Previous recaps:


Our fifth day in Ireland was a scenic road trip that included a partial tour of the Ring of Kerry and stops in small Irish towns en route to our next major destination: Kinsale! We woke up to foggy and overcast skies, but that did nothing to detract from the beauty of the countryside.

We began the morning with a quick breakfast at the hotel. Hot chocolate was on the menu!


I grabbed a few things from the buffet, including smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, as well as a pastry and fresh fruit that I neglected to photograph. As usual, everything was very tasty.


Then we piled our bags into the van and headed out! Our first objective was checking out the Ladies View, which as you know has been my goal since we began planning this trip. There’s no real reason other than that it was one of the first pictures I looked at of Ireland and it instantly made me think, “We need to visit as soon as possible.”

We drove through Kenmare on the way and got out to explore for a bit.


I somehow ended up wandering toward the shop at the end of the street. Can’t imagine why.


I ended up buying a children’s book called Before You Sleep by Benji Bennett, which had won an Irish Book Award. It was also tempting to buy the Hunger Games trilogy, but I resisted. :)

We hopped back in the van and onto the Ring of Kerry, eventually reaching Moll’s Gap.


How often do you get to see sheep at a rest stop?


And then, suddenly, we’d made it. The fog dissipated just in time for the Ladies View!


It was just as gorgeous as the pictures promised, and incredibly peaceful. This would be yet another place where I’d love to relax with a good book. I’m glad we were able to see it!



Excellent artsy photo below courtesy of Bobby.


From the Ladies View, we continued on toward Kinsale, breaking for lunch at the Mills Inn Hotel in Ballyvourney, Macroom, a recommendation from our guide.



We all enjoyed a small glass of Guinness to start.


And I went with the ham, cheese, onion and tomato toastie with chips for lunch. Yum!


Soon afterward, we arrived in Midleton for the Jameson Experience.


We were super excited for this tour of the Jameson Distillery, as we’d read great reviews and knew that it featured original buildings dating back to the late 18th century.



The chandelier inside the lobby was a bit more modern – and pretty awesome.


Our tour guide was really knowledgeable and walked us through the entire whiskey-making process. There are three main ingredients that go into making Jameson: barley, maize and Irish water. Malting is done with a portion of the barley to produce enzymes that are later used in the brewing process. We were able to see the original floor they used to spread out the grain – the hot air could come up through the holes, allowing the barley to germinate.


They used to carry ridiculously heavy bags of this stuff up several floors!


There were many other terms we learned along the way – milling, mashing, fermentation, distillation. I won’t attempt to explain it all because I’m no expert. :) But it was incredibly interesting, and made me appreciate just how much work it takes to get the finished product.



We also walked by the Master Distiller’s cottage, which dates back to 1825.


At the end of the tour, we were brought into the tasting room, where we all had a chance to try a small glass of Jameson whiskey for ourselves. I decided to be brave and try it without ginger ale – it was predictably strong, but I liked it!



A select few guests were also invited to take part in a comparison tasting between American, Scottish and Irish whiskies. Can you guess who made up two of the lucky chosen ones? Papa and Mama Bender, of course!


The biggest difference between the three whiskies comes during the distilling phase. Generally, Scottish and American whiskies are distilled twice, while Irish whiskey is distilled three times. For this reason, the Irish claim their whiskey is smoother and purer. There are a few other differences, and of course, everyone thinks their way is best! But personal taste is always the biggest factor, and everyone at this table chose Jameson as their #1 pick – what a coincidence!

All location bias aside, Jameson was the legitimate favorite of these two certified tasters.

jameson certs

Once the tour was over, we headed back to the lobby bar and picked out a few more samples to share – some unique Jameson varieties that aren’t easy to find back in the United States. Needless to say, we left in good spirits (pun intended).


We arrived in Kinsale a short time later and checked in at the Trident Hotel.


Can you spot the photobombers above? Kinsale is a fishing village in County Cork. Our hotel was right on the water, which made for gorgeous views right outside our windows!



The rooms themselves were bright and airy, but the big windows beckoned you outdoors.



And so out we went! While on our way to dinner, we passed an interesting lot with a gate out front that read “Merlin’s Keep.” Inside there was a tangle of leaves and trees – it sort of looked like a secret garden! I might have been the most intrigued of the group, haha.


Similar to Dingle, Kinsale is full of small and winding streets with colorful buildings.


I loved this grouping of stacked houses in every color of the rainbow.


Eventually, we found Crackpots! Yet another winning recommendation from Mike.


I started out with a slice of delicious Irish bread with butter and an interesting tomato jelly.


Since we were “early birds,” we were able to take advantage of the three-course special menu. I chose the soup of the day to start, which was an amazing tomato bisque. I could really go for some right now as I type this post.


For my main dish I had the sautéed gnocchi, which was perfection! Seriously, how can you go wrong with a three-cheese Irish sauce and herb crusted chicken topping? So good.


For dessert, Bobby and I shared this delicious brownie a la mode.


It was yet another fantastic dining experience. After dinner, we settled our stomachs with a walk along the pier. It was cool to see all of the boats in the harbor. This was actually the start of a holiday weekend in Ireland, so Kinsale was even busier than usual.


We also stopped at a grocery store and picked up a bottle of wine for everyone to share. There was a nice patio right outside the hotel and even though the breeze was a bit chilly, we enjoyed sipping and savoring the evening. Can you tell one of us was a bit colder than the other? :)


As the sun set, Bobby and I decided to take one more stroll about town. We meandered through the streets, passing this awesome purple “bookstór” that I had to photograph (obviously).


It was fun to listen to the music wafting out from the various bars. We stopped in one for a bit, but mainly just enjoyed checking out the hilarious Guinness advertisements plastered to the walls.


