Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Knitivity

I came across this photo which I had featured on my blog back in 2008, the figures were knitted by D.Linda and sil Rob made the crib which I hope has been finished completely by now!
I may not be on here for a few days ,I would like to wish all my readers, followers, commenters and those who 'pass through' a Very Happy and Peaceful Christmas and Good health and peace for 2012.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Winter Solstice at Newgrange

The 18th was the winter solstice and it dawned bright and (mostly) sunny in Newgrange Co Meath where the spring and winter solstice is witnessed entering a tunnel and illuminating the interior in a tomb whose origins have been lost in the mist of time (thought to predate the pyramids)
The full range of photos can be seen on the website here
You can also buy a DVD now on Amazon (link on the site)
For anyone visiting the Meath/Dublin area there are personally supervised tours of the historic Boyne valley website here
I have never visited it myself and it is on my list of places to see!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Sprouts

I went out to the allotment on Sat evening to gather the sprouts for our Christmas dinner and to send in a photo to matrons Christmas veggie blog
The plot looks cold and dismal now and my fingers nearly froze dislodging the sprouts! The pigeons have decimated the top growth on the stalks, definitely the culprits from the amount of droppings on the leaves and around the ground.The netting had blown off again and left the plants unprotected.
I left them as is so the birds can enjoy the remains!
I also brought home the herbs for cooking, rosemary for the garlic and rosemary roasted spuds
Sage and thyme for the stuffing
Parsley for everything else
I have one jar of the 3 I had made of piccalilli for those cold turkey days!I had made it from a mixture of all the allotment veg using a recipe of matrons
Do visit matrons blog to see the array of Christmas veggies,lots of ideas there for next winters plot!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Country House Christmas Party

We usually have an allotment Christmas get together, when we all dress up like normal people and try to chat about all sorts of things other than crops etc but the conversation invariably turns to the coming season!
Zwena always organizes it in her house but this year her sister Olwen kindly hosted it for us in her beautiful country house which is a guest house during the summer months.It is near the allotments also and about a ten minute walk from picturesque Blarney.
The Victorian figures in front of the amazing Christmas tree.

It was dark when we got there so I took this from a postcard, Maranatha House from the outside in the middle of a beautiful garden, if you would like to see more or even think about Country house living the web site is here
Mostly pictures for the rest of the post!

The conservatory is the breakfast room and these flamingoesque style napkins took my eye!Different coloured napkins to blend with the decor in the room.

The huge Christmas tree

Fire with cosy couches gathered around

The conservatory/breakfast room

The hallway is bigger than rooms in most modern homes!

3 of our plotters and not a welly in sight

Victorian dolls in the red room

The sunken bathroom is off the red room

The red room complete with four poster bed

Cosy twin bedded room with matching four posters

The same room

Honeymoon suite with draped bed

Elegant all cream and ivory room

The Top hat room!
Olwen could not decide on a theme for this room and one night while watching Top Hat with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers she decided to replicate the bedroom on screen.
Fred is not sitting on the bed that is our Ger complete with top hat which hangs on an old fashioned hat stand inside the door. There is a big black & white print on the wall of Fred and Ginger dancing.
Olwen has made ALL drapes, curtains, canopies etc herself, and decorated the whole house to look as if it has not been changed for decades!

The huge welcoming fireplace where we gathered to chat and have mulled wine and Christmas nibbles
Truly a house meant for Christmas!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Cranberries

My cranberry sauce all done up in its Christmas wrapping to give as presents to family.I do not indulge in cranberry sauce although I may be tempted this year to sample.Some years ago I worked as a casual waitress in a hotel,being casual meant we were called in for functions like weddings and dinner dances which were big at the time.
Cranberry sauce was always put out on the tables at Christmas time and more often than not always came back untouched as our tastes were so much simpler then, gravy with everything!
If we did not have cranberry sauce then raspberry jam was put out instead and nobody ever said anything!I had the idea then that cranberry sauce was sweet and could never imagine eating it with my turkey!
The house is finally decorated for the festive season and the weather has even turned seasonal, snow ,frost and gales!This time last year we had the big white out down south, so we are keeping our fingers crossed that it is not going to happen this year!
I had a great response to my Christmas card from Ireland post, and I have been receiving beautiful cards from far flung destinations too.Everybody asked for my address to return a card, this was never my intention but it was a lovely exchange.
One of the cards went to Galilee of all places, where the Christmas message began!I thought it was such a privilege to be able to send a card to little Aled whose Mom
Cathy sent on their address for him.
Cathy lives in a Kibbutz in Galilee and has a blog cathy@home.
I will keep the list and send you all a St Patrick's day card also, anyone else who would like to be on the list just send on your address to my email.The last Christmas postal dates for the UK and Ireland are fast approaching.
Almond icing the two Christmas cakes is the task in hand for tonight.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Still Growing?!

