Sunday 31 August 2008

Extra special Birthdays

Happy 60th birthday Mom!! I wish I could have been there with you, I hope you have had an absolutely fabulous day we are all thinking of you more than usual today - Love you!!!

AND... Happy Birthday to my aunt Dorothy - yep my mom's twin sister, another very special person who I think of often. Have a great day!! Love you!!!!

Friday 29 August 2008


So it is that time of the month again...everybody has been paid and the money is begging to be spent. Tonight I will be joining Malcolm and his colleagues again, at a new location which looks utterly fabulous I must say. This could definitely become a very bad habit... - check it out!!! The food...the food... and I have walked past it at least 100 times, rather unremarkable looking but it is what's inside I guess!!!! Also I tend to see it 09h30 in the morning all closed up and drab looking...I was mighty pleased with myself when Malcolm told us where we were going and I knew exactly where it true Dubliner style!!!

Back to reality

I am shocked and amazed, the school summer holidays are OVER, I know Jessica had a very long holiday (a month more than Kirstin)but I have never known months to fly by as they have this summer. On Tuesday I found myself sitting amongst First Year students and their parents in the school hall, a few speeches and then all the class lists were read out and class by class the children filed out with their prefects to learn about lockers, timetables, class rooms etc. So that is it then my BABY is in secondary school. She loves her tutor, he looks lovely, very young but I think that is just because I am getting old!!!
The induction day on Tuesday was the best thing for the kids, they were the only ones at the school and when everybody went back on Wednesday they already knew their way around. The combination locks proved to be troublesome, I had walked up with Kirstin because the books were far too heavy for her to carry and I watched helplessly as child after child visibly deflated as they realised that their locks had the upper hand over them!!! Kirstin called over one of the prefects and she did it all one handed and very swiftly..blush..I had tried crashed and burned at my attempt.
I had watched the prefect carefully so I tried to help the little chap next to Kirstin but to no avail so I had to send him in search of an expert (prefect) too.

Thursday was the first full day and they had sports trials after school so I had asked them to call me and let me know what time they needed to be picked up. At
16h30 I got a call from Kirstin, her trials were not that day but she was happy to wait at school. This is not allowed and I told her I would be up to fetch her pronto. The response I am almost embarrassed to say was this: "Rumour has it that ... is going to ask me out and he is at rugby trials so I am happy to wait." I gave her a stern warning about hanging around waiting for boys, that she was too young, she must just be friends, she had only just met the boy (whose locker I had tried to open incidentally) and all that. I told her I would be there in 5 minutes
(come hell or high water she was not going to get asked out - I had to get there before rugby finished). She was not too impressed but what could she do...I am bigger and stronger than her....for now!

Thursday 28 August 2008

The Friday Song....

So...Tracy Chapman is coming to Dublin in December...apparently the tickets are a bit like hotcakes, I had better check it out for myself because she is someone that I would like to go and see. So without ado I present a song I have just discovered....The Promise, hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Hot and Sweaty.....

Last night I abandoned my family and my visitors without so much as a second thought and roared up to the hockey club for our first practice of the season. It was so absolutely fabulous to see everyone again, the fact that we started with 30 minutes of physical torture, the coaches called it fitness training, did not diminish my enjoyment one little bit! I even learned a neat trick on the best position to receive the ball and it actually made sense, plus I even DID it, now THAT is what I call progress. The 90 minutes flew by and when I got home I was on such a buzz that I did not have the best nights sleep ever, I awoke this morning expecting screaming muscles at the slightest movement and was enormously relieved when I did not even feel a tweak! This is changing as my glutinous maximus (spelling???) has made its presence felt on a few occasions this evening. Will I be doing it again next week? You betcha!

Tuesday 26 August 2008

Skeletons in my closet

To my knowledge I have no skeletons in my closet....well none that would raise a red flag during a background check anyway! I seem to remember paying off all my accounts and squaring everything away before I moved from South Africa. I have never been bankrupt, never jailed and have no criminal record. So when I was told today that if my background check comes through squeaky clean I have a job I decided that premature celebrating would be allowed! Then I thought about the fact that even though I worked for First National Bank in South Africa I was actually employed through Kelly Personnel (as a temp...because of the colour of my skin LOVE affirmative action) I decided that the checks about to be done may become a bit tricky! oh well gives me something interesting to write about!

