Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy 2011 to everyone!

Happy 2011!
"I can't believe it's 10 years since we planted our Millennium Tree! We're a decade into the Millennium." I wrote this earlier, then we were out and I realised it's not 10 years, it's 11!
I simply cannot believe it! Where has this time gone?

I won't even begin to think of all that has happened in that time.
But yesterday, I ran into a friend with whom I worked when Gymboree had a shop in Dublin. I hadn't seen her for 6 years and talking over old times gave me a quick realisation of how time has moved on!
When we planted this tree, it was just a tiny sapling, smaller than my then 4 Y/O son. Each year, in June, Hubby takes a photo of son with Millenniun Tree, and about 4 years ago, the tree's growth had outstripped his. And his has outstripped mine! So, 11 years on, I am definitely the smallest in the house, by a long shot..
But enough ramblings. It's been a great year, many blessings have been heaped upon us, and when I look back, in spite of the recession and the banking crisis and the IMF bailout, there have been so many good things to be thankful for.

So, I say thank you!

Thank you dear blogger friends, for visiting here, for commenting ( I love your comments, one and all) and wishing you a wonderful 2011, a year filled with wonderful experiences, precious moments, health and peace.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Traditions new and old

This Christmas I failed to do some of my long-standing traditions- my Christmas cards all ended up standing on the sideboard, never made it to their Poinsettia hangers.
Actually, the Poinsettias weren't even hung up.

The little guy on the left, made by middle daughter when she was tiny (I love it!) always hangs on some door key and that did happen.
The stocking hangers on the right are something I have wanted for years, couldn't find while they still had Santa, but I bought them nonetheless when I saw them this year.

On Christmas Eve, when I reached for "The Night Before Christmas" to read it (albeit I would have been reading it to myself, which I was willing to do!), I couldn't find it, so had to resort to an internet version (which, incidentally, was different??). Our own one still hasn't turned up, I'm wondering did someone hide it to prevent this madwoman reading to teenagers as though they were little ones?

This decoration, made by the 3 children when they were little, always hangs on this fireplace. Except for Christmas morning, when we light a fire in it. Except this year, we never got round to lighting the fire!

And we did adopt one new tradition, and I hope it will become part of our repertoire. I came across this on the internet (where would we be without it?)..
When taking down the tree, you cut a log off the bottom of it, leave it outside to season, and on the night when you put up this year's tree, your old log goes on the fire.

Well, as readers of this blog will be aware, we had snow for a week before Christmas, so I had to dig deep, first to remember where in the garden I had last seen the damn log, then in the snow to recover it.

But recover it I did, and here are the pics of The New Tradition!
You can see the hole from the stand here.
This year, I finally found the stand I've been looking for, with a water bucket underneath, so no hole next year. Next year, I'll be organised enough to get them to cut a slice off the tree before I bring it home- it takes in more water that way (internet again!) - we forgot to do this, and ended up scraping the bottom to get the same effect.
So here it is burning on the fire.

What interesting Christmas traditions do you have in your family? I'd love to hear about them.
And are there some that are non-negotiable?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

It's gone

Now that the thaw is almost complete, thought I'd share a few photos from my rambles around Dublin this past 10 days...and I promise, this ends the snowposts!

Some statues in St. Stephen's Green. Snow here doesn't usually stick to the trees.

Spectacular reflections along the canal.

All the paths in the park looked so pretty.

No takers for these benches today.

This time round, we realised that life must go on, and it was business as normal, nearly! speaking of life going on, the building on the right is Anglo Irish Bank, the cause of much of our troubles in Ireland.

And the shops realised they'd have to clear the ice in front of their doors if they wanted to entice shoppers in!

Poor ducks, they've had a tough time of it, most of their pond has been frozen over.

Big steps in the snow, I think they look like a giant face!

Can't believe my road looked like this!

But all's back to normal now, and we can go for proper walks now, you know, the kind where you "walk", in shoes, not "stomp", in boots!


We had some spectacular sunsets during the last few weeks.

I really love the December sunsets, as we creep towards the close of the year, and the promise of a clean start that the fresh year will bring.

And at this time, now we've passed the Winter Solstice, we also feel the beginning of the lengthening days, just ever so slightly.

Monday, December 27, 2010

A different Christmas

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, and are still enjoying the wonders of the season.
Our Christmas this year was quite different- friends who usually call in on Christmas Day were unable to, I didn't make it to church, all due to icy roads. And yet I have never been so disorganised, to a point where I was glad it was just ourselves! I'm putting it down to the effort of getting around- my car has not left the driveway in 10 days- and of keeping warm- this old house has many chilly spots and draughts. But we survived, and in spite of unfinished shopping and burnt-to-a-cinder turkey, we had a lovely time.
We dream of a White Christmas, some of us remember a white one or two from our childhood days, though it may not have been "on the day". But none of us have witnessed anything like these last few weeks. Temperatures reached record lows all over Ireland this week. Dublin Airport had to close several times, as the snow was falling so fast, they couldn't keep the runway free of snow and ice. Some people didn't make it home for Christmas, and some were stranded here. Schools had to close, once again, so the kids got an early Christmas holiday - hurrah!!
Some people even made igloos, and I've heard reports of communities drinking mulled wine at the local igloo!
Christmas Day, while the turkey was burning, hubby and I went for a walk in the local park, and people were sledding on the hill- we could easily have been in Austria, all we were short of was a chair lift!
These icicles were just outside my kitchen window- never, ever, have I seen this kind of thing.