I paid a quick visit to the plot today, mainly to take a photo of anything which would be edible for our Christmas dinner for inclusion on Matron's Christmas Food blog.
I took the top pic of our brussel sprouts which are to grace our plates on the big day, only when I got home and uploaded the pic did I see the the tell tale marks of poachers who are trying to deprive us of our dinner!It entails another trip to the plot to 'save the sprouts'!

Our herbs are waiting to be picked, the rosemary bush has really taken off and is putting on good growth. If we get severe frosts like last year I will have to remember to cover it as a lot of rosemary became frost victims last year.
Thyme and parsley for the stuffing behind the parsley, the parsley is also being nibbled I think!

I cut back all of the stalks on the rhubarb a few weeks ago and covered the crowns with plenty of manure, I was very surprised to see new growth springing up today. I recovered the crowns after taking the photo.
Something we won't be having not alone for Christmas dinner but for some time after are our leeks which, while growing are not nearly as strong or large as they should be.Maybe leek and new potato soup sometime in June?!
One bed of the green manure is covering the ground nicely, this is the landsberger winter mix. The manure on the other beds is sparse and looks as if it did not germinate properly.
I forgot to take a pick of the over wintering onions which are about 3ins high, hopefully they are frost resistant or I may cover them just to be sure as they are a little small to withstand a severe frost.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Christmas is in the Air!

Christmas preparations are underway, I don't put up the tree or decorations for another week at least but so far I have one cake made (awaiting decoration).
I mixed 2 plum puddings this evening, well I put the ingredients together and D. Michelle did the time honoured chore of mixing the puddings and making a wish , she mixed with serious intent so I wonder what she was wishing for?!
I used a Rachel Allen recipe which I had saved from a magazine at some stage, lashings of Guinness and whiskey!
The mixed puddings are 'standing' in the bowl and will be divided into 2 smaller bowls and steamed tomorrow.
I also made 7 small jars of Cranberry sauce, bought the cranberries and added brandy,orange juice and cinnamon to the mix, the smell around the kitchen was divine.I will post a photo when I get suitable seasonal labels and covers for the jars.
Photo is of my open fire burning turf and logs, smelling beautifully too while throwing out heat!
I had a gas fire in place for years but after our arctic weather last year and spending nearly 3 weeks without heat I had it taken out and reverted back to an open fire as I realised having the option of an independent heat source was more important than the convenience of so called 'clean instant heat'
Some Christmas cards are on display on the mantelpiece which brings me to the reason I took the photo.
Lots of blogs do giveaways etc, I thought it would be nice to send Christmas cards from Ireland to any bloggers out there who would like one for their mantelpiece this Christmas.
In the spirit of Christmas you don't have to subscribe or follow my blog, there are absolutely no conditions other than send me your full postal address.Leave a comment if you wish but DON'T put your address in the comments unless you want more junk mail than you get already, just email me at
Last postal dates for places other than Europe are coming up soon so the sooner you contact me the sooner I can have your card in the post
Last Tues evening I attended a garden talk given by Kitty Scully who graced our screens during spring and autumn with Peter Dowdall when they designed gardens in Fota in Cork.Peter did the shrubs and flowers and Kitty did the veg garden.
The topic was making preparations for next year other than glancing through seed catalogues!
It took place in the Blarney garden centre where we were treated to tea and home made scones and got a lovely goody bag of magazines etc to bring home.Elke who organised the evening is a member of Cork Slow Food and was taking photos during the talk.
Slow Food is one of the blogs I follow and I was surprised to see the photos on it this evening . I am in there, see if you can spot me!