Monday, 14 July 2014

Gifts For Grandparents

Yesterday was my Mama's birthday. We spent the day in the stunning Wells House and Gardens and had a really lovely day. (More about that soon!)

My mama, or Mamó as the grandchildren call her, is one of those fantastic people that actually appreciates hand made gifts. She really cares that people make the effort. Or at least... I hope she does, because I usually like to try to get the girls to create something special for her on big occasions. 

For her birthday this year they worked very hard on making a thoroughly personalised gift, with just a little help from me.

First we made 'luxury' chocolate buttons. These are really simple to make, but look and taste great. All you have to do is melt some chocolate (we used milk and white chocolate for variety), then spoon the chocolate out onto a baking tray covered in parchment paper, making little circles. While the chocolate is still melty  - let the kids go wild adding different toppings. We mostly used sprinkles of different sorts, but we did use lemon zest on some and fresh thyme on others. Nuts, seeds and dried fruit would also be lovely. For children you could use different types of sweeties as toppings. Yum!

Let them cool in the fridge until they are set. Then all you have to do is bag them up in pretty cellophane bags, tie with ribbon and you're done! Easy, delicious and quite impressive looking!

We made one other gift for Mamó this year too. A personalised letter writing set.


Using drawings the girls had created especially for this purpose, I scanned them in, tweaked/tidied them up a bit in Paint.net (which I use for nearly all of the images on this blog) and printed them out on some A4 paper.


I also used parts of the images to print onto the matching envelopes.


I packed it all into a cellophane wrapper, created a quick label (again, using paint.net) and stuck it on the front.


I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out, though in hindsight I would loved to have bought some nicer quality paper to print on.

I hope my Mama enjoys using it as much as we enjoyed making it! I'm pretty certain she is enjoying the chocolate already ;)

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Paris, Dublin

Thank you all so much for the anniversary wishes. It was a special day, made extra special by your lovely comments both here and on Facebook. Devo surprised me with a diamond ring (I know!) and a beautiful bunch of flowers. I surprised him by writing that blogpost. Not really a fair trade is it? ... but I guess that's 10 years of marriage for you...


This time ten years ago I was on my honeymoon in Paris. We had very little money, a crappy hotel and, after the rush of getting the wedding organised (we did it all in three months), we suddenly found ourselves with a lot of time on our hands. We spent hours wandering the narrow streets and grand avenues hand in hand. We spent some days sightseeing. But, if my memory serves me correctly, we spent most of our time eating. 

It was glorious.

On our tenth anniversary we accidentally brought Paris to life for ourselves again. We escaped our ordinary days for just a couple of hours and wandered the back streets and main thoroughfares of Dublin hand in hand, with no real purpose. Eventually we found ourselves in one of my favourite cafés, Le Petit Parisien, for tea and cake. (Seriously good cake)


And for a while I was transported, right back to the very beginning of these past 10 years. Right back to the time when it was just the two of us and we had all the time in the world to sit together in dimly lit cafés. I could have stayed there all day...

Unfortunately, we couldn't, but that little outing made me realise that it's possible to have a pretty decent fake-French holiday right here in Dublin!

I was going to do a whole 'guide to French stuff in Dublin' thing, but there are others far more equipped to do that than me. 


Instead, I'll point you in the direction of Paris, Dublin, in case you can't afford the real thing this year either.

(It happens to be Bastille day in a couple of days, so my little revelation was quite timely it seems!)

For a great run down of Bastille day events (July 14th) click HERE
To book a French food and wine tour of Dublin click HERE
...she also runs a French Foodie Movie Club which sounds amazing.

You can always hit up a few galleries too, we obviously don't have anything on the scale of the Louvre, but we do have tons of great galleries and museums. The Chester Beatty Library is a particular favourite of mine. They sometimes have Parisian exhibitions like this, but it's always a lovely place to visit even if they don't. Whenever I'm there I always feel like I'm not even in Dublin. It's so tucked away inside the castle lots of people forget about it.