Some of you may remember these snowmen from last year, we always stick them on the window, but they've never had that kind of backdrop before!

Trinity College, Douglas Hyde Gallery entrance.

This reminded me of New York on Christmas Eve; I've always longed to be there, from what I've seen in films. So this was the next best thing.
Molly Malone looks pretty cold. I'd wheel my barrow home if I were her!

And some of College Green, with snow pelting down. There began a mild panic then, with lots of people leaving work early to make sure they'd get home.

And to finish, these are a few photos I took at the start of this cold spell, before the real snow began. This bird seemed to be performing for me, as though he/she was on the catwalk, looking this way and that.

And now, we've returned to temps above freezing, but with lots of floods as the thaw sets in. And we're waiting for the snow to avalanche down from the roof. It rumbles every few hours, and I'm waiting for it to slip off, and hoping it doesn't decide to bring a few tiles on the journey! I've seen hanging eve gutters, pulled down with the weight of snow on them. This is the part I dislike. Intensely.
All good things come to an end. Awww.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Before the Thaw 2

This is what our hallway has looked like for the last 2 weeks. Actually, that's not true, this is the tidy version! And I'm embarassed about the chipped paint... but I'll be too busy cleaning windows to worry about paint!

This is the blacked-out velux in my kitchen... there will have to be serious window cleaning before Christmas Day...

No basketball practice going on this week!

And we won't be having any picnics or barbeques for a while!

! I'm fed up of it now (can't believe I wrote that!), every journey is a misery, the footpaths are treacherously icy, main roads are fine but on side roads it's like driving through a ploughed field, with ice underneath.
But, all said, it has been magical, and 2 weeks of it has not made me fall out of love with snow, just I prefer when it's fresh, not icy.

A Brilliant Giveaway

During the summer, I posted about a visit to Cook and Book in Brussels, and this book was one of the ones I fell in love with while there.

Well, Chronicle Books are having a fantastic giveaway of $500 worth of books, and this is among them!

You choose which books you would like, and if you win, you and one commenter get your selection. I tried, really I did, to not have ALL of mine be food and cookery books, but almost all of them are:

Tartine Bread

I love Macarons

Commonsense Kitchen


The Book of "Unnecessary" Quotation marks

The Space Between Trees


Jack Kennedy

Forests Eco Keepsake Notecards

Farmers Market Desserts

Chocolate Cakes for Every Occasion (pictured above)

Sticky Gooey Messy Chewy treats for Kids

Creme Brulee

Cupcake Kit

Baking for all Occasions

Deep Dark Chocolate

Sky High Triple Layer Cakes

Southern Cakes


Luscious Chocolate Desserts

You can enter by commenting here or by following the link and choosing your own list, or both. Good luck!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Before the Thaw 1

So, about 12 days after this amazing snow spell, the likes of which we have not had in this country since (I'm told) 1947, the thaw looks to be setting in. I went out this morning to snap a few memories before they all melt away. First up, here's the view through one of my kitchen velux windows. I love the little bit of blue sky peeking in! The other window is almost blacked-out, I'll post it tomorrow.

Car still snowed in. School has been closed, as we are on quite a height, so access has been impossible. I hope they don't ask us to work up the days!!

Santa could just about penetrate that ice to dig his heels in.

Snow on the roof... covering those velux windows..

Footprints in the garden snow..

Buried flowerpot. And, in spite of all, the plant will probably flourish when spring arrives.

This is just outside our front door. It's hard to see in this photo, but there's a bit of a "hill" where the first lot of snow fell off the roof, then it snowed all over again! the green bits are from the Christmas tree, which we got last night. Those spindles are supposed to give extra grip - I probably didn't have enough of them.

More tomorrow...

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The White and Fluffy Bonus

We've been snowed-in this week, which is not at all normal for this time of year.
Even Goldsmith (outside Trinity College)has never seen anything like it! It bucketed down all day today, we must have had 12cm or more!

But, oh, it's so exciting! We've topped up all the feeders, and lots of hungry birds have been feasting.

From "the home of the black stuff"... where, if you believe the (Guinness) ad they "dream of a white one"... this is the back gate, not the one in the ad.

Some buses have been running. I admire the drivers who keep things moving, braving the elements, and being patient with people who haven't used a bus since they were students, maybe 20 years ago. That's not me, of course!. Roads have been icy, icy, icy. This looks like it's wet, but it was ice.

And my car refused to leave the driveway.

So I walked most of the 5 miles to and from school. I saw some lovely sights en route, and having the right gear, it wasn't really a hardship. I love walking in snow! Might have taken a break on one of these benches, but they were covered in snow!

So many photo opportunities, so many thoughts of "this will be great for the blog".

That's it for today. I took a video of the heavy snowfall, will try to upload that tomorrow.
School's out now for the rest of the week, hurrah!