In praise of presents.


I know it’s politically correct at the moment to say when having a party or event “no presents please” or “it’s your presence not your presents we would like”. Me? I love presents. Both giving and receiving. The planning, the wrapping/unwrapping, the anticipation, the delight. No matter how small or big there is a lot of pleasure to be derived from the process, for all concerned. Continue reading

Best party ever…

IMG_1053My youngest is 12 this week. In our house, organised parties usually end around this time. This means that I can (almost) hang up my party organising boots. Thirty six parties later and with all the inevitable planning, invites, rice krispie buns, birthday cakes, tidy ups and party bags that this involves I reckon this makes me (along with every other parent in the world) something of an expert! It got me thinking back over the years to assess what made for a memorable party and therefore a memorable childhood, which is after all the reason we do it at all. The parties broadly seem to fall in to a number of categories. 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

How about this for a bit on the side?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANow that we are getting into finer weather, longish evenings and the prospect of summer ahead it makes me think of bbq food. Last week I had a phone call from a friend. She was having 17 people to lunch and was wondering if I had any ideas of how she was going to cope with just one oven and a mini hoard to feed. Continue reading

I love to shop.


From reading this blog one would most definitely be forgiven for thinking that I only love to shop on line. Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s true that I have bought a large amount of things on line but I am also of the opinion that you simply cannot beat a real life shopping experience. So whether it’s shopping for food or for household items or presents I think we should all savour the experience and reward our shopkeepers who are keeping our towns and villages alive. So, from now on I will be doing a regular blog featuring places I enjoy shopping. You will have to forgive me as I live in Dublin and so will feature more from the Pale than elsewhere but as I travel around from time to time I promise to share any great finds I make. Continue reading

Kitchen Confidential. Part 3: The Devil is in the Detail

IMG_3029 1So, you’ve got the big picture. Get the overall layout right first. That’s a given as they say. For me however there is a more to achieving a memorable kitchen that just that. The devil is, as they say, in the detail. To begin with I have a lot of stuff. From the usual plates, dishes, glasses, saucepans, cutlery, baking stuff to a silly amount of vases, tablecloths, coffee cups, chopping boards, ramekins, candles etc . Then there is food, serving platters, large bowls, medium bowls, more food, you get the picture, Goldilocks would be right at home in my house. I so made lists. I sketched out the plan. Over and over, (with my better half, though he definitely has less say in this part of the house) Continue reading

This week the clocks go forward…

my clock…and the evenings get brighter. I know there are lots of schools of thought for and against this, from the effect of the change on road safety to an increased risk of heart attack. (don’t ask me, I’m not a doctor!) From my own point of view I’ll take the longer, brighter evenings any time. Though looking out my window right now at the dark and gloomy sky you would never guess that Spring is allegedly here. In my house however, the clock won’t go forward. Or at least, not in my kitchen. You see this week it died. Of course I thought it was the battery but after replacing it I quickly discovered that it is officially not working. Kaput as they say. So it’s time (sorry!) for a new one and I thought I would share my shortlist of proposals with you. Continue reading

It’s not from the ground I get it….

IMG_20140323_0001We Irish have a unique way of expressing ourselves through the spoken word. If you haven’t heard the above expression before I should explain that it refers to something that one might inherit from a parent or grandparent. Personally, I blame my grandmother. My grandparents moved house 13 times. Not a record by any means I’m sure. However, this occurred over an 8 year period, after my grandfather had retired from the County Donegal Railways.

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Kitchen Confidential Part 2:

KITCHEN CONFIDENTIALIt may seem obvious or even easy given the content of my previous post, but in fact getting the layout right in the kitchen /dining area takes a lot of thought and effort. Whilst the design triangle does help there are so many things to be taken into consideration. When it came to designing the layout in the pigeon house I had a couple of priorities.

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