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

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Wise Irish Poetry

Summer Sleeping

Cool, Dark, Damp
as I slide between the sheets
of my mid-summers bed, at night.

Distant murmur of local chatter
over bonfire, peaks my interest
as I slyly spy through shades.

Smell of smoke, ash and turf
wafts through my open windows.

Sleep will come so fast - and stay
'till the morning sun does blast us.

Happy weekend to you all from Sunny Galway,
That is all the WiseWords I have for now (it is only 8.30am!)


Friday, June 26, 2009

Up Close, and very personal....................

So here I sit with my little red laptop waiting for the phone to ring or the postman to deliver that all important letter. I started the process of applying to over 9 months ago (as a mature student) and after all my hard work on my portfolio, I am still waiting for a response.

It is normal for the University to let prospective students know the outcome (acceptance or rejection) 'early in July' which to me, still seems like an eternity away. There were over 3,000 applicants for the course I want to do

I feel like I do not have a shot in hell at getting accepted and keep telling myself that I will just reapply next year if I do not get in this year. The damn recession has Irish people all flocking back to school like madmen - as there are no (decent) jobs and no likely hood of a job for the next few years - in addition to that, education is still free here in Ireland, so students are not saddled with huge school loans to pay off once they graduate and get a job. Nice, I know!

It has been almost a year since we moved back to Ireland and even with this cloud of uncertainty hanging over my head, I have never been happier. The Children (as you can see) are completely unscathed by all this moving around and are wrapping up their final day at school today before getting out for a lovely long 8 weeks of summer holidays.

They have started to develop into such funny cute little kids, I think my only regret is that we do not have a few more of them. (I know, can you believe I said that Out Loud) I have had several long discussions recently with my WiseOldMum about the way our lives will be for the next 5 years if I spend it in University studying the fine art of creative writing and one of the hardest things I have yet to come to terms with is the fact that I will no longer be with my wains 24/7. (Wains is a great Irish word, mostly used in the northern counties and comes from Wee Ones).

Obviously, when we had the restaurant I left them in the evenings, and when working in Switzerland I was away from them from 9am - 5pm, but Ron and I had made a decision way before we ever had children that if we were lucky enough to have them, we would parent them ourselves and not pay someone else to do it, we cut back on other non-essential materialistic stuff in order to do so.
I do not regret this decision at all - especially seeing how they have turned out thus far, but am thinking it sure would have been a heck of a lot easier if they had been in day care - Maybe I would not ache so much (now) just thinking of being with them for an hour or 2 in the evenings.
WiseOldMum has reminded me (ever so nicely - me crying, her telling me how it is!) that 'This is it'- once they are off to school, they do not need me so much or for that matter even want me???
Clearly, my Mother still thinks she knows it all.....................................God, I hate that she is right and that she has to bludgen me with the truth. (But if course, I still love her dearly and am so happy that she is almost walking distance from my house).
Rory's School magazine came out this week with her toothless smile and her statement saying she was going to be a vet when she grows up and her favourite thing to do was play with her Granny's!
When I asked Jack to taste a pizza sauce I was working on yesterday (for our supper) he sipped and savoured the sauce (like I would a fine wine) looked me right in the eye and said ' it's got tomato, basil, garlic, black pepper - still needs more salt and olive oil' - I was still crying with pride when my hungry Chef arrived home for dinner.
We have had a nice amount of visitors crossing the pond to see us, (pay attention here, if you are coming - head West to Galway/Shannon) and you have no idea how much this has lifted our spirits.
The very thought of someone paying all that money and taking the time off to come spend some time with us on this rainy isle just makes us sooooooooooo happy. So, I am saying this to all our friends - book your flight and stay a while (2-3 days is NOT enough!!!)
We have the space, and assuming you can handle the racket from the wains and the puppy, the fresh organic eggs from the hens and the year round veggies my handsome chef is growing with love should entice you. (remember Eggs Benedict - oh God - even thinking about it right now makes me drool).

Wish me luck - as soon as I find out I will let y'all know!
That is all the WiseWords I have for today,


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Happy in the garden, fighting with his weeds!

