Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes at the Market

On Saturday, we went to a market in a village hall near Donegal Town. It's held every other week and it happened to be going on while we were down that way. It was pretty cool. There were a few knitted items for sale, some produce, homemade jams, marmalade, and lemon curd, eggs, and meats all produced in the area. There were also home baked goodies of various kinds, including lemon meringue cupcakes. We all thought that was an interesting idea. I've only had meringue on top of lemon pie and baked Alaska and to be honest, I don't think I understand the appeal. Meringue is quite popular here, though, and it can be found packaged in the shops. Unfortunately, I did not think about taking a photo of the cupcakes until after they'd been eaten, but I can say that they were really good! It was just a sponge cupcake with some scooped out to make a place for a dollop of lemon curd. I suspect the meringues were made separately and then stuck on top, but maybe not.

In addition to the baked goods, there was other food on offer and of course, endless cups of tea. I thought I might float out of the village hall!
They offered something called the '5 mile fry' which was an Irish breakfast in which the ingredients all came from within 5 miles. A few people around us had this and it was quite a substantial amount of food! Our daughter and I had a plain omelette, which had cheese in it and was made with local eggs. It was served with some potato farls and a piece of soda bread. Simple, but delicious! Bill had a sausage sandwich, made with local sausage and what looked like sourdough bread. I tried a small piece of the sausage and it was quite good. Our friend had a fried egg on potato farls and he quite liked it.

It was fun to see all of the people coming together in the village hall and chatting with each other. Seems like a great idea for an ongoing community event. Long may it continue!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Blowin' in the Wind

Our daughter is making the long journey back to her home and Bill and I got back to our house late this morning. We caught an early bus, so I took the opportunity yesterday to go out into the fierce, howling wind and take some photos of the lovely flowers that are already blooming, even though it's early in the season.

Things are waking up after their long winter's nap. They look delicate, but they must be pretty tough to stand up to that wind! It was crazy.

I hope you are having a beautiful day in your neck of the woods!

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Coast Road to Slieve League

Yesterday we took a ride along the coast road to Slieve League, the highest sea cliffs in Europe. This is the third time I have been there--it's been different every time, but every time I love it.

You can barely see the boat down there in the water.
This time, there were even sheep!
On the way back down, we stopped at a small gift/coffee shop, where we had coffee, hot chocolate, and some baked goods.
The ride to and from Slieve League is beautiful in its own right.

Soon, things will be all greened up.

We stopped for a bit at Fintra Beach
It was a lovely day! Hope your day is lovely, too!

Friday, April 13, 2018

Scenes from the Bus and an Airport Buddha

Our daughter is visiting for a few days. She arrived Wednesday and we hopped on a bus to Dublin Airport to meet her. The double-decker bus we were on had bench seats facing each other with a small table in between, in the front of the bottom level, and I sat facing the rear of the bus. It was a little weird to be moving forward and facing backwards, but it was a comfortable ride.

Just over the border with Northern Ireland, in Strabane, we passed this sculpture, called Let the Dance Begin

 I think we were still in Strabane when I took these, but I'm not positive.

In Omagh, the coffee stop appears to be in the church.
We soon passed through Northern Ireland and back into the republic. Eventually we got to a dual carriageway and toll booths--been a long time since we were in that kind of traffic on those sorts of roads.

We arrived at Dublin Airport with time to kill, so we wandered around a bit and came across the airport Buddha outside a food place.
 It was too dark to see much of anything on the bus ride out of the airport. I was once again impressed  by the bus driver--I often am. They need quite a variety of skills to do that job, involving as it does not only driving, but interacting with all sorts of people. They also do quite a good job of remembering who is going where. On this night, we were at a stop after 11 pm, with the drover calling out, 'Belleek! We're in Belleek!!' There was no response, so he got up and walked back to find the guy who wanted to get off at Belleek. He had to wake him up and wait for the guy to gather his stuff and get himself off the bus.

Have a peaceful day!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Pizza-ish: Using Up the Last Bits

I had some stuff in the fridge that needed to be used, so today, when we went to veg man's stall, I picked up a few things to use with the odds and ends and we had this pizza-ish dish for supper.
Yesterday, I strained a batch of yoghurt and had enough whey for a batch of ricotta. I also had some milk that needed using, so ricotta it was. This evening, I mixed in what was left in a jar of red pesto and I made wholemeal pizza dough in the bread machine. I rolled out the dough, patted it into the pan, and pre-baked it just a bit-- for 5 minutes or so--before spreading the ricotta-pesto mixture on top. Meanwhile, I chopped an onion, a few cloves of garlic, a sweet red pepper that needed using, a courgette, a bulb of fennel, and some cherry tomatoes and cooked them in some olive oil, adding dried oregano and basil. I spread this mixture on top of the ricotta-pesto. Then I grabbed the cheese--I had a few blocks nearing the end, so I chopped those up and sprinkled them on top. There was a crumbly cheddar, a black pepper cheddar, and a garlic and chive cheddar. It all went back into the oven for about 20 minutes. Yum! It is delicious! Definitely a good use of all those odds and ends that were in the fridge! 😋

Hope your fridge has some useful and delicious odds and ends, too!

