Stories of Friendship, Family, Fun and Food.
All the way from the Emerald Isle!

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy Happy, Joy Joy!!!

Welcoming in a new year has always been a special night for the Chef and I. We had a few bottles of bubbly iced up for New Years Eve and as we are now settling in to our nice Irish home, we decided to spend an evening alone by the fire (with the children all nestled, asleep in their beds) give Chef the night off and eat the most wonderful 'present' we had received from one of our next door neighbors.
A few evenings ago, our neighbor Eddie stopped over with 3 dozen oysters that he had just picked himself in Clarinbridge (Galway) where is is from. (only a few miles from us).
His gift (which was received with an outburst of joy) was accompanied by a very nice bottle of Hennessy Cognac too. Ron, is really starting to 'feel' the Irishness of people now, and I am thinking he is going to find it much easier to fit in. We introduced him to his first taste of Hot Brandy and he was feeling no pain!

Regarding the bubbly, the Mumm was nice but our favourite still is the Veuve Clicquot!
Happy New Year to all our friends and family,
That is all the WiseWords I have for tonight!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Wise Movie Review

Changeling (2008)

With the magic of downloading, we were able to watch one of Angelina Jolie's latest movies 'Changeling' a few nights ago. I am a fan of hers (and needless to say so is the Chef - what man would not drool over her) but in this role I had mixed emotions.

She gave an outstanding performance, and no doubt with Clint Eastwood as the director, it was a really heartbreaking rendition of this horrendous true story, but I felt it was 'lacking'.

Angelina played the part of a broken hearted single mother who spent her life looking for her young son that was abducted and possibly even murdered.

What was missing from the storyline, is that Angelina had no one . No husband, no lover, no girl friend, NO FAMILY AT ALL?????

I realise when it comes to sticking to the details of a true story, one does not want to stray far from how it 'really' happened, but in my opinion, there were 2 if not 3 other characters in the plot that could have been allowed to get a little closer to her which would have just pushed the envelope on this emotional story and turned it from an OK, glad I did not shell out 25 euros at the omniplex for it, to a cried myself to sleep that night because I felt the pain she (as a mother) suffered from losing her son.

Just my very humble opinion, hats of to Jolie & Eastwood for the job they did. Wish they had consulted me!!!

That is all the WiseWords I have for today before we ring in a raucous New Year!!!


Saturday, December 27, 2008

Baby oh Baby!

It was bound to happen sooner or later. We finally took the plunge and added a new member to our family! BabyWise (for now, as we are struggling with naming her) arrived late on Christmas Eve from Santa. The children, who had asked for bikes were 'needless to say' overjoyed at the fact that they have a new playmate and have barely noticed the bikes they got from Santa.
As this was our first Christmas in Ireland (since Dad passed away 9 years ago) I was really struggling with getting into the Christmas spirit. No matter where you are (in life) if a parent (or loved one) is buried on Christmas Eve - you just never get over it. You try to put it in the back of your mind, so you can celebrate with your children and partner, but it is always there, in the back of your mind.
This year, I had a horrible dose of the flu the week before Christmas followed by a nice round of bacterial laryngitis's.................things were not looking so great.
But, the great thing about being here at home, is dinner this year was at Mum's, so the pressure to entertain was not on our shoulders.
We ate a lovely dinner, then I did something I have never ever done before. I slept on the couch for the rest of the afternoon. It was pure heaven. We spent the night at Mum's and had a lovely FULL IRISH BREAKFAST to fill our tummies before returning back to Chez Wise on St. Stephens' Day. No shops open here in little Galway. (kind of nice).
The kids have not been seen since, playing with bikes, and tractors and cranes, and baby dolls etc. Rory commented on how glad she was to be in a 'real' home, now that it is filled with toys!
The Chef and I had made a decision to just ask for toys for the children this year. In the past I have always put my foot down and tried to steer everyone in the direction of educational toys or books. This year, I felt that all we had in the house was educational, puzzles or books and they just needed play toys! Thanks to all my family for delivering on that request.
I am wearing earplugs and am laying in wait for the batteries to run out!
A good Christmas was had by all,
That is all the WiseWords I have for now
(BabyWise is asleep on the laptop as I type carefully)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

1 - 2 Uniflu!

Well, it had to happen. I could not imagine that I could keep my healthy streak going for much longer, considering we are living in one of the wettest climates in Europe.

