Thursday, December 18, 2014

Christmas in Copenhagen

This is where we are spending Christmas. Doing our favorite things, together as our own family of two. 

Exploring a new place. Learning about a culture, eating amazing local food, and meeting people. Sharing more of our lives with each other and giving each other the gift of memories. This is the tradition we are building together. 

What traditions mean Christmas to you? For me, it was always harp music and stockings filled to bursting and my Dad. My Dad is Christmas to me. And even now that I am older and have my own family, my Dad is still Christmas. So it is remembering what feelings he brings to the holiday. What warmth and life and spectacle, so that I might do the same for Terrence. That I might bring the holiday to life for him and to all that I meet, just as my father did for me. 

Happy Christmas

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Copenhagen Christmas Fashion

Copenhagen Christmas

Because I love all things black, and I recently realized that I have way too many things that are leopard, I thought to make the most of it on our upcoming trip to Copenhagen. A swirly-twirly holiday dress, some leggings + jewelry that sparkles, all underneath a warm and cozy winter coat. (Complete with FAUX fur, thank you.)

It's not red + green, but cold weather clothing says "Holiday" to me and Mr. Nolandia with gusto. We are ready to bust out of this Texas warm and feel a little chilly for a change. Hoping to discover our own definition of hygge while we soak in the Northern European metropolis.


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Christmas Gifting Guide

Looking for some one-of-a-kind gifts? Designed by moi? Then perfecto, check out my artist gallery on Society6 and snag tshirts, hoodies, tanks, clocks, throw pillows, tote bags, phone cases and art prints. Right now, $5 off + Free Shipping  for everything in my store! Click this link to use code, and shop away!
Promo ends the 14th, so get hopping if you want the discount/want people in your life to have presents. 

Or, of course, for the bibliophile in your life, Starlight Symphonies of Oak & Glass

Alright, those are the end of my ideas. I always think gifts that are unique, made or written by a real person, are special. (And of course I am partial because I am the one who made these. Sorry I'm not sorry.)

Happy Holidays, buttheads. xx

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Shaking Dreams From Your Fingertips

The loveliest of ladies at Coast to Coast Central have been supportive of me + my dreams since I first began. Check my latest article on the Coast to Coast website about how I became a writer + why. 

Never underestimate the power of women supporting women, and all the places dreams can take you. 


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Starlight Symphonies Preview

Today, I have an early Christmas gift for you. Looking for a new book? Or a book to use for your next book club? Maybe a book to give out as a gift for the holidays? Well, I may be a bit biased, but I think that my latest effort will please almost anyone. There's mystery, magic, love, betrayal, murder, and storms at sea. A little of everything. And today, I offer you the prologue, to whet your appetite. 

"She looked over the numerous boxes and trunks, uncaring anymore as to their contents. Only a single parcel she clasped tightly to her chest, a talisman to protect her on the journey ahead. Protect from what, though? A rough crossing? The curious eyes of those aboard? Or was she hoping to protect herself from her own nature? Her head hurt to think on it, so instead she clutched the leather-bound book ever closer. 

The pages were as yet, unfilled, and somehow, it would be her salvation to mar their pristine whiteness. Somewhere, locked within her own mind lay the answers she was looking for, the secrets that had kept her imprisoned all of these long months. She was alone for now. He would be in the shipping office until after dark, sorting the last of the papers, giving the last of the commands, being certain to leave all better than he had found it, in order to ease his father’s mind. In order to present a legitimate reason for their sojourn in Detroit. She could not help but bless him for this. For his constant thoughtfulness, though she could not explain why he was willing to undergo all of this shadow play, for her. 
She sighed, and realized, uncomfortably, that she was not alone after all. He had returned. Not the ‘he’ she was thinking of, but the other. The one who plagued her every move. He was laughing at her now, laughing at the face of disgust she was making. He was dancing amongst her trunks, and opening them, lifting out her gowns and messing their clean folds to have a look at them. Then he was next to her, caressing her cheek, bold hands on her stomacher. She cursed him, and he laughed again, and vanished back to wherever phantoms haunt. 
She opened up the journal, and decided to make one entry. One entry before she left behind this somewhat-sanctuary, this place far away from wagging tongues and familiar faces that would soon haunt her days.

