Sunday 28 January 2018

Campaign to Repeal the 8th. How can you help?

Some practical hints of how you can support the campaign to Repeal the 8th in advance of the upcoming referendum
1. Represent!

Regularly wear your Repeal jumper, Free Safe Legal tshirt or Repeal the 8th badge.  I try wear mine out and about most weekends.  This is me this morning in the hairdresser on Grafton Street.  Last week I wore it to college to my Saturday class.  The college was having an open day so I felt good walking through the hallway and cafeteria that my message was getting good exposure.
2. Support your fellow repealers
It's can be difficult and lonely putting yourself out there.  Whenever I see someone out on the street in a Repeal jumper I say hi and "Nice Sweater!" .  Yes that's a bit of an alien thing to do in Ireland but so far everyone has responded with a big smile and thank you
3. Have those conversations
Ok so this is the important one,  and I KNOW it's the difficult one too.  It's a sensitive issue.  But you need to talk about it, gently and sensitively, with your family and friends. If you are a woman and  want your fundamental human rights to be passed in the referendum you need your people to know how important it is to you and all women as they walk through the doors of the polling station.
There are some very good resources/videos out there of how to have these conversations, I will find the links and post here.
4. Follow and support pro-choice campaigners on social Media. Like their posts, share their posts. Here are few suggestions for you
5. Update your fb profile pic/twitter pic/instagram etc to something Repeal related (there's an important reason for this - see point 6!)
6. Engage on Twitter on Non repeal related items
How great does my Repeal message via my profile pic look via the hashstag #salsurvey18 - which was the twitter handle at a breakfast briefing I attended last week

7. Question
Could you not find a woman to answer that question?

My friend Tony sent me this last night and I think it's an excellent suggestion and something I am going to start doing
8.Healthcare not Airfare
Whenever you are in Dublin airport (or travelling anywhere) post on social media using the hashtag #healthcarenotairfare
Feel free to take my photo of my healthcare luggage tag (available from London Irish ARC) from Instagram and use it on your post.  See my instagram here

9. Support your local campaign groups
In addition to the national groups in point 4 there are also local groups all over Ireland.  The very best thing you can do is get involved and meet with your local group and see how you can support locally

10. Canvass
We will need people pounding the pavements and knocking on people's doors. Just like the marriage equality referendum it's the conversations on the doorsteps that will be crucial to this battle. Again I know this is not an easy thing to do, but link up with your local group - they will support you and talk you through it all.  Good luck!

Any other suggestions?!  If I've missed anything please post in the comments and I will add them to this post.

Tuesday 23 January 2018

Hairs a story for ya!

I seem to be blogging about quests lately...e.g. my quest for a keto pancake recipe.  Well please read below about a search that has been ongoing for a while now..
About a year ago (or longer) when I first visited Lydia in Oman I bought this AMAZING leave-in conditioner.  In particular it was really good over there because the desert air was so dry.
Soon after I had an awful hairdresser experience where the guy left the colour on for way too long (which I told him during it btw!!!  "No Amy, it's fine relax, relax" Grrrr!) and did some serious damage to my hair.  So when I went back to visit Lydee again (via Dubai) I bought a couple of bottles of it.
Sadly I am coming to the end of that stash and have been desperately trying to find a replacement for the some time now.  Here is but a few of what I've tried

This is "ok". 
I must say though it has the most beautiful scent and leaves your hair smelling fab all day long so that is nice.

I bought these in the States on my recent visit to Chicago,  They are a definite replacement possibility.  But not available in Ireland!

And then I found this in a drawer while doing some cleaning.  It's a little sample that came free with a a magazine.  And it is amazing!   So now I just need to locate it in a shop so that I can stock up on it.
Hello universe, if anyone sees this in Dublin please let me know!

Sunday 21 January 2018

Quinoa pancakes

The quest for perfect Keto Pancakes continues!
Last week I made almond flour ones, and this week I tried a combination of almond flour, with coconut flour, and Quinoa!  Yes quinoa - it added a nutty grainy taste and texture and it was really nice,
I made 3 small at a time rather than 1 large.  So much easier for flipping over.

