Monday, 19 June 2017

Clothes swap / fundraiser night / fun with family

For the last couple of years one of my aunts has hosted a really fun social night which also raises money for a good cause.  For the past couple of years the funds raised has gone to our local hospice St Francis's which does the most incredible work ever.  This year the charity chosen was Laura Lynn which is a hospice specifically for children.
A lot of work goes into the evening! 
This is the conservatory which is set up and decorated to look just like a real shop. Doesn't it look fantastic. We all pay €10 each and then you basically try on and get to take anything you like!

My aunt also runs a raffle to raise further funds. Every year she gets some has great prizes which are donated by the attendees  Amongst the prizes this year were some Jack Vettriano prints, a Coach handbag, a silk scarf, a beautiful painting done by one of the guests, and other nice items.  Tickets are priced at €2 each and most people buy €10 or €20 worth.

The lucky dip is a lot of fun. 
It costs €1 and you take a little wrapped parcel out...which tends to contain a novelty gift.  Again these are donated by the attendees.

My aunt does the best food! 
In the red pot is her famous chilli made with her special South African spices!

Oh this is fun!
Another way of raising money is that she holds an auction of old photos.  An envelope is held up that has three names on it (of people at the party).  The photo within may be of any one of them. Therefore all three want it - so they all bid against each other to buy the photo.  The bidding starts at 10c and the photo is sold for around €1/1.50.  There is always great craic and competition to "win" the auction!
I bought this photo of my mother (second from the left in the trousers and jumper)

And I bought this photo for Enid of her wedding!

The best thing about the night is of course the clothes.  How cool is this Pucci-esque dress that I got?!  Perfect for my holiday to Ibiza in September I think!

And I got this dress!
It's not something I'd normally choose to buy for myself but that is what is good about this night you tend to pick up something a bit different.
A lot of fun was had.  I tried on loads and loads of clothes/outfits and modelled them putting on funny accents to match each outfit to make people laugh.
And then the next day I got a text from my aunt announcing the good news that €550 had been raised!  She should be very proud of herself.  Like I said at the beginning of this post it's a lot of organisation - before, during and after (all clothes left over need to be brought to the charity shop!)

Saturday, 17 June 2017

The past is a different country

So in a previous life I was quite the collector...or as some people (Enid!!) said quite the hoarder!  Anyway I think you may know that I downsized my life and in the process I sold or gave away a lot of my collectible items.  Who can forget my collection of 50 never unboxed pristine 1994-1997 Barbie Dolls! Which by the way really held their value and in fact some of them increased a lot!  But selling them was tiresome and I won't lie I was delighted when I saw the last of them gone to their new owners.

One item I kept - it's small afterall - is my minicall.  I enjoy it for the whimsy of it, such a funny item and very much "of a time", Plus all the memories it brings back of the time I got it (the stories from back then are always funny to reminisce about with Alice and Enid!)

Get a life! Get a minicall!  This was the advertising catchphrase for the pagers.  Said by the heavily  French accented Antoine de Caunes of Eurotrash fame.

This is a photo from the internet of the Benetton branded minicall. Enid owned this!
How we came to own them was that for our 19th birthday Alice gave them to us gifts. 
Very clever of her she bought the Benetton one (which was very very expensive!!) and with it came the black one (mine) for free!

And here is mine now!

Basically how it worked was that I had a pager number.  You'd ring that number and then I'd get a little message on the screen - if I remember correctly it either showed the number of the person who rang me, or alternatively it gave a 1550 number which I rang and I picked up a voicemail from the person via that.
I say "if I remember correctly" because actually I didn't use it that much! Back then you made arrangements and just stuck to them, unlike our pratices today with our mobiles!

I put a battery in it tonight and sadly it is totally dead.
I love the back of it with all the helpline phone numbers etc to ring.
Apparently "Made in Ireland" too!! Surely it's collectible for that reason alone.

There is a funny story about Enid's (designer!) minicall and how it met its demise.  To save her blushes I won't tell it will remain a story for us to have a giggle about over a drink or two on a night out.  It involves CopperfaceJacks...that says it all I am sure ;-)
You can read Enid's account of her minicall here


Next up something else from my past!  These I had not hung on to though.  Instead I came across them recently in Muscat!  Lydia had them for the last few years and God only knows why she took them with her to Oman! But I am glad she did because if they had stayed at home in my parents I am sure Mam would have thrown them out by now.