Monday 25 August 2008

Follow me

The morning started off with a trip to the uniform shop. NO I did NOT leave everything to the last minute, the tracksuit I needed was not in stock 2 weeks ago when I took Kirstin to get "kitted" out in her new school clothes. Luckily we managed to snag one of the last ones today and as I was paying I took note of a Spanish lady who had just completed her purchase and was shaking the lady behind the tills hand and thanking her for her help, not something witnessed on a regular basis! In my nosiness I saw that the uniform was the same as Kirstin's and was going to say something (you know me...) but decided against it. As we were leaving the shop I heard somebody giving her directions to Dundrum and as I was heading that way I spoke to her and offered to lead the way. She accepted and then asked if I knew where the bookshop was...and so I found myself guiding her through Dublin to Wise Owl in Ballinteer.
Of course I was wondering whether she had just moved to Dublin, or if her daughter was going to boarding school, if she needed anything else and decided that I would give her my number and let her know to call if she needed more help...luckily when I got out the car in Ballinteer we had a little chat and I discovered that her daughter had been attending a different school in the area and that she knew part of Dublin quite well so I kept my number to myself and saved myself from any awkward moments. Why is it that I always feel compelled to help people out in these types of situations? I gave her directions to the school and Dundrum from where we were and she thanked me and we parted company. Kirstin reckons that was a good deed and that I will be rewarded, I think it was no biggie as I hardly went out my way but if she is right maybe my 3 pm second interview will be a roaring's hoping!

Slieve League, a different league than previously thought!

I spoke briefly about visiting the highest sea cliffs in Europe the other day. I have since discovered that they are the 6th highest cliffs in Europe, the second highest in Ireland, oops. Apologies, now I have a few more sea cliffs to find out about and visit! Here is a link so that you can read more about them if you like:

We parked at the bottom car park and walked the 1.7 km's to the viewing area and then climbed further up and looked down at the sea and marvelled at the beauty around us. They were not quite as high as I had imagined but as Malcolm pointed out, we were not really at the highest point where we stood. We were amazed to see sheep wondering around on the cliffs below us, I did not realise that they were agile enough to cope with that sort of terrain. Some pictures...they say a picture speaks a thousand words, sadly we are not the best photographers but anyway...

Sunday 24 August 2008

Keep your sting to yourself

On Thursday we went to Strandhill and ate lunch at the Strandhill Bar and grill while waiting for Murray and Georgina to arrive from Dublin. I took the opportunity to use the Internet while we waited and managed to produce a cringe worthy post using the crappy keyboard they provided, oh well!
I had read about the Carrowmore Tombs and had decided that it was definitely worth a visit, to see tombs from 4000 B.C. is rather mind boggling to say the least. It cost all of €7 and some change for all 6 of us to enter and we were lucky enough to arrive shortly before a guided tour was due to begin. We enjoyed the tour immensely, definitely worth it, we were going to do the self guided tour on offer and we all agreed that the guided tour was a better option. The scenery is breathtaking, the area is absolutely surrounded by mountains which were visible to us as the day was not dark and gloomy and the sky was not being weighed down by clouds.
Of course now I want to go and check out Newgrange too and luckily it is only about an hour from Dublin so that is on the ever expanding must see list now too.

About 5 minutes into the tour I had another Ireland first and was viciously attacked by a wild life creature of epic proportions....yes Igot stung by a wasp, which looked like a bee (is that a yellow jacket?) on the inside of my arm, the most tender spot of course, but as I am a tough African used to dealing with far more ferocious creatures I valiantly fought through the pain and after being offered medical help by the well meaning tour guide (rather embarrassing having all eyes turned on me as I reassured her that I was fine) I stoically carried on with the tour. In all seriousness though....the sting is NOT the problem, it hurts like mad for a minute but it is the itch that lasts for days that is driving me crazy!
Check out this link for more information on Carrowmore:

