Mountains in Hailey Idaho

When anyone in Ireland asks where they should go in the States, I immediately say out west: skip New York City, avoid Los Angeles, go straight to Idaho. It’s unlike anywhere in Europe, with a wide openness that can be unnerving for Europeans not used to long stretches of prairies and layers of mountains for days.

There’s a picture perfect-ness to Idaho that can’t be described in words, from the almost translucent blue sky, the alpine lakes that are beyond crystal clear, the sound of the river rushing through a canyon, and the wind making itself known in the aspen leaves.

Idaho Mountain Range
Ash Leaves
Big Wood River Walk
Big Wood River Canoe
Idaho Wildflowers Hailey River Walk
Heart Stone Collection
Idaho River Idaho WetlandIdaho River Stones

Located exactly in the center of Idaho, Blaine County is made up of several small towns–Ketchum and Hailey are the most notable–with a total population of just over 20,000 in 2,661 square miles. Made famous by Ernest Hemingway, the area is both high-class and down-to-earth, where movie stars and billionaires rub shoulders with everyday people.

Camping in Idaho
Redfish Lake BeachClear Redfish Lake
Redfish Lake Campground
Redfish Lake
Stanley Idaho

North of Ketchum is Stanley, Idaho and the Sawtooth Wilderness, which holds some of the most beautiful and secluded areas in the United States. The recreation area is an outdoor lover’s dream. It has miles of trails, rivers, streams, and lakes. You can hike, bike, fish, raft, canoe, hunt, rock climb, drive, boat, ride horseback, camp, ski, snowmobile, and observe the flora and fauna in all its glory.

Dublin Zoo-1

This summer at the Dublin Zoo, everything was coming up babies! It seemed like every animal enclosure had a baby in it, with monkeys, giraffes, and elephants joining in the fun. It was a perfect way to spend a summer afternoon with my niece and nephew. In fact, it’s one of my favorite zoo visits ever for a variety of reasons, not just being able to watch baby monkeys tumble around and adolescent apes play fight for hours with their siblings.

Dublin Zoo-2
Dublin Zoo-11
Dublin Zoo-9
Dublin Zoo-6

The animal enclosures were unique because they allowed you to get up close to the animals. At one point, an ostrich followed my niece down the fence with her head only a few feet away, close enough to see her wicked beak and curly eyelashes, while zebras laxily ate grass and giraffes scratched their long necks on trees. In the lion enclosure, the roars were so loud my nephew was enthralled. We were also able to catch the end of a lecture on the new elephant by a zoo keeper, who stuck around long after the lecture was over to patiently answer questions from sticky toddlers.

Dublin Zoo-5
Dublin Zoo-4 Dublin Zoo-3

Outside of the enclosures, the landscaping was beautifully done keeping visual interest with a duck-filled moats and layers of bamboo and flowers. It was so clean and well-done it reminded me of Animal Kingdom in Orlando.

Dublin Zoo-10
Dublin Zoo-7
Dublin Zoo-8

The Dublin Zoo, like the rest of Ireland, has confusing signage and the map wasn’t much help as some of the habitats had recently moved. So be prepared to wander a bit! The zoo is located in Phoenix Park and is open daily from 9:30am. Closing times vary by month, so make sure to check ahead for opening hours and daily events.

Summer Flowers -4

Instead of sweltering temperatures, withering gardens, and mosquitos, high summer in Ireland is filled with cool temperatures and gardens where creativity and passion take center stage as flowers tumble over stone fences. Gardening is part of everyday life here and a majority of houses will have some type of garden, some that are generations old with plants tended from previous owners and relatives.

As a beginner gardener, I love visiting the many gardens in County Kilkenny. I often don’t know the name of the flowers I see, and so I spend time after each visit reviewing photos and researching for more information. Recording what I like, and expanding my knowledge of flowers and design.

Summer Flowers -13 Summer Flowers -14
White Hydrangea White Verbascum
Irish River Rocks

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Corfu Beach Dock

There’s a famous Greek island off the coast of Turkey that is known for its centurions, despite what the Western world considers indulging in bad habits; a bottle of wine a day, cigarettes, soft drinks. The residents make up for the bad habits with plenty of better ones, including an active lifestyle, a diet heavy in antioxidants and light on meat, and daily naps.

For our summer vacation, we decided to live the Greek life for one week on the island of Corfu. A popular destination for Brits and Irish, the island is known for its beautiful beaches and relaxed lifestyle. Each day we spent either at the pool or finding a secluded beach, and each night was spent ingesting copious amounts of feta, tomatoes, and grilled meats.

Covered Boat Greece Ski Club Paleokastritsa
Corfu Beach CliffCorfu Beaches Corfu Greece Beach 064

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Simple Greek Menu

Over the past year I realized I was repeating dinners over and over because I sometimes I find it difficult to pair recipes together. I have so many I want to try, but deciding what starter would pair with an entree can be time-consuming. I’m assuming I’m not the only one that struggles with this!

So, in case you might find this helpful, here’s a menu inspired by a recent trip to Corfu (more on that later!) full of veggies and lean protein. Because each dish is served separately, you can mix and match to easily edit the menu for vegetarians or gluten-intolerant guests.

Enjoy!

Baked Feta with Tomatoes
Greek Appetizers Greek Salad with Chicken
Roasted Wedges
Chicken Souvlaki with Potatoes


Menu

Starter: Baked Feta with Tomatoes and Pita
Salad: Greek Salad
Entree: Chicken Souvlaki
Side: Roasted Potato Wedges
Beverage: Peach Tea

Timeline

This timeline is if you are doing everything day of. I normally don’t prep the night before because I have enough time between the end of my workday and when guests usually arrive. If you’re cramped for time, see the notes below for preparing ahead of time.

Two hours before:

  • Marinade the chicken
  • Prep the potatoes
  • Make and/or chill beverage.

One hour before:

  • Roast the potatoes.
  • Prep the salad.
  • Prep the baked feta.

15 minutes before:

  • Dress the salad
  • Bake the feta.
  • Warm the pita bread.

Both the salad and the baked feta can be made the night before. Don’t put dressing on the salad until half an hour before you serve, and wait to bake the feta until 15 minutes before. The potatoes can be roasted ahead of time and served cold, or you can warm them up just before serving. You can also marinade the chicken overnight or in the morning. More time in the seasonings won’t hurt it!

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