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Ireland | Part 1

A few weeks ago, my family and I returned from a week in Ireland and we had an amazing time!  I quickly grew to love the country so much more than I ever could have imagined.  From the beautiful countrysides to the extremely nice residents, it was a magical week.  I can't wait to go back...one day!

We arrived in Ireland at the Shannon Airport, on the western side of the country.  Over the course of the week, we rode across the country and ended up in Dublin, which was where our week ended.  Our first major stop for this trip was the quaint town of Galway.

Our hotel in Galway was the Harbour Hotel.  It, like all three of our hotels, was very modern in the design and was a great place to stay!

These flowers were outside of our hotel.  Everywhere we went in Ireland, there were beautiful flowers.  I guess all of their rain helps!  It rained at least once a day.  It was never a heavy rain, but at most was a heavy drizzle.  Luckily, we were on the bus some of the days when it rained, so we didn't always get wet!

See that wall across the street from the hotel?  That is a remnant from the medieval city wall, built around the year 1232, that used to surround Galway.

Found this beauty outside of our hotel...and I just loved it!

It was fun to see the signs with Gaelic on them.  While everyone pretty much speaks English throughout the country, many people in the small towns and villages do still speak Gaelic as well.

This is the Spanish Arch, which was once an extension of the medieval city wall that I mentioned earlier.  This arch was built in 1584 and sits along the River Corrib.

Every good city has a Latin Quarter, right?!  This is definitely where all of the happenings are in Galway!  Packed with restaurants, shops, and street entertainment, this was such a lively atmosphere.  In fact, we were in town at the start of the Galway Races, so there was a lot more action than is typically found there.

A quick look down the Latin Quarter.

This building has been painted to represent Galway 2020.  One city in Europe each year is named the European Capital of Culture.  Those cities are asked to present cultural programs that highlight cultural diversities in Europe.  Galway has been chosen as the Capital of Culture for the year 2020 and it had just been voted on when we visited.  Everyone in town seemed very excited for that to be happening.  You can read more about the Capital of Culture here.

More of the gorgeous flowers that were seen all over Ireland.

Behind these buildings, you can see the clock tower for the St. Nicholas Collegiate Church, which was our next stop.

We visited a number of churches and cathedrals on this trip, and they were all stunning in their own way!

The King's Head - a fun pub that we enjoyed lunch at one day.  This has a very interesting background and history, which you can read about here.

Before 1916, Dublin had it's own time zone, which was abandoned.  They lost their time zone, and went to the same time zone as the rest of Ireland.  And in the process, they lost 25 minutes.  This clock was in the square in Galway, and showed Dublin Time.

This remnant of the medieval city wall is now located inside of a shopping mall.  It's kind of cool that this wall is being preserved in the least likely place you'd think to find it!

This Galway Cathedral was located just outside of town limits.  It definitely didn't disappoint in it's beauty either.  Opened in 1965, it's one of the newest cathedrals in Europe.

This marble is called Connemara marble, and we later would visit the factory where the marble was made.

Next up, we visited Connemara, a district on the west coast of Ireland.  This is where the marble was made for the Galway Cathedral that I mentioned earlier.  After we took the tour, the guy at the factory was even telling us about the different places that Connemara marble is used, including a few buildings in Pennsylvania.

Following our stop at Connemara marble, we rode through the countryside, along the coast, and back to Galway to finish up our excursion for that day.

It was pretty neat to see the Atlantic Ocean from the other side.  That doesn't happen often!

Back in Galway, this is the River Corrib which separates Galway from the neighboring town and flows into Galway Bay.

And that neighboring town is Claddagh, home of the ever famous Claddagh rings.

A view of Galway from across the river.

And that finishes up your tour of Galway!  Stay tuned for Part 2, and maybe Part 3.  I'm not yet sure just how many 'parts' this blog series will have.  Next up...the Cliffs of Moher, one of my favorite spots in Ireland!  Have you ever been to Ireland?  Is it on your dream list?  I'd love to hear in the comments below!

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TeachersPayTeachers Sale & A GIVEAWAY!!!

