The intuitive cook, really desperate housewife, constantly procrastinating gardener, full-time circus manager (and I don't even have children)
Thank you for visiting my blog, I hope you enjoy reading it.
Like all bloggers, I thrive on feedback. Feel free to leave comments, thoughts, questions, suggestions.....
Patricia xxx...x

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Storm after Storm after Storm.

Let us not be fooled by the lull in the weather.  Enjoy this peaceful day.  As of tomorrow afternoon we'll be facing yet another storm front. Unplug everything and everything, that's my motto for this winter.

Patricia xxx...x

Friday, January 03, 2014

A Year of Excitement and Turbulence. 2013.

First and foremost. A Happy New Year to all of my handful of readers.  You are extremely appreciated.

What was I thinking ? Had I forgotten the Irish winter storms ?  How could I forget the times when fallen trees damaged our beloved stone outbuilding and a caravan that was occupied by a Slovakian lodger ?  How could I forget the time when our conservatory roof took off, swiftly followed by the slates from the main roof ?  How could I forget the many times we were without power and telephone ?
The fact is, I never forgot, only, the anxieties and pains fade away over time.   That was during our first stint in Ireland from 1996 till the end of 2003.
Now, here we are, all these years later, facing the Irish winter storms again.  Lightning, thunder, high winds, horizontal rain, hail and whatever else it throws at us.
This time we didn't have any life changing disasters though.  Before, during and after christmas the power has been off several times, the modem has burnt out twice now in just as many weeks, and we're still waiting for the 3rd one to arrive by snail mail. In the meantime I'm writing this blogpost on New Year's day in Word to be copied and pasted on the internet when it is in working order again.  Bert's dingy (that's his  little boat, yeah) went off on its own one evening when it was blustery.  One minute I saw it and  the next it was gone ! A few days later a neighbour from accross the water visited us to tell us he might have found it at his place.  This man was so wonderful that he even rowed it back to us during the next couple of days and tied it up well and proper.  In the meantime Bert has learned his lesson and brought his dingy to the safety of our shed.
With a lull in the weather, christmas day turned out to be beautiful indeed. Good enough to take a stroll along the beach at Derrynane with the dogs and my mother who stayed with us over the christmas period.

This past year, known as 2013,  has challenged  our mental and physical strength.  Selling and buying a house, moving house is stressful at the best of times. Moving abroad is a whole other ball game.  But we're seasoned pros and we take it in our stride, exhausted as we feel at this moment in time, we know it will only be temporarily.

We  have many, many boxes still unpacked that will stay unpacked till we have build our extension.  I dare not ask Bert about the expected start or finish of this build, but most of all I dare not ask if it fits into our budget.  Probably the budget doesn't stretch that far, so we'll have to do it as and when money comes in.  We'll be able to have it wind and water tight, but  the interior finishing will have to wait. 
Our beloved greyhound Sam passed away early July after a long illness.  We gave him a lovely spot on our land to rest in peace.
There were way more positive than negative happenings in 2013.
We gained another family member in October or November (I can't even remember exactly). Blackie, our adopted lurcher.  Another lovely boy from the greyhound clans. He loves it here and we love him. Millie has a lively playmate  whom she can race around the garden with.

All the pets have settled in their new surroundings once more. Bar Fergus who had to disappear on us for a whole 10 days after we'd just been here for  little over a week. He came back of his own accord, starving and frightened.  Not that he remembers any of it right now.
The most lovely spring and summer we've had since our arrival mid April.  The weather was beautiful.  My mother and 6 y/o nephew, Mathias came to stay for a whole month. My brother and the rest of his family arrived 2 weeks after my mum did. It certainly was a month made of memories.  Mathias, in his later life, will think back fondly of his fantastic time he spent with auntie Patty and uncle Bert. Let's hope he can add to this in many years to come, together with his little sis Sarah.
We've started and 'almost' finished quite a few projects in and around the house and 'the other project' that I promised to write about so long ago and never did.  It still isn't finished either and that is what's stopping me from showing it to you all. I can give you a little taster though with a couple of photos. This is the other house we bought on one of the village greens. 
sitting room. before
sitting room after
Bathroom before
 and after
With the help of 2 Spanish HelpX volunteers we have now drained a little piece of land. A chicken house, a bird feeder has been build by Fran, who also moved a lot of earth to provide us with a planting area for the cottage garden. He also cleared much of the little stream on our land, so the road doesn't flood anymore with heavy rainfall.
We've had a shed build.  We were in desperate need for storage that we couldn't find anywhere near the village, so the best solution was to have one on the property. Trying to set up a business is hard in these times, but we'll put our backs into it and hopefully something half succesfull will come out of it.
The time for planting trees is here and it is also on my mind, as well as the goal of starting at least a small patch for vegetables.
We have it all mapped out in our heads and some of it even  on paper, all the things we would like to achieve in 2014.  Will we achieve everything ? Possibly not, but planning is half the pleasure. And the plans may  change along the way. It doesn't matter. We'll take it all in our stride.
We are happy to be back in Sneem amongst most of our old and also new friends.  We are grateful for being able to live in such an unspoiled area. The sea, the mountains, the rain, the wind, lightning and thunder, the sunshine.  The rainbows.
We'll take it all in our stride.
Thank you for visiting.
Patricia xxx...x


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Decorating for Christmas - Table Decorating

I was planning on posting this one a little earlier, but lightning struck on Thursday morning and it blew up the modem and more.  The internet was back yesterday - thank you Eircom for working Saturdays - so now I can show you how I decorate my dining table for Christmas.
It'll be short and sweet, this article, as I am a bit in a hurry with  The Feast of the year looming.