Seaweed Bathing

On Sunday we had been out for lunch (actually eaten pizzas made in a WOOD burning oven - my favourite kind!) and I found a brochure for a place called Voya - a spa that offers many treatments including a seaweed bath. I remember my friend Rose talking about them and how good they are so I stuck the brochure in my bag and decided to find out if Jeane would be interested in joining me for a soak.
Fast forward to Tuesday morning then, obviously Jeane was interested because at 10h15 on a cold, wet morning we drove ourselves to Strandhill to immerse our bodies. We each got a separate bathroom which contained a steam room and a lovely old fashioned looking bath half filled with warm water and cuttings of seaweed. We were told to steam for up to 10 minutes and then step into our baths and relax, taking the seaweed and rubbing it on our skin and hair, we were also told that we could take a shower afterwards, the steam room was dual purpose, but that for the soak to be most beneficial a shower was not recommended.
We had 50 minutes and an alarm clock and bottle of water were also made available to us.
I sat in my steam room for 5 minutes and then could not wait any longer to try out the bath. Hind sight is 20/20 and if I do it again I will definitely bide my time in the steam room, it was lovely and steamy, when I opened the door and stepped in I could hardly see a thing, but sadly patience is not my middle name.
So to the bath then...I added more hot water before stepping in, water which is pumped in from the ocean, pretty cool stuff! The water was fascinating, it had been described as oily but it is not a word I would use...slimy, glycerin or albumin aka egg white would be a better description, I sank into the warmth and lifted my fingers, making slime webs and watching the water drip off excruciatingly slowly due to the SLIME, or as they describe OILS...
I rubbed away with the seaweed, hesitantly soaked my head and my hair went all weird and felt thick and heavy under the slippery water. I lifted my head and ran my hands over my hair and it was all spongy and felt oh so strange. COOL.
It was fun playing with the seaweed and I also marvelled at how great it felt rubbing my arms and legs, really soft and silky like, but sadly 50 minutes was a little too long for me - that is why I think longer in the steam room is a good idea, and I did end up climbing out the bath 5 minutes earlier than was necessary. There is only so much lying around and draping seaweed that I can do, especially as I had nobody to talk to! Having said that, there is a double room which I would have loved to book but it was occupied and there is the option of sharing, but that would only work for little children, or couples who like to be close as it would be a bit of a tight squeeze for two adults...
But I digress....
Before getting out the bath I removed all the seaweed (as we had been instructed to do) and placed it in a lovely wooden pail that had been provided, apparently the used seaweed is then sent off to an organic farm to be used as fertilizer. I towelled dry without showering (reckon I need all the benefits this seaweed bath can provide) and got dressed, which was slightly challenging as my skin seemed a bit sticky, I tied my hair back in a messy ponytail and went to reception to wait for Jeane. All in all a fantastic 50 minutes worth the €25 fee I paid and we floated out of there feeling pampered and okay yes, a bit sticky. The benefits are amazing and Malcolm says it is rather disconcerting as my skin feels like that of a baby now, Jess was rubbing my legs crooning and sighing and telling me how the silkiness of my skin could actually put her to sleep! So I would have to say 10 out of 10 for experience and performance for Voya in Strandhill...and I can safely say that I will happily do it again and again...
I have provided the link to Voya as I found the benefits of seaweed bathing very interesting and adding them to my post would just take too if you are interested pop over and have a look!


Sligo was fantastic, I love mountains AND I love the sea and Sligo has both which makes it a very special place to be. I booked a house in Templeboy, sleeps 10 people and each bedroom had an en suite bathroom which was a HUGE plus. I was surprised to discover upon arrival that we were residing on a dairy farm for the week, some of my senses went to work immediately...the smell of dung, the sight of dung, the gentle sound of lowing cattle, not to mention more flies than we have had the pleasure to associate with so far in our year in Ireland!

The kids were absolutely thrilled, and went off exploring within minutes of our wheels stopping on the tarmac outside the house. They discovered young calves who were being hand fed, 60 something cows for milking and a grey mare/pony, perfection. We got to marvel at an amazing sunset and a superb view which we drank in for as long as possible...thank goodness because by the next day it was obliterated by rain and clouds, and the next and even the one AFTER that!

Thursday 21 August 2008

Becase I love my blog...and all it visitors!

I am stting in a pub in Strandhill waiting for Gina and Murray, te weather is partly clear and even though the wind is cold we had to sit otside because we actually could! Great news today....I have been called back for a second interview, s my not so smart role play move did not sink me after all. This keyboard s revlting, I guess they do not want beer spilt between the keys as it is cvered in a rbber mat wich loks like a key board but des not actually work that well, thank goodness for spell check, or perhaps I should just post this #as is and you can all see the hardship I have had to endure to type tis post...hence the heading.
Yesterday we stod on top of Europe's highest sea cliffs, it was amazing, the views across the seas and muntains was spectacular, the drive hair raising at times, but my own fault as I was the one doing the rally driving...I have decided not to fx the spell check, even though I have ad to fx sme words because it is really €2 may not ave been s wisely spent! Hopefully you all lagh as mch as Jess is as she sits besde me and watces the words appear in a strange fashion up on the monitor.
Off to Carrwmore Tombs now sme dating back to 4000 years BC can you imGINE THAT? oH MY word Gina has just arrved...ados amigos!!!!

Saturday 16 August 2008


This morning I logged on to my I do every morning, pathetic yes I know. I was rather surprised to see a song that I had not posted, thought that perhaps hubby had somehow logged in and strategically placed the video there from youtube. He inisisted that he hadn't and upon further inspection, okay with a scroll of the mouse then, I discovered that there were LOADS of songs from youtube. Secret Garden appeared at least 10 times - and a hanful of other songs too. When I originally tried to load the songs from youtube I could not do it and it has happened with a few other songs too, all of a sudden youtube obviously released the lot.
I decided to leave Secret Garden on the blog, it is a fantastic song and it was a Friday song AGES ago anyway.

So friends and family...until next week I guess, I will be in Sligo until next Saturday, would love to come home to some COMMENTS PLEASE after all I have made the effort to write these is the least you can do!!!! Apparently I can do mobile blogging from my phone...very intriguing and worth investigating but there is a huge risk that I will get an enormous amount of teasing from hubby if I do decide to do that...stay tuned!