How good do these look?!
I shall be making these again for sure.  Here is the recipe if you are interested in trying:
1/3 cup Quinoa (before cooking)
1/3 of almond flour and coconut flour (2 to 1)
1 egg
Teaspoon of raising agent
1/4 teaspoon of stevia
Drop of vanilla essence
1 dessert spoon of cream cheese
Cook the quinoa according to instructions on the packet before mixing with everything else and there you have your pancake batter.

Ikea haul

My sister Katie was home for the weekend so we arranged to go to Ikea and hang out together.
First up was breakfast!  That slice of Daim cake is NOT mine!  I did have a bite of it though :-)
I only wanted a few things - mainly picture frames actually. And of course I ended up with a  few things more when I got to the cashier.  But overall I was happy - it was only €30 for all of this.  I am very happy with the table top ironing board as my current ironing board is in terrible shape, plus it is a complete pain trying to get it in and out of the storage cupboard.

I used two of the picture frames for some Key West related pics.
On the left is a shell found on the ocean floor near the Atocha on one of Mel Fisher's salvage expeditions.  It was given to me as a birthday gift and I love it so much.
And on the right is a print of Hemingway House
I am looking forward to visiting it (and everything else in Key West. Fishing!!) again this coming May!

Friday 19 January 2018

Bikini haul

Earlier this week my sister Kate messaged me and asked if I would be in Penney's and if so could I get her a swimsuit in a particular size for her (she lives in Galway where they wouldn't have as much stock).
It was a few days before I could get to Penney's (with my college classes in the evenings) but I eventually got there on Thursday evening.  While picking her up the swimsuit I took the opportunity to try on and buy two bikinis.  I know it's very early to be buying them - I am not going to Key West until May - but when I need them then they will be sold out.  And the price!  It's for nothing, so I am glad I got them.
I like these bright colours! This was €8

This baby was €10.  I like the shape of it and the colours/pattern
*And if anyone can tell me how to photograph bikinis that they look nice that would be great thanks!

Saturday 13 January 2018

LCHF Pancakes

This morning I rose early and got loads of stuff done all before 10am.  Before I even took a shower I did a "power hour" of cleaning which worked really well - get the nasty stuff out of the way before the nicer Saturday stuff.
Later that morning I went around the shop to get some food for the weekend.  And in particular some ingredients for pancakes!  Low Carb/keto ones!
Some of the things you see in the baking aisle are funny.
Hellooo, 1950 called, they want their packaging back!!
Actually, on that subject, has anyone actually even used shredded beef suet since 1950?? 

Et voila!
Almond flour pancakes. Not a bad way at all to start a Saturday!

Sunday 7 January 2018

Keto weekend

I am back on my ketogenic diet  - cutting out sugar and embracing good fats - and things are going well so far.  Some of the highlights of my weekend in terms of food are detailed below. 

And the lowlights you ask?   *Shrugs shoulders*  I can't think of any so far...  It's been a pretty good weekend all in.

Friday evening I had a glass of wine with Cillian in Ruin Bar on Townsend Street. Malbec...mmm!

Saturday, I enjoyed all things lovely like scrambled eggs with salmon for brunch, and nice Irish bacon and avocado in the evening.  Throughout the day I snacked on almonds, and coffee with cream.  Mmmm.

And then today, Sunday, I tried something new!  Enid made keto bread and invited me over to try some.  Read all about it in her blog here.  I liked it, but I did find it a touch dry.  Once I slathered it with some good kerrygold butter it was much better!  More mmm!

This evening for tea I had salmon and avocado...I just loooove it so much.  And dessert I had greek yoghurt.  Greek yoghurt is an acquired taste (it's quite bitter) and one which I have come round to in a big way. 

And finally I bought THIS which I cooked in the oven and will have it for lunch tomorrow and Tuesday, and hey possibly Wednesday!

