Botanic Gardens Belfast

Hello!

Another Botanic Gardens visited and this time just a short walk from my new home! Well I’ve been twice now but the first time I didn’t photograph too much and really soaked up the moment with company! David and I went a bit Instagram mad this time. The Belfast Botanic Gardens are much, much smaller than Dublin’s. However, they’re just as beautiful! If you like one, you’ll like the other. If you like gardens or plants or any nature at all, you might appreciate them.

There’s one main building, the Palm House and then the Tropical Ravine (very steamy) which is a minute’s walk away. They’re so nice to walk around.

My good friend from university David came to visit me and this was on his Belfast to-do list. He’s very good to photograph with because he’s big into his social media and is extremely creative! I’m always impressed by his posts.

Palm House

 

Tropical Ravine House

We also went to the Ulster Museum which is beside the Tropical Ravine in Botanic Park and admired it’s many displays until we got hungry enough to leave and head over to Town Square for some lunch. Town Square is a fabulous spot as well whether it’s for a coffee, a cocktail or a full on meal. We got a killer day of sunshine since Ireland’s currently facing another heat wave. Something the Irish can’t handle is heat!! Despite breaking a serious sweat, it was a lovely afternoon! (:

Check out David: @dvidmaguire on Instagram and Twitter. He also has a beautiful Dublin Instagram: @DublinMyDarling.

Have you been? 

x

Belfast Buzz & Giveaway

 

The Craic in Belfast

So it’s coming up on a month in Belfast, Northern Ireland!

The apartment is really coming along the way we want it to be! I’m loving it more and feeling more comfortable and at home in it everyday. I also love the public transport in Belfast. The bus flies into town, only taking five minutes to get to city centre, otherwise I’m walking a nice 25 minutes which still is pretty great. And the bus drivers are typically nice here?!? I swear the drivers in Dublin would bark at you or say nothing at all. People are generally friendly here in Belfast. Another bonus, which to me, is a big one.

The weather was very generous and we got two weeks or so of pure sunshine. However, it’s back to drearier days now. I don’t mind though! I’m away to France on Thursday and I’ll soak up the sun there (;

I’m still job hunting but keeping busy by socialising with friends, making new friends (I’ve met some lovely ones so far!), networking and running errands. I’m also taking this time to dive into things I’ve been wanting to devote some time to like lifting weights, baking & cooking, and reading. Life is pretty good.

And blogging of course! There is much more to come for RedheadAmerican.com!  (; I’m very excited to share more plans this summer.

Giveaway Time!

Speaking of which, have you entered my giveaway on Instagram? I’ve teamed up with Crann to giveaway these Irish wooden sunglasses in the style ‘Gra.’ Aren’t they fun? They’re comfy too.

‘Gra’ means love in Irish. ‘Crann’ actually means tree, hence all their products are Irish wood, which is brilliant, so local! I do love to support local where I can. I always have ever since my dad opened up his own glasses store in my hometown about ten years ago. It’s so important to support local businesses. And I mean in any scenario, skip Cafe Nero or Starbucks and hit a new cafe run by your town or city’s residents!

Anyway, back to the giveaway! You can win these if you’re in the UK or Ireland for free. Who doesn’t love free stuff?! All you have to do is comment on my Instagram post tagging a friend, make sure you and your friend are following both me and @Crann.Co and then comment on @Crann.Co’s giveaway post with me in it for an extra chance to win! Closes June 29th. Winner picked randomly that day.

My Instagram: @redheadamerican

Crann’s Instagram: @Crann.Co

Best of luck. Go enter for a chance to win!

National Botanic Gardens of Ireland

Hello (:

If you’re exploring Dublin, here’s an idea. Check out the National Botanic Gardens.

When Dom of Maiden Moose Photography found me on Instagram and got in touch about a photoshoot I said yes! And after some planning, she suggested the National Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin (Dublin 9) and I immediately said definitely. It was always a place I was interested in going and I’m so glad we did! It was so impressive. And there’s a plant for everyone! I’m a big flower gal and the beds of colourful flowers of all different kinds would make anyone happy (unless you hate flowers?).

I’ll let the photos do most of the talking!

My personal favourites were the really leafy greenhouses! They’re so beautiful and make you feel somewhere tropical. Hughie seemed to enjoy the fuzzy looking cacti. As well as other prickly plants you shouldn’t touch but he did…

I love Maiden Moose’s black and white shots. They are such creative souls and you can tell just by talking to them!

