Monday 29 December 2008

Finally..... Christmas.

Shopping, wrapping and stress. This is the first Christmas I have worked full day since my first child made her way into our lives, and it was challenging. Christmas is my favourite time of the year, the tree, unwrapping my carefully packaged tree decorations, arranging them where the lights will be most effective on the decorations that need it. Baking biscuits shaped as trees, candy canes and angels; covering them in sticky white icing, shiny balls and festive sprinkles. Shopping, poking around and finding the present that I think is JUST right. Wrapping the goodies, lots of different paper, bows and mini decorations used as part of the packaging, a little trinket for next years tree.....and this year a void.
Yes I struggled, I did organise a lunch at our house and managed to ensure that we got a turkey and all the bits I needed for my part of the lunch but I have to confess I only did the bare essentials. Yet it all turned out fabulously in the end because Christmas is not about the gift, the wrapping, the trinkets, food or the tree, it is the people who are there to share the day.
So......Christmas Eve we made memories with Joe and Carla; Derrick Rose and Emily and our family. Carla made a sumptuous feast of lamb, pork, chicken, roast potatoes, vegetables, stuffing and (okay so it is a bit about the food!!!) the most amazing ginger pudding I have EVER eaten. Rose bought her famous chocolate mousse and we all ate until we could no longer sit comfortably and had to sprawl across the couch making little grunting noises of satisfaction. It was a very relaxing evening and I was sure it would be a total contrast to the Christmas Day lunch that I would be putting together in a few hours.
Christmas Day.....
As usual it started off with the kids despairing over the fact that the man in the house is a slow poke, but as Kirstin said "Christmas is about traditions and that is a tradition in our house." I heated up croissants and pain au chocolates, no mince pies as I am the only one in our house who eats them! We all gathered around the tree and present sharing began with all of us getting sufficiently spoilt. Jess and Kirstin really missed their cousins and said that Christmas is not the same without them (made me feel very sad, but then I also thought that they are lucky enough to have such great memories of past Christmas's). I got on with preparing turkey (as described in an earlier post) and at 14h30 Joe &Carla, Mark & Debi, Len & Lisa (kids -Cody and Luke), Lennie and Warren & Tracy (kids - Kiarra and Skyla) arrived and the fun began. Much wine was consumed and food was eaten and conversation flowed and at 02h00 we all decided that perhaps it was time to part company! Of course as we stood outside saying goodbye to our friends our neighbours came home from their evening out and so we invited them in for a night cap and enjoyed an hour of their company before succumbing to the comfort of our bed.
On Boxing Day we were lucky enough to get a house guest, Donovan flew across the Irish sea to spend a couple of day with us which was fabulous. We also popped over to Derrick and Rose for pancakes and conversation which was a fun way to spend a couple of hours....before we had to dash home so that Don and Malcolm could watch Arsenal DRAW against Aston Villa....oops.
We spent the evening at home playing Buzz on Play Station with the girls and eating toasted turkey mayo sandwiches.
On Saturday I got up at 09h00 and met a friend for breakfast so that we could have a catch up session, she has been to India and I have not seen her for a couple of months. After that it was back home and into hockey gear for the summer hockey Christmas match. I went up to Three Rock and was very excited to see everyone, I knew my friend Melissa would be there (the one who moved to Manchester in the summer) and was really looking forward to seeing her again. We played hockey.....for almost TWO hours! I assisted in 4 goals and hit the post once, yep I amazed myself - thought I would be a bit rusty as I have had a stupid chest cold for about 3 weeks. After the game we all went up to the pub for a drink and a catch up before heading home. On Saturday night we took Don into town. We started off at Foley's - a typical Irish pub with live music every night before heading off for a super pub - Café on Sienné for some dancing. We had a good time there and finally hopped into a cab at about 03h00 - exhausted. Of course Malcolm and Donovan got home and HAD to watch the S.A vs Australia cricket match...until 06h30 in the morning - but it was history in the making and very exciting for them.
Sunday...started off at Dundrum early for a couple of things before heading off to meet the guys for breakfast at Howards Way. A relaxing LAZY day at home followed, the early morning had taken it out of the lads so much sitting around on the couch was done. At 17h30 Malcolm took Don to the airport and I made a chicken vegetable soup - much needed after the extraordinary amount of food consumption that has taken place lately.
Next trick up our sleeves you ask? Adrian, Nicky and Rick arrive on the ferry tomorrow and New Year's Eve party commences at our abode at 20h00 on Wednesday....the usual suspects (i.e the Christmas crowd) plus a few more. Bring a platter of snacks and a cocktail concoction or a shooter mix...the more the merrier.