For the last 2 days I have been confined to bed with a horrible dose of the flu. When I asked the Chef to go to the pharmacy and find something that would take care of my symptoms (runny nose, sneezing, coughing, raging fever, aching body, sinus congestion, NO APPETITE!) he suggested a bullet to the brain might be an easier fix............................

However, he changed his mind and off he went in search of the equivalent of NyQuil (what I would have dosed up on in the US).

He came back with Uniflu! Seems to be working OK. It apparently has paracetamol, chock full of vitamin C and a large healthy dose of caffeine.

As I have not had coffee for 2 WHOLE DAYS I thought this would be a welcome addition to my body, but instead of getting the boost of energy I was hoping for so I could drag my rear end of of bed to watch the finale of Survivor - It had the complete opposite effect on me, and I have slept like a baby for the afternoon.

Symptoms are subsiding - lets hope I can be vertical tomorrow!

That is all the WiseWords for today,


PS - sorry about the crappy image. I googled uniflu to get an image for the blog, but European law prohibits the 'in your face' advertising of all drugs. Even OTC! So, I had to take a snapshot of the box with my laptop webcam, in my dimly lit bedroom.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Irish Abalone

One of the many delights of being back home in Ireland is that I am constantly reminded how nice Irish people are! When I went to the market this morning I was greeted with so much 'Hi's and Hello's' from all the people we get our weekly supplies from, that it warmed my heart. When I went to the fish booth to get some fish for the Cioppino the Chef has been promising me, I was given a little gift from our friendly fisherman. Some tasty (live) Abalone.
Newsflash - there is an Abalone farm about an hours drive from us, out in Rossaveal, Connemara. (Rossaveal @53.263981,-9.557419)
This fish is affectionately nicknamed the 'Sea Slug' and several years ago the US government declared it on the endangered species list and passed a law to prohibit the fishing of this slug worldwide! So, up popped a few fish farms to meet the growing demand!

There a million and one ways to eat the tasty delicacy (raw being my favourite) but best to butterfly it and fry for 2 seconds in garlic butter. Deeeeeeeevine!

There is a danger of this getting rubbery like calamari, so stand over the pan, fry in a flash then eat it right away. Our fisherman was so generous to share this with us (and his other customers) as he exports 98% of his goodies. It takes 3 years (imagine how patient you would have to be) to grow one of these little guys to maturity! The going rate here in Galway if you wanted to buy them is about 60 euros a kilo. (That is over $80 per Kilo).

That is all the WiseWords I have for today,

Friday, December 12, 2008

Stop, Look & Listen.

There are so many moments in our lives that we probably wish we had slowed down and stopped to smell the roses. Seeing the calmness of the water yesterday when the Chef and I took a childless stroll over near Renville bay reminded me of just how fortunate we are.

And was it ever the calm before the storm! I awoke to a lashing rainy day outside, a crying child and a sick husband................................I wanted to crawl back into bed and hide for the day.

Seeing as that was not an option, I bundled the babies into the car and got them off to school then made my way back to the house to finish what I had started earlier this week. (ok, I took care of the Chef first by making the coffee and some toast and jam for him).

I am creating a space! My Space that is. I am not sure how strange this sounds to most of my audience (as many of you are Irish) but most newer Irish homes have 2 sitting rooms. (But newer I mean the last 100 years).

If you have ever seen the quiet man, there was that scene where Maureen O'Hara brings Mickaleen Flynn into her 'parlour' to wet his whistle. When she asks him if he wants water with his whiskey his response is classic and one of my favourites 'Woman, when I drink whiskey, I drink whiskey and when I drink water, I drink water!'

Ok, I this week I created MySpace! I took over the second sitting room which also has a lovely open fireplace and a birdseye view of the newest baby cows in the neighborhood. A quick lick of paint, some dark walnut stain on the door and window sills, a nice area rug - and I am almost done!

I boxed out a large rectangle on one wall and painted it with blackboard paint and ordered a whiteboard (online) for another wall.

I have yet to find the perfect table/desk for all this work I plan on doing. I have been scouring and also the local auction houses. For the time being, I will just sit in an armchair and prop my feet up on the coffee table, toasting my toes in front of the fire as I bang out the next chapter!

Now, all I have to do is wait for inspiration...........................
Blank walls, blank screen........................Glad the year is coming to an end.

I look forward to wiping this slate clean and chalking up the next one!