Bruce Springsteen - Secret Garden

Friday 15 August 2008

The Interview dossier

The suit looks good, or so I have been told by good meaning friends and family. I felt a bit bizarre though, like I was in someone else's skin, especially in the heels! Although most people would not even describe my shoes as heels...but for me that is exactly what they were...Jess and Kirstin took pictures...shall I upload one...hmmmm.
I left home at 10:00 -I knew it would be a longer than usual walk in the new footwear and it was! Worst of all as I started crossing the Dundrum bridge I saw the luas lights in the distance and knew that IF I ran I would make my runners! I decided to give it a go anyway and so a suit clad figure was seen running in a very funny fashion across the bridge at around 10h20 this morning...and I am proud to say I did not trip, did not twist my ankle, did not lose a shoe AND managed to get on the luas - things were certainly going my way!
The interview went well...I think. I found it difficult to answer some of the questions because I had not found myself in some of the situations they asked about but I did my best. The role play....I was given 10 minutes to study a case scenario and then i was to have a call with furious customer - so...we start and i begin by apologising and all that and then ask what the query is....I got told that he had applied for finance which was approved on the 2nd and today was the 8th and the money was still not in his account...I asked him a couple of security questions looked up his account and lookie lookie...I told him his money had been deposited and was was kinda funny and luckily they had a sense of humour about it, I did offer to continue with the call and change my answer but they saw the funny side of it and my "customer" was so flabbergasted he did not know where to go from there! So...not sure if i blew it or made it but only time will tell I guess, if anything I gained a lot of interview experience, the company seems great and the guys who interviewed me were friendly and interesting so all in all it was a good day out! They were chatting to me afterwards and asked if it was all that bad...I told them the worst part of the day had been walking to the luas in a pair of heels...walking back was WORSE and my new tights got a good testing on their ladder resistance because when I was on a nice quiet road, around the corner from home I carried the shoes and happily walked the rest of the way home barefoot and pain free.

Yes...I felt like Super Woman

Yesterday I left work at 14h40 with a LOT to do. Jeane, Sean and all the kids were at Guinness and enjoying the view from the gravity bar. I decided that I would head home, the day was still brilliant and hamburgers were on the menu. On the luas I decided to call my hairdresser, a wash and blow dry could do no harm for my interview. I made an appointment for 17h00 walked via SuperValu for the hamburger ingredients and set off home.
I mixed up "Dorota's Hamburger" recipe -they are DIVINE and the kids literally celebrate when I make them. The mix is made up of mustard powder, horse radish, cream, onion, thyme, eggs and bread. I managed to prepare 16 hamburger patties before dashing off for my hair appointment - thanks Catherine it looks amazing!
After that it was back to the grocery store (SuperValu lettuce had been disgusting) for rolls, lettuce, tomatoes and something for dessert. I flew up and down the aisles collecting supplies and finally stood in front of a selection of plum tarts, apple pies, cherry custard tarts and decided NO. I leafed through the recipes we like in my brain and came up with a vanilla plum crumb cake (from my good friend Bills Food) the kids love it and I knew I had the ingredients.
I dashed home and baked the cake, cut tomatoes, cooked corn on the cob and decantered the coleslaw (Yes I bought coleslaw...SuperValu do a divine one with sour cream and onion). We had 2 different relishes:sweetcorn and hamburger I put out some cheese and fried some onions too. I felt invincible.
I sat down with my glass of wine and my friends and felt very satisfied.
We had the hamburgers - they were so good that everyone wolfed down TWO of them and then it was time to test the cake...
Kirstin was very keen to poke into the centre of it with the tester and so she grabbed a tea towel and proceeded to remove it from the oven, burning her arm in the process and turning my beautiful looking crumb cake upside down on the kitchen floor.
This is where I surprised myself...I calmly crouched in front of the cake and racked my brain for something I could slide under the upside down cake to try and save it. I came up with my glass cutting board and managed to do the almost impossible and the cake was back in the tin, a little messed up looking...let's call it rustic! Luckily the floor was clean and there was no way Jess and Kirstin would pass up this particular cake even if it had been inverted on the floor!
I calmly asked Kirstin to please clean up the crumbs and went back outside to finish my dinner. Of course Kirstin felt terrible and I had to go back inside and coax her down from the stairs, reminding her that now I had some really good blog material.
We all ate the cake and although it was slightly lopsided it was as I remembered it -DELICIOUS

Thursday 14 August 2008


The kids are with our visitors enjoying the fabulous weather Dublin has to offer today, which I am grateful for because Dublin is the most amazing place to be when the sun does shine. After work I will follow their trail, catch up along the way and spend the rest of today with them, yay!
It looks like I may even be able to do my homemade hamburger patties - lighting a bbq actually seems possible...but we will have to wait and see...I am sure my hamburger mixture will make good meatballs too if the weather turns!

