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!   

My tree is up!

On Saturday night I spent a nice evening relaxing - drinking hot chocolate and decorating my Christmas tree.

I used a Martha Stewart recipe for Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate

The jury is still out!  It was fabulously creamy (maybe a little too creamy?) and very rich, and beautifully chocolatey - but the peanut butter was an addition too far and probably not needed...

I am delighted with my tree!  Because my apartment is so small I had to buy a very thin tree which would not be my style of choice.  I like a big wide thick tree.  This one is a good height though (7ft) and with my Barbie doll/angel on top it makes it taller.  All in all I think it looks great and as I said I'm very happy with it.


And in other news I won a competition in work and the prize is a 121 training session with personal trainer Karl Henry from RTE's Operation Transformation. I guess it will come in useful in January!