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

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Happy Birthday Baby! 4 years old today!

I like to think he would have had a good start to his birthday with breakfast in bed! A pity he could not keep his eyes open!
A tasty treat in town with his girlfriends. If only he could choose which one he loves the most!

Scallops for dinner please - the one that just snapped his fingers!

Well, if I must choose a birthday treat, then why not just take all of it!!!!!!!!!

I cannot believe he is four today. Going back over those few days of magic when he was born (before it all went to hell in a hand basket) just reminds me of how lucky we all are. To be happy, to be healthy and most importantly to have the two most adorable kids!

That is all the WiseWords I have for today!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

When love comes to town!

My eldest sister Tracy and her family (living in Alsace, France) have come to visit us for a few weeks. It is always really lovely to get all the children together because they are now old enough to know each other and play fairly well together - for the most part.
As you can see, after they have all been fed, and had enough to drink - they usually play a few (strange) games.

Some of them stay clear away from the pandemonium going on but engage us long enough for a quick click......................

The older ones try to lead by example, but may end up coming across bossy????

In the end, way too much fun was had by all - and I am left with the evidence to tell the story!

That is all the WiseWords I have for today!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Wise WINE Alert!

A Funky Ffrench Wine!
Grenache Syrah

Some friends of mine (Thanks Bernie & Jackie!) brought this to my birthday party last weekend and although copious amounts of alcohol was consumed we never got around to opening it that night.

Last night the Chef and I (delighted to get the little ones in bed a 1/2 hour early) popped this one open to enjoy with the lovely grilled lamb chops I had made for dinner. Stop laughing, I can cook whenever I want too - I just do not have too!

First of all - not to toot my own horn, but the lamb chops were divine. We both like them rare and bleating, so after pan searing them quickly, I topped them with Coleman's English Mustard and some lovely fresh garlic & parsley breadcrumbs. Into the oven for about 10 minutes on a high heat! The chef is happy that after almost 14 years of training, I am capable of cooking a decent meal :-)

Anyway, back to the wine. As usual, check the label! If I had seen this in the shop myself I would have reached for it, because the label is very cool. The description on the back of the bottle reads like you could be adding this to your wardrobe as your most recent accessory.

Truth be told, I could not think of an occasion where it would not go over as a big hit. As it is relatively young, it still had a load of fruit, and just enough tannins to make your mouth pucker. It went perfectly with the lamb dinner, but even lovelier was the face that it drank so nicely afterwards with a teeny tiny piece of the Chef's fudge!

I am not sure what the cost was on this one but from experience I feel it could be priced under 25 EUROS. A steal!

That is all the WiseWords I have for today,


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Look what happens when you let them play video games!!!

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Last weekend we went over to our neighbours house for dinner. They cooked us a really lovely dinner, then we all sat back and watched the kids play with the Wii game. After that they gave us a fashion show. Needless to say Rory Belle looks pretty cute in pink, but who would have thought pink hair would suit Mr. Jack so much?? What a handsome boy he is!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

So much to be thankful for!

My brother Kenneth stopped over on Friday afternoon to have a cup of tea and a spot of lunch with me and the children. When he entered the kitchen and saw the disastrous state of affairs her looked at me with a very concerned look and said " you do realise you are having a party here - TOMORROW - don't you??? ".

Well, DUH! Clearly the only way to get things done around our place is to have a party! And what a party it was. So first the before and after photos of my painting efforts in our bowling alley Kitchen/dining room. It was painted this insipid pasty peach colour, that I could not tolerate, so I painted the dining portion of the room a Hot Sienna Red colour. Next week, I am going to finish the kitchen end in a creamy white. Overall, the color looks 400% better, and warmed up the room immensely.
Now, here is where I blather on about how great the Chef really is. The menu was as follows:
Deviled Eggs, Cheese & Mustard Tart,
Tempura fried oysters, Shrimp cocktail.
Country coleslaw, along side a cider roasted ham,
and we had a spring salad slotted for this space
but he decided to quench that idea and threw in a
pot full of FRIED CHICKEN!
There were a few other dishes of lovely
crunchy green beans and sugar snap peas,
and of course some crusty breads!
All wrapped up with a scrumptious carrot cake!
We had invited 14 or so people and 6 kids (including our brats) so I did my usual dish bitch duties and kept the place as tidy as possible whilst the chef worked his magic in the kitchen. See photo below.
Yes, it is sickening - however, practise, practise, practise - and this is what you get. Throwing a party for 15 - 20pp is actually a bit if a snore for this guy. He slept the afternoon away (for real) and at the very last minute - literally just threw it all together. Granted, we have been doing this for the last 14 years, and have a good grasp on throwing a dinner party - but yesterday was lovely. No stress, the paint job looked fab. and in addition to it being my birthday - everyone showed up, ate, drank and was rather merry when they all headed home at 1:30am!