These are a pair of clogs that I bought when I about 15!  Yes clogs!!!!! CLOGS! :-)
We were on holidays in the Isle of Man and Enid and Aoife bought a pair of plain ones each - Enid's were navy leather, and Aoife's were green suede.  Whereas I went for this really unique white leather with handpainted flowers on them!!  I remember being quite taken with them at the time - ok totally obsessed - I was not going home without them.

So we wore our clogs all of that summer and I remember that then Alice got a pair, plus some girls from our swimming club.  And then when we went back to school in September some more girls got some as well.  We really started a trend!!  But no one had ones like these babies! :-)

They are still in relatively good condition considering they are just 25 years old.  The leather in particular is still quite soft and supple which is good.

I'm tempted to wear them a second time round!!!  Lol.  Maybe with a skirt or dress they'd be nice! What do you think! Maybe they've had their day already?!

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Stuff & Other Stories

 I went to a calligraphy class!
I used to do (self taught) calligraphy about 20 years ago but it was a very strict and rigid Gothic style which I guess is a little old fashioned and definitely out of fashion now.  So I would like to try something different and develop a more modern freer style of writing.
I seemed to have the most ink on my hands out of all the students "yeah you might just be messy" said Sarah our lovely teacher. "Like me" she added - to make me feel better I think lol!

Here I am concentrating intently

Oh my gosh check this out!!!! My own fairy door for a fairy to come live with me! 
Someone wonderful gave me this lovely gift!
Although I do worry that I have ended up with a bold fairy.  This lad rocked up at the door on only the second night, the bowsie. 
The door is positioned below my bar.  I am wondering do I need to lock up the vodka.
Watch this space! 

This photo cracks me up!
The big sulky head on me at the Ireland v Austria World Cup Qualifier. 
I swear I actually was having a brilliant time and really enjoyed it all. EVEN when it started raining.
It's Pride week and my company is running some great Diversity & Inclusion events to celebrate.  It's culminating in the Pride parade where we/the company will #represent and march for the first time.  I've volunteered to marshal on the day for us and am very much looking forward to it.  This will be my fifth year taking part and last year I remember seeing Paypal and other companies and thinking why on earth we weren't marching.  Other years I have gone with my bike group, my roller derby gals and my wonderful Yes Equality canvass group, but this year will be a new and different experience for me taking part in a "corporate" group. We have a great day planned - meeting preparade for some facepainting and food :-)
I met Enid for a decaf coffee after work yesterday.  Oh I was so bold! On the bike on my way to meet her I passed Off Beat donuts.  And I don't know what got into me!  But I stopped the bike and bought us three for us to share.  My God they were luscious but I felt fierce guilty afterwards.  Particularly as I haven't been to the gym/spinning for a week or so now.  I really need to get back to that!

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Because new bike!

Today (Saturday) was an exciting day as I as I picked up my new bike.  Actually, let's first start with Friday and by saying what a SUPER night it was with the best company ever.
This is me 5 seconds after leaving the bike shop, so excited with my new bike and new helmet that I just had to take a selfie. 

For posterity here is a photo of my old bike.
It's 7 years old at this point and I think has had a good innings.  And it's even getting a second life!  I saw an ad on my work intranet where a lady was looking for a cheap run around for cycling around town - just like me really.  I messaged her last week and she came and had a look.  She LOVED it - even the crate on the back which I said she could remove if she didn't think she would use it..but she said she would - like me for her weekly shopping.  So I couldn't ask her for money for it of course, sure it owes me nothing at this stage, and I like the idea of it being used some some more, so she is going to throw a little donation into our staff charity fund.  So it's a win for us all! 
And here is my new bike!
What a beauty eh?!!!!!  I am delighted with it.  I took it around town for a spin this morning and then cycled over to Enid.  I got a good feel for it and decided I'd bring it back to the shop to get the saddle raised a little.  I did that this afternoon and it's an even more comfortable ride now.  It's a good compromise between the Dutch bike which Enid really wanted me to get, and the lighter Brownie that I originally wanted - i.e. it feels like a Dutchie but is nowhere near as heavy.
I was so excited that I went on periscope on the way over to Enid telling the whole world about it.  Enid's friend Alan in Pennsylvania saw my broadcast and messaged her to say Amy's on the way over to you on her new bike.  Enid and I thought that was pretty funny :-)

Enid taking it for a test cycle :-)


I stayed for about 45 minutes or so with Enid and Ciaran chatting and drinking coffee.  It was nice catching up with Ciaran as I haven't seen him for a while, and hearing what he is up to.  That is one of his latest paintings in the background - he is doing a lot of work lately as he is preparing for his second solo (Pigsy) exhibition later this year. 

