Thursday, 12 January 2017

New year sales

New year and some nice little bargains picked up in the New Year sales!
Do you remember I posted previously about this stunning dress that I saw in Dunnes before Christmas? 
Well I got it online at 60% off!

It doesn't look that special hanging up here does it?!

But this is it when I tried it on before Christmas. 
How great is this? 
Just need somewhere to wear it sure something will come up, and when it does I have this perfect dress ready and waiting!
And the other bargain buy in the New Year sales was plane tickets to Key West.  Alice, Enid and I are booked and set for the big trip in November! 
We will fly into Miami where we will do the cool drive down to the Keys.  And then nothing more to be done then just relax in paradise.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Boston 2016/2017

I am just back from literally a flying visit to Boston, that while was short was wonderful.
We did far far more than I have photos of, but below I hope, captures a flavour of all I did and saw.
On Saturday morning we went to The Bostonian for brunch.  I got pancakes, maple syrup and Virginia ham and it was fab!

While they are known for their Bloody Mary buffet bar I went for a breakfast cocktail (hey I was on holidays!) and got a "cup of Joe" - vodka, tia maria and espresso.

We visited the JFK museum which I enjoyed very much.  I discovered a lot about President Kennedy that I had not realised before (the amount  of books he wrote!) and particularly enjoyed seeing and hearing him speak.  Above is a photo from the time of the Cuban missile crisis which I think captures the atmosphere of the time.

As a bonus there was an Ernest Hemingway exhibit at the museum which was a lovely surprise. Above is a photo of Martha Gelhorn, Hemingway's 3rd wife, who I much admire.

An insight into how he became the writer he was...

The museum is in a building with this stunning outlook over water, on part of the campus of University of Massachusetts.

New Years's ice sculptures on Copley Square

Where everyone knows your name!

I loved visiting Cheers :-)

On the last day after some walking around during the morning we went back into the North End (where we had eaten dinner on the first evening) and had pizza for lunch in Regina Pizzeria. A lovely atmospheric pizzeria which has been there since 1926.  And the pizza? So good! 

How cute is this lovely building with its Christmas wreaths

I just loved all the buildings in Boston! We did a lot of walking around (at a nice easy pace!) and it was nice just admiring buildings and feeling the vibe.

Another great building.
Boston is a beautiful city which is so easy to walk around.  It has a lovely laidback atmosphere compared to the frenetic (albeit wonderful) energy of New York.

And lastly a visit to a sports bar to feel the atmosphere of an American football game.  And then it was off to the airport for my 6.30pm flight :-(
All good things must come to an end!
I had the most super time and will always have the great memories of a wonderful city with the best host who is so thoughtful and kind.

Christmas 2017

Christmas Eve, I had mam and Katie around for some drinks and nibbles.
Later that day I met with a friend and went to the busking on Grafton Street.  No Bono this year!

Christmas day in mam's

Lyttle Holme (back room) looking beautiful

Lyttle Holme, front room

The kids were in great form and Santa had been very good to them. It's always good to see them on Christmas morning.

As usual we played The Games.  On Christmas day we mainly did charades and quickfire quiz games.  On Stephen's we played a marathon of Trivial Pursuit which the team of Cousin Sean and Aunt Mary won.

After an emergency visit to the dentist on St Stephen's day - THANK YOU for driving me Cousin Kasey!!!!!! - we called into my Nana's.  I hadn't seen this photo before, it's my Nana at her 85th (a couple of years ago) with a lot (most? some?) of her grandchildren and some of her great grandchildren too. 

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Basket Brigade 2016

Earlier today I posted about Christmas coming...another sign of the big day approaching is Basket Brigade! 
Basket Brigade is the last Sunday before Christmas and Enid, Alice and I make a whole day of it
I met up with the kayak club/canoe polo regulars - Michelle, Eibhlin and Holly.
It was though my kayak club/Eibhlin that I got involved in Basket Brigade - 6 years ago!!!
Missing from the pic is another polo girl Caitriona who couldn't make this year.  Am sure she'll be back next year!
This year we packed and delivered 180 hampers to people in need around Dublin - and this included 20 hampers to Apollo House.

Fair to play Deco from Fair City coming along to support :-)
David O'Sullivan was involved in the financial fundraising over the last few weeks (with George McMahon and the amazing Keith Duffy - who made a really really generous donation) and then came along this morning to help out which was nice of him.  Me, being a massive FC fan, grabbed him for a photo the second he walked in lol.

This afternoon, as is our usual tradition we then went to Pitt Bros. for lunch and ice cream.  This photo is of Enid, showing Alice a hilarious photo with an extremely hilarious story.  We won't forget it in a hurry...that's all I am saying!!!