Friday 26 December 2008

Some Christmas pictures

My new Amy MacDonald T-shirt, about to open the presents...

The beginning...

The roast potatoes going in
Waiting for their Christmas dinner

The feasting

The mob

The spread

Gals in the kitchen


The craic!


I have this burning desire to share my turkey discovery with you all. I made the same turkey last year, mistakes were made, I used too much salt in the brine AND I read somewhere that Nigella Lawson's suggested cooking times were WAY off. My second mistake last year was believing that, but in my defense I went according to the recommended cooking time that Marks & Spenser printed on the label.

This year was different. I soaked the big bird in a bucket - specifically bought for brining the turkey - PROMISE! I decided to use Nigella's cooking guide, put the fate of my bird in her hands so to speak, and cooked the gobbler 2 hours, ignoring the instructions of 3 hours 40 minutes on the M&S bag. I will admit to being a bit nervous but also knew that if worst came to worst we could put it back in the oven or nuke it! Well my turkey was F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S!!!!!!!
I have even got some pictures, he was not the biggest bird I have ever cooked, so fear number two was "Will there be enough???" The answer to that question lies in the tupperware in the fridge, todays sandwich filling! So...head Nigella and her cooking times and you really will be guaranteed a succulent COOKED turkey at Christmas and you will even discover that your guests who don't like turkey will tuck in and enjoy!

Here are some pictures showing the process big bird went through from bucket to table...

Wednesday 24 December 2008

Our grown up weekend

This is so long I am going to summarise as much as possible so as not to bore the few of you who may pop in for a visit!
Thursday night was ANOTHER work Christmas dinner which ended up at a late night pub called Break for the border...lots of my uncomfortable boots...not too clever! I wisely shared a taxi home with a girl I work with, apparently once the pub closed the last of the party goers ended up at someones house until 06h00!!!! Yep, Dubliners DO know how to party...

This past weekend we went to the U.K for our 16th wedding anniversary, Malcolm bought tickets for an Amy MacDonald concert in Southampton as a surprise so I found myself at Dublin airport on the 19th December...Malcolm even got us priority boarding on Ryanair - smooth move!
From Gatwick we caught a train down to Southampton and walked to our hotel. We found an Italian place for dinner and then went to the concert. it was great seeing her live, she seemed nervous to start but once she got going she was great. Of course I know the words to most songs which is always fun!
After that we went to the Soul Cellar for drinks until we all got 'kicked' out because the water mains were getting turned off for emergency maintenance. We went back to the hotel bar for a nightcap before stumbling up to bed.
On Saturday we had breakfast in Southampton and then made a mad dash to the train and went to Clapham Junction and then caught a bus to Dave and Emily where we were staying on Saturday night.
We caught up with news and eventually went to the Toucan pub with Dave in SoHo where we met Adrian and Nicky. We had a couple of drinks there and then headed for the restaurant, Spaccanapoli. We had a fantastic dinner, the pizzas were done in a wood burning oven - the only way to REALLY enjoy the cheesy delicacy! For starters we ordered a few meze platters for the table and feasted on marinated peppers, anchovies, calamari, cheese, olives and lots more.
After dinner it was off to another pub - The Couch I think, across the road from some or other night club and the people watching proved to be very fascinating indeed. Slowly but surely our friends left, baby sitters to be relieved and trains to catch, but Dave, Emily, Malcolm and I caught the tube back towards home and then popped into a Thai restaurant which becomes a club/dance place (heaving mass of people basically) where we had another drink before calling it quits because the vibe was not great. We enjoyed a very delicious Dom Pedro made by Dave back at their place and listened to music and had some mellow conversation before succumbing to the pillow and duvet.
On Sunday we went to a mall in Wimbledon and had breakfast and did a bit of shopping and heard so many South African accents around us it was being back in S.A! We spent the afternoon chatting back at Dave and Emily's and then they dropped us off at the train station and we headed back to Gatwick for our flight home.

Merry Christmas to ALL

Hope you all have a fabulous Christmas wherever you are.

