Handmade Christmas cards are a perfect way to let friends and family know you are thinking of them this holiday season. Today I thought I might introduce you to the beautiful handiwork of one of my most loyal readers.
Believe it or not, her name is Mairead (rhymes with parade) also. She is an Irish-born girl from Arklow, Co. Wicklow, who just like me moved across the Atlantic. She now calls Atlanta, Georgia home.
When Mairead moved stateside she fell in love with the amazing craft stores located far and wide across this land. Her imagination flourished as she roamed the endless aisles of beads, ribbons, and threads of every shade under the sun. Soon she unleashed her creativity, designing custom-made greeting cards.
One of her customers enthusiastically informed her:
"Mairead, I wanted to thank you for the cards you made for my wife's 59th birthday. Of the 59 cards she received from me yours were the hit and she is thinking of having them framed into a display piece. Your cards stood out from the rest and I buy cards from the very best commercial sources." - Stan S., New York
My husband remembers my birthday because our kids remind him whose birthday is next in our house, but this man's lucky wife received 59 cards with some of them customized lovingly by Mairead. WOW!! And this year she received 60 cards to celebrate her 60th birthday.
"These aren't just cards, they are works of fine art! The attention to detail and intricacy of the designs is truly breathtaking -- they are each one of a kind. I haven't been able to find finer handmade cards anywhere, and I will keep coming back again and again forall my special card needs."
- Sandra, Seattle, WA
As I examined Mairead's beautiful handiwork, I grew intrigued to learn her Irish American immigrant tale. Here are some of Mairead's answers to an e-mail interview I sent:
Q: Why did you leave Ireland?
A: I met my soul mate (a Californian) and married him in 2005. Then I came to America to begin our married life together.
Q: In which state and city are you living now? What do you like about living there?
Atlanta, Georgia is now home. I love it here for a variety of reasons
- The very friendly locals (strangers will often chat to you on the bus).
- Atlanta’s diverse communities and international restaurants.
- Lots of trees everywhere.
- Great shopping (reasonable prices compared to Ireland).
- The rich history - I live in the city that is the birthplace of Martin Luther King and the home of Coca-Cola.
Q: What did you find difficult about transitioning to life in America?
- The heat of “Hotlanta”! ...and the associated bugs; cockroaches, mosquitos etc.
- People not being able to pronounce my name.
- Learning to use different money, with notes that all look the same!
- Not being familiar with the culture of tipping.
Q: What do you miss about Ireland?
A: Lots of things....
- Tayto... and good chocolate, for starters 🙂
- Irish bread
- Wexford Strawberries
- Chipper chips with salt and vinegar
- Seeing children playing on freely the street without needing constant watching.
- The Luas, double decker buses, trains, walking and generally having options when it comes to public transport
- Green grass all year long
- Celsius; I just don’t like Fahrenheit
- Shopping outings in “town” (Henry Street, Mary Street, the Ilac Centre, Grafton Street, the Stephen’s Green Centre).
Q: If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be?
It would depend a lot on their circumstances. If it was someone with similar circumstances to mine I would tell them to remember there are good things and bad things about both countries, to expect the culture shock and take it one day at a time.
Q: Tell us about your work for Ireland Reaching Out?
A: I represent Ireland Reaching Out in Georgia by informing local groups and individuals about the project. I put them in touch with volunteers in Ireland who are available to assist them. I recently visited a Scottish festival here and made connections to people with an interest in Ulster-Scots heritage. My role is that of promoting IrelandXO however I can!
Q: Please tell us about your day job working for the Carter Center?
A: For the last 7 years, I’ve had the privilege of calling President Carter “my boss”. The Carter Center was founded in 1982 by President and Mrs. Carter to advance peace and health worldwide. The Center is located in a 37-acre park, not far from downtown Atlanta.
Two days per week, I assist the various departments of the center with administrative work. This often involves working on mailings, telephone calls, preparing for events, compiling statistics for reports, editing documents and database work. I also work at special events such as meetings and lectures, welcoming guests and providing them with information and assistance.
I enjoy the international spirit of the Center and the interesting people I meet. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to support and witness the many accomplishments of the Center, first-hand.
A big thanks to Mairead for sharing her story with us today. If you would like to tap into her creative genius and design the perfect customized greeting card for a loved one, then feel free to contact her through her website, Handmade by Mairead.
Thanks for following my recipes and ramblings.
Slán agus beannacht,
(Goodbye and blessings)
Irish American Mom
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