Thursday 31 December 2015

Christmas with friends

 Last night I was in a friends house for dinner which was fabulous as always.

I made ciaproskas with some little Christmas embellishments - mini candy canes and green straws

Starter of crab and cod fish cakes with salsa and sweet chili sauce.  These were delightful delicately flavoured fish cakes which we all enjoyed very much.

How big are these steaks!!!!

If you are looking for a nice wine this here is your man.  My friend was telling us that a couple of years back he was talking to the shop guy in O'Briens wine and it was recommended to him then, and he buys a bottle whenever it is on special.  It was very nice - even nicer than Malbec which has been my favourite wine for the last few years.

After dinner we played some games of charades and eggheads.  God I am getting old! 

It is New Years Eve tonight and I am going to a neighbours house for food and drinks.  I am looking forward to it, and it is nice not having to think about taxis or travelling.

Wednesday 30 December 2015

Christmas Films

This Christmas has really been lovely.  I haven't been doing much - just chilling out at home and spending time with family.  I've also been watching a lot of movies.  More on that below. 

One thing I haven't been doing is reading.  I intended on doing a lot but have not as of yet...I still have a few more days I suppose to get in to some books.

True Grit
I watched the remake version (2010) and I really enjoyed it. 

The Brittany Murphy story
I found this film on Netflix - surprising it is released so soon on the Irish Netflix to be honest.  It is a good representation of the poor Brittany's life but my god is the actress playing her completely unlike her, and oh my god how ridiculously bad are the hairpieces and wigs used in it.

Making a Murderer
I am in the middle of watching this netflx documentary and I am literally in shock at how crazy it is.  Watch it!!!  DO  NOT GOOGLE anything about it, just watch it.

Sunday 27 December 2015

Christmas shopping

I went over to the towncentre nice and early this morning to pick up some food for dinner today.
I bought:
  • 3 lightbulbs for our floor lamp €3.99 each
  • Christmas tree bag €14.99 (I promise myself each year I'll get one)
  • 5 teeny tiny Yankee candles 5 for a fiver (normally €2.50 ea) - Christmas eve and cinnamon stick flavours
  • Algae & moss patio slab cleaner 2 bottles €8.99 ea
  • Food - fillet steak, chips for dinner :-)

And I bought this for lunch:
It is buttery and sweet like brioche bread. 

St Stephen's Day

 I had dinner in mams again today.  Pretty much the leftovers from Christmas day so ham and turkey etc, with a  few additions to the menu.
Mams homemade sausage rolls which are nothing like anything bought in the shops whatsoever
Mams home made mince pies
That evening we went to my aunts house where we played more games. 
I had an horrific evening, I could not have had worse luck with bad questions and bad dice throws.  It was a fun evening bad games results aside. 

Saturday 26 December 2015

Christmas presents

Mam likes to theme her Christmas presents.
This year she bought me all Vintage.  I absolutely adore them.
How amazing is the hat!!!!  The brown case is a vintage make up/cosmetics case, but I shall use it as a hat box to store the hat.
I have two weddings coming up in 2016 so I will definitely wear the hat for at least one of them.  I need to find the right dress to go with it.  The clutch purse is navy (I know it looks black in the photo) so it will go with the hat also.
Lydia got me all kinds of fabulous stuff!  There was a big joke because half of it were things that she got free at travel conventions and exhibitions with the airline company (she did some promotional work this year).  But I must say some of the free stuff was very useful - a luggage scales which I always mean to buy.
How cute is this mug which she did of course buy!

Christmas Day 2015

 A pictorial drive by of Christmas 2015
First up I had a Baileys coffee in bed.  It's Christmas after all! 
Harry with his Christmas present.  He was really cute and kept looking at it and putting his paw on the netting.  And then he fell asleep on top of it.
Lydee and dad came up to the house at about ten to collect me (so that I could have a drink during the day).
I had another Baileys coffee with Lyd,  It's Christmas afterall.
I had popped some M&S food in the oven and brought it to mams where I laid it out nice.
I made pork belly with hot honey glaze and coated prawns.  I forgot to bring sweet chilli dipping sauce so Lydia whipped up a little home made concoction of mayonnaise, honey, pepper and chilli powder.  She's great in a food emergency, you'd know she was cabin crew :-)
  Lyd looked after all the drinks and served them all with a cute little candy cane on the glasses.  We had our next door neighbours in (3) and Faith, Graham and the kids.  The house was busy but not for long.
Table before dinner
After dinner we did what we do every year and played games from 4pm to approx. 10pm. We play mainly quiz games and word games, and a fun jenga-like game with little plastic champagne glasses. 
Dad went down and collected Nana at about 7/8pm and she was in good form,
Dad dropped me home about 10pm.  I was so so tired at that point.  I was strangely tired all day, I think I had gone to bed a little late on Christmas Eve
Christmas day night ended as most of my Christmas Days do with some toblerone and tv.
It was a lovely day. 