In the photo below Bernie Ffrench, My mum Catherine and Bernie's twin sister Jackie Ffrench, my high school friends.
I think that this house of ours is slowly starting to feel more and more like home. A welcome addition is always a smattering of friends, both new and old. I think I have always been lucky in who I have befriended over the years - due to something my Mother Catherine drilled into my head from a very young age.
" Show me your company, and I will tell you who you are ".
All I can tell you, is although I am thousands of miles away from some of our very dear friends I am a very lucky (and happy) girl! It appears my friend magnet is working again!

That is all the WiseWords I have for today!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Match Tip anyone?

One of the assignments I received this week for homework was to
compose one single line of not more than twelve words
describing the head of a match.
Here is my attempt!
Pink and Perfect, Round and Raw,
Striking a Spark, Flame without Flaw!
That is all the WiseWords I have for today,

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Pearl the Puppy

Pearl the Puppy shivered and shook.
She ran and she hid in the tiniest nook.
The squeals and shrieks of the littlest child,
The hugs and the kisses of the eldest, so mild.
Don’t they know I am lonely and scared
She gritted her teeth, and her nostrils flared.
Don’t they know I am frightened and cold?
All I really want is for someone to hold me,
wrap me in a blanket, sing me a song,
feed me some food and not drag me along.

I want a warm bed, and a few little toys
and in a few days, I will make lots of noise.
Play with me softly, don’t pull me too hard
I love being outside, chasing a ball in the yard.

I’m only a puppy, just a few weeks old.
I piddle and poop, but don’t think I’m bold.
I eat all day long, because my tummy is small
and if you want to play with me just throw me a ball.

So let’s be best friends, because you are small too
and just think in a few weeks we will be stuck together like glue.
I am here as your playmate, you’re all I’ve got
I know that you’re learning and I love you a lot!
© 2009
Móna Wise

After much nagging from my terrible two, I wrote this teeny tiny story about their new puppy. Jack's birthday is in a few weeks, so I found a local artist named Moira Kelly to do a few drawings for me, and I think it will make a nice little birthday present!

That is all the WiseWords I have for today,

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Big Brother!

I come from a family of giants. With the exception of my Mum (Catherine) we 3 girls teeter totter close to 6 ft tall and the boys are 6'4'' and 6'5''. Dad was a big man!

It would seem only fitting then, that when my younger brother Kenneth decided to get himself a dog, he ended up with a giant! Say hello to Willis - the newest member of our ever growing family. Kenneth and his Fiancee Sineád decided a few months ago that they were ready to get their training wheels on for this pending married life (September 2009) and got themselves a dog!

Not any old Dog though, they signed up to take on one of the rejects from the Irish Association for the Blind - Guide Dogs. Willis was rejected because he was just too big, and too strong.

Kenneth and Sineád were out of town this past weekend for a Valentines getaway and we had Willis for the weekend. He is exceptionally well trained, very docile, unbelievable with the children - uber gentle and wonder of all wonders - he is a food dog! We had lots and lots of fun with him and Pearl took to him like a duck to water!

That is all the WiseWords I have for today,


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Like Mother, Like Daughter!

And so it grows! Ms. Rory Belle was waiting with baited breath this afternoon because she knew that the 'Tractor' was coming. The Chef and I had asked one of our friends to stop by with a few loads of horse manure for our co-op garden that we have started on our street.

Patrick (who is Jacks schoolmate Eamon's Dad) is a horse breeder/farmer, and has donated his organic horse manure to our school garden project in addition to our neighborhood garden project.
Both of the children were given the chance to drive the tractor (which made me a little nervous) and then like true little paddy's they donned their wellies and to help shovel the shit - that is where I had to draw the line. I am one of those mothers that tolerates most of the dirt they track into the house but no thanks on the horse doo doo!

So now the manure is here, they guys will be tilling it under tomorrow and then planting the seeds (indoor) this weekend! The growing season starts much earlier here, so we expect to get some veggies in the ground by St. Patricks Day!