Dom and her husband Eben moved to Dublin six months ago from South Africa and love travel, photography and storytelling. They were very warm and friendly and it was brilliant shooting with them. It had been a good while since my modelling days (back when I was like 16 haha) so I was out of my comfort zone shooting with someone I didn’t know but Dom made it me more comfortable by being so lovely and easy to communicate with. I cannot recommend her and Eben enough, they really are talented! You can find their social media and check out their artistic photography here:

Maiden Moose Website

MM Facebook

MM Instagram

MM Pinterest

I’m so looking forward to seeing the Belfast Botanic Gardens next week with a friend! Dublin’s amazed me!

Have you been to the National Botanic Gardens? 

x

Being Genuine Online & OOTD

Happy June (I can’t believe its June)!

Recently I’ve noticed a lot of heavy photoshopping to curate this ‘ideal’ image with bloggers and even just Instagram users in general. I can identify where an image was altered quite often and I do think some people take it way too far honestly. Hear me out, I’ve nothing wrong with perfecting your art and I know for some people, they want this very perfect, colour-coded and filtered shot that matches their Instagram aesthetic! That’s cool if to you, it’s your art and you’re not doing it to present yourself in a different way. We all may be guilty of cropping to exclude and include what we desire but when it comes to editing myself, I don’t. All I do to my photos is enhance them with one VSCO filter, mostly always from the ‘A’ row selection on the app.

Today, I’m wrecked. I didn’t sleep as much as I should’ve because I was out last night with friends and that’s probably apparent in these photos. I didn’t put a lot of effort into makeup today and just wanted a comfy but cute casual outfit so I threw this together! I like how the outfit turned out and I don’t mind that I look exhausted in these photos. It’s real, it’s me and I don’t feel a need to change that. I felt good, despite looking hangry haha!

This top is in New Look now and it’s so cute! Of course I’m wearing florals, it’s summer! And the not so summery shade of black which I can be found wearing A LOT…the jeans are the ‘Tall Moto’ jeans from Topshop, which is brilliant for tall gals. I’m about 5’9 and they’re a great length for me. Love ’em! Annnnnd Topshop do a student discount, so bring those student cards and show them at the till. I finished uni last week and don’t graduate until September so I think I can still make use of the discounts haha. I paired them with a pair of low top converse!

I personally love seeing natural photos that show imperfections! It’s so real. And often times on social media it’s easy to get carried away into thinking everyone looks so perfect. I’m staying loyal to my beliefs by not editing my photos to bits or altering how I look in my images. Being genuine is valuable. I have always said this and always will!

Do you like seeing more natural photos in your social media feeds too?

x

36 Hours in Düsseldorf, Germany

Hiya,

I’m back on my grind this week for blogging content and can’t wait to share stuff coming up! Wahoo! However, this post is long overdue. I was in Germany at the beginning of this month for the very first time! I have been saying I’d do go there while I was in Ireland since I was like 18 and finally got around to it! The chance to visit came about because my boyfriend is working on a short term contract in Düsseldorf which is a small cosmopolitan city in the west of Germany.

For the majority of the trip, I was totally on my own which was challenging. I flew over on my own and that was totally fine. But figuring out public transport was DIFFICULT. I have 0 German so thank goodness a majority of Germans speak English. A guy sent me on the wrong train, leaving the city, to which a woman on it kindly got off with me and put me on the correct train and told me to get off in five stops. Maybe that man who misdirected me was confused, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. The woman who helped me was SO kind, I couldn’t believe it. Five stops later, I thought I was getting off at what was city centre. It wasn’t but at least I was somewhere within the city haha. City centre was a stop before apparently but didn’t look anything like the centre of a city?!? I walked for about an hour and a half with Google Maps leading me astray multiple times. I felt hopeless as my phone’s battery drained. EVENTUALLY, I found the hotel later on and dropped my stuff and was very relieved! We stayed at the Nikko Hotel which I’d recommend, very modern!

After wandering for ages, I camped out in a park for awhile as an attempt to chill out. I took this selfie there under a tree to document the sunshine and moment of being wicked lost in a foreign country. Pre-sunburn selfie. It was super hot outside.

At the evening, I reunited with Hughie for dinner and drinks. I didn’t try any local German cuisine. Actually, the city didn’t feel very touristy. A German lady asked me what cultural experiences I had there and I wasn’t able to formulate anything. I’d like to see other parts of Germany in different areas to compare! Hamburg and Munich are high on my list of destinations to explore. We got Italian food the first night and Japanese the next. There is a large Japanese influence in Dusseldorf which you spot in the shops and restaurants! I would also like to take this moment to thank Hughie for being a great Instagram husband. He took all the photos. Except for this one of him obviously!