It was really nice to have a day devoted to relaxing and sightseeing, but we were excited for yet another round of golfing excitement to come the following afternoon.




Summertime Happenings

by Jenn (eating bender) on July 31, 2014

It’s hard to believe that we’re only a little more than a month into summer. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m currently editing magazine articles about pumpkins and fall foliage (my favorites). Luckily I need only walk outside for Arizona to remind me of exactly where we are on the calendar. Nothing screams ’tis the season more than cookies baked in the oven sun at 114 degrees.

Still, it’s a dry heat. ;) Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!

We’ve been keeping busy whether there’s sunshine, monsoon rains or dust storms. A few weeks ago, my friend Lauren came to visit, which is always a lot of fun. (I also got my ears lowered!)


We celebrated the Fourth of July with my family and patriotic Dutch babies for breakfast.


Lauren also joined us on the links, all of us festively dressed in red, white and blue.


And Papa Bender made us a yummy dinner: crab legs, corn and veggies.


The next day, Lauren, Bobby and I took a road trip to Prescott to check out Watson Lake.


It was gorgeous, although kind of crazy how low the water line is this year!


Although we didn’t do any kayaking, I think it would be fun to go back and try it sometime.


On the way home, we stopped at Scoopz for some ice cream and checkers “strategery.”


The rest of the trip consisted of a lot of relaxing and Dawson’s Creek. Thanks for coming, Laur!


The following weekend I hosted a “day in Paris.” It was an idea my friend Sheena came up with after we expressed our mutual love for Marie Antoinette. I mentioned that I hadn’t seen the movie with Kirsten Dunst, and so Sheena, Nicole and I decided to make a day of it. We started with Sunday brunch at Petite Maison. All of us decided to order the croque “mistress,” a sandwich with shaved ham, petit basque cheese, smoked bacon and a fried egg. It was a bit strong on the Dijon mustard, but overall really good!


After brunch we headed back to my house, where together we created quite the dessert feast. I picked up a variety of macarons and some French bread from Whole Foods, while they brought a delicious assortment of pastries and drinks from AJ’s. We spent the afternoon sipping and savoring while watching Marie Antoinette and Moulin Rouge. Loved them both.


The next weekend, it was time for another meeting of Reading Between the Wines!


This month’s book club pick was We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. Like most of the other reviews I’ve read about this book, mine will be short and sweet. You can’t fully understand the mystery behind We Were Liars until the ending is revealed, so it’s best not to give much away before that. Some people may see it coming, but I had no clue – and it made for a big shock! This was a fast read and I really liked the author’s writing style. I think the Goodreads summary describes it best:

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.
We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart. 

Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

If you’re intrigued, check it out and let me know what you think! A few of my favorite quotes:

“Do not accept an evil you can change.” 

“He was contemplation and enthusiasm. Ambition and strong coffee. I could have looked at him forever.” 

“Someone once wrote that a novel should deliver a series of small astonishments. I get the same thing spending an hour with you.  Also, here is a green toothbrush tied in a ribbon. It expresses my feelings inadequately.”

My contribution to this month’s book club was a pasta salad, which turned out pretty tasty.


July is nearly over, and I’m proud to say that I have now read 30 books and more than 9,300 pages. I’m hoping this means my goal of 15,000 pages for the year is within reach!

Goodreads - July copy

There have been some really good reads lately, and I’ll be sharing my thoughts with you on those soon. For now, I’d love to know what you’ve been up to this summer.

What new things are going on in your life?




Ireland, Day Four: Tralee and Killarney National Park

July 18, 2014

Previous recaps: Day One – Bunratty and Doonbeg Day Two – Cliffs of Moher, The Burren and Lahinch Day Three – Slea Head Drive, Beehive Huts, Dingle Peninsula and Killarney I swear I blinked and July was half over already. The summer is flying by as usual, and we’ve been having a lot of fun spending time […]

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Ireland, Day Three: Slea Head Drive, Beehive Huts, Dingle Peninsula and Killarney

July 2, 2014

Previous recaps: Day One – Bunratty and Doonbeg Day Two – Cliffs of Moher, The Burren and Lahinch Our third day in Ireland was one big scenic road trip, with Killarney as the final destination. We woke up early once again to grab breakfast from Doonbeg Lodge before we headed out. I started with a glass o’ […]

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Ireland, Day Two: Cliffs of Moher, The Burren and Lahinch

June 24, 2014

Previous recaps: Day One – Bunratty and Doonbeg I’ll probably end up saying this more than once, but our second morning in Ireland definitely ranks up there as one of my favorite parts of the trip. We woke up bright and early, pulling back the curtains to this view of the golf course we had played the previous afternoon. […]

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Ireland, Day One: Bunratty and Doonbeg

June 12, 2014

“You’re very welcome.” -A common way of saying “hello and welcome” in Ireland As some of you know or might have guessed, my most recent blogging break was due to a vacation that has been nearly six months in the making. Mama Bender, Papa Bender, Eric, Bobby and I had the chance to visit Ireland for 10 days. […]

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My Writing Process Blog Tour

May 31, 2014

**This post was originally scheduled to go up on Monday!** Last week I was tagged by Kristi to participate in the My Writing Process blog tour. Kristi is a fellow Phoenix blogger who shares my love of books and writing. She’s also an inspiring business owner! Thanks to this blog tour, we’ve realized that we live super […]

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Happenings (viii)

May 20, 2014

1. I turned 27 back on May 9. Similar to last year, part of my birthday weekend was spent in St. Louis, where I had the chance to spend some time with my Grandma Gige. We attended an early afternoon showing of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, which was really good. I watched Ace Young’s […]

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