I spent the remainder of the afternoon/evening listening to music, wrapping presents, and lying on the couch reading books.  Heaven!


Christmas is coming...

Christmas is coming and that means one thing!
Two large cheques from the staff of Irish Life to our two chosen charities.
I am proud to work for this company and with people who are so generous. €172k raised by staff through all manners of events and fundraisers, and then matched by the company.
We just never stop!
Our last fundraising effort of 2016 - selling a Christmas CD produced by the work choir.
On Friday, Enid and I went to Luna for lunch - our usual Christmas get together (boozy lunch!)  and she was celebrating some good news too.  Go Enid!
Food was good - not the best I've had in Dublin but very enjoyable.  The ambiance and general setting of Luna is the real winner in my opinion.

Dessert arrived on a trolley which made us smile. When we were 17 we worked weekend jobs in the restaurant of the Gresham Hotel where they too used a trolley. We normally worked the breakfast shift (6am - 2pm) but on the rare occasions we worked dinner service we covered the dessert trolley.
Then that evening I hosted my two friends before heading into town. 
I made basil gimlets (gin, lime juice, sugar syrup, basil & ice) and we also had beer and pizza.

The party really got going,,,and very nearly ended when it emerged I had no shot glasses.  Quelle horreur! Luckily my espresso cups saved the day and we had a couple of Frangelico and Baileys which I thoroughly recommend.
We then headed around the corner and did a small crawl of The Shelbourne, 37 & Sam's Bar. 
 'Twas a fun night!

A fun night generally means a sore head the next day but thankfully I felt fine!  And even better after a lovely breakfast of fried avocado and rashers. 

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Need comfort food?? Cook this!

Forget your chicken soup for the soul, this chorizo and sweet potato soup is where it's at.  Aside from being DEVINE, it has the added bonus of being incredibly easy and quick to make.
This soup has just 5 ingredients.  I did mention it's simple to make right!
900gr sweet potato, 275gr chorizo, 1 medium onion, 2 cloves of garlic, chicken or vegetable stock.
I have a slight cold and sore throat (thanks Enid for giving me that lol!) so I threw in extra garlic and extra onion.

First things first - prick your sweet potatoes and throw them in the microwave. You don't have to do this (you can boil them from scratch) but it will save you time in the long run, plus so much easier to cut sweet potato when it's soft.
Fry the onion, add the garlic, and then finally the chorizo - until the onion absorbs some colour from the chorizo.
Once the fried ingredients are ready and the sweet potato is soft, cut the sweet potato into cubes (yes leave the skin on!).
Place in a pot with 1.5l of stock - ingredients need to be covered.
Boil up and simmer for 5/10 minutes.  It doesn't need much more cooking because the sweet potato cooked in the microwave already.

Blitz!  I like a fairly smooth soup but feel free to do it as chunky or smooth as you like.

Season with salt and pepper to your taste and serve!
I think some parmesan sprinkled on top would make this soup even better.
Bon appetit!

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Sunday with friends

On Sunday I had the most glorious day.  It started early when I got the train out to mam's to help her put up her Christmas trees.  I was supposed to be just assembling them for her but I had some extra time so we ended up decorating them together and chatting which was fun.
After doing all that I got back on the train and continued onwards to Coolmine where I met with Dave and Edel, and from there we drove out to the beautiful village of Ballinaclash in the beautiful Garden of Ireland, county Wicklow.
This is the view from Tony and Tanya's house.  How INCREDIBLE is that!!!
The food! The food!
We had a wonderful lunch and below are just some photos of it - there was tons and tons more, but don't worry we were up for the job of eating it :-)

Sausage in bacon with honey and almond.
And look at those adorable little olive penguins in the background!

Black pudding with brie and rosemary - a little mini Christmas pudding :-)

Brie baked with garlic, and bread by my wonderfully talented baker friend Andy.

After lunch (and before dessert!) we went for a lovely walk through the forest beside their house.

The gals!
For the evening we sat around eating lots of desserts (pavlova, ice cream, chocolate cake, coffee cake, strawberry cake!) and drinking tea and coffee. Oh and eating chocolate truffles also.
We also were listening to music. I brought some records to play - normally when we get together my party piece is that I make the cocktails for us all, but seeing as it was a Sunday none of us were drinking (plus people were driving etc) so I figured that I would be dj and look after the music instead.
We left quite late in the evening, much later than any of us intended to I think, as always when we go to T&T's there is just something magical about the time spent in their home, and with the gang and you just never want it to end!