So, overall it was challenging but a great experience that put me out of my comfort zone. I’d recommend the city as a weekend away as there’s not loads to see so two days is just right. It’s small and walkable with a nice easy going vibe. There are plenty of high end shops along the Rhine River (which I adoringly gazed at from the outside) and it is a fashionable city in general! War World II actually destroyed most of this area so there’s a lot of new architecture mixed in with the old.

Along the river I found a little tourist stand which was the only one I saw while I was there. I bought a few postcards and magnets for friends and family. I’ve been putting together a little collection of them from everywhere I go. Can’t wait to stick the magnets on our new apartment’s fridge this week 😀

On my way back to the airport, I approached a German woman on the street to ask whether she thought I should take the train or bus to the airport and she actually brought me all the way to the train station (about fifteen minutes) and made sure I was getting on the right one…I’m absolutely amazed at how helpful and kindhearted German people were there…Seriously, they made everything a million times easier for me and I am very thankful!

It was an interesting 36 hours for me haha! Dusseldorf is a lovely spot. Especially with all the sunshine!

Have you been?

x

I’m Moving & Life Update

Hello, hello. It has been awhile!

What’s Been Going On

(Maiden Moose Photography)

A lot has been happening! Since my last post I’ve been in Germany, finished and handed in my thesis and have done what feels like a million hours of study and exams. I’m two exams away from finishing university and starting to see the light! So when these exams are done, I’m indulging in a big dirty takeaway and some fine wineeee. I’m also going to a music festival in Belfast, woohoo!

It will be very strange saying goodbye to Maynooth.. This general area is where I’ve lived the last three years and have made millions of precious memories and built a lot of character! However, three years was just enough.

Here are a few photos from the camera of south campus. Part of what drew me in when I was just seventeen looking at Irish universities online. The last one is of my beautiful friend Caoimhe posing playing her flute (pictures for her recital pamphlets!) in the South Campus secret gardens. I love that photo of her. She’s another thing I’ll miss!

I also did a lovely fun photoshoot with Dom and Eben of Maiden Moose Photography in the Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin. I’ll have lots of photos featured in the post all about it coming up! But for now here’s a small sneak peek. Check them out on their Instagram account in the mean time.

I’m Moving!

Now, this is also exciting. This is just an exciting phase of my life. Bare with me.

Guess who’s moving full time to Belfast?! No more weekends and just time off there, I will actually be a Belfast resident! We got a lovely spacious apartment not all that far from city centre. This has left me endlessly scrolling through IKEA’s website and Pinterest for fun cheap ways to decorate. Last weekend involved day trip to IKEA to have the craic and look about and found plenty of inspo. If you wanna see interior aesthetics I’m loving right now check out my last post, here.

Moving involves a whole new set of challenges that are obvious when starting fresh somewhere, establishing a career, etc. Real life adulting (ahhhhhh). While I basically started a whole new life across the ocean at just eighteen, this is the real deal now being out of university with a degree and experiencing the world…dare I say the 9-5 world. We’ll see how it goes.

If you are doing exams I hope they went well/are going well. You can do it, persevere! 

And to anyone else who read this far, enjoy your day! 

x

10 Interior Pins to Recreate

I’m currently trying to find productive ways to give myself a break from final year studies…Obviously blogging and social media is a fun space for me. I make it fun, if it’s becoming negative I take a break because I don’t see a point in scrolling aimlessly if I’m not in a good headspace. Pinterest is another great creative outlet as well and I like pinning some of my blog material on there. So I’ve been pinning some interiors inspiration A LOT lately haha. A new apartment is on the horizon.

You can follow me on Pinterest here.

Fun fact: When I was 12-15 I wanted to be an interior designer. Genuinely thought I’d pursue it. I even used to move my furniture around my room constantly to change things up and imitate room set ups I’d see in Pottery Barn Teen magazines. Ah, young Laura, here’s your big break…decorating your adult apartment.

Click the picture to link you to the pin!

Cute Decor

Living Room

Kitchen

Bedroom

As you can see I’m liking a minimal look, very neutral with a pop of warm color. I love the clean aesthetic. I also like the idea of statement mirrors like the round one pictured above. They make the room appear larger. My friend Olivia got me a light box (like in pin #2) for my 21st and I love it! It’s fun to change up the statement on it and Pinterest has plenty of cute ideas. I’m big on plants and candles too.