Monday, 5 June 2017

What I've been up to...

A little catch all post of what's been happening in my life over the last few days!
The weather has been mixed...more on that later.  But when it has been nice it has been very nice - in fact quite warm.  My apartment gets very warm when the sun shines - it's an old building but has been very well insulated and living on the third floor helps with the heat also.  So a few evenings last week I sat in my window sill with the window open, reading and looking out on all that was going on below on Merrion Street.  Best spot in the house!

My Dad kindly called over at 8am on Tuesday morning.  This was a BIG help for me.  I was getting my internet connection upgraded and tv channels installed  (Vodafone tv), and Vodafone very helpfully could only tell me they would be calling some time between 9 and 5.  How crazy is that! I would have had to take the whole day off just to wait around for the engineer. If they even said "morning" or "evening" that would have done.  Anyway, thankfully Dad didn't mind, although his face was a little surprised when I told him I didn't know what time they would be coming at and it could be any time during the day...oops I may have left that little detail out when I first asked him to do it. Sorry Dad!  But he didn't mind too much, he had nothing on, plus I had bought lots of nice stuff for him to eat :-) 
He came on a motorbike rather than car, as parking around my place can be difficult to find.  I had suggested the train to him! This bike I have not seen before... Hmm.  I'll be honest it would not be my cup of tea.  And I wouldn't have thought it was Dad's either but sure there you go.  He is normally more into older/vintage style bikes.  Actually I blogged previously about his very first motorbike which he still has now...well kind the full story here. Please do excuse my writing in that post, it's from a while back and I cringed when I read it today.  But it's still a good story so I am glad I recorded it, bad prose or not!

Hair cut!  Long overdue!
After my recent week with Lydia in Oman, my hair was really dry from the desert air.  I eventually got the time to go to the hairdressers last week.  Lau went mad with the scissors as he usually does, and I had to calm him down and stop him from taking off too much as I usually do.  Anyway the end result is fine.  The back is lovely and long but the front is probably shorter than I wanted, but it was probably needed, and anyway my hair grows very fast so no worries. It's fine!  And it IS in much better condition. So I really should not complain!

On Friday I met the wonderful Bert and we went to see Bohs v Drogheda United. Oh but first a drink in Lemon and Duke, and burgers in Bunsen on South Anne Street.  I had a craving all day for a hamburger. And the burgers in Bunsen are always ALWAYS just perfect. They've recently opened up a new branch in Ranelagh and Enid said they are good there too.
After the match (which I really enjoyed! Shock horror!!) we strolled back into town. From Dalymount to O'Connell Street it is about 20 minutes, and then we continued over the river to Southside and up to South William Street.  Eek detouring through Temple Bar first which was horrendous! It was a very quick detour.
We had a few drinks in the South William and it was lovely.  It was a great night all round with super company :-)

On Saturday Mam, Enid and I went to see a play in the Powerscourt Theatre.  It was a Bewleys Café theatre production which would have been held in Bewleys Café on Grafton Street but since that is now closed (but due to open again soon I believe) they have decamped to Powerscourt.  They have a relaxed way of booking tickets!  You ring or text a mobile number and then someone rings you back and confirms etc, and then you arrive and there's a piece of paper scrawled with your reservation. on your table.  I LOVE IT!!!

The play was fantastic.  The Confirmation Suit by Brendan Behan, adapted by Peter Sheridan, and starring Gary Cooke (from Apres Match) - a one man show.  Gary was phenomenal, an amazing physical actor and held us spellbound for the hour.  I don't think I've seen my mother laugh so much, she said she nearly cried at one point she was laughing so much.  But it had everything, a lovely piece of poignancy as well as the comedy.  And such stories within one main story.  I am so glad we went - my mam is great at suggesting things like this to me, and for that I am grateful.

