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!

Monday 28 November 2016

Weekend fun

 On Friday night I had the two TSB girls over for our annual November get together - our birthdays are all within 4 days of each other and we always meet up for drinks and dinner.

While Louise got the train in from Leixlip, Ann was around the corner in Doheny & Nesbit's and I met up for a quick drink with my friend Cillian in Kehoe's on Grafton Street.

I was in a bit of rush but I quickly got the bar set up (most important!) and I think it looked super!

The girls arrived and we had a bit of craic in the apartment before heading out to eat. Ann as you can see was very taken with my vintage phone :-)

Mam gave me this dress for my birthday and I love it.  So comfortable, and I love the colours.

The obligatory group pic of us.  We have some collection of these pics from over the years!

We finally made it to Xico. 
Eek we were a bit late(!!) but they had held the table for us.

I got the chili as usual!  It's the best in Dublin as far as I am concerned.  Oh and a nice glass of Malbec went perfectly with it.

Xico turns into a late bar and nightclub and it gets pretty crazy.  It was good craic but the crowd were a little young, so we decided we'd head up to Harcourt Street to The Black Door which was much better suited to our age group...and we ended up staying out way too late.  But sure look birthdays only come once a year!
On Saturday morning I wasn't the best but made myself get up and go to the library for a few hours.  It was the best thing for me to be honest - the cycle in particular was good for clearing my head!

Saturday afternoon, I met Tara and Jackie in The Mint Bar for a natter and food and drink.
I had the lamb burger (which was pretty good) and a glass of Malbec.

Chocolate ganache pudding!  My favourite!

The weekend of eating continued...

In Mam's on Sunday I had the most massive dinner ever and then ate 2 of Mam's fab home made cream slices and chocolate cake for dessert.  Seriously!! I was out of control!

That evening I pottered over to Fade Street,  down Grafton Street and around Stephen's Green shopping centre.  I love the decorations in Stephens Geen so much :-)

Sunday 20 November 2016

The weather outside is frightul...

It has gone absolutely freezing in Dublin.  After being so mild for the last while it is quite a shock to the system!  This morning my phone told me it was -2 at about 10am.
So!  What have I been up to over the last while?!  A lot!  This weekend has been very busy - well during the day anyway.  I just chilled in the evenings which has been really really nice.
Yesterday I was in college getting an assignment done. Although it's not due until the weekend coming, I have stuff on next week so yesterday was literally my last opportunity to do it without stress.  I promised myself a glass of wine if I got it done and thankfully I did.
Enid and Ciaran, and a couple of friends were in the Gingerman pub  so I called into them (a nice 2 minute stroll from home to pub for me!) to watch Ireland play New Zealand in the rugby, and to collect on that glass of vino! We lost the match but to be honest I thought the referee was atrocious and some very bad calls were made - in particular about some of the All Blacks play.  Today I see that two NZ players have been cited but that's too late for us now...
This morning I slept in a little later than my usual.  I was glad of that.  I rang Enid and we arranged she'd call to mine for breakfast.

This is my latest obsession.  Fried avocado!!!

It's amazing I promise you!
Enid was apprehensive about it but she agreed yes it's amazing, And as I said to her - so good for you, pure brain food :-)

I eat it with rashers for breakfast.  Or with smoked salmon for lunch/dinner.
Afterwards we headed Northside as we had a few chores to do.  Enid wanted to return something to Debenhams, and I needed to pick up a few things in Debenhams and Argos. Plus I had promised Enid a hot chocolate in the new pop up hot choc café in Arnotts!

It's excellent hot chocolate - valhrona, real (melted) chocolate mixed with great Irish milk.

We sat in the Arnotts Christmas food & drink market and had a good old chat. 
After Enid had headed home I went and met my mother and her friend in Buswell's Hotel.  My mam's friend goes to South Africa for 3 months every year so Mam was catching up with her before Christmas, and before she left for SA.  Buswell's is such a funny place, it's like stepping back into the Dublin of the 1980's I always think!!

Funny story. 
When Enid and I go out together it is common for one, maybe two people to say to us at some point "are you twins??".  Well today literally every single person we interacted with said it to us - approx.6/7 different shop/café assistants.  And of course we ended up having a good old chat with every single one of them about twins and being twins.

Remember at the beginning of this post I mentioned the freezing weather?  The Winter hat is out... 

Thursday 17 November 2016

Go home Irish weather, you're drunk

This morning for my cycle into work at 8am it was absolutely lashing rain.  Bitter cold, biting rain - but thankfully my head to toe rain gear was up to the job.

Then at 10am there was great excitement at the sight of big flurries of snow. It was so wet from the rain there was never a chance of it sticking however.

And then, just one hour later at 11am this was the blue sky/view out my office window!

Tuesday 15 November 2016

A Day in the Life

Ugh!  Technical problems between my phone and stupid laptop means that I can only upload 3 of my photos to this blog, even though I took a good few more than that.  Apologies in advance.

Tonight I went to a lecture/book launch of "I Read The News Today, Oh Boy" which is the newest book from Paul Howard.  Paul is of course also known as Ross O'Carroll Kelly - and has written 17 RO'C books under this pseudonym over the last 10 years.   This book is a little different from the Ross books!

The book's genesis was an article that he wrote a few years back for the now defunct Sunday Tribune which when published he realised (plus people said it to him) that the story of Tara Browne deserved much more than just an article.  And so began his decade of research and interviewing of people who knew Tara, to tell the story of his short but wonderful life and the impact he had within that time.

Paul started by setting the scene of 1967,  The Beatles working in the studio and how John wrote A Day in The Life after flicking though the Daily Mail for inspiration - where he saw a newspaper report on Tara's death at the age of 21, and the subsequent granting of the custody of his two infant boys to his mother (and not his wife/the boys mother...)

We then were treated to the full story of Tara's life from his bohemian upbringing in Wicklow to his moving to France and then London his early teens at a pivotal time in history - the swinging sixties.  It was clear that this book not only captures the spirit of a person (Tara), but also the essence of a time and a place

I love this photo and story of The Rolling Stones, designers, musicians, models and other "celebs" of the day coming from London to Wicklow for Tara's 21st birthday party. 

Paul Howard as most of us know is a talented writer, but he is also a beautiful speaker and storyteller and I really enjoyed the evening.  I am very much looking forward to reading this book now!

I had a lovely chat with him about The Beatles and my recent trip to Liverpool - he then told me about some great Beatles stuff you can do in London which sounded great.  And of course he signed my book. 

Monday 14 November 2016

Celtic Whiskey Shop

On Sunday Enid and I went in to town to see the Christmas lights being turned on in Grafton Street.

On the way back we called into one of our favourite shops on Dawson Street.  They stock tons and tons of  great Irish and Scottish Whiskey (obviously).  But they also do other spirits. Namely vodka which is adult beverage of choice for Enid and I.  They also do great wines.  It's a great little place for a look around, or for advice if you are buying a nice wine for a gift etc.
The great news was they were doing a special on their vodkas.  I bought this Cold River vodka (from Maine) for €15 which was reduced from €65 so I was pretty happy with that.  I'm normally a Grey Goose or Belvedere fan so I will be interested in tasting this to see how it is.