Diary of Cora Ravensdale-Delacroix, May 1826 

I do not think I am deceived in thinking, that amongst women who fancy they are in love, that they each of them believe their love is special. All the women in my acquaintance have come to believe, at least in the beginning, that the wooing and sweet soft kisses that first set their hearts soaring is somehow unusual, or out of the common way.
It is both true and untrue, I think. All love is different, so in that way, they are correct in their tightly held fantasies. But, I also find that because love is such a broken, pricking thing, that there is nothing very special about it at all. I have loved two men, (excepting papa) both with my whole heart and soul, and the pain they have caused me in loving them is more than enough to convince me that I was most probably better off without it. 
One heartbreak caused by losing his love, and the other, the agony of finding it. 
No, there is nothing unique or special about any one love story. It is just a thousand different ways to describe regret, passion and longing. 

But that does not mean that my story is not worth the telling.

She sighed again, heavily, and clasped the handsome brass buckle on the face of it. She had made a beginning, and now she looked to the end. "

Excerpted from Starlight Symphonies of Oak and Glass, copyright 2014. Alexandria Nolan

Want to know what happens next? Order on the  Kindle App or in Paperback
Enjoy, xx

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Exceed Your Grasp

This Robert Browning quote has been buzzing around my mind the last few months. How apt, right? Goes along with that whole "if your dreams don't scare you, then they're not big enough" quote. 

This pops in my head when I'm writing, or when I am editing chapters. It slips into my brain when I'm tired and cranky and feel like a fake and a hack writer. It enters my soul when I feel 'not good enough', and it strengthens me somehow. My big dream and your big dream are different dreams altogether. What may seem scary and impossible to me, is someone else's every day reality. And it could and can and will be mine. 

What are you reaching for? And how far away is it? 

Keep on reaching. xx

(and help me grasp my dreams: Starlight Symphonies of Oak and Glass on Amazon)

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Queen of the Castle

Giant puppies, jewel-colored leaves and a castle with my very own prince. 

This was a perfect day. 

Unfortunately, we only visited Bunratty Castle and Folk Park for about 2 hours....and then spent the rest of the day crying, cursing, yelling and generally transforming into medieval barbarians from  the traffic on the way from Shannon to Dublin. (traffic suggests that there was moving transportation. Which is not the case, since they basically stopped the entire roadway. GAHHHHH)

I am trying desperately to repress those memories though, so let me just say that the castle was a tremendous delight. Walking up the steps you came into a great hall where one could picture feasting, and meat on spits and ale all around. Up the winding stair case to another great hall, complete with something that looked a very lot like an ornate wooden throne. Each corner of the  great room, had its own additional winding staircases, and each of them split off into multiple directions. Hidey-holes, peep-holes into different rooms, the lord's chamber and the ladies room and private chapels. A very interesting example of early plumbing, and turrets on the top of the tower for looking out over the everlasting greenness of the land sprawling around on all sides. 

Our imaginations caught fire, seeing into the past, into the lives of these 15th century people....and wondering what it would have been like if we were instantly transported back a few hundred years.  How different really would those people be? 

After 5 hours in the car on our way to Dublin,  I came to fully understood the murderous rage of a medieval Irish warrior.  And have decided I think I would have fit right into Bunratty Castle in its heyday. If I could just channel that bad mood effectively...I could have been Queen of that mess. 


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Giving Thanks.

I'm Giving Thanks today, like the rest of my good red-blooded Americans. But, my gratitude is more specific. Today is Terrence's birthday, and so all of my thanks goes to him. The man he is, the man he is becoming. 

Have you ever known anyone who was just unbelievably kind? Just considerate and helpful and affable. For no reason, to no aim, not hoping to gain anything from anyone. Just agreeable to everyone they meet. Genuine. 
That's Terrence. 

He is a man who always does his best. And not in the meaningless way that we usually write people off with. "He did his darnedest" No. Honestly, if there is a task before him, he will do it THE best. Head down, focused, pushing on.  Exemplifying Perseverance.  A totem of Steadfastness. 

A musician's soul, an analytical mind, an adventurer at heart and lover of small dogs and ornery cats. 