TeachersPayTeachers is having their annual Teacher Appreciation sale this week!  The sale runs from May 3-May 4!  This is a great time to get some new materials and activities to use during the final weeks in school for the year...or you can start to stock up on resources for next year!  Everything in my store, as well as many stores on the site, will be on sale!  Click here to visit my TPT store!  And you can enter below for a chance to win one of TWO $10 gift certificates to TeachersPayTeachers - just in time to purchase some new resources!!

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Classroom Sneak Peek | Five for Friday

It's been pretty quiet over here on the blog.  Between vacations, starting and preparing for a new teaching job, and the launch of the Virginia is for Teachers blog...I've not had enough time to devote over here.  But that is all changing soon!  For now, here is a little sneak peek of my room.  It's not yet done...but it's very close!  Below are five of my favorite things about the classroom...right now!

Look very closely underneath the promethean board...see those book boxes?!  I'm so excited to have individual student book boxes this year.  I don't know what they will keep in them, or how I'll use them.  But I'm excited, nonetheless!!

Check out that cute magnetic border that is on the whiteboard!  It's a super fun, super cute, and super easy way to 'dress up your boards!'

In terms of books, my library is a work in progress right now.  But the library got super comfy this year!  

These letters are causing problems...they won't stick to the magnets.  But these iPod alphabet charts are my favorite!

And just for fun...here is where the room started!  Stay tuned to the final reveal soon!

Literary Junkies Link Party | July 28

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Now that the Literary Junkies group has started again (after a short break), the Link Parties have resumed as well!  The last Tuesday of the month is reserved for the monthly Link Parties and I'm always so excited to hear what other people have to say!  

While I didn't get a chance to read the book that we were *supposed* to read, I'm very excited to start reading next month's book soon!

Here are today's Link Party questions:

1. What are you reading right now?  Tell us about it.

Currently, I'm reading Shopaholic and Baby by Sophie Kinsella.  If you haven't read any of the books in her Confessions of a Shopaholic series...you a missing out!  Here's the Goodreads synopsis for Shopaholic and Baby:

Becky Brandon (nee Bloomwood) is pregnant! She couldn't be more overjoyed-especially since discovering that shopping cures morning sickness. Everything has got to be perfect for her baby: from the designer nursery . . . to the latest, coolest pram . . . to the celebrity, must-have obstetrician. 
But when the celebrity obstetrician turns out to be her husband Luke's glamorous, intellectual ex-girlfriend, Becky's perfect world starts to crumble. She's shopping for two . . . but are there three in her marriage?

2. What book reminds you of summertime as a kid?

When I was a kid, I loved to read the American Girl series of books!  Molly was my favorite and Samantha was a close second!  These were my favorite summertime (or all time reads!) as a kid!

3. What book did you have on your summer reading list that truly nailed it as a summer reading favorite?

When I think of a great summer read, I think of a 'chick flick' type book set at the beach.  When I picked up Sweet Salt Air by Barbara Delinsky, I was hoping that it wouldn't disappoint.  And boy it sure didn't!  This was a great summer read - and I'm highly recommending it to everyone I know!  Here's the Goodreads synopsis:

Charlotte and Nicole were once the best of friends, spending summers together in Nicole's coastal island house off of Maine. But many years, and many secrets, have kept the women apart. A successful travel writer, single Charlotte lives on the road, while Nicole, a food blogger, keeps house in Philadelphia with her surgeon-husband, Julian. When Nicole is commissioned to write a book about island food, she invites her old friend Charlotte back to Quinnipeague, for a final summer, to help. Outgoing and passionate, Charlotte has a gift for talking to people and making friends, and Nicole could use her expertise for interviews with locals. Missing a genuine connection, Charlotte agrees.
But what both women don't know is that they are each holding something back that may change their lives forever. For Nicole, what comes to light could destroy her marriage, but it could also save her husband. For Charlotte, the truth could cost her Nicole's friendship, but could also free her to love again. And her chance may lie with a reclusive local man, with a heart to soothe and troubles of his own.