Tomorrow I have my interview and I have to confess to butterflies at the thought of it ALREADY, from what I can see from the pack I have received it is a very long process and as usual I am looking at the things I do not know how to do instead of the things I know I can, typical. I guess at the end of the day all I can do is put my best foot forward, be myself and hope that it is least I have a week in Sligo to concentrate on too. I guess I will let you know how it all goes tomorrow... I always find time for a blog post!

The EARLY Friday song!

I listen to Highveld radio station at the shop and today I tuned in and Follow Me by Uncle Kracker was playing, I LOVE that song! The video...weird so I decided if I was going to share it I would have to use a karaoke version, sorry about that! I think it is the only song he does that I like, will have to double check by listening on you tube at some point, but right now I do not have time. Coming to you on Thursday because I do not think I will find the time tomorrow morning....gulp...

Wednesday 13 August 2008

Just mentioning...

Yesterday I was driving home with both my girls safely in the car with me and I felt fabulous. The weather was terrible, low cloud and lots of rain but my spirits were soaring. I could feel it from my insides and I sat there enjoying the feeling wishing I could hold onto it, or better yet find a place to tuck some of it safely away - a private stash for those days when I really need it!

Change of Plans...

Tuesday, the day for getting the Eirerule hotel ready for its August guests and I found myself driving down to Gory in Wexford, an hour away, to fetch my youngest. I still had some linen to change, dinners to cook, but generally I felt I had TIME. Until THE phone call.
Everything was turned on its head. It was a recruitment agent, a client wanted a telephone interview with me, could they possibly call me today? I did some rapid calculations in my head and we agreed on 14h30 - I could be contacted on the land line, thus eliminating bad reception. I needed time to read through my c.v, make some notes AND get some information on the rather large company that I could potentially be employed by.
I KNEW that I would never have time to get all of this done and so I gave hubby a quick call and he did some research and emailed me some links and information, phew thanks!!!
I knew that my plans for grocery shopping and the final once over of the house were now out the window, Dave and Emily were rapidly heading towards Dublin, as was I after my personal best "just a quick coffee" with Jane, could not leave without a chat!
I made it home by 13h30, got a load of washing on, checked my email, read through all the information made notes on my cv and started getting nervous.
At 14h30 the phone rang, impressive! We had a great chat, he asked me a few questions about my cv, told me a little bit about the position and the interview process, discovered we had both lived in New York, chatted about moving to Dublin, pretty easy territory in the end.
He explained that he was going to make some notes and would contact the agent later and she would then update me.
I put the phone down after 10 minutes with D, and immediately dialled the agent as she had requested. Her line was busy so i left a message and when she called back told me that she had received a message to call me and D at the same time, she had called me first for feedback...I said I thought it had gone well, but who really knows, the fact that he called her immediately after chatting to me was a good sign wasn't it?
Turns out it was, and a logistical nightmare began. He wanted to see me before Friday, which was not possible for me with all our guests and apparently the interview is 2 1/2 hours and a lot of research is required so N did not want me to go without doing SOME planning. Eventually I agreed on Thursday at 16h30 but told N to explain that I would probably not be fully prepared but was happy to try anyway. N called her client and he said that he felt I needed a fair chance and changed the interview time to 11h00 on Friday with 2 of his colleagues.
I was on a high after all the phone calls and the good news, Dave and Emily were around the corner and I needed milk.....oh and a suit for my interview. Sh*t.
Milk first, Dave and Emily had been travelling all day and I was sure a cup of tea or coffee would be most welcome, a dash to the store for milk and by the time I got home they had arrived!
We all sat around and had a good catch up, me on a HUGE buzz, think they must have thought I was fully caffeinated... and then I sheepishly told them I needed to go and buy a suit as I was not sure I would get another chance. It all worked out well, Em wanted to come shopping too and Dave was happy to sit and watch the Olympics.
I found myself standing in the M&S change rooms staring at a strange but familiar figure in a suit, how very bizarre. Luckily for me the very first one I tried on was actually rather flattering, although the skirt was a bit big, so after finding a smaller size and celebrating that fact, I grabbed the shoes, shirt and suit paid for my purchases and calmed down at last!

Monday 11 August 2008

Girl talk

It was back for another pedicure last week and choices choices with regard to colour! AND the names of the colours, Pillow Talk, Passion, All About Me, Secuction oh and the list goes on and on....
I had decided to change the colour, All About Me is definitely my favourite summer colour but a change is as good as a holiday, or so I have been told, and after all my holidays....I need a holiday! Pillow Talk caught my eye and so I took the plunge and went on holiday...ha ha.

So what do you think?