He's not the loudest, and never boasts. He is never cruel and doesn't call attention to himself. And for that, he has always been the most interesting man in any room. 

And so I'm grateful. Not only for knowing a man so elegant in manner and lifestyle, but because he is my best friend and my husband. I wish you could know him too. 

Happy Birthday, my love. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

West Irish Coast

Ah, the road less traveled by. It really does make all the difference. 

Terrence and I chose the coastal route along the west coast of Ireland on our day trip to the Cliffs of Moher. We had been told by a fair few people that the interior route was safer, the roads were wider, and that it was more convenient. But, we decided missing out on an amazing experience of the small windswept towns and the spectacular views of craggy rocks, the Burren, and the raging Atlantic was not convenient at all for us. 

The road was very narrow, and the wind was sharp and merciless on our little car. But the scenery was incredible, and the opportunity to stop in the little colorful community of Doolin and eat the most delicious seafood chowder in the Universe (undisputed champion-in my book) was well worth it. 

The upside of taking the road less traveled? Well, it's less traveled. So, for many stretches of the road, we were the only car on it, and the countryside was so green and wild, that we almost felt like we were in a place out of time, which was the perfect backdrop for roadside pit-stops and smooches. 

Lesson learned for the Nolandians. Take the long way home. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Driving in Ireland

Sometimes the road less traveled by really does make all the difference. Driving around Ireland had its shares of challenges, but it made up for it with its charm, stirring beauty and rugged wildness. 

xx take risks

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Galway Girl

Galway, we only had you for one night, but the memory of you lingers still.  We began our recent jaunt in Ireland with landing in Dublin, and then driving 2.5 hours, on the opposite side of the road, on the opposite side of the car, to Galway. It was most certainly worth it.

We stayed at the  Park House Hotel right kind of in the middle of everything in Galway city. The hotel was great, the staff was nice and the rooms were HUGE by European standards. Which wasn't a big deal to the Nolandians, because we like being sandwiched together, but it was a nice surprise nonetheless.

We quickly rinsed off in the shower to get off that travel yuck, and then changed our clothes and headed out. We knew we had super limited time, so we were on a mission.

I think we did well. We started out at McDonagh's for fish and chips, and were not disappointed. We strut on over to Naughton's which is praised again and again all over the internet for being one of the finest pubs in Ireland. Not very touristy at all, a fair price for a pint and great music to boot.

After that, honestly, things get fuzzy. We bought claddagh rings, since Claddagh is not a place anymore, and Galway claims to have been the first to make them anyway. We had...more pints? Maybe? Then we had smoked salmon? A lot of delirious laughter? I'm not sure. But, we did wander around the streets, my favorite exploradora pastime, and got a feel for the Spanish arches and the Latin Quarter and the fishing past of this delightful little place.

We awoke the next morning with only time to grab a bite of breakfast before we started our drive down the wild coast of Ireland, but we were sad to go.
And, we can't wait to come back.

xx See you back for our drive down the coast, and our life-altering experience at the Cliffs of Moher.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Strawberries and Cream Kickstarter

Hello darlings! My lovely friend Madeline at Popbasic (remember when I raved about the company?)
is launching a kickstarter to fund the creation of these beautiful print and plain blouses. High quality basics like these are wardrobe essentials, and in order to get the shirts just right and up to the exacting standards of Popbasic, they decided to go the Kickstarter route so they wouldn't have to cut corners or compromise on quality. 

Take a peek at the gorgeous designs and support in any way you can. (I mean, support enough and you GET ONE) So, win-win, right?

Have a sweet, fancy, lovely, relaxing weekend and we will see you back on the blog next week for some more awe-inspiring images of Ireland, and my tips for your trip there. 
xx lovies. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Cliffs of Moher

If ever there was a place that was magic, it is here. If ever there was a place that made you believe in fairytale creatures, and rainbows that end in treasure and color so brilliant it is almost is truly in this beautiful place. 

The staggering wind, the brutality of the hewn rock, and the crashing of the sea combined with the rainbows rising from the water much light and darkness in one. 

To see my account of our time at the Cliffs of Moher, click the link to read on at Coast to Coast Central:The Cliffs of Moher

Stay wild, keep exploring and as ever,