five friday favorites: february third

Welcome back, friends! Or, I suppose I should say, “hello again!” Instead of offering explanations as to my verbal absence, let’s just jump back into routine, okay? Because the best kinds of relationships are the ones where it feels like no time has passed. Thus, away we go.

1. BBC’s Sherlock; Season Two. For anyone who hasn’t enjoyed the genius of this show, I seriously implore you to do so. There are only three episodes in each season and I’m fairly sure the whole party is on Netflix. A modern update of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries, the show explores shades of genius and manipulation in fascinating ways.

2. Game nights with favorites. I love movies and television and watching things with friends but after a while, you need something new to do. This term, the MC43 gang has decided to play more board games. Based on the past few weeks, this may be one of our more genius decisions.

3. As my research is much to do with women and Christianity, I am always interested in other women writing about how they navigate the maze. There are so many things I could link to here and will probably talk more about it over the next several seasons on here – but this article which appeared in the Guardian this week is intriguing. “Feminists Can Be Christians, Too by Kristin Aune

4. New Things, New Year: I talked earlier about having a bucket list for this year instead of resolutions. That theme has extended to the friend circle as we constantly nominate activities to do in Belfast that we’ve never done before. I love adventures.

5. This video, which explains where I live. You are welcome for the clarification.

january: summary

1. Lazy New Year’s Day. Went to go see ‘We Bought a Zoo’ with Sister, Mom and Ndeko, but spent most of the rest of the day in pajamas.

2. Shopping with Mom and Ndeko. Delightful.

3. Reading in front of the fireplace was most of my day, except when I had to hug my precious Ndeko “see you later”.

4. Read and wrote and snuggled with Puppy.

5. Watched some ridiculous movies and ate far too much food. Good day.

6. Big day in our wee family. Sister became a legally permanent part of us and we spent the day celebrating that reality.

7. Sister, Brother-in-Law and I had the house to ourselves. So we ordered far too much take-away food and watched ridiculous television. As we do.

8. Emailed in an essay and spent the rest of the day watching football with the family.

9. Some quick bits of nothing and visiting loved ones.

10. Last full day home for a while – so where else would I go but Long Beach Island? Had a simply delightful lunch with grandma and Mom and breathed deep the ocean air. Spent the evening snuggling with Brother and Sister.

11. Spent the last few hours in the States running errands with Mom before climbing in the car for the drive to Newark. See you in July, America. Stay Classy.

12. Landed in Belfast with no drama only to come back to MC and find that QUB had turned my electricity off. Delightful. Thankfully, Tacoma was awesome as always and let me crash in her room to steal plugs.

13. Spent the day writing a particularly hated and pointless essay, so made sure the evening was delightful. Take-away, couch, cheesy action movies, cute Boy. Done, done, done.

14. Tacoma and I found a new reality show trainwreck to get into – thank you ITV – while we enjoyed having a couch and a kitchen for the night. Thanks to Mama Cheesehead for giving us keys to her place while she’s away.

15. Headed out to Movilla to photograph a pretty cool event and spend some time with a favorite.

16. Did some work and then Tacoma and I played games, watched movies and laughed. Typical.

17. Penny returned to Belfast! So Tacoma and I played the “help Penny beat jet lag” game which always includes trips to City Center and brunch at The Other Place. I also met the Boy for a movie which turned into drinks until the wee hours. He’s inching ever closer to deserving a blog nick-name. We’ll see.

18. Penny and marathoned Sherlock and screamed at our TV several times. Flip, I cannot believe we have to wait until 2013 for new episodes of this wonder

19. Spent the day hunkered in Penny’s room waiting for Air Lingus to deliver her wayward luggage. We played Trivial Pursuit, analyzed some of the crazy in my brain and laughed.

20. Met the Boy for dinner at his place and then watched Top Gear: India and began to squeak with joy when they hit Jaipur. Gosh, I miss India.

21. I met the Boy at 12:30 and left him at 1:30 the next morning. Happy. Our day included viewings of the Underworld trilogy, which gave my Sister unspeakable joy.

22. Penny and I spent the day at Mama Cheesehead’s, making stew drinking, drinking B&Bs and enjoying championship football. I feel unbelievably bad for the Raven’s kicker.

23. A typical day in Belfast – reading, tea, dandering – ended in spending the whole night playing board games with Tacoma and Penny. Perfection.

24. Finished our marathon board game playing and the out with the Boy that evening. He certainly is becoming a re-occurring theme.

25. In what is a great example of my ridiculous life, Penny and I flew to London for a few days. After settling into our hostel, we found a pub and then dandered around Westminster to see it’s glory at night.

26. Bus tour, 221b Baker Street, a long journey to Tipperary, original Twining shop, organic gin, an adopted stout and dinner at one of Kenneth Braunaugh’s favorite places… yeah. Excellent day doesn’t even cover it.

27. After a WHIRLWIND run through the National Gallery, Penny headed back to Belfast and I boarded a bus to Oxford to see Coxswain for her birthday! We dandered and gossip and then I got to meet her people and was thrilled.

28. Coxswain and I decided that in order to properly celebrate her birthday we had to find ourselves in another country. So we headed to Wales. The evening got a little pear shaped, but we still had a class time.

29. Toured Cardiff, said ‘hi’ to The Doctor, ate lunch at a restaurant with too many “w”s and then spent the evening eating and drinking our way through Oxford. Winning.

