Jan 30, 2011

My first day in Greystones, Ireland

We made it! The six hour flight was rough, but worth it. When I stepped out of the plane into 50 degree weather, I knew I was not in Michigan anymore.

Our small group of 20 was greeted at the Dublin airport by the Resident Directors, Laura and Kyle (and Kyle's wife Kelsey). We rode the bus to our new home in Greystones, which is actually a YMCA center called Coolnagreina. We have our own kitchen, classroom, bedrooms, two living rooms, a small library, and free laundry!

Here is the main house:

my bedroom that I share with Audrey and Emily.

The upstairs hall

the sunroom that connects the kitchen area to the coffee room

kitchen, where all our meals are provided for us (except when we cook on weekends)

"The Coffee Room"

"The Red Room"

The main lobby

walkway by the sea

some of our group

beautiful scenery of Ireland

shops in Greystones

very popular cafe called The Happy Pear

After a day of getting to know everyone, eating, drinking tea, and touring Greystones, we finally went to bed at 8:00pm. The entire day was a struggle, because we had been up for about 33 hours, so by the time I crawled under the covers and put my head on the pillow, I was out.

Waking up today in Ireland this morning was a wonderful feeling. Now it has finally hit me that I am here for good.

Jan 25, 2011

Salsa Salsa

I have been craving homemade salsa this month. Last summer, I helped my friend Marie make salsa, and I fell in love with the taste of flavorful and fresh chunky peppers and tomatoes. She inspired me to try it out on my own.

My salsa experiment started with Meijer. I found all of the ingredients in about a half hour (I was a little distracted by the odd fruits and veggies I had never seen before).

What I used:

Red pepper
Green pepper
Yellow pepper
Orange pepper
3 Roma tomatoes
3 cloves of garlic
Onion salt
Freshly squeezed lime juice

I found a cutting board, a big knife, and I cleared the table for a large work space. Chopping everything into little pieces took hours. A food processor would have been a magical help, but I managed without it.

Molly wanted to help with the salsa. She was great company as always.

After much chopping and playing with the ingredients, I finally had the perfect tasting salsa.

....after I made the salsa, I realized that guacamole was a must have for our Mexican meal that evening.

It only took a few minutes to whip up the mixture of tomatoes, avocado, garlic, and onion. I was pleased with the final result, and my sister was the biggest fan of both my creations.

Dinner was especially yummy that night, and I was happy to contribute in some small way. I think I will be making this on a regular basis from now on.

I suggest that everyone attempts making their own unique salsa. The best part is, there is no specific recipe you have to follow. Experiment and try something new!

Jan 22, 2011


In five days I will be getting on a plan to Dublin, Ireland.

I will spend my entire spring semester in this beautiful new land. For these three months, I am taking every opportunity to learn and to grow in ways that can only be offered through living in a place that is completely foreign to me. I am ready to be immersed in a culture without having to turn around and leave before it really sticks. When I went to Greece in May for a few weeks, I was challenged, but this time it will be different. A new purpose, a new place, and a much longer amount of time. Three weeks is nothing compared to three months.

I am ready to make friends with the Irish folk and their thick accents and vulgar language.
I am willing to jump out of my comfort zone.
I am excited for free-spirited travel and adventure.
I can barely breathe when I think about going to Paris for four days!!
And I am extra pumped for the Irish dancing, greenery, hiking, theater, opera, rugby, hurling, pubs, and night life.

My studies will be nothing like what I am used to, my weekends will not be overloaded with homework and stress, and unlike my time in the States, my time spent in Ireland will be intentional with every second, and every moment.

This has been my dream, and I still can't believe that I am doing it -- with my best friend and the love of my life. We will grow so much.

My life is changing quickly, and in many great ways.

1. Ireland
2. Marriage
3. Moving
4. Graduation
5. Career


Some people might be scared if they were in my position. The busy and pressure filled life that never stops going seems like too much to handle, but that is what I thrive on. The best part is, I'm not worried one little bit. God has blessed me, and He is carrying me through it all. I have no reason to fear or worry when I have a God that has never let me down.

Jan 19, 2011

Save the Date

Jordan and I decided that we wanted to get creative for our save-the-dates (plus we wanted to save money).

We thought about our options and realized there are too many choices these days for wedding goodies. I was getting overwhelmed until I realized how fun and easy a video would be, especially a stop-motion, which I had done before with my girlfriends.

It took us roughly an entire day to make our video. Now just in case you aren't familiar with stop motion, I'll let you know that the entire thing is made from pictures. Yes, still images. And that is why it takes so so so long to create.

We used the chalkboard in Jordan's parents' basement, and from there the inspiration was flooding in. Jordan was such a help, in fact I think he has found a new hobby. The best part was the feeling of accomplishment after we watched the final version of all our hard work. ahhhh.

So here it is....

Jordan and Alli Save the Date from allison dowell on Vimeo.

We sure do hope our guests enjoyed receiving this little package in their inboxes.

Jan 18, 2011

Engagement Bliss

We are so blessed to have such wonderful photographers for our wedding. I posted the sneak peak from our engagement shoot a while ago, but this time I will be giving you the full effect. Over 300 shots by Jess and Casper Hamlet, so you can imagine how hard it was to narrow down our favorites.

See more of Casper Hamlet Photography right here!

Jan 9, 2011


There is a beautiful new addition to the Shepherd family.

His name is John Oliver.

Jordan's brother Aaron and his wife Jathniel have been patiently waiting for their little boy for nine months, and on January 2nd he arrived with a big black head of hair and long little fingers.

Saturday we all went to Cincinnati to visit Oliver. And that is when I witnessed one of the most magical moments of life - a Mother and her baby, and the joy that surrounds them.

Jan 3, 2011

Coffee Convos

This week has been a refreshing time for me to catch up with the people I am closest to. Staying up until 5:00am every night has been exhausting, but it is what we do.

Whenever I am home, I am reminded that I have the best friends in the world.

Really though. No one else has what we have.