How to Beach

Alvor Beach Holiday in The Algarve, Portugal | Honeysuckle Life

Until I talk to someone who hasn’t spent every summer holiday at the beach, I forget that “beaching” is a skill, much like driving or sewing. It takes experience to know how to beach, and to bring just the right amount of stuff. Enough to be comfortable all day so that you don’t have to make the long trek back up to your room or car, but not so much that you give up halfway across the sand because of the effort it takes to haul your bag over your shoulder while sinking six inches into the hot sand with each step.

It takes baking for hours in the sun each year to know when you need to apply sunscreen-enough to protect your skin, but not so much that you don’t tan. To know when to shift your chair into full sun, and when to seek out shade, and what book, music, and sports equipment to toss into your tote bag. As a child, there were more toys. As an adult, there is more sunscreen and water.

All the effort is worth is, for the days spent listening to waves as they crash on the shore, seagulls as they beg for food, and children laughing as they build castles. For the dreams that come that night of floating on the waves while the sun paints freckles across my nose.

Alvor Beach Holiday in The Algarve, Portugal | Honeysuckle Life
Alvor Beach Holiday in The Algarve, Portugal | Honeysuckle Life Alvor Beach Holiday in The Algarve, Portugal | Honeysuckle Life
Alvor Beach Holiday in The Algarve, Portugal | Honeysuckle Life

Alvor Beach Holiday in The Algarve, Portugal | Honeysuckle Life Alvor Beach Holiday in The Algarve, Portugal | Honeysuckle Life
Alvor Beach Holiday in The Algarve, Portugal | Honeysuckle Life
Alvor Beach Holiday in The Algarve, Portugal | Honeysuckle Life
Alvor Beach Holiday in The Algarve, Portugal | Honeysuckle Life Alvor Beach Holiday in The Algarve, Portugal | Honeysuckle Life
Alvor Beach Holiday in The Algarve, Portugal | Honeysuckle Life

Alvor Beach Holiday in The Algarve, Portugal | Honeysuckle Life Alvor Beach Holiday in The Algarve, Portugal | Honeysuckle Life
Alvor Beach Holiday in The Algarve, Portugal | Honeysuckle Life

This year, our summer holiday was spent in Alvor, Portugal, a small town in the Algarve region of Portugal. The area is famous for its white sand beaches, turquoise water, cliffs filled with fossils, and rock formations that stretch out into the water.

Photography by Rebekah Burder. Please do not reuse without credit.

Slept: Prainha Clube Alvor | Ate: Canico Restaurant | Did: Rented sunbeds for €12 a day at O! Luis, Walked the strip at Portomao, Shopped for trinkets in Alvor

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DIY Abstract Bulletin Board

DIY Abstract Bulletin Board

I love a good old-fashioned bulletin board. There’s something about pinning papers to the board and getting them off my desk that makes me feel a bit more organized, a bit more in control of my agenda. Plus, it’s a great place to put a photo of family, or a goal, to keep you motivated.

But. That ugly cork gets to me. It’s hard to find one that fits in or looks pretty. I’m not a huge fan of the fabric covered versions. I just want something clean and modern for myself. So, I came up with this really simple idea that anyone can create in under an hour. Here’s how to make your own DIY abstract bulletin board.

DIY Abstract Bulletin Board DIY Abstract Bulletin Board

Start with a blank bulletin board, something to hold your paint, a good sized brush (1″ or bigger), and colors you’d like to use. Start painting with a base layer of white. Be liberal with the paint, cork will really hold a lot of it. You want the layers kind of goopy, because you’ll be using a wet-on-wet technique to blend the colors together.

DIY Abstract Bulletin Board DIY Abstract Bulletin Board

After you’re done with the base layer, start brushing in color, layer by layer. Use a bit of pink and yellow with a lot of white to create a soft pink or peach color. Use small strokes or large strokes, dabs or dots. Whatever you like to create texture and depth. I painted the edge to blend in with the board, but you could also paint in a solid color to frame the board.

DIY Abstract Bulletin Board DIY Abstract Bulletin Board

Paint multiple colors in and let dry. I set it in a safe place overnight, and it was ready to hand in the morning. There you have it, a simple and easy DIY abstract bulletin board to dress up your home office or cubicle!

Spring Gardening Checklist via Honeysuckle Life

April may be volatile, but the warmer temperatures and suddenly clear blue skies are welcome respites from winter. By the start of the month, I’m getting a bit itchy to be outside in the garden. On the first sunny day of a stretch of warm days, I pull on my gloves and start on my spring gardening checklist.

This year, I’m trying to do a little bit each afternoon when the afternoon allows, rather than having several weekends crammed with activity. I’ve found that I don’t feel overwhelmed by the never-ending list of little things to be done when I spread it out. Here’s what is on my spring gardening checklist. Most of the activities are prep and maintenance, with a little bit of planting after the last freeze has occurred.