Let the good times roll

I am soooooo excited! Tomorrow we get to see Dave and Emily, they came to Ireland for a wedding and are popping in to spend a night with us before they fly back to the UK. THEN on Wednesday Jeane, Sean, Ryan, Heather and Liam fly in from NY to spend a week in Ireland! They are staying with us on Wednesday and Thursday night and then driving off to do some exploring of their roots around Dingle and then up to Sligo. I am not working on Wednesday so we get to spend the day with them, Thursday is a half day so that is also fantastic and then on Saturday we drive up to Sligo where we have rented a house that sleeps 12. Jeane and Sean join us on Sunday and then we all explore Sligo and its surrounds for a few days. On Wednesday they go back to Dublin and fly back to NY.
THEN...on Wednesday Georgina and Murray fly in to Dublin, spend a night at our house on their own and then drive up to Sligo on Thursday morning to spend a couple of days with us at the rented house. On Saturday we ALL drive back down to Dublin, Malcolm and Murray go off to a bachelor party and Georgina and I are off to Temple Bar with some of my girl friends for a night of fun. The only snag is all the linen I will have to change, 3 times in less than a week - but I will do it gladly because it is just fantastic having people stay over! Now what am I going to be cooking???

Sunday 10 August 2008

Burning down the House - Trip down memory lane

I popped in to visit EM's blog this morning and read a funny story on her blog, it reminded me of a similar experience and so I decided to spill the beans on one of my VERY RARE accidents...
Our toaster was not working properly and I love toast and so I always found myself standing there holding the down button for the few minutes it took to brown and crisp my bread. On this particular day I was busy and so I devised a contraption using a heavy kitchen implement, I believe the pestle from my mortar was my accomplice, marble and nice and heavy, fit the requirement well.
I am not sure what I did next, I am thinking back about 3 years so whatever distracted me is long last in the recesses of my mind, but the image of my lounge and dining room filled with smoke is still very vivid, as is the image of my toaster on the counter, a retro looking mini fireplace burning cheerily on the kitchen counter. I managed to unplug it and ran outside tossing the blackened bread onto the patio outside where it died a sudden death. Luckily we had loads of windows and sliding doors so everything was left open, the blackened cabinets did not need more than a wipe and I got myself a nice new toaster. Lesson learned.

Friday 8 August 2008

Friday Song

At our pub quiz last night the final question was a line from this song...brought back memories of my sister and I in our teens...playing it at full volume so that my mother could here our theme song....and realise that all we wanted to do was be girls and have fun, forgetting that she had been tehre and done that too, sorry mom!!!

Down The Rabbit Hole...

Malcolm has a colleague who is climbing a mountain in Nepal in aid of Make a Wish and she held a table quiz fundraiser last night. I love quizzes so we booked a table for 4 and were joined by a formidable husband and wife team V (Malcolm's colleague) and T.
Our skill lay more in the talking, drinking and craic department - luckily we were all on board for that so when our team did not win we all stayed in one piece. The same could not be said for the table behind me, one of their team members was pulling out all the stops in the final round, trying to gain extra points by taking centre stage and participating vigorously in the singing part of the contest. I desperately wanted to sing Girls Just Wanna Have Fun by Cyndi Lauper but I am aware of my enormously flawed voice so I watched helplessly as she decimated the song instead. This was all too much for T, competitiveness can be rather ugly when you are all out supporting a charity and trying to have a fun night out and so after the quiz and a last drink he herded us into a taxi and down the rabbit hole I went.
We went to a casino, a very different experience to my vast knowledge of gambling institutions. A drivers licence is a requirement, the club we went to is members and their guests only, and we were finger printed, photographed and investigated (OKAY not that - but the rest YES.)
Upstairs through lots of glass doors we entered the hushed environment of people losing money. I am NOT a gambler, I feel awful losing €50 so I was a very interested spectator as V and T took piles of chips and haphazardly placed them on numbers, corners, colours, evens and whatever else the roulette wheel had to offer. I watched T happily lose €500 and then my eyes nearly popped out of my head when he bought another €1000 and spent that in 15 minutes too. OUCH. Not a bother for T, another visit to the cashier and another €1000 plastic card appeared and more colourful chips were passed around. I went and watched V, a lot better for my state of mind because she was playing with €1 chips...I ignored the fact that she was still placing about €50 per whirl of the wheel and more often than not coming out of a round without getting a satisfying pile of chips.
Next thing T was telling me to bet and I explained that I was happy to watch and the only gambling I had actually done before was Black Jack. Before I could protest I was being hauled to a card table, sat down and €250 worth of chips appeared before me and T said we were playing Black jack until one of us lost our money. He lasted 3 rounds, I played for hours. The table had a minimum bet of €25 and after a wobbly start (yes I worked my way all the way down to a last chip before clawing my way back up) I had a comfortable pile of discs in my hand. I even remembered to tip the croupier and the little bell would ring as my chips were appreciatively swept down the hole. I changed my €25 chips for €100 ones and put €400 worth of pink plastic in my back pocket! It was surreal, I had a guy betting on the back of me, telling me he had not seen anything like my luck in a long time, apparently I won ten hands in a row at one stage, but it was all so strange and new to me. I managed to win another €100 and then decided to quit while I was ahead and went back to T and tried to give him all the chips, but he refused to accept them and so it was that I walked out of the casino with €500 in my back pocket. Lady luck was also on their side and although they had spent a cool €6000 V had €13 000 in her handbag, and here was me all excited with my little roll of €50's.
We finally got home at 02h30 this morning and I was still dancing around and jumping up and down in excitement with my money, waving it around, it will come in handy for that new hockey stick I want to buy!