Monday 8 December 2008


The day started wet and gloomy, but not too cold...swings and roundabouts, clear skies and freezing is my other option and I am still trying to figure whether I prefer to walk with an umbrella or covered in goosebumps and shaking all the way to the luas. Maybe the umbrella, but I dunno because when the sun shines it is so beautiful!
ANYHOO...I got a sad email from Kelly - she has the flu and could not join us for the Tracy Chapman concert and wanted to drop her tickets off with me to try and see if someone could benefit from her misfortune - after some logistical finesse from moi I coordinated a meeting at Harcourt luas stop - having found out which carriage she was on and doing a rush grab and go maneuver so that she could just keep going on her merry way to the comfort of her bed.
Never mind the fact that I am coughing and croaking and sounding very husky...good for dealing with clients on the phone no? Malcolm managed to find a buyer for the goods (still need to give Kelly that bit of good news - she even gets her money back!) and it was pretty awesome because they had tried to book for the concert but could not get tickets (they sold out REALLY fast).
Malcolm and I finally sampled the food at Acapulco - a Mexican restaurant I have been wanting to try for AGES and after dinner we headed around the corner to the Olympia where we had to stand in the freezing cold (umbrella and warmer weather would have been more pleasant at this stage) for about 20 minutes waiting for the doors to open.
The show was meant to start at 19h30 but of course the opening act (forgot his name) but I do not think you will rush out to buy his CD anyway so no worries..shame he was not THAT bad, just not parting with my cash good enough....Okay...rambling again...he started at around 20h15. We listened to him for about 30 minutes and then had to wait AGES before Tracy Chapman came on but oh BOY was it worth the wait!!!
She played some new stuff, old stuff, a few requests - my 2 favourites Fast Car and The Promise (somewhere on my blog) and engaged with the audience a lot, she was funny and shy and amazing.
She seemed genuinely surprised and pleased at the audiences reaction to each song she played, and the people adored her. I LOVED her, Malcolm was blown away - it was way beyond his expectations. She has a cold (same as me!!!!) and still stood there and sang with the most amazing voice and even came back and did an encore...people were going mad. It was also awesome because the venue was small, we were in the standing area so we were SO close to the stage. Even though I was not feeling well, I enjoyed every minute of listening to her...thanks Tracy for a superb evening of vocal genius.

Sunday 7 December 2008

ANOTHER weekend flies by...

So here I sit on Sunday night wondering what happened to the TWO days I was looking forward to just a few minutes ago...then I remember the drinks on Friday night at Foleys - fantastic because they had live music, taking Malcolm shopping for his Christmas party outfit on Saturday morning (I did a fabulous job - new jeans and an AWESOME shirt - ask him) the biscuit baking on Saturday afternoon, the school fair Carla and I supported (because Rose's daughter goes there) the visit to PC Warehouse because Jess wants to buy a laptop and then home to decorate the Christmas tree and I realise that the weekend was rather productive!
Malcolm went to Athlone for his Christmas party - very organised as they are taken by bus and stay at the hotel where the party is held. This has to be the best way - stumble straight up to bed - no searching for an elusive taxi like I had to the week before. They even get BREAKFAST the next day and then are bussed back home at noon. Brilliant idea as in Ireland the breathalysers come out the morning after because technically a lot of people are still WAY over the limit from the binge of the night before!
Best part about the end of THIS PARTICULAR weekend is that for once in my life I am looking forward to Monday, no it is not the pastries and muffins we get at work (every Monday) but the TRACY CHAPMAN concert tomorrow night!!!! Yep the day has finally arrived and we are meeting Kelly and Charl for a pasta at Carluccios before heading over to what I am sure will be a very pleasant evening of relaxing music.

One of my alltime favourites....

Wake Up

I have two daughters who are both fast approaching the dangers of the world out there. So far I have been very lucky - they are MOSTLY well mannered, well adjusted, friendly and well behaved girls. Of course they have their moments and I have to deal with many challenges, but so far thank goodness they have been fairly insignificant, but what I found below can happen to ANYONE:


This was written by a young girl who was in jail for drug charges, and was addicted to crystal meth .

She wrote this while in jail. As you will soon read, she fully grasped the horrors of the drug, as she tells in this simple, yet profound poem.She was released from jail, but true to her story, the drug owned her.
Please keep praying for our Children, Teens, and Young adults. Understand, this thing is worse than any of us realize... (TIK is the street name for crystal meth in South Africa...I think)

My Name: "Is TIK "
I destroy homes, I tear families apart,
take your children, and that's just the start.
I'm more costly than diamonds, more precious than gold,
The sorrow I bring is a sight to behold.
If you need me, remember! I'm easily found,
I live all around you - in schools and in town.
I live with the rich; I live with the poor,
I live down the street, and maybe next door.
I'm made in a lab, but not like you think,
I can be made under the kitchen sink.
In your child's closet, and even in the woods,
If this scares you to death, well it certainly should.
I have many names, but there's one you know best,
I'm sure you've heard of me, my name is crystal meth.
My power is awesome; try me you'll see,
But if you do, you may never break free.