Will it turn out anything like these dreamy pins? That’s a big no. But it’s all about inspiration. My goal is to do it all on the cheap and make a lot of the wall art myself. A lot of DIY stuff as well.

Are we Pinterest pals yet?

x

Sunday Adventure: Belfast Castle

Happy Sunday!

Hope you had a lovely weekend and you’re prepped for the week ahead…I’m handing in my final year thesis this week so a day to unwind and take my mind off of it was well needed. Hughie and I went to Belfast Castle estate finally! It was really beautiful and a glorious day for it…until it rained but that was later on after we had left. Typical Ireland. Can’t complain though, it’s been a gorgeous few days for the island.

There are cat symbols (as seen in on the ground decoration I’m standing on) and little cat statues around the estate garden. They symbolize good luck to the visitors!

Even when you’re in front of the castle, you have an incredible view of the water and Belfast and it’s surrounding areas. There was a cute girl taking communion pictures at the castle, such a good idea! Very picturesque.

The castle is set on Cave Hill. There is several trails to hike on the mountain, some of which looked quite steep and challenging. Asthmatic me took the flattest one but it was still great and offered a nice view.

Story of my life. Sees dog. Must pet dog.

Glad I went and would love to make a habit of going here for walks and work my way up (and bring my inhaler, haha) to the more challenging ones. We spent the rest of the day walking about and ate at District in Stranmillis.

Outfit Details – simple for walking about!

Earrings – The Beady Mama. You can shop the Etsy shop here.

Top – Dunnes

Leggings – Primark

Shoes – Converse

Have you been to Belfast castle or Cave Hill?

x

Taking the Scenic Route: Galway to Mayo

Hello, hello!

I’ve had this week and last week off uni. I spent the first week just hanging out and writing essays (exciting, I know) and then got a plane to Birmingham at the weekend for a 40th birthday party which was good fun. After coming back from England, my boyfriend and I said we’d take advantage of both having this week off and head out west to visit my family. We traveled to Galway to visit in Connemara and instead of taking the motorway to Mayo, we decided on going the scenic route through Connemara National Park. It was STUNNING. There was constantly a view until the more main roads in Mayo. All the stops we made were fab.

Connemara National Park, Galway

Very rural, very pretty. We pulled over a couple of times throughout the mountains just to capture the prettiness.

Kylemore Abbey in Kylemore, Galway

My Dad text-suggested that we stop at Kylemore Abbey, one of Ireland’s top tourist destinations. The building itself is run by Benedictine nuns and there’s a lot of fascinating history there if that’s your kind of thing. There’s a gift shop and lovely Victorian gardens to explore as well. The famous Kylemore Abbey church is further over to the right and blends right into the trees but is still visible if you look for it. You can also hike the mountain/hill (who am I to decide what it is!) that it’s nestled into at the bottom of. To be honest, we just saw it and got photos and went on our way. 

And it wouldn’t be an Irish road trip if we didn’t run into these guys on the road…Take your time, lads.

Leenane, Galway….or Mayo….

We stopped in the Galway/Mayo border town of Leenane for a quick bite in a local pub. The only place we could find that would take card, haha. There is no ATM in the entire town! What Leenane lacks in money dispersing machines, Leenane makes up for in her stunning beauty. Quite possibly my favorite view in Ireland. These photos were taken in the parking lot just on the water.

Ashleagh Falls 

A small waterfall about a two to three minute drive from Leenane village. Keep an eye out for it on Irish postcards, it’s everywhere! If you look closely there’s a little house on the small hill behind it. I’ve ALWAYS wanted this house since I was little. What a dream!

Ashford Castle, Cong, Mayo

I love the very old movie, The Quiet Man starring American film star John Wayne and beloved Irish actress Maureen O’Hara which is filmed in Cong. Some of my friends think it’s cheesy that I like it so much because it is a very American view of Ireland and they think the stereotypes in it are quite exaggerated. They’re not wrong but it’s still a sweet movie! We are actually studying The Quiet Man presently in my sociology class on tourism in Ireland. Anywho, there’s a statue of John carrying Maureen right outside one of the entrances to Ashford Castle. We parked right near there for free and walked up to the castle. Luckily the sun was shining and it wasn’t that chilly. A lot of tourists were floating around taking pictures like us.