Thursday 7 August 2008

Just what the doctor ordered

Take 3 ladies, a two course meal, 3 bottles of chilled white wine, a comfortable couch, good listening...and talking skills, and no curfew.....enjoy - I did!!!!

Last night M and H from hockey came around for dinner. I made my sisters favourite meal, my own concoction with tomatoes, bacon, onion, garlic, basil and creme fraiche stirred through pasta and a salad with avocado, fresh asparagus, brie, tomatoes, orange pepper, spring onions and mixed leaves.
I turned to my good friend Bill Granger (Bills Food) for dessert inspiration and finally settled on Rustic Cherry Tart. Now I would like to give you all the recipe, it was divine with a capital D. I have to confess to making a hash of it, I reheated it and the consistency went a bit funny, but what is runny between friends when the flavours are so delectable!? A food guru will probably tell me that reheating is a no no...I wait for your admonishing comments if so....and I have learned from my mistake OKAY?
I hope Bill will not mind, but I think after eating this you may just go out and buy his book and therefore he should be most appreciative....and anyway I don't have any money so it is not like he can sue, can he????

Rustic Cherry Tart:

75g unsalted butter chopped
90g superfine castor sugar
80g ground almonds
2 egg yolks
1/2 t vanilla extract

1 sheet puff pastry
1 egg yolk
300g black cherries, pitted and halved (Plus an extra punnet for eating - pitting those cherries and not eating some is an impossible task!)
sugar for sprinkling
cream, for serving

To make the frangipane, mix the butter, sugar,almonds,egg yolks and vanilla in a food processor until combined. Refrigerate until chilled.

Preheat the oven to 200C (400F gas 6) Put a baking tray in the oven to heat.

Lay the puff pastry on a piece of baking paper on another baking tray. Trim off the edges of the pastry (this makes the edges rise evenly...(not in my case mmm)) Using the point of a sharp knife, and being careful not to cut through score a 1cm border around the edge of the sheet of pastry. Prick the entire surface with a fork and brush with egg yolk. Spread the frangipane evenly over the pastry withing the scored area. Place the cherries, cut side up in a single layer on the frangipane. Place the tart on the hot tray and bake for 15 minutes. Sprinkle with sugar and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes, until the sides are golden and puffed. Serve with cream if you wish.

Wednesday 6 August 2008

A Spoonful of Sugar

We sell this wonder juice called TimJan at the shop, we have a few customers who order it BY THE CASE in the U.K. and people come in specifically to buy it. Yesterday 2 ladies in the shop were talking about how marvelous the tonic is and so I decided to read the little tag on the bottle:
This remedy helps for the following:
Stomach problems and ulcers
Purifies the intestines
Relieves stress and depression
Has a calming effect
For healthy digestion
Fights stomach parasites
High blood pressure and angina
Prevention of kidney stones
Treatment of arthritis, rheumatism and gout
Contains certain vitamins like: A, B1, B3, B6 + E
Sporting injuries and stiffness
Snoring and sinus
Use directly on skin for eczema, skin disorders, shingles.

WOW. Can one tonic really fulfill so many ailments? The juice is from the aloe and grape vine, a lethal combination of disgusting flavours, I kid you not. I decided to try some, what harm can something with such a long list of cures really do? Of course I had washed my face, brushed my teeth and had already been lying in bed awake (insomnia?) when it suddenly occurred to me that I had not had my tablespoon of WONDER JUICE.
I made a dash for the kitchen, grabbed a 15ml measure and poured the revolting brown liquid into the spoon and opened wide. To say it is foul is an understatement. I have never tasted something that bad before, aloe and grape vine it certainly must be, no added sugar.
The taste stayed in my mouth and throat for a long time afterwards until I eventually fell into a deep and peaceful sleep...I will be using it again tonight...tonic in one spoon and sugar in the list of ailments may not be long but if people actually buy it by the case and it tastes that BAD it must be bloody GOOD for you...

Tuesday 5 August 2008

No Blue Monday

Howth from Dublin side

We woke up to yet another cloudy day, but Google weather was predicting no rain. After lolling about at home, setting up Kirstin's blog, skyping my baby sis and visiting all my favourite blogs we ventured out and headed for the Dart station in Monkstown for a day (well afternoon - had wasted the morning on the computer)in Howth. There is a great cliff walk that I have been dying to try and it was a perfect day - not too hot and no rain!!!
We had to drag the kids along - they find the couch and TV more appealing than a day with the folks (sharp intake of breath due to disbelief here please) so we offered them a meal out as a reward for playing mountain goats with us. The walk was absolutely what the doctor ordered, a great bit of exercise with breathtaking scenery and horrible smelling plants, but they were so pretty that we soon got used to the smell.