January is officially ON!  (Bleugh lol)

Saturday 6 January 2018

More Chicago..

Following on from my previous post about my trip for your reading pleasure here is some more Chicago/Wicker Park musings!

The Smoke Daddy BBQ
If you are anywhere near Wicker Park you simply must visit The Smoke Daddy!

Fall off the bone Baby Back ribs
Incredible, thick and gooey mac & cheese
The most SUMPTIOUS moist cornbread ever - so sweet I was tempted to save and eat it as dessert

Little vodka to accompany the ribs.  Plus a generous helping of their fab sauces to make the ribs even more melt in your mouth.  DIVINE!!!
Oh!  If you want to sound like a local be sure to call it Smoke Daddy's :)
 And also, did I mention the live music every night? 
Wicker Park
In my previous post I spoke about the great location I stayed in and all the great bars, restaurants and shops nearby. But most important of all I haven't mentioned the vibe!
There was a really cool and friendly atmosphere - a mixture between hipsterville USA (friendly and laid back) and the apres-ski of Europe (chilled and up for the craic).
So to that end here is me vibing out and having a great old time in Wicker Park :-)

New Years Resolutions!

It's that time of the year. 
For the record here are my resolutions for 2018

1.  Step up my recycling
I am "okaaay" at recycling but I could be a better.  And I really have no excuse.We have recycling containers down in the basement of my building where I lock my bike and if I just bring my stuff down every time I am going out on my bike it's done.

2. Read more
I make excuses all the time - I'm busy with work, college etc.  But if I carry a book around with me in my handbag then whenever I have some free time (maybe in conjunction with no.4 below!) I can get stuck into some reading.

3.  Be a domestic goddess
Lol :-) 
Ok so I am just going to try stay on top of things like laundry and cleaning.  And if I can get a bit better at cooking that would be nice too.

4.  Reduce my usage of disposable cups
I have loads and loads of lovely reusable coffee cups and this year I am committing to using them as much as possible when I go out for coffee i.e. I will try carry one at all times in my hand bag 

Chicago trip 2017/18

My gosh where to start! 
This was my first ever visit to Chicago and (understatement) it was brilliant!
There is just too much wondeful stuff to report so below you will find just some of the highlights
Rick Bayless' Frontera Grill
In 1987 after an extended stay in Mexico, Rick Bayless brought his Mexican cooking to Chicago.

 I was excited to try "mole sauce" which is a sauce made from hot chillies and chocolate.  For a starter we got a chicken and green mole with tamale bread (a moist doughy corn maize bread) and it was  amazing.  For mains we got a delicate and tender pompano fish dish, and Shrimp a la Diablo.  The shrimp!  Wowsah.  It was hot!!  With hindsight...the server said it was hot (me and my silly big mouth "oh I love hot, oh I can do hot") and also, look at the name of it [Diablo]. 
It was lovely though I must say, but jeebs yes it was HOT.  But sure look that meant that we simply had no option but to go for a drink after dinner in Fado bar downtown right?!

Hancock Building
I really enjoyed seeing this massive skyscraper and going to the bar on the 95th floor.  It was a snowy cold day and the visibility was not the clearest - but in fact I liked that more, how often do you get to see the shoreline of Lake Michigan frozen over?!

Pizanos Piza
Ok so I like pizza.  Well now I can tell you I looooove deep dish pizza.  We sat at the bar eating pizza, drinking vodka, wine and beer and I pretended I was on the set of  La La Land with their lovely Christmas decorations and lights.

New Years Day
This may have been one of my best New Years days ever.  A brunch of tacos (mmm), vodka (mmm) and bloody Mary (bleugh lol) in BigStar.  Then a little stroll to the local bar (Macs) for €3 vodkas.  Yes you read that right.  More drinks, lots of craic and chats, a few games of pool (Goldstar bar) and sushi to finish it all off.  What a day!