Just try me once and I might let you go,
But try me twice, and I'll own your soul.
When I possess you, you'll steal and you'll lie,
You do what you have to -- just to get high.
The crimes you'll commit for my narcotic charms
Will be worth the pleasure you'll feel in your arms, (your lungs, and your nose).

You'll lie to your mother; you'll steal from your dad,
When you see their tears, you should feel sad.

But you'll forget your morals and how you were raised,
I'll be your conscience, I'll teach you my ways.

I take kids from parents, and parents from kids,
I turn people from God, and separate friends.

I'll take everything from you, your looks and your pride,
I'll be with you always -- right by your side.

You'll give up everything - your family, your home,
Your friends, your money, then you'll be alone.

I'll take and take, till you have nothing more to give,
When I'm finished with you, you'll be lucky to live.

If you try me be warned - this is no game,
If given the chance, I'll drive you insane.

I'll ravish your body, I'll control your mind,
I'll own you completely, your soul will be mine.

The nightmares I'll give you while lying in bed,
The voices you'll hear, from inside your head.

The sweats, the shakes, the visions you'll see,
I want you to know, these are all gifts from me.

But then it's too late, and you'll know in your heart, That you are mine, and we shall not part.

You'll regret that you tried me, they always do,
But you came to me, not I to you.

You knew this is would happen, many times you were told,
But you challenged my power, and chose to be bold.

You could have said no, and just walked away,
If you could live that day over, now what would you say?
I'll be your master, you will be my slave,
I'll even go with you, when you go to your grave.

Now that you have met me, what will you do?
Will you try me or not? It's all up to you.

I can bring you more misery than words can tell,

Come take my hand, let me lead you to hell.

Friday 5 December 2008

Footloose Friday

Oh...yes...a movie I remember well...ENJOY and have a footloose fabulous weekend!

Tuesday 2 December 2008

Blow by blow account

What a weekend! On Friday night I made a mad dash out of the office at 4:40 to have my hair blow dried for our long awaited Christmas party. I was enormously rushed as the party kicked off at 19h00, but of course being in Ireland meant that I could safely arrive at 19h30, which I did. It was physically impossible to get everything done and make it on time, I have never rushed home and got dressed so quickly in my life…the total commute time (both ways) already ate up an hour.
ANYWAY…the party was fabulous, the food delicious – I was rather worried that the beef fillet would be overcooked and dry but it was served medium rare with a great peppercorn sauce, chive mashed potatoes, snap peas and carrots. The starter was a duck terrine with Chinese five spice but I am not a fan of either of those ingredients so it would be unfair to comment! Dessert was a real treat – a selection of baby lemon curd tartlet, a coffee chocolate biscuit topped with mascarpone, chocolate brownie and vanilla bean ice cream on a wafer…YUM.
The live band played brilliant music and the moves on the dance floor were impressive. At 01h30 things wrapped up and we all descended upon a club called Cocoon to make the most of our night out.
On Saturday it was FREEZING…the coldest day I remember in Dublin so far….and we went into town with Don and Maura and braved the chill for as long as we could, Don and Maura went to check out the Book of Kells and Kirstin and I headed for the warmth of a coffee shop and some nourishment. Jess was wondering around the shops with a group of her school friends. We finally got back on the luas and headed back towards home, eternally grateful to Malcolm who fetched us from the luas station saving us from the long very cold walk home! Malcolm had not been able to join us in town as he was playing a game of hockey, not very pleasant with the weather conditions but he persevered and enjoyed his hot shower afterwards!
I made a lasagne for dinner and we got out the 30 Seconds and Maura and I did the women proud and managed to beat the guys TWICE….the second round was without dice as they guys felt that we had been rather lucky with our throws…mmmmmm. Last laugh and all that…..
On Sunday we braved another icy Dublin day and wondered around Merrion Square admiring the art before jumping in the car and heading for the airport and another goodbye. Howards Way and their all day breakfast beckoned, so Malcolm and I stopped in there for our fix of egg and bacon without the messy kitchen to worry about afterwards! I rounded off the day with a bit of shopping, i am trying to find a jacket I like that can withstand the cold weather we are experiencing...still no luck. I am way too fussy...the buttons are too big, too many or too small, the belt buckle is ugly, too big or too small and the coat is the wrong fabric or dry clean only....sigh. Finally something I do know how to buy...groceries and then home for the evening and best of all my BED...