There are plenty of photo opportunities around the castle grounds. The gardens directly behind the castle are well manicured and basically perfect looking. You’ll find them in front of the water view. If you like to walk there’s a good few paths that trail through the woods. My dad just informed me that on the little islands across the water (Lough Corrib) there are little old churches that you can get a boat to check out.

This was not my first time going this route, but it was my first time photographing it. Thank god my boyfriend has taken a photography class (back in secondary school, but still) because I couldn’t have gotten as lovely shots as he did. I’m so happy with the photos! But more importantly, I’m so happy we went!

Let me know if you have been to any of these places or are planning on going! I’d love to hear what you thought! It really is a stunning corner of the world.

Chat soon x

The Best of Belfast: Food to try & places to go

Belfast is one of the spots to visit in 2018 if you haven’t! If you follow me you know I spend half my week in Belfast and the other half around the Dublin area. This is because I have my boyfriend and friends in Belfast and my uni life and friends in Kildare, which is coming to a close as I’m wrapping up my last semester. I lived in Belfast full time over the summer and loved it. It is very different to Dublin and considerably smaller. It’s lovably quirky and very easy to navigate.

There’s always something fun going on. Here are some spots to check out that I love and have tried/visited. I don’t have photos of everywhere but where I do, I’ve included them below.

My favorite food places (I’m picky): I’ve tried lots but these were the stand outs.

  • Ginger Bistro – Good for a nice meal and ambiance.
  • Fratelli – chocolate mousse is INSANELY GOOD. A small portion is just enough.
  • Avoca Cafe – I have tried the other Avoca cafes around and in Dublin but this one in Belfast is also really lovely.

My favorite bars (casual to fancy):

  • Five Points – Always has live Irish music. Really fun for singing along. Whenever I’m there I don’t even mind standing.
  • Parlour Bar – Very student-esque. Casual AND cheap. They have pub quizzes every Thursday.
  • Filthy McNasty’s  – Fun quirky bar for a night out. There are several differently decorated sections and each of them always have a good buzz. My favorite one is the outside part picture below at night.
  • Town Sq. – really yummy cocktails. Love their moscow mule.
  • The National and Sixty6 – Fancier part upstairs if you want to leave the casual scene, but it will cost you a fiver.
  • The Perch – I went here first for my 21st with friends. It is expensive but very, very nice. The espresso martini is great. It has a rooftop view but I didn’t see it that night haha.
  • Babel – Another rooftop bar! View is so great and looks over Victoria Square. Dying to try the food there. Sorry I don’t have any pictures of it!My favorite takeaways: One for almost every variety/takeaway mood.
  • Abacus Chinese
  • Love Pizza
  • Boojum Burritos
  • Chip Co.

Touristy things worth seeing:

  • City Hall – right in town center, beautiful inside and out.
  • Victoria Square – LOVE the design of this place. It’s an outside shopping that transitions into a dome covered shopping center. Casual shopping to high end. There’s something for everyone. If you don’t fancy shopping, there’s cafes and food as well. It is currently celebrating it’s 10th birthday! Read more here.
  • Tours on the history. I have done multiple tours of Belfast for a class I took on Northern Irish society. The city is rich in history and if you like politics it may be of interest to you. Also check out the very striking Stormont building, the home to the Northern Ireland Assembly.
  • Titanic Quarter – Titanic museum is there! Read more about tickets for it on their website here.

    Places on my to-try list right now:
  • YoSushi – conveyor belt sushi. I’m going to give sushi another chance.
  • Coppi
  • Cuban Sandwich Factory

Seasonal Things to Do:

  • Continental Christmas Market – different meats from around the world to try, Bailey’s hot cocoa with various flavors, some really cool creative stalls with jewelry, art, and delicious food.
  • Christmas shopping in Victoria Square – caroling, and all around Christmassy vibes.

    A little further away…
  • ON A GOOD CLEAR DAY: About an hour down the road in Antrim you can find the Giant’s Causeway which is a gorgeous area with an interesting geological rock formation that draws in a lot of tourism. There’s also a rope bridge and several trails for walks.


    Are you in the city looking for something else to do?
  • Check out a film at Queen’s Film Theatre. Discount with student card but anyone can go. A more intimate movie theater experience!
  • Crazy Tuesdays at Movie House on Dublin Road. 3.50 tickets all day for any movie.
  • Go for a walk in the town or grab a coffee at a nice cafe. There’s some great coffee places and I’ll do a separate post on this.

There are some ideas! Have you been to any of these places?

x