That is all the WiseWords I have for today,


Monday, February 09, 2009

How do you like your Oysters?

Naked - is the preferred way around Galway. A little drop of lemon juice for some, but mostly just naked right out of the sea. We are the luckiest people on the planet because we live beside a guy who is part of an 'Oyster Farming Co-Op' and every week he drops us of a few dozen oysters and a few pounds of mussels. On any given day, my favourite way to slurp these savoury beasts (and they are quite plump) is with a little red wine & shallot vinaigrette. The Chef prefers a dash or two of Tabasco and a splash of lemon juice.

However, our kids have their very own favourite way to eat the oysters and I think you all should take a minute to try this, because it is really delicious! Even the neighbours are hooked!

First - go out and buy some 'Franks - RedHot' original hotsauce. Get the big one - because it is such a versatile ingredient, you will become slightly addicted to this and find yourself using it in ways you would never imagine!
Next - open about a dozen oysters (more if you are entertaining) and put them in a large mixing bowl. Strain off the Oyster juices, then pour in a cup or 2 of the hot sauce. Leave them sit for about a half an hour. Turn on your fryer. Next, get a ziplock baggie (large size) and pour in a decent amount of cornmeal & flour (equal parts).
Pick up the oysters one by one (and be gentle with these tasty treats) and smother them in this breadcrumb mix. Lay on a plate (slightly dusted with flour). After you have them all breaded
drop them slowly into the fryer for less than one and a half minutes. They cook very fast.
Dump them out onto a bed of lovely rocket or watercress and garnish with a little bit of sliced lemon. Ron likes to make a horseradish mayonnaise ketchup sauce to dunk them in.
The absolute best way to finish of this yummy snack is to down it all with a lovely cold pint. The kids would love to get their paws on this too - but we draw the line, we have shared the oysters!!!

Happy dining,
That is all the WiseWords I have for today,


Sunday, February 08, 2009

Casu Marzu (Sardinian Maggot Cheese)

Casu what??? OK, fasten your seat belts for this one. We were just watching one of my favourite TV shows - Gordon Ramsay's " The F Word " . They do these little snippets in between the cooking demonstrations and this time it was to educate us on Sardinia's delicacy - Casu Marzu - fondly known as Sardinian Maggot Cheese. (for real).

So what the Sardinians do (and have been doing for centuries) is they take a perfectly formed wheel of Pecorino (sheeps milk cheese, dry and yummy), they cut the top off, dig out a little cheese to attract flies, then leave it for a few months to ferment. During that time, the 'cheese flies' lay their eggs and the maggots hatch. The maggots help with breaking down the fats in the cheese and promote fermentation. The cheese gets really soft and runny with a clear liquid forming in the center. The maggots are also clear about a 1/3 of an inch long and they can jump about 8 inches "in your face'' when you try to eat this delicacy!
Some people remove the maggots before spreading it on their Sardinian flatbread, and some treat this like a caviar and believe it is a powerful aphrodisiac (Pay attention Chef of mine - you would have to work a little harder than bringing rotten maggoty cheese to the boudoir with me!!!)
Here is the best part - if you open it up and the maggots are dead - they do not eat it, it is considered rotten and they throw it away!!!!!!
If it ain't good enough to keep the maggots alive, then it belongs in the rubbish!!!!!
I am sure I have disgusted enough of y'all for one night,
That is all the WiseWords I have for tonight,

Saturday, February 07, 2009

6 Month Review

What can I say! Tomorrow we will be in Ireland 6 months! I cannot believe it! The time has flown by since we returned home to Galway. The photo above (taken today) is of one of the Connemara sheep that rule the road way out West (here). It is a good depiction of how things are going for us here - rocky, but still climbing!
We have settled in very nicely to our surrounding neighborhood and have made some lovely friends (new) and I have had a great time catching up with all my old school buddies. A few days ago, we managed to clear out (an entire bedroom) all our moving boxes and trash and with the help of our neighbor (Eddie) we burnt every last piece. I know this may seem strange but a huge weight has been lifted of my shoulders since that day. I think (mentally) I was holding on to the boxes in case we decided to move again, but I know in my heart and soul it will be a very long time before we do.