Mam headed on - she went to visit Nana in hospital.  Enid and I pottered around town and then she left to go out with Ciaran and I continued pottering around.  I wanted to go see a Cuban art exhibition but when I got there it was over.  I am so mad with myself.  Completely my own fault for not going when it opened so this is what I get! Lesson learned :-(
The photo above is from the Chq building which still has its Easter decorations up!!!
They are pretty so I will forgive them.

I did say the weather was mixed didn't I!  View from my window Saturday night...

And then.
Then London.
I've no words.  I wrote a bit about it over on my facebook page.  I simply can't iterate it any more.  It's depressing sometimes the world we live in. I am thinking of the friends and families of the deceased (and in Manchester too, and in other countries affected by terrorism).  It's all I can do??

And then last night I met Bert again. He had been at the Ireland v Uruguay friendly in the Aviva and got caught in the rain walking back into Baggot Street - I did mention that unsettled weather right!
Ha ha, I do love this photo :-) The diet coke representing Atlanta, and the Guinness representing Dublin! Lol, ok maybe that's going a bit far and a bit silly :-) But sure it makes me smile!  Anyway more importantly, another great night with great company.  Oh and it was Bert's birthday too which was fun!
In addition to all of the above there is a story about getting tickets to see Bernie Sanders speak in the Bord Gais theatre but I shall save that for another day.  Long story short though is that Enid and Ciaran took the tickets and went to see him.  Actually, you can read all about it over here on Enid's blog if you like!

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Friday lunch

Well first of all I have to say I am appalled at myself for not blogging for so long.  It's been really irking even upsetting me for a while now...I am questioning my existence lol.  Well no, but I was questioning...if I haven't blogged for two weeks or so, can I really call myself a blogger?
Anyway I am back!
And back with a report of a lovely day with Enid on this Friday just gone
Here we are pictured just before we left Enid's house
And here we are over in Fitzwilliam where we were attending a lunch in aid of Aware featuring the culinary skills and imagination of the Michelin star chef Ross Lewis of Chapter One restaurant.

Soup of Smoked Haddock, Fermented Horseraddish, Cauliflower, Dill
This starter was a beautifully light and delicately flavoured chowder.

But it was the main that really blew me away!
Navarin of Irish Spring Lamb with Smoked Buttermilk Potato Puree
The lamb was succulent and melt in your mouth.  And the potato!!! I have never tasted anything like it.  I'd eat that every day, breakfast, lunch and dinner.  It was incredibly buttery with a supreme soft smoky undertone.

Hot 70% Chocolate Mousse , Barley and Hazelnut Milk, Bourbon Vanilla Ice Cream, Lemon Jelly.
Another winner!

But as good as the food was it was even more of a highlight listening to Ross himself speak.  He had some wonderful stories about one of his first jobs working with the character(!) Peter Langan in Langan's brasserie in London.  He also had the most amazing anecdotes about cooking for President Mary McAleese and the Queen of England on her visit to Ireland a couple of years ago.  He got only three weeks notice for it! And the work that went into it was just phenomenal! And then on the day - the amount of staff, the amount of security (someone watching the fridge all night in case the electricity went off) and the amount of work again. It was a great story.
Also nice to hear about setting up his own restaurant in 1992 - and how the Northside location meant they "tried harder" and have continued to try harder and offer more (the ingredients, the menu, the service, the value).
He is a very charming and entertaining man.  A quick wit and lovely self deprecating manner about him - although don't forget the 10 Michelin stars "did I mention that already" as he said himself :-)

Around 5pm I was fading and I went on to the martini espressos (eek!).  A couple of them and I certainly felt em, awake.

The sun was shining and it was lovely afternoon.
At about 9pm, again flagging, we went for something to eat (yes more food!!!) with Ciaran and Gerry to Dillingers.

I love this photo of Enid and Ciaran.  To be honest, lately I am feeling tired of the over filtered perfection of "instagram style" photos, and this to me is natural and "as is", and will in years to come be a better record of "a moment in time".
I love Dillingers! I just don't think I've ever eaten a bad meal there. 
Plus the atmosphere is always good.

Nothing massively special about the food. 
Like I can't say anything more about it other than I just think it's good!


This little monkey!
I stayed over with Enid.  A split second decision which in hindsight I should just have gone home.  This boldie had us up all night with his niggling.  This photo was taken of him next morning looking like butter wouldn't melt in his mouth.