4. Who is your favorite author and why?  Give us a top recommendation by them.

Even though I have a list of "favorite" authors (Karen Kingsbury, Mary Kay Andrews, Sophie Kinsella, Kiera Cass, etc.), Nicholas Sparks will ALWAYS be my all-time favorite author!  I picked up A Bend in the Road by Sparks in Sam's Club many years back (before he was "famous").  I had never heard of him or the book, but it looked intriguing.  I bought it for a vacation read...and I've never looked back. This was the book that got me HOOKED on Nicholas Sparks' books and it will always be my favorite for that reason!  Here's the Goodreads synopsis:

Miles Ryan's life seemed to end the day his wife was killed in a hit-and-run accident two years ago. Missy had been his first love, and Miles fervently believes she will be his last. As a deputy in the North Carolina town of New Bern, Miles Ryan not only grieves for Missy, but also longs to bring the unknown driver to justice. Then Miles meets Sarah Andrews. The second grade teacher of his son, Jonah, Sarah had left Baltimore after a difficult divorce to start over in the gentler surroundings of New Bern. Perhaps it's her own emotional wounds that make her sensitive to the hurt she first sees in Jonah's eyes, and then his father's.

Tentatively, Sarah and Miles reach out to each other. Soon they are both laughing for the first time in years . . . and falling in love. Neither will be able to guess how closely linked they are to a shocking secret -- one that will force them to question everything they ever believed in . . . and make a heartbreaking choice that will change their lives forever.

5. Fall Book Reading lists are starting to make their appearances.  What are you excited to read that's being released this Fall?

I get so excited to see what books are coming out soon!  And it's not like I don't have a HUGE bookshelf FULL of books that I still need to read (because I certainly do)...but I just get so excited about new books that are coming out by my favorite authors!  Here are a few that I can't wait to get my hands on (along with their Goodreads synopsis)!  

The Lake House by Kate Morton (To be released October 22, 2015)

An abandoned house...After a particularly troubling case, Sadie Sparrow is sent on an enforced break from her job with the Metropolitan Police and retreats to her beloved grandfather's cottage in Cornwall. There she finds herself at a loose end, until one day she stumbles upon an abandoned house surrounded by overgrown gardens and dense woods, and learns the story of a baby boy who disappeared without a trace. 

A missing child...June 1933, and the Edevane family's country house, Loeanneth, is polished and gleaming, ready for the much-anticipated Midsummer Eve party. For Eleanor, the annual party has always been one of her treasured traditions, but her middle daughter, Alice, sixteen years old and with literary ambitions, is especially excited. Not only has Alice worked out the perfect twist for her novel, she's also fallen helplessly in love with someone she shouldn't. But by the time midnight strikes and fireworks light up the night sky, the Edevane family will have suffered a loss so great they leave Loeanneth and never return. 

An unsolved mystery...Seventy years later, in the attic writing room of her elegant Hampstead home, the formidable Alice Edevane leads a life as neatly plotted as the bestselling detective novels she writes. Until a young police detective starts asking questions about her family's past and seeking to resurrect the complex tangle of secrets Alice has spent her life trying to escape...

Longing for Paris by Sarah Mae (To be released on August 4, 2015)

For anyone who has ever daydreamed of another life . . .
Most days, you wouldn't trade what you have for the world. You love your husband and your kids, and you are grateful to God for your life. But there are days when you feel as though life is rolling over you in waves and you are just going through the motions. You find yourself aching for something more, something that is calling to depths of who you are, maybe for something you can't even name.

For Sarah Mae, it was Paris, a place that is known for breathtaking beauty, inspiring art, and exquisite food. But as she searched her heart, she found there was more to her longings than she anticipated.

Join Sarah Mae in Longing for Paris, a soul-searching, light-filled journey for the woman who knows she can't uproot her life to discover herself and her longings, but who desperately wants to uncover them so she can get unstuck and choose a life that is filled with beauty, adventure, and deep joy . . . right where she is.

The Murder House by James Patterson and David Ellis (To be released on September 24, 2015)

The large house on the beach front in Bridgehampton has an infamous history. An elderly couple died in a fire that destroyed the building, but everyone in town knows that the fire was no accident, it was murder.

The house was rebuilt, but the horror of the events that took place there still remains. And now two more dead bodies have been found in the ill-fated house – a young couple brutally killed.

The police arrest local resident Noah Walker, but have they got the right man? What other secrets could the murder house be hiding?

If you want to join in with this Link Party, visit Life with a Side of Coffee or Pink Heels Pink Truck to link up today!

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