Do not get me wrong - it is not all rosy in the garden. It is hard to come back home after being gone for so long. No matter what career choice I decide to choose (event planning or restauteuring) I am either inexperienced in Irish business or I have too much experience and am over qualified. (imagine that). It is not a great time to be looking for a job (anywhere on this planet) here in Galway our the surrounding towns - but I imagine sooner or later the right opportunity will present itself. For now, I am continuing with a creative writers course (2 x per week) for the next 10 weeks. I love it, it keeps me busy plus I get to make loads of new friends! I do have something else lined up that I hope will start in October - but cannot release the details until July! Stay tuned on this one! The chef is having a harder time settling into Irish life than I had hoped for. He misses our friends terribly (as do I). He misses American TV (boo hoo) but I think he is turning the corner. Just recently he started to work (3 days a week) at a local bakery called "The Foods of Athenry" and he kind of sort of likes it. OK, actually that is not true at all.
He calls it 'living hell' but he is getting out of the house (thank GOD) for a few days and they are paying him! It is a small enough bakery but they are large producers - so he is spending a lot of time making pie dough for 1,500 apple pies a day, and 600 loaves of brown bread per day. A lot of repetitious work - drives him nuts. He very much likes the people that own the operation though. They liked his Chef history and are looking to expand and grow their company and hopefully will use him for his creativity to help launch a few new products and less of the monotonous stuff. (he has only been there one week!)
He is reluctant to get back into the night time cooking jobs because it means he would not see the kids and would also have to sacrifice precious weekend time too.

The children have really never been so happy. They are blossoming actually. Rory is probably the best student in her class - in every subject. She is quite the little primadonna (I guess she gets this assertiveness from me??) but I love her for it. She is in charge of most situations, is making loads of friends, speaking Irish to beat the band and actually doing a little Irish dancing too! Jack is just a few weeks away from having his 4th birthday and I am madly in love with who he is becoming. He is tall - starting to loose that puppy fat and almost perfectly spoken (I mean that). He is still the most adorable cuddly little pudge that he has always been and overly affectionate too. He prefaces most questions with "excuse me, Mama" because he blathers on so much that I have instructed him to say 'excuse me' when he wants my attention or the answer to a question. He is strong, and funny, and all boy. He wants to be working and doing and building all day and all night and he already does a lot of household chores on a daily basis.
More than anything Rory and Jack LOVE LOVE being so close to Granny. They just love when I pick them up from school and we just pop over to her house for a cup of tea.

So there you have it, an update on our sort of boring existence across the pond on the Emerald Isle.
That is all the WiseWords I have for today,

Monday, February 02, 2009

My Dream Car

We have a very dear friend living in LA right now, and he is coming to visit us in April for a few weeks. The other day he sent me a photo of a car he is thinking about buying. For a young single guy living in LA - it seems like the right choice for him - a total babe magnet.

It got me thinking about something I have not really given any time to over the last few years and that is "What would my dream car be??".

Well, here you have it! A Massey Ferguson tractor! Really, I know it sounds crazy, but living out in the sticks and being in farming country, having a nice car would be a waste - because it would be scratched up and the suspension would be shot within a month on these crazy country roads. So, wellies on and away we go!

That is all the WiseWords I have for today,


Sunday, February 01, 2009

The Chef's Birthday

If all our days started like this one, wouldn't we be just a little bit happier. This was the view we woke up to this glorious sunrise on the Chef's birthday and for once, he was not unhappy with being woken early by the squealing kids. They were sooooooo excited that this day had finally begun because it involved cake and a trip to one of Ireland's most beautiful beaches.

We headed south to County Clare to Lahinch Beach. Although the sun was not shining, there were plenty of surfers taking to the waves and we had a lovely brisk walk along the Atlantic coast. This was the first time we took Pearl the puppy with us (to the beach) and she went bananas. The freedom to run like crazy in a pack with all the other dogs was just too much for her and she was in puppy heaven.
Afterwards, we stopped into this little place called Joe's Café for a bite of lunch. The puppy had long passed out in the car and as you can see from the photo above she was in good company!
The food at this little place was yummy. There are little gems dotted around the country that sell good, wholesome food at really affordable prices. Worth looking for but not easy to find!
The brightly painted interior led me to believe this place could have been owned by an American guy, but actually an Irish guy (named Joe) owns the place.
It had a hippy California café feel to it but served mostly Irish (local) fare. Yummy, Yum! Cannot wait to go back! So, a happy birthday was had by the Chef, and a quiet afternoon had by all as the brats slept all the way home!
That is all the WiseWords I have for today,

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