30. Flight back to Belfast and then our first Pub Quiz of 2012. Things feel right again in Belfast.

31. Gormflaith returned! So we celebrated with lots of tea, leisurely lunch and then time introducing new friends at the Hewitt. Great way to wrap up January.



things i am ready for

… to celebrate this reality with the Brother

… to snuggle with family

… to be warm and dry

… to break bread and sing hymns with the family at St. Andrews

… to finally win the nut

… to see a favorite’s engagement ring in person and be able to squeal with her not over Skype

… to drink fresh Wawa coffee

… to enjoy White Christmas and The Grinch,  as is our family custom

… to be in the City of Love that is Brotherly

… to rest in people who believe in me and cheer me on and love me despite myself

 four sleeps. i am ready.

winter wonderland

Belfast had it’s first snow on Sunday evening. I was at Mama Cheesehead’s for our weekly American Football watching party and in the midst of all the festivities (which included filling in Sad Eli’s thoughts about his hat and his favorite colors – but that’s for another post) we looked out the window to see snow falling. Of course pictures had to be taken.

Earlier that evening as we were on our way, Penny and I paused in front of the SU. “Let’s just look at the moon and the tree and the Lanyon Building and be thankful,” she said. It was beautiful and peaceful and wonderful and I was, indeed, thankful for my life here.

I fly home one week from tomorrow. Between now and then it’s supposed to snow almost every day here. The mornings are crisp and cool and conversations with everyone include “it’s so flipping baltic!” My days are plotted around where I think the warmest location is at any given time. But in the midst of being cold, I am thankful.

I am thankful I have found family here in surprising ways. I am thankful for new adventures and old ones, a new library to explore and a new institution to complain about. I am thankful for technology which allows me to stay connected to my other worlds and for times when I can switch that technology off and be fully present in this one.

I am deeply thankful for all of those things, but as I stood in front of the Lanyon Buliding that evening, the thing I was the most thankful for was my family back in the States who are counting sleeps with me, who are taking off from work to collect me at the airport, who assure me that my house is ready for Christmas and the only thing that’s missing is me. I am thankful that their dreams for me are bigger than mine for myself. I am also deeply thankful that it is only eight sleeps until I get to hug the Yardley contingent. Eight sleeps!

christmas shopping: sorted.

… shop for a gift that tells a story …

As the tinsel which is draped around Belfast seems to signal to me, Christmas is just around the corner. Every shop is hawking its wares, beckoning people to come and buy their things for loved ones to celebrate the holiday season. It’s kind of overwhelming.

Of course, there are a growing number of alternatives if you’re not someone who wants to give perfume gift sets from Target. Oxfam, Heifer, and the like all run Christmas catalogs where you can purchase life altering gifts for others around the world. For instance, instead of buying your best friend a scarf, you can spend that $10 and buy a goat for a family in Tanzania.

However, if you want to buy tangible gifts made in other countries for your friends and family, the process is a little difficult at times. Unless you physically fly to the other nation, making sure the gifts are actually handmade or that they’re actually benefiting people can be really difficult. Thankfully, Charity Gift Market is here to help.

CGM is a non-profit organization which essentially serves as a middle man between organizations and you. It’s a partnership between CGM and the individual charity which allows you to purchase gifts which directly benefit charities around the world. You can shop by charity, by cause, by product, by country. The website is easy to use and well worth your visit. Their motto is “shop for a gift that tells a story” and their products certainly do.

If you’re looking for a place to start, may I recommend a few charities?

Amani Ya Juu: Women helping themselves and their villages and their families. The products are fantastic and diverse and unique. I own several pieces of their works from a few different countries and I would wholeheartedly recommend each one.

Thirst Relief International: Great gifts which go to make sure that people get clean water. Fantastic.

Below is a short video about the process of Charity Gift Market. I hope you head over there and shop a bit. It’s a fantastic website.


five friday favorites: october fourteenth

the long awaited return of my popular (read: i know at least one person has found them entertaining) blogging series. here’s my five favorite things from this week.

'Queen's University Belfast' photo (c) 2010, Jennifer Morrow - license:








1. the fact this is where I go to school: QUB is certainly frustrating at times, but gosh I love being here. As I read about the research the school is involved in and what they’re doing in the community, I am honored I was chosen to be a part of this institution. And there is increasing evidence they are proud to have me.

2.02 International Favorites: my mobile provider over here is 02, who has a fantastic program which allows me to call my family and allows anyone in the states to call me for domestic rates. Seriously a favorite thing.

3. Downton Abbey: This is a British series (shown on UTV here in Northern Ireland). And it’s amazing. Well, at least the first series is – I’m hearing mixed things about the second. But the girls and I are making our way through the first season and loving every minute.

4. going to AMSTERDAM! Tacoma has a few friends over for the next few weeks, so they, Penny and I are all heading to Amsterdam for two days in November. Going was on my bucket list for this year, so I am thrilled to have travel companions. So. Excited.

5. The Painkiller with Rob Brydon and Kenneth Branagh: went to see this at the Lyric Theater in Belfast with Muzz. Laughed almost the entire time. It was one of the most ridiculous pieces of theater I’ve ever seen, but being 3 rows from Kenneth Branagh will be something I remember for a long time.

in which i remember neil patrick harris is amazing

Well, friends, welcome to jet lag. Vacation was amazing and I’ll be posting about it in the following days. Lots of stories to tell and about 2,000 photos to sort through. But this morning as my body clearly still thinks it’s on Rome time, I am wide awake and searching YouTube for the cultural things I have missed. I know many of you have probably watched this or heard about it and if you haven’t you probably don’t care anyway, but I wanted to share anyway.

Here is Neil Patrick Harris’ opening number from the Tony’s this year : “It’s Not Just For Gays Anymore”

Just to continue the awesome, here’s Daniel Radcliffe, John Laraquette and the cast of “How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” with the number “Brotherhood of Man”

And remember the time that Hugh Jackman and NPH did a duet?

Oh, yeah, and here’s a “Side by Side” from “Company”

And finally, to bring it all home, NPH rapped over the final credits.

Dear word, I love Broadway.