned Whirlingturban & the sassy lady behind all the fabulousness, Katherine Robinson, in an earlier post, but now I've got the photos to prove why I'm absolutely in love with her & all her creations.
I wore a Whirlingturban original both on my wedding day & a few nights earlier to my tiki-themed bachelorette night on the town. It sounds so schmancy to say a [label name] original, doesn't it? And believe me, it felt that way - times ten.
After careful measurements, tons of emails & a few, fun little Skype chats, Katherine & her talented team of Balinese seamstresses had my exact stats in hand - my precise fitting numbers, all those quirks God gave me (like my short legs & my mini torso) and of course my vision, as convaluted & vague as it was. From that unlikely recipe for a wedding gown, they created not one, but two stunning pieces of tailor-made perfection for me that looked straight out of my vintage fantasies.

The process was unbelievably easy (for me), hardly any stress, just some enjoyable correspondence & then like magic these two dresses came into my life. Seriously, when I tell people that I never once met my dress designer or had a fitting in person, they can't believe it. (I do hope I get to meet Katherine, Honey & Mindra one day - you now, when I'm galavanting around Bali.)

So without further ado, let me officially show off Whirlingturban's handiwork. And my wedding dream come true in the form of a dress...





*** All photos are copyright Jill Jennings & Highland Photography. All rights reserved. ***

I promise to follow soon with decent photos of my tiki-inspired bachelorette gown. I've already worn it twice! If only I could wear it around town doing the shopping...

Do Something Good Every Day

This morning, in the spirit of giving (and well, caffeine) I responded to one of those Starbucks emails I usually delete (I signed up for a card to get free soy milk - what of it?!) because it told me that if I bought a coffee today, it being World AIDS Day, the coffee behemoth would donate a few cents to the cause. So out I went & when I was buying my tasty toffee nut hoo haw, I found out I could start using a (Product)Red card instead & continue the little donations all through the year. OK!
So here I was feeling all inspired & warm inside, with my little Red pamphlet on display by my computer, reminding me (and passersby) to DO SOMETHING GOOD EVERY DAY.
Then something started to nag at me. Didn't I hear the words RED and BONO in the same sentence on my clock radio this morning? I was half asleep but, hold on a second...
Oh, great. A few wiki reads later & I suddenly feel like garbage. Well, not total garbage. I mean, contributing to a very small donation to a good cause is better than a punch in the throat, but as I perused the (Product)Red - man, it's hard to keep up those parentheses - with all its ads for GAP, Nike, etc. I started to feel a little creepy. I mean, I was just buying a coffee, for crying out loud. I wasn't actually doing much good for the world. But do lots of people out there switch off the potentially philanthropic portions of their brains once they buy their "Red" lattes, thinking, I'm all set!

And then I found this. Instead of allowing multinational companies to make even bigger profits by simply turning out even MORE stuff, albeit with stylishly "charitable" themes, to continue to use dodgy means of production & avoid fair living wages and to donate questionable portions of said massive profits - WHY DON'T WE ALL JUST GIVE? That's the idea behind BUY (LESS) - as in BUY (LESS) CRAP.
I love it.
Like I said, if you're gonna buy a €4 cup of gingerbread joe, you might as well have Starbucks donate 5 cents in the process. (only 5 cents?!?!) BUT don't forget to donate to real charities who need it most. And donate all that extra blood you're not using while you're at it.
Seasons greetings!