My handsome Chef has been gardening organically for as long as I have known him and I am sure for quite some time before that. His gardening skills have really started to show here in Ireland as he can grow 12 months of the year. This is a very cool concept for Ron and he is a few weeks away from getting his very own poly tunnel! (plastic dome that hopefully will not blow away).
One of the many challenges organic growers are harnessed with is trying to come up with clever ways to dispose of the nasty snails/slugs, caterpillars, bugs etc. that want to share the delicious veggies he has labored so hard for.

Luckily for my Chef, he has 2 avid helpers. He has taught Jack how to pick and smash the snails or caterpillars with his bare hands (aaaaagh - yeuch!) and even Ms. Rory Belle is trying her hand at picking off the bugs and tossing them! The garden is in full bloom right now, and we are eating most of it as it comes into season. Lots of rainbow radishes, green onions, salad greens - Rocket, endive, chard and some beet greens too! Potatoes and Cabbage are coming on strong but not in season unitil late next month!

He has even planted a few tomato plants in the hopes that he will get a ripe one or two, but without a poly tunnel it would be highly unlikely for this to happen. However, they sure are thriving!

All in all, the growing season has gotten off to a great start and there is lots more to come!
That is all the WiseWords I have for today,

Monday, June 22, 2009

Happy Fathers Day Ron, ....................... Love Neil!

His favourite artist was in town coincidentally on Father's Day. So after depositing the wains with Granny for the night - it was off to the great big City of Dublin for a night of rocking tunes.
My handsome chef was certain that we would be the biggest Neil Young FAN present - as Irish people probably did not even know who he was.............................ha ha ha.
Little did he know and much to his happy surprise, it was a sold out concert. Yes, 12,998 other people showed up to the O2 concert venue in Dublin and sang their hearts out.
One guy in particular standing behind us knew every word and after the concert Ron and he bonded over a few beers.

Although we have most of Neil Young's Cd's, and Ron has seen him in concert more times than he could care to divulge (over the last 35 years!!!) my one favourite song is most definitely the one copied below.
The song is titled MOTHER EARTH but has become otherwise known as
Look it up on YOU TUBE here

Oh Mother Earth
Neil Young

Oh, mother earth, With your fields of green
Once more laid down by the hungry hand
How long can you give and not receive
And feed this world ruled by greed
And feed this world ruled by greed.
Oh, ball of fire in the summer sky
Your healing light, your parade of days
Are they betrayed by the men of power
Who hold this world in their changing hands
They hold the world in their changing hands.
Oh, freedom land can you let this go
Down to the streets where the numbers grow
Respect mother earth and her giving ways
Or trade away our children's days
Or trade away our children's days.
Respect mother earth and her giving ways
Or trade away our children's days.
Need I say more?
That is all the WiseWords I have for today,

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Birthday Girl - Age 6 going on 16!

It is hard to imagine, but Rory turned six last week. She woke up early - her usual pleasant self and hopped into bed with Chef and I for a quick snuggle. As I was still snoozing, she gave me a few minutes to acknowledge the all important day - and when I neglected to do so in a timely manner she finally said in her soft little voice 'Mom, happy birthday to me' !!

Needless to say, the party was well planned - per her instructions a few days earlier, right down to the lovely Black Magic Cake Ron had baked and decorated it with smarties for her..........I think he enjoyed it more than anyone - go figure!

A few of her buddies from school, and some neighbours popped over to help celebrate her big day and we even had a few face painting attempts.

There was complete and utter mayhem when Granny arrived with a lovely little playhouse for the children to play in and thank goodness - it was for outside. Granny's sure do know best!

All in all, a great day was had by our eldest child. We sat back looking at her for a very long time that evening after she had passed out sitting straight up in her bed and remembered how teeny tiny she was when we brought her home almost six years ago. Where, oh where has the time gone too! Hope you enjoy the photos - I know we do.
That is all the WiseWords I have for today,

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Drive like a Woman and Shop like a Man!