Friday, April 6, 2018

Rarely Seen But Gratefully Felt

Several years ago, I began experiencing the symptoms of Raynaud's in my hands. They'd get painfully cold and then warm up too much to become painfully warm, red, and itchy. My fingers would puff up and get stiff. I learned that arm warmers/fingerless gloves helped quite a lot to ease the pain and discomfort.

A little less than a year and a half ago, we were living in an apartment with tile floors that looked great, but were always cold. I began to experience the same symptoms in my feet and toes. There seems to be no good solution to this and the advice given is to not let your hands or feet get cold. Easier said than done, but I do what I can with my woolly creations and have been happy that I have plenty of socks in various thicknesses and fibres to help.

There was one fly in the ointment and that was at night. Almost every night, I sit in bed for a few hours and read, listen to podcasts, stitch, or whatever. I have a heating pad that I use if my feet are really cold, and I can wear socks until I am ready to go to sleep, but trying to sleep with them on usually doesn't work for me. And, of course, eventually, I have to get up from the bed to use the bathroom, rinse out my tea mug, or get some thread/yarn/whatever. Every time I got up, even if it was just for a minute or two, my feet would freeze again and I'd have to start the warming process all over again--and veering between cold and hot is exactly what I am supposed to avoid doing.

I use some slip-on trainers instead of slippers because I know I won't slip with them on. I've felt my foot sliding in the past when wearing slippers or socks and I have no desire to take another tumble. They are fine for the purpose, but they have a very thin sole, so the cold seeps right in. I stuck in a couple of store-bought insoles, but they didn't help. I considered using some wool yarn to knit or crochet some insoles, but never got around to it. Then Bill got me a bunch of roving when an Irish online shop was closing down and having a big clearance sale. There was a brown roving that was not merino wool, and so coarser than the others. That was particularly cheap, so he got several of those. I saw it and thought, 'Insoles. I could needle felt some insoles.' So I did!
They sure don't look like much, but I stuck them in the 'slippers' and hoped for the best. My problem has been solved! My feet no longer freeze when I get up, which means I am so much more comfortable. I used less than one ball of the roving, so for less than 50 cents and a little time spent stabbing, I made my life a little bit better. I didn't felt them all the way, since I know that using them will felt them further. I might make a pair for my hiking boots before next winter rolls around--I am very pleased.

I hope you are warm and comfortable today, too.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Romanian Bell Cord

Sometimes I make something that is purely decorative. Sometimes I make something that is functional and I don't care about whether or not it looks nice. Sometimes I make something that is both useful and decorative.

The other day, I did the latter. I'd been meaning to try out the Romanian cord for a while and just never got around to it. When the crochet calendar page the other day showed a project using one, I figured that was as good a time as any to try out that method.

I have a small bell that a friend sent me a few months ago. It has a lotus on one side and a Buddha on the other. It was a key chain, but since I rarely have my keys out, if I used it like that, I would never see it. She sent Bill one with a Celtic knot that he has on his backpack, but I didn't want to do that, either. I kept my bell on the table next to the couch where I could see it and enjoy it.

Thich Nhat Hanh, the Buddhist monk, often spoke of the 'mindfulness bell' and even suggested that people set up a bell sound on their computer or use the telephone ring as a mindfulness bell. The point was that when you heard the sound, you would pause for just a second or two and be reminded to be mindful. I would hear my bell when I would pick it up or bump it and even just seeing it sitting there made me pause for a second or two. When I decided to try making a Romanian cord, I figured that if I liked it, I would use it for my bell. So, the other night, I grabbed some purple yarn and my pouch of hooks, and sat upstairs crocheting a cord while listening to a dharma talk. I made it long enough to fit over my head so I could slide the bell on as a pendant and either hang it or wear it.
I did like the way the cord came out and I've been wearing my bell for a few days now. It does not make a loud sound, just a small tinkling now and again when I move the right way. This is my mindfulness bell.

The Romanian cord is very easy to make and the process is quite meditative--just making one single crochet, turning and making another in a particular spot. There's a good video here that illustrates how--it's about 6 minutes long. I can see all sorts of uses for this and it is great for using scraps. The end result gives a nice edge with loops that can be worked into for needle lace of various sorts, crochet, knitting, sewing, etc. Cords could be used as embellishments as well--just make a long one, lay it out in whatever design you like, and couch it to a garment, quilt, wall hanging, etc. I might be starting another, longer cord tonight for a different use. I'll see what I feel like later.

I also recently experimented and made something that is rarely seen, but extremely useful. I'll save that for another day.

I hope you're having a peaceful and pleasant day.