Sunday 20 December 2015

Penneys Mary Street

 Fun fact. 
Did you know that Penneys is only Penneys in Ireland, that every where else in the world it is Primark?  This is because when it moved outside of Ireland and in to the UK there was an American retailer (JC Penney) who already had the right to use the Penneys name.
On Saturday Enid and I were in the Penneys in Mary Street.  This is their where their headquarters are and it is also the site of their very first shop.  It is actually quite an historic building as it is built on the site of Dublin's first cinema The Volta.
The store was renovated around 2014 and it is big and modern looking.  (Very big - they reclaimed some space that was being used for stores back into retail space).
As part of the "do-up" there are some cute photographs of their history in Ireland on display on a wall.  I love these type of sociological photographs. I think they it's great they are diplaying them (for posterity) so for more reasons of posterity I have posted them here.
"Low prices are back in fashion"  Some things never change for Penneys
Lol! How about this for a uniform?!
I would think this is late 70's early 80's.  I don't remember there being a separate mans/ladies shop.
Penneys in Killarney with zany 1970's branding
I think this was a uniform.  And strangely enough I think I remember it or something similar to it. 

Friday 18 December 2015

Dolce Sicily, Dawson Street, Dublin

 After a meeting/event I attended today we were provided with a  lunch from Dolce Sicily on Dawson Street.
First we had lovely sandwiches/rolls - made from soft Italian bread with Italian ham, turkey and cherry tomatoes.
And then we had mini Italian pastries for dessert. 
Doesn't the packaging for the tray of desserts look beautiful
How about this for heavenly!
I particularly liked the chocolate in crispy pastry (at the front) but I also tried the ones beside the chocolate - they are very small I promise!!!! The cream ones are made out of ricotta cheese(!!) mixed with sugar and pistachio nut topping. 
I wouldn't have thought that I would have liked a ricotta cheese dessert (truth be told I probably would not have tried it had I know what it was made of)  but I liked it a lot! 

Signs that Christmas is coming

Every year in the run up to Christmas things begin to happen, that just like that Slade song from the 70's scream out to me "It's CHRISTMaaaaaaaS"
My company's Staff Charities committee handed over cheques to our 2015 staff charities - St Francis Hospice and  Friends of Frank.
This year, staff in Irish Life raised €222,000 in total so they were mighty Big Cheques (€111k apiece) handed over
There I am on the right hand side of the photograph. 
As you can see (from the clothes we are wearing) it is a particularly mild December right now.  The weather is not screaming Christmas to me I admit!
I watched The Family Stone which is one of my absolute favourite Christmas films.  Donabate library was showing it on their big screen so I got the train out to watch it last Wednesday after work. 
I bought a bottle of Baileys. It's not Christmas without a bottle of Baileys!
This is on special offer in Supervalu at the moment - reduced from €22 to €12, sure I'm practically making money at that price!
It's a work tradition that on a Friday evening close to Christmas we have Irish coffees. 
Delicious! And Christmassy!

Sunday 13 December 2015

Christmas tree 2015

 Perched at the top of my tree is my vintage 20 year old Barbie doll as the Christmas tree fairy / angel
The white fairy sets the tone for the tree and for the last couple of years I have decorated my tree all silver and white.  I think it works well.  BUT!  It is not my favourite Christmas tree.  My favourite tree is my twin sister Enid's tree.  Enid is of LPA Rebuild and you can see more pics of her tree over there.
 In the meantime my sister Kate sent me this photo of my tree and Enid's side by side.
How different are these for identical twins?!
What style do you decorate your tree? 

Saturday 12 December 2015

Gleaming Salmon Mousse Pearls

 I was so excited to see these in my local Marks and Spencers today!
These are Gleaming Salmon Mousse Pearls.
I had seen them in the M&S magazine and thought they looked incredible, but in person they looked even better.  I love the way they are coated to look exactly like a real pearl.
 How great are these!
Smoked salmon, lemon and black pepper mousse coated with a silver lustre and served with spears of samphire in scallop shells.
At €8.79 for two they are not cheap, but how impressive would be these be as your Christmas day starter?
Edit. I bought these yesterday!  See my review here.  They were not what I imagined they'd be like....