With the lazy hazy days of summer already well upon us and the fact that I have been ignoring the temptation to read the daily blogs that I follow - I have built my book pile high with summer reading hopefuls.
This little gem is right up my alley - and to be perfectly honest it should be right up yours! If you do not have a copy, please try to source one at your local bookshop.
Mary Mulvihill
Drive like a Woman,
Shop like a Man
Greener is cheaper
So what exactly is it all about? Well, in the hopes of boring you much further to tears I have decided to give you a little more information than I normally do when I do a book/movie/wine/food review. You see the author has pulled together 101 things you can do starting today to save you money and time. You will lead a healthier life and do your share for the environment while you are at it. I have decided to just pick ten things out of this book that you should already be doing and if you are not - then shame, shame, shame on you! (I will also mention that some of these we are doing and some we aim to accomplish soon!)
Before I get started the author made a little comment about how there is no need to mention the 'bring your own reusable grocery bag each time you shop (anywhere for anything) as everyone in Ireland already does that. It is true. So - if you are not already toting your own cool reusable shopping bag or trolley - then start right now!!!
OK - lets start at
Number 10: Eat less BEEF and Dairy products!
I know, this is a shocker to me too - but here is my reasoning behind this one - and it is worth consideration. Rearing Beef is one of the most inefficient ways of producing protein. One acre of land could feed twenty vegetarians but only ONE beef-eating carnivore. Eating beef (when it comes to Eco-crimes) is on par with driving a huge gas guzzler! I am not saying give it up completely - but try to eat less of it. Imagine your diet with less meat and dairy and more fruit and veg. Good for you, good for the planet and lighter on your wallet too! If you are a total carnivore - then opt for chicken or pork. Make the meat a side dish! Do what we have done - make a commitment to buy only organic meats and dairy produce. It is considerably more expensive - so we buy less of it - but savour it all the more and trust me - there is never any waste!
Number 9: Tap water for me!
Think about this next time you lift that icy bottle of Evian or San Pelligrino to your lips in order to quench your thirst.....................How may miles did it travel? How long has it been sitting in that plastic bottle that probably contains traces of chemicals added to the plastic to make it flexible?? Bottled water has the highest mark up of any item on ALL restaurant menus around the world. They are laughing all the way to the bank! If you really really want to drink water from a bottle - then I suggest you choose
Enough said!
Number 8: Paper, Paper, Paper!
Which do you reach for more than 85% of the time when you want to wrap up a piece of food? Cling Film, Aluminium Foil or Parchment Paper??
The sustainable option for wrapping your food is Paper! Aluminium Foil is mined from underground and very expensive to produce, cling film is made from petrochemicals which also comes from deep underground (it is also a PVC plastic and cannot be recycled). That said next time you microwave something with cling film touching it, or unwrap a piece of cheese from the fridge that has been wrapped in plastic wrap - I'll bet your tasted buds will be salivating as you think of all the traces of the toxic plasticisers that have leeched onto your food - rights as you get ready to tuck in! (this is all news to me and upon reading that page in the book I have thrown out the plastic wrap, bulked up on my parchment paper and am going to save and reuse my butter wrappers from now on!)
Number 7: Open the window - let the fresh air in!
Fresh air is important to our healthy daily functioning. That is, if you are breathing in fresh air. Kiss your scented candles and air fresheners goodbye! They do not freshen the air - they pollute it! Some air fresheners are made up with incredibly toxic substances such as terpenes (pine or lemon scented) and can react to produce formaldehyde which is a powerful cancer causing chemical. There are thousands of studies out there showing that children living in homes that have air fresheners were sick more than other children. Need I say more??
If you think there is a smell in your house - place a small bowl of baking soda on your table or counter top, or spray down with white vinegar. Problem pleasantly solved!
Number 6: Laundry Chill
I myself have been doing this for quite sometime now. If you are still washing every load on a higher temperature - it is time to stop. All clothing items can be washed wonderfully at the magic temperature of 30 degrees Celsius! Procter & Gamble released a study showing there would be millions of euros/dollars saved globally if everyone dropped their laundry washing temp. by a measly 10 degrees! Do it! On a side note, I still wash my bed linens on a high heat just to make sure I get the dust mites (I am a freak, I know!)
Number 5: Don't Dirty as you CLEAN!!!
Why not try to use household cleaners that are safe enough to eat??? OK - I realise I am pushing the limits here (even for my own household use) but I have made sincere efforts over the last five years to only use non-toxic biodegradable detergents. One of my favourites here in Ireland is Anyway - Polish with Olive Oil . It works, and it leaves a lovely scent. Bread soda will scour away most problems in the kitchen or the loo (and use the mesh bag that your onions come in as a scrubber). Vinegar and warm water is the best window washing solution out there and sweet on your counter tops too! Just try!!
Number 4: (one of my favourites) Shop like a Super CHEF!
Granted, this is something I may have a slight advantage over y'all with - but listen to this! According to the Environmental Protection Agency the average household dumps more than a quarter tonne of food (in waste) each year! That my friends could equate to more than 30% of what you buy! You may as well just sit down, open your wallet and throw it all into the fire! What this means folks is that we are buying 50% more than what we need!
Just think - all that food that has been produced, packaged, chilled and trucked around the world just for us to own it for a little while then chuck it in the bin! STOP NOW!
All this takes (from one who knows) is a little bit of planning. My handsome Chef is very big on making a list and checking it twice. I actually do most of the weekly shopping and on a very tight budget to boot. We always have enough food to entertain 5 out of 7 nights, we never have a wasted crumb - and trust me when I tell you - we are not wasting away to nothing over here.
Plan, budget, buy local, in season and grow your own. You will waste less. You have too!
Number 3: (OK, another favourite) Shop NAKED!
Going back to the start of this where I begged you to start using that lovely toteable reusable bag you have - bring it grocery shopping with you! Do you usually buy a lot of pre-packaged stuff at the shops? Little boxes of raisins, bags of apples, pre-washed salad instead of a head of lettuce? If so, you need to start Shopping Naked!
Loose fruit and veg are way cheaper than the prepackaged ones and you get to select the ones you want! (Do not get me started on why you are not shopping at your local farmers market!)
Buying a tub of fruit that has been prepackaged is most likely several days old and has had a helping handful of antioxidants added to keep it fresh!
Buy food with as little or NO PACKAGING as possible!
Number 2: Stop PRINTING!
Seriously. Just stop it. Do you really really need to print everything you work on or read?
If you have to print something, stop printing in color, only use recycled paper and set your printer to draft copy or greyscale. All printers are set to print in the highest quality when manufactured giving the ink companies literally license to print money!
Number 1: Moooooooove over plastic, you are outta here!
I know that for most of you finding milk in a glass bottle is virtually impossible these days. Most of the white stuff comes in large plastic containers and most recently in paper cartons. The plastic containers are made from non-renewable oil. Left sitting in this container for any amount of time - you are drinking plastic chemicals. The cartons are made from mostly sustainable cardboard, which also helps its shelf life as it gives the added protection from the sun.
And not to beat a dead horse on this one but here is an interesting little fact on milk. It takes THREE times more energy to produce a litre of conventional milk than it does organic milk. This is mostly because of the energy used in producing fertiliser for the pastures (and if you are paying attention you are now starting to realise that you are eating pasture fertiliser every time you drink the conventional stuff - yummy yum!) I know (all too well) that making the switch to Organic makes you dig a little deeper into your wallet but I also know for a fact that once you do - you will buy only what you need and savour every last drop!
OK, if any of you are still awake and have made it to the end of this - well done! Please go to your local bookshop or library and have a read of this little book. It is wonderful!
That is all the WiseWords I have for today!