Spring Gardening Checklist via Honeysuckle Life

Spring Gardening Checklist

  1. Feed the plants – I use a combination of compost and fertilizers and apply it to each plant as needed. I use specialty fertilizers for edible plants and roses, and stick with good old Miracle Grow for flowers and containers. BBC has a fantastic guide on fertilizing plants that will provide a more detail.
  2. Kill the slugs – These little pests are the bane of my existence here in Ireland. It’s breeding time right now, so the battle to protect my plants has started. The commonly available slug killer pellets are highly toxic to dogs, so I only use those in containers that Larry can’t easily access. For the rest of the garden, I use glass jars buried to their necks filled with beer. It’s not an easy solution, but it’s the best one I have. It requires regular emptying, something that I always forget to do until the jars are filled up with one of the nastiest combinations of dead slugs, beer, and rain possible. My goal is to empty these weekly.
  3. Weed – Staying on top of weeds now will prevent more from forming. A bonus: with the soil really wet from rain, small weeds are easier to remove and only takes about 20 minutes to complete. However, the front driveway and back patio are a different matter. Weeds seem to sprout in the cracks every two days. I hate using weed killer, so each has to be pulled up individually.
  4. Add mulch and soil – I haven’t been a fan of mulch in the past, but with a dog who loves to tramp through my gardens and use plants as toilets, I’m trying to corral him into a lightly planted area. I’m adding mulch to it in the hopes that it will be more attractive to Larry and create a ground cover to prevent weeds. I also add potting soil and compost as needed and turn it in to help add nutrients to the soil.
  5. Plant containers – I’m saving the best for last! I love love love container gardening, and can’t wait to try ideas I’ve been gathering on my outdoor + garden board on Pinterest over the winter. After seeing the “thriller, filler, spiller” image about three thousand times, I’m using it as the basis for each containers. I’d like to use more grasses as thriller plants, which is a new obsession of mine.

Muscari via Honeysuckle Life

I hope this list helps you! Here are a few great resources for creating your own checklist for spring gardening:

What’s on your spring gardening checklist?

Bee Friendly Plant via Honeysuckle Life


Double Rib Knit Throw

Easy Double Rib Knit Throw Blanket by Honeysuckle Life Late last fall, I started knitting again after a two-year break. I don’t know where the urge came from, but suddenly I had to pick up needles and sort through my yarn stash.

I had a dozen skeins of yarn from an unfinished project, and so I started a blanket. Two weeks later (a record for me), I finished, only to bind off one of the longest rectangles I’ve ever made. Instead of a blanket, I had a giant scarf. Discouragement set in, and so the finished piece sat at the end of my bed until I was ready to unravel the project and start over.

Around the same time, I saw this gorgeous double rib knit throw from West Elm, and thought it was the perfect pattern to try for my second attempt.

I knit this project up with two strands of chunky yarn. The first is a solid gray yarn found at Michael’s several years ago. It isn’t anything special, outside of being really soft and affordable. The second yarn is another acrylic purchased at The Uniform Store in Kilkenny. This yarn is a gradient of two different shades of gray, light and dark, and matched perfectly with the solid color.

To gauge, I knit 10 stitches by 10 rows and measured to the appropriate length. I’m still learning to gauge correctly, and despite careful measuring, this still ended up about 12 inches longer than I wanted.

Easy Double Rib Knit Throw Blanket by Honeysuckle Life

The pattern is super simple. For the foundation row, knit all the way across, purl the second and third rows. After that, it’s simply knit two rows, purl two rows until you reach the desired length. Then bind off in your favorite method. I used size 15 (US) / 10 (MM) circular needles, which created a slightly loose and stretchy knit that’s perfect for a winter throw.


Goodbye 2014


Can you believe this is the only (shareable) photo of our house during the holiday season? I took time off from sharing projects online this holiday season, and, without that pressure, I was able to create without worrying about the end result.

I knit two imperfect blankets, two neck warmers, a scarf, and a cowl. I crocheted garland for our tree, created star ornaments for our front door, wrapped advent chocolates, baked, cooked, threw a holiday party, shopped till I dropped, and didn’t photograph any of it.

Not blogging or seemed to be the theme this year. I went from hundreds of posts in previous years, to 27. I’m not sure if it’s a longer trend, or if I’ll be concentrating on lower quantity, but more time spent on the posts. I’m also considering bringing back more writing, something I quit over the last two years and have missed.

But, I digress. No blog is complete without an end of the year post, so I thought I would include a very short list of what I enjoyed in 2014:

#1: Larry

After losing both of our dogs in 2012, we waited a while until we felt ready for a dog. Early in May, we picked up a labradoodle puppy at a farm on the edge of County Cork. We named him Larry, and I don’t think I stopped smiling for two weeks afterwards. He was exactly what both of us needed, at exactly the right time.

#2: Getting active

2014 was the year I learned to be active without being neurotic. If I felt like walking, I walked. If I felt like running, I ran. I learned to pay attention to my body and mind, and change my choices to maintain energy, not just health or weight.

#3: So. Much. Travel.

Paris, London, Idaho, Corfu, NYC, Birmingham, Tampa, Skellig and Dublin. I felt incredibly grateful for each of those trips, for the chance to see family and friends, new places and old. If I had to pick, my favorite trip was the week in Corfu. We both felt more connected and relaxed after a week at the pool and beach.

#4: Kilkenny

I have loved living in a city that is so small and walkable. Our lives now consist of daily jaunts to the Castle, running errands on foot with a canvas tote slung over my shoulders, the 3-minute drive to pick up groceries, and having friends within walking distance. It’s decreased our time in the car and increased our quality of life. Cheers to living in the city!

What were you grateful for in 2014?