That is all the WiseWords I have for tonight,

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Wise WINE Alert!

Tor di Vento



Yes, I am a sucker for the label. I am fortunate that I never really have to worry about buying a good or bad bottle of Wine. Ron usually wants to shop for the hooch and I do not mind. However, in saying that, I have learned quite a bit about wine over the last few years as his understudy!

I fell pray to a pretty label a few weeks ago when grocery shopping and thought, hey, it is Italian, and a 2004 Barolo! How could I go wrong. I remembered our Wine guide in Barolo this past summer telling us that from 1995 to 2004 (with the exception of the dastardly 2002 vintage) all vintages were Great if not Exceptional.

So, we popped this one open a few nights ago thinking it would make a great accompaniment to the eggplant lasagna Ron had thrown together ( I know you are jealous).

We sipped and savoured this wine (before dinner) and it was divine. It was the perfect temperature as I had pulled it from Siberia (our back kitchen where we store the wine) a few hours before we drank it.

It was so darn good, we drank it without food! Dinner followed later with a nice bottle of water!
(school night).

This little gem was priced at € 11.95. What a steal, I say!

That is all the WiseWineWords I have for today,


Saturday, December 06, 2008

Sestina D' Wise

Remember a few weeks ago I was working on this style of poetry called a Sestina?

Quick reminder - pick six words, create a poem (6 stanzas, 6 lines in each stanza) finishing each line with one of your chosen words and then finish your poem with the Envoi - 3 lines and using all 6 words. I picked very easy words - Man, Girl, Wise, Me, Him, Child.

It gets tricky and I struggled with it (partly due to the content too) but I got through it and have been nicely reminded that I promised to share it - so here you go! The theme is family love.

Oh, and one last thing...............I am not a poet, I have never claimed to be a poet and I have such great respect and admiration for ANY poets out there because it is the HARDEST bloody thing to write!

Sestina d’Wise

It’s been several years since that man
Fell in love with his wild Irish girl
And although everyone thought him very wise
It took a long time to convince me.
After years of sharing a life with him
The ice slowly melted as we both wanted a child

Years passed, several tries, still no child
Life and love was unkind towards this man
I had grown to love him
And he adored his lovely Irish girl
It was then the sadness smothered me
And I knew that our decisions had to be wise

So what to do now Mr. Wise
And how do you plan to bestow a child
Upon this girl you choose to wed – me
And show me that you are a man
I cried so hard, like a childish girl
I knew that my words were slicing through him

I ached with the pain I had caused him
My decisions were hasty, not wise
I wanted him to love his wild Irish girl
But knew that I was destined to have a child
I broke the heart of my first and my only love, My man.
The only way for him to heal, was without me.

The pain, the torture, the tears within me
The strength, the stability, the love from him
All gone. I was too foolish to see how great of a man
I had found, fallen in love with only to become Mrs. Wise
Surely this pain would subside if I only had a child?
Silly, Stupid, Selfish, insufferable Irish girl.

His heart ached for his wild Irish girl
He always wondered ‘Why did she love me?
When she knew all those years ago I could not give her a child’.
He pined for her daily, if only she would have not fallen out of love with him
She was too hasty,’why not wait?’, it would have been wise
To see how much he loved her, he would have shown the real strength of her man

This Man truly loved his Irish girl
He made Wise decisions and fought for me
A promise from Him, was a child.

© 2008 MGW

Friday, December 05, 2008

Turkey Day cometh!

Our Christmas dinner typically consisted of a goose or duck in addition to a great big turkey from our neighbors. As Catherine is fully in charge of Christmas Dinner this year (yeah!) she has informed us we will be having duck. This makes me quite happy as both the Chef and I LOVE duck and have been lucky enough to find a nice lady that feeds and fattens plump little duckies for Christmas!

HOWEVER, I think that a lot of Irish people will be dining on good old fashioned roast turkey for Christmas. At the market this morning I bumped into some feathered friends who live locally and have free range of the farm they live on. So, not living a truly organic lifestyle (their diet) but a decent quality of life.

They were on 'Sale Display' and all you had to do was sign up if you wanted one for the tune of € 65.00 !!!! (that is almost $85 for a 14 pound turkey!!!!!)

Now, I know we are living on a tight budget these days and I am very lucky to have my personal Chef do all the shopping so I do not get too exposed to price gouging - but COME ON!!