Here is how I do it to blend in with the overall bohemian feel. I like to keep the decorations low level as not to obstruct guests' view of one another. It makes for more pleasant conversations when the person across the table can see you.

1 roll of turquoise paper table cloth
a pair of lace curtains (bought these in Ikea)
2 strands of faux pine green
foraged twigs of laurel, juniper, conifer, ivy, birch or beech...
3 to 4 pomegranates
bunches of grapes red and green
walnuts or other nuts in their shells

  • I first dress the table with the coloured paper table cloth. See that I have enough overhang on all sides 25 to 40 cm should do fine.
  •  On top of that I lay the lace curtain, which allows the colour to shine through.
  • Now is the time to plan in my head where people are going to sit.  I don't want the decorations to interfere with the place settings. Leave at least 40 cm free form the edges of the table.

  • I first lay the faux pine garlands in the middle, parallel with the longest side of the table.
  • Then I dress with the foraged twigs. Intertwine with the faux garland.  Groupings of real stuff together works best.  Strands of ivy pop out and over the whole length of the arrangement.
  • I bring in the fruits, which I also distribute in splashes (not literal) of colour throughout

  • A few candleholders, nothing to high and elaborate, will bring this together.
  • Place the plates and cutlery, glassware, napkins and I am ready to roll.

Let the food fest commence.

With this, I want to wish you all a Happy Christmas.  Make it one to remember for all the right reasons.
Patricia xxx...x

Monday, December 16, 2013

Decorating for Christmas - Time for a Break

Just a general sense of wellbeing in the house.  Time for a break from Christmas prepping.

Even the dogs are having a break - from mischief.

Do you take time to stop and relax on regular intervals from all the chaos that enfolds at this time of year ?

Patricia xxx...x

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Kittie Corner and a Morning Welcome from the Dogs


Good Morning, Mummy ! I didn't do it ! Neither did I, I'm just putting back the scatter cushions. It was the cats ! Honest !

Thanks for visiting.
Yours truly, the full time circus manager
Patricia xxx...x

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Make Your Own Simple Napkins

I'm on a roll.
It looks like I've got my mojo back and here I am, yet again, with a new blog post.

I have had a soft spot for table napkins for as long as I (but mostly my husband) can remember, but in the past I've always bought paper ones. Beautiful designs and vibrant colours, but paper ones, nonetheless.

Whenever I was out shopping and came across some pretty ones, I would buy. You know, just to stock up.  Bert would say  "What ? More napkins !?" 
And just like with the issue of the real/fake Christmas tree, after 20 odd years of nagging, I finally give in. Why doesn't this work the other way around ?   I've been nagging him to put his dirty clothes in the laundry basket and hang his still-wearable-clothes up on the hangers.  I've been nagging him for years about the food he spill on his T-shirts. He still turns his spoon around just before popping it into his mouth. Why ?!

I digress.  Since living here in Ireland I haven't come across beautiful paper napkins on my shopping trips, so I decided to make some fabric ones. And,.... and I make do with what I have lying around the house. 
For these I have repurposed an older Ikea curtain, natural coloured cotton. Cut it in 40 cm squares, which definitely is the minimum size, bearing in mind that you need to hem them over, which will take about 1 cm off on all sides.
After cutting to size, I took a snip to the corners of the square.  This made it easier to fold the corners neatly. See in the next few steps. Pin the hem in place.

If you have your iron nearby it will make things easier if you indeed iron the hems before or after pinning. The hems will stay in place better when you come to sew them.
I used a fancy stitch on mine, but you can keep it simple too.

When sewn, I used fabric markers that I still had from when we used to be art material shop owners way back when.  They still work.
I chose free flowing designs and I'll be making plenty more before Christmas arrives.

Nineteen to go.

Thank you for visiting. Come back soon.
Patricia xxx...x

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Decorating for Christmas - The Entrance Hall and Stairway

Never have I lived in a house that had (in my eyes) such beautiful stairs like the house we've moved into now.  It's what sold this place to me. That and of course the fact that the property is right beside the water.  But you get my drift, it is somewhat the only redeeming feature of the house itself.

The first picture is how it was when we bought the place. The second one is after removing the ghastly dark wallpaper and a giving a lick of white paint on the walls and ceiling.

It wasn't at the front of my thoughts to decorate the banisters till I finished the tree and found out I had some faux pine garlands left over from years past.
I attached the lengths to the balustrade and trimmed with a few baubles and ribbons.  It is my first attempt to create a christmassy atmosphere on a stairway and I am rather pleased with how it turned out.
I will - closer to Christmas - add some ivy and sprigs of evergreen to give more depth and a fresh fragrant scent.

Thank you for visiting.  Comments are greatly appreciated.
Patricia xxx...x
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