Christmas party

 Christmas party last night.
We went to Il Vignardos in Store Street.  Above is a photograph of my starter - lovely tiger prawns - which was very nice.
I then got distracted and forgot to take pics of my main and dessert.  I had the turkey and ham (you've got to get turkey and ham at the Christmas party!!) and it was really really nice - a lovely cranberry gravy and mash potato accompaniment.  And then for dessert I had a scrumptious chocolate fudge cake.
And then I got a special Late Service train home. I really wish Iarnrod Eireann ran these late trains all year round.  Our last train leaves town at 11.17 which is ridiculous for a so called modern country/city. 

Wednesday 9 December 2015

Kris Kindle

  Every year in work we do Kris Kindle and today I got a lovely gift!
Parcelled in a lovely gift bag
A fabulous pair of fleecy pyjamas. 
Exactly what I needed! 

Sunday 6 December 2015

Coffee and croissants

  This morning Cousin Kasey and Keith called to our house.  Kasey is going skiing/snowboarding for the first time so was looking for a loan of some snow gear.
I was up early - I met Enid at Starbucks at 9am and then afterwards nipped to Lidl to get some pastries for elevenses' for us all.  I got a nice selection - hazelnut chocolate croissants, pretzels, Danish, apple pastry and mince pies.
I took the opportunity to use my new china Christmas cups!  That made me happy :-)

Mid Century Modern Gingerbread House

 I am part of a Mid Century Modern group on facebook and we are holding an MCM gingerbread house competition.
To create my house I used two Ikea kits and hacked the two together
The front and back panel are the standard Ikea kit.
The panel on then left and right are ones that I cut to size.
The piece in the middle is a support that I added in order to support my mcm roof.
Can you see the way the middle support stands proud of all the walls?  This is because the roof rests on this.
The roof is on!
I have filled in the gap below the roof with a cut of gingerbread. I plan to fill some icing there also, and some candy "garland".
I have added a flat roof carport on the right of the house.
A snowfall has covered the mcm roof and the flat roof!
The little cracks on the front of the carpart is where there was a construction accident requiring repairs.
I made my own icing - icing sugar and egg whites whipped stiff.
So whaddya think?!

Saturday 5 December 2015

Christmas at Ikea

This morning  I went to Ikea to return 3 crazy led bulbs (in a floor lamp) that made such a horrendous buzzing (loud) noise that I simply could not use the lamp.  I decided to go early before the crowds, plus have breakfast over there.  Dad came with me for breakfast and a potter also.
Ikea is always nice at Christmas.
From our view during breakfast in the restaurant we could see the Ikea Christmas Tree market. They have a great special deal on trees - buy a tree for €20 and get a voucher for Ikea €25.  I think this photo captures the atmosphere in the market - nice and jovial with everyone examining and picking out the best tree for their home.
I bought three gingerbread kits. For one house! I think I will hack them altogether to make something different.  Maybe a mid century modern gingerbread house!
I also bought a wine gift tube - I have a friend that I give a gift of a bottle of wine every year.  It was €3. 
I also bought a bit of Ikea chocolate and some mini marzipan cakes. I'm impressed with myself, normally I buy a lot more stuff (that I do not need) when I go to Ikea. 

Saturday 28 November 2015

I ordered my Christmas cards!

 For a long time now Enid does Christmas cards with a picture of Bones on the front.  Last year I made ones with Harry - with a photograph that our next door neighbour (a professional photographer!) snapped with his iphone.  It went down well with everyone so I figured I'd do some Harry xmas cards again this year. 
Yesterday I came home from work and Harry was perched PERFECTLY on his chair and blanket (the lazy lump!) so I literally threw a poinsettia arrangement I had in front of him and took that photo quickly.  Two seconds later he moved so I was very happy to have caught that moment!
Here is a mockup of what the cards look like.  I am so happy with them! Plus the price - as it happens I ordered yesterday which was Black Friday so there was a 2 for 1 offer on.  All in, I got 20 cards for €19.60 (including delivery).  I used and it's very easy and quick.

Winter cleaning

 Underneath the stairs had become a right old dumping ground so today I cleared it out.
I cleared out a lot of shoes and a big load of handbags.  And a big load of sports equipment - badminton racquets, tennis racquets and mountain climbing equipment (a pick axe and crampons).
Also stored under the stairs was the big container of Harry's food.  Once I cleared underneath the stairs it looked a bit strange, just the food sitting there and I like it completely clutter free - so I needed to find a better place for the food.
Behind a door in our kitchen is the washing machine and a small space for storage.  I call it the utility room but it's not a utility room at all...just a space...behind a door.  It was pretty cluttered there also.
So I cleared it out and pulled the items used most regularly to the front - there's Harry's food on the left and the washing powder on the right.
I feel much more Zen now that those two spaces are decluttered.  I am going to do some more decluttering before I put my Christmas tree up.