We were spoiled rotten when living in the US because the cost of food was so low (compared to the Emerald Isle or Switzerland). I remember spending, at the very most $25 - $30 for an Organic turkey (fresh and local).

When I called the American Embassy a few weeks ago to see how other American family's sourced their turkeys for Thanksgiving (fresh only available at Christmas here) I was informed that they actually flew their own US birds across the pond to feed all the hungry American families who are far away from home!

Initially, I was kind of annoyed that with all the local (and great) producers/farmers they should put a little thought into buying locally but I gotta tell you at this price, you could probably fly a few turkeys to Ireland!

Ok, I have said my piece. Duck for Christmas!

That is all the WiseWords I have for today,


Ps - the Chef felt it was important to note here that we did indeed have a 12 lb turkey for Thanksgiving. It was FRENCH and FROZEN for €10.99. Ok, not supporting my Buy Irish/local motto, but doing our part to support the EU!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Proud Parents!

Well, the all important parent teacher meeting arrived today for Ms. Rory Belle! She did confess to me this morning that her teacher may not have the best of things to say about her and that she 'chats ' with the others at her table. BUT she swears it is them not her!!!

So, we deposited the terrible two at Granny's for a few hours and spent a 1/2 hour with the lovely and very patient Ms. Gannon, Rory's teacher.

OH JOY! She is so SMART!!!! Yes, I know I am bragging but I cannot help it. I am shocked at my shameful outburst of sheer unabashed pride for our little girl.

But here is the really really cool thing considering we cannot take credit genetically we have to assume that a lot of her smartness may have developed from her 'environment' ??

Ms. Rory Belle is an exemplary student. She has surpassed her teachers expectations in every category (art, mathematics, language, social, science etc). She showed us some of her work and we were both so happy to have a peek into her studious little world.

She is an overly confident child who can hold a conversation with any of the teachers in the school, but also adjusts and fits right in with her peers. She has made quite a few friends and is rather popular but also plays well enough on her own.

She is quite competitive and does not like to loose (gets this from Ron) and she also is has an
'amazing' vocabulary which she is not shy about using. Ok, so this means she is a bit of a talker (I know she gets this from me) and yes, it has caused a little bit of disruption in class, but Rory is working on keeping her table quiet so she can prove to Ms. Gannon that it is 'not her ' !

You gotta admire the kid!

Proud Momma signing off for now,


Tuesday, December 02, 2008

How much does Granny really care?

There are a million reasons to love living in Ireland. For us, one that tops the list daily is that we have the freedom to stop in to Granny's house any time we want! Of course, it is always nice to show up with some treats and hope a cup of tea will be offered! After going to the market last Saturday morning, we stopped at one of our favourite bakery's 'The Gourmet Tart' to pick up some bread and a few goodies.
Catherine loves Meringue, so we got her a lovely one with fresh cream and strawberries and a nice fat chocolate eclair for the crumb catchers. Needless to say, they inhaled theirs and then Jack (being Jack) asked if Granny would like to share hers with him. Her fault for eating so slowly! After her agreeing to this request (as only a good Granny would) Jack reminded her that 'Sharing is Caring' and we all wondered just how much Granny really did care???

Ahem, this really does not depict the truth which is that Granny barely got a sliver of her own treat as she happily gave it to the children who apparently are just skin and bone, BUT that one little bite sure was delicious!

That is all the WiseWords I have for today,

Monday, December 01, 2008

Repairing the Thatch!

A traffic stopper for sure. This is the first house on our street and this week they started to repair the ridge line at the top of the roof. I stopped to chat with my neighbor and he gave me a little insight on how to care for a thatch roof. The ridge line at the top is the most important part of the hole roof and as long as that is maintained the roof should not need replacing for up to 30 years.
He had a new chimney built last week and there (naturally) was damage done to the roof during this process, so he and his son are now putting on a brand new ridge line.
Very often, the ridge and the underneath of the eaves are covered in chicken wire to prevent birds from dragging at the thatch during nest-making season. Then they start weaving and binding the reed spires into the ridge line.
Each 'Thatcher' actually designs the decorative part to the roof top as they thatch! They just cut and design on the fly...........!

I really enjoyed my visit with this thatcher. Thatching is something that cannot be rushed and it is rewarding to have seen the roof being created for this lovely little cottage.
I will visit a few more times this week to show you the progress they make and hopefully learn a little more.
That is all the WiseWords I have for today,

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