The Wormhole
I had read online that the coffee from this place was fantastic.  And they have a real life size DeLorean car which I decided I simply must see.  The coffee was fantastic.  So good that I went back three times during the trip.  Which nicely brings me to the area of Chicago, Wicker Park...

Wicker Park
What a great location!  I was staying right between Milwaukee Ave with it's cool hipster clothes shops and record shops mixed with old 60s & 70s style furniture shop, and Division with loads and loaaads of cool restaurants and bars.  I loved it in the Winter but apparently it's even better during the Summer having cool drinks on the bars patios.

The Weather

The Chicago weather deserves a whole blog of it's own really!  Temperatures were low and it felt it.  But it was lovely.  I had all the right gear - boots, fur mittens, heavy coat, woolly hat/fur hat with ear flaps - so all was good and it didn't stop me getting out and about (lol to The Wormhole for coffee!).  Still it was cold.  And dry!  It was the funniest weather I've ever encountered and totally unlike that damp "get in your bones" cold of Ireland.

I may do some separate blog posts about some other things I did in the lovely Wicker Park.
 But for the moment I shall finish here by saying it was a 10 out of 10 trip!

...and if you'd like to read more about my trip click here!

Film Reviews/reccomendations - the good, the bad, the blah blah blahhhh

I don't go to the cinema as much as I would like.  In fact I think the last film I went to see was La La Land.  There is one film out at the moment which I do want to see however -  I am a big fan of Mark Walhberg and an even bigger fan of Christopher Plummer (a last minute parachute in to replace Kevin Spacey).  It's an interesting story which I was vaguely aware of but will be very interested to see the portrayal of the humans behind it.

Check out the trailer for All the Money in the World below.

Having flown on a long haul plane trip recently it was a good opportunity for me to catch up on some films that I'd never seen before and below I give a little synopsis and/or my thoughts on each.

School Life
This is a glorious Irish docu film about a prep boarding school located in the Meath countryside of Headfort, Kells.  It captures the idyllic, almost utopian life enjoyed by the boarders and the part the teachers/staff play in encouraging this.  A childhood made up of Enid Blyton books, playing in the woods in forts, and music and art.  It's an adorable little watch!  And an international prize winner too - check out their facebook page here for full details about this lovely piece of film
The House
Oh Christ.  It's a Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler romp that falls flat on its face.  Do not watch this movie even if like me you are stuck on a plane with very little choice. You have been warned.


(500) Days of Summer
Starring the likeable Zooey Deschanel and (the kind of boring?) Joseph Gordon-Levitt this film all near broke my heart. But then fixed it right up again. 
A cleverly done film. If you want a little romance with not too much sugar I think this might be the film for you.

I enjoyed this a lot but it's not an overly easy watch considering the subject.  This film follows the Spotlight team from The Boston Globe as they uncovered the Catholic Church cover up of paedophile priests and the treatment of the children involved.  Terrible stuff, Great work by Spotlight in exposing the horrific story and a very good film.  A great cast also - in particular I love Rachel McAdam and she is awesome in this film.

Thursday 4 January 2018

Bargain of the year!

It emerges that Aer Lingus do a very nice little price on a 500ml bottle of Jameson on their flights from the US to Dublin.  Well at least I think it is not available on Dub to the US but please don't quote me on that!
€10 for this little bad boy
This afternoon I was around in my local Tescos and I threw my eye over the Jameson to see how it compares.  And the answer to that is that it compares more than favourably.
€10.99 for a 200ml bottle (or nagin as Irish people call it??)
€17.25 for a 350ml bottle. And approx. €28 for a 750ml bottle.
I am very happy with my bargain tenner for 500mls!

Another little bargain are these two cutie nutcrackers which I picked up for my mother in the local Wicker Park Walgreens.
I just fell in love with the little gingerbread fella - look at the little teeny gingerbread men in his basket!!!  But then I saw this other guy and I couldn't leave him behind either.  Walgreens had 50% off all their Christmas stock so these two were the same price as one before Christmas.
Aren't they adorable?