I'm all about the stay-cation this Summer because of 'certain circumstances'. Our little trip to Paris, Dublin was hopefully the first of many!

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

10 Years After


Our first date wasn't even a date, but it was the day I realised I was going to marry my husband. The revelation was mildly disconcerting at the time, because I hadn't even thought about fancying him before that. 

I'd known him for years. Since childhood really, when a gang of us 'alternative' kids would hang around outside the amusements at the end of the prom all Summer long. Devo was one of the ringleaders. I was younger than most of them and only able to infiltrate their ranks because I was with my older cousin. I think I was 12 when I first met them. I don't remember speaking to anyone other than my cousin and maybe a couple of the other girls (I was probably too in awe of the long hair and heavy metal t-shirts everyone wore to open my mouth) but I do remember Devo speaking to me. He was friendly and cheeky and a larger than life kind of character (in fairness he's 6'4" so he's pretty much larger than life in general) and I liked him. But he was WAY too old for me to even consider 'liking' in 'that' way. (He would have been 15 when I was 12 - practically a MAN)

I hung out on the beach for a few summers, maybe until I was 15, when I got heavily involved in the youth theatre I was a member of and pretty much moved into the decrepit building we rented. I didn't see much of the 'alternative' crowd for while... (not that the drama crowd were mainstream!)

Then, when I was 17 I joined a punk band that Devo had started. Mostly so I could 'get to know' the drummer... I was supposed to be a singer, but I don't recall doing any such thing... though I did hang out with the old gang quite a bit that year.

I often bumped into Devo during my college years. Mostly on buses. He was one of the few people I didn't actively try to avoid when all I wanted to do was sleep on the journey home. He was always doing interesting things, so conversations with him were always fun, regardless of how hungover tired I was. Working in art studios. Going to cool gigs. Playing cool gigs. Reading about artists. Seeing exhibitions and the latest movies. I was always impressed. But he was a MAN and I still didn't consider myself much more than a kid.

Heavy Metal was the glue that bound us in the beginning and years later it was 'alternative' music that brought Devo and I back into contact. 

You see, long before Blogs there were things called Zines. Homemade magazines; photocopied, stapled together, distributed in record stores or sold at gigs by their makers. They were (and still are) similar to blogs, in that they reflect the interests of their authors. They might have recipes or instructions on how your mend bicycle or comic strips or ecological information or book reviews or gig reviews or interviews with bands. All sorts of things really.

When I was 22, I produced a zine. Just one issue (and it took me a million years to get just that one together). It was called Ruby Fix. In it, there was a slightly xenophobic article about American students, a badly written review of a gig I was at in San Francisco, a piece about how I sneaked (snuck?) into the Burning Man festival and interviews with two bands. Devo was in one of those bands.

I had bumped into him on the street one day, for some reason mentioned I was writing a Zine and the next thing I knew we had picked a date for an interview in a local pub a few days later.

The band were all already there, pints in hand, when I arrived with my Dad's tape recorder and a crumpled sheet of scribbled questions. I was nervous and fumbled with the recorder, trying to make sure I'd actually pressed the button properly this time (the other band interview had had to be conducted twice:/)

"So" I began, and looked up at Devo who was sitting opposite me, "will we start?" 

And then, completely out of nowhere, I heard it.

The little voice in my head that said "You're going to marry him."

For a moment I just sat looking at him. As if it was the first time I had ever seen him.

And, in a way, it was.

Of course, I shook it off and continued with the interview (so professional), but the little voice was right.

A couple of months later, we went on our first proper date and three years after that I did, indeed, marry him.

Today, Devo and I celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary.

Ten years, two houses and twin children later  - it feels like forever ago. But it also feels like yesterday. 

We still talk about music and art and movies. I still look at him and know that he is the one. And, even though, there are times that are not easy and times when I wish things were as carefree as they were when we first met, I sure am glad I listened to that little voice. 

He is my best friend. My soul mate. My only love. 

My man.

Happy Anniversary, Devo x
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