View from Howth looking towards Bray

I had visions of a fish and chip dinner on the grass next to the harbour but sadly our children had much more formal plans so I had to ignore my salivating every time I saw a white box of Beschoff fish and chips, made worse by the smell of vinegar which made me want it even more! Worst of all the restaurants were all filled to capacity so we had to endure an extra hour on the train before we could get food into our grumbling bellies...the scrambled egg on toast at 11h00 was very well digested by the time we had finished our walk!
The kids had selected REAL Gourmet Burger in Dun Loughrie for their gastronomic pleasure but the wait time was an hour and so I found myself very happily ordering from the Cafe Mao menu - my usual, roasted pumpkin spring rolls and Asian Greens in a soy and oyster sauce. Malcolm ordered his favourite too, Nasi Gooring and after much deliberation the kids settled on Chicken Satay (Kirstin) and Yellow curry (Jess). They rounded it off with the most divine smelling chocolate puddings which I later discovered tasted even better than the smells that had been attacking my nasal passages...but I did not succumb as I was ready to explode having already sampled every one's food and eaten my own! I have not forgotten about my fish and chips on the grass dream though, so perhaps we will take George and Murray there while they are staying with permitting of course!

Monday 4 August 2008

Bank Holiday Songs

As I told you before I bought 2 CD's about a week ago, Snow Patrol and Amy MacDonald. Turns out that the Snow Patrol album - Eyes Open is becoming a firm favourite in our house. Malcolm has requested a Bank Holiday song for my blog and so here is his selection:

And one of my favourites too...there are actually so many but I love this duet...

Visiting the North side

On Saturday we ventured out at about 14h30 to go and find V's house. Malcolm works with him and he was having a little exhibition of his photographic achievements at his home on the north side of Dublin.
Malcolm had received an email invitation and had a look at the map book to plan our route. We decided to walk and luas as it was fairly far from us. I insisted on making a photocopy of the map page that Malcolm felt he had committed to memory, between me and you, I am glad I did!!!
Anyway......after a fairly long walk we finally got to the street, and went in search of No.7. We rang the doorbell, no answer. We walked up and down the little road and found no clue as to which house it was, although Malcolm was fairly adamant that it was No. 7, but what worried me was that the No.7 also appeared on the street sign and as Dublin has odd postal codes I was under the impression that the 7 was probably the post code.
Luckily Malcolm had the phone number of one of the guys he works with, C, in his phone and he called him. C said he would log onto his work email and get back to us. Malcolm in all his wisdom decided that V had probably waited around for an hour, and when nobody arrived, went for a cycle or an outing. Again I questioned his authority, surely he knew that an invite for 15h00 in Dublin meant people would only arrive at around 16h00, and it the invitation had been for 15h00 ONWARDS...
Anyhow we headed back from where we had just been, a bit of a waste of time but hey, we had walked the streets of the north side and at least that was SOMETHING.
About 10 minutes later we got a return call from C...No 53, ahhhhh.
We turned around yet again, we had come all this way, what was another little walk? And so we found ourselves at V's house admiring his pictures and meeting a whole lot of new people. It was a good afternoon and when we were ready to leave another couple (who we had hardly spoken to) offered us a lift back to Dublin centre which I gladly accepted thinking that Malcolm worked with him, only to discover that this was not the case! Anyway they were a great couple who happen to live fairly close to us and we had a good chat all the way back into town.
Malcolm and I went to the Wool Shed, it is a Southern hemisphere pub, catering for Australians, New Zealanders and South Africans and we had a couple of drinks there and watched South Africa beat England in a (cricket) Test series for the first time since 1965!
After that we ate a celebratory meal at Wagamama (noodle bar) before heading home.

Panic Attack...

On Saturday morning I came downstairs, made coffee and settled down at the computer. I typed in my blog address - for some reason I have never added it to favorites OR my desktop. It opened and then I got this box on the screen saying that "Internet Explorer cannot open http// Action aborted".At this stage I was not too worried, but as I started investigating the cause and I discovered that Kirstin had changed all my information - overriding it with hers when she tried to create her own blog. To say that I came close to heart failure is not an exaggeration, I thought of all those posts, MY DIARY - the people who email me saying that they are enjoying my blog, my family and friends and I was UPSET.
I started changing all the information back, hoping it would fix the problem but still the same ugly message glared at me every time I logged on. I deleted Kirstin's blog from my dashboard (she had only done 1 short post)- still NOTHING. I could only access my dashboard via my other blog (the neglected NY one...) and finally noticed that the warning came up while trying to download the sitemeter...I removed it from my blog and could finally breathe again when it all opened!