Trimming the tree…

For Christmas last year I set myself the task of creating a table centrepiece using brussels sprouts.

finished

Blog Post December 2013

There were both Pros and Cons to this endeavor.

The Pros: the sprouts box was ticked for Christmas dinner and (the best bit in my opinion) they did not have to be eaten.

The Cons: it took a fair bit of time to do it and (sadly) it deteriorated pretty quickly over the following few days, ending up in the compost! Continue reading

It’s never too late to learn.

101 2This time last year I wrote a blog about preparing the kids to go back to school. The new pencils, the paper, rubbers, school bag etc. Over the years I have myself been a serial re-attendee. Not just at full time education but also at night classes. There is always more I would like to learn. So over the years I have engaged in a variety of courses: some full time, some part time, some evening classes. It’s been my experience that attending a new course no matter what its duration, can be rewarding, enjoyable, even liberating. Continue reading

Bloom 2014: my highlights

New+Bloom+LogoAfter a tortuous week of seriously hard work in the pouring rain for those setting up the annual garden and food festival in the Phoenix Park in Dublin the sun finally came out. The show gardens have been transformed from virtual swamps into a dazzling array of colour, scents and not a small amount of sophistication. There are so many things I could blog about, from the design ideas in the show gardens (lots of circles and squares this year); the planting (lots of repetition in the planting types, with the exception of a few such as the two gardens designed by graduates of Landscape Design at Senior College Dún Laoghaire, more on these later) to the food (I ate far too many tasty bits) and the entertainment (sheep shearing a personal favourite). So here is a selection of my highlights. Continue reading

It’s a wrap!

IMG_2517 2It’s December 22nd 2013. Only 3 sleeps to go! Hopefully most of your present shopping has been completed and all that’s left to do is lots of wrapping of gifts and placing them under the tree. If you have done all that but still haven’t managed to buy your wrapping paper then don’t rush out, just do what I plan to do and dip into your green (recycling) bin. Continue reading

Mother-in-laws-Sprouts

sproutsIf you read my previous post you will know that I am not a fan of Brussels sprouts with my Christmas dinner. The nasty after taste. The “just one on your plate”, which always turned into more than that. It’s not that I haven’t tried. I have. Even Delias “Brussels Sprouts with Riesling and Bacon” turned out (in my humble opinion) to be a waste of good wine and bacon. A couple of years ago I stopped doing them altogether as they always ended up in the bin. My mother-in-law has never forgiven me. This year she is our guest again. (don’t get me wrong, she is very welcome!) Continue reading

Countdown to Christmas…

P1010840It’s hard to believe that I have managed to make it all the way to mid-December before mentioning the “C” word. For me Christmas is all about traditions and memories. Remembering our own and creating them for our kids.

Taking down the boxes of decorations, the “discussions” regarding which traditions from our own childhood should be continued when my husband and I have different memories. So I asked my family to brainstorm things that make Christmas for them so I could compile an A to Z. There were some letters with tough competition to win the spot, others were easy because some things just had to be included. So here it goes. Continue reading

Halloween (Part III). Food for thought.

IMG_1522In case you haven’t got it yet, I love Halloween! Actually I love anything that requires a mixture of food, decorations and an excuse to be creative (not that we need an excuse). And yes I love Christmas too so watch this space, but I promise I won’t get on to that for a few weeks yet!

So after you have carved the pumpkins you need to decide what to do with the pulp. This is a recipe for a very simple soup that requires very little work. The nuts give a lovely flavour as well as texture. Continue reading

Halloween (Part II): We scare because we care!

IMG_1320I know lots of countries have their own traditions and celebrations around this time of year. Here in Ireland we celebrate Halloween in a uniquely Irish historical context. The festival was first celebrated as a pagan festival back in 100 AD when the Celts marked the season of Halloween or ‘Samhain’, an old Irish word meaning the ‘end of Summer’. The belief was that this was a time of transition, when the veil between our world and the next came down, and the spirits of all who had died since the last Oíche Shamhna (Night of Samhain) moved on to the next life. Continue reading

Halloween…(part I) It’s a grave business

IMG_1275I’m not sure about around you but around where I live Hallowe’en is taken seriously!

In the past I have shamed myself: putting out a few meager pumpkin specimens with (almost) smiley faces, while my neighbours put in a huge effort. Continue reading