Monday, June 01, 2009

Gone Fishing!

Depending on where you are calling home these days, you may or may not have heard that Ireland is having a heatwave! I have been offline for the last couple of weeks due to the fact that there is sooooooooo much sunny weather and children addicted to the beach bum lifestyle that the very last thing I have had time or passion for - is laptop land.
We only live a few minutes from several great beaches and less than an hour from 3 AMAZING beaches, so the hardest decision each day has been 'Which beach' do we spend our lazy afternoons at. One of our favourites - about 40 minutes from our house is Fanore, in County Clare. In order to get there, you have (only one road in, and same road out) to drive along the coast road which in its entirety looks like the above for 35 of that 40 minute trip.

Stopping in to one of Ron's favourite pubs 'Monk's' on the way home has become more than a habit and the owner there is getting rather attached to his little helpers.

Ron swears that the Guinness tastes sooooo much better in Ireland - but now that the sun is shining and it is reaching the high 70's or 80's each day - the only problem he is encountering is how to drink it faster!!

Upon returning home the children and Ron usually spend a half hour in the veggie garden weeding, and watering (who would have thunk it in good old Ireland that you would have to water your veggie garden!!) and the fruits of their labour of love is throwing us a bounty of goodies almost daily already!

More blogging to follow my friends,
That is all the WiseWords I have for today!

Ratings and Recommendations by outbrain