Monday 29 April 2013

Spring Lambs

I love spring. Not just because it heralds the end of winter - although this year the weather remains unseasonably cold - but because the fields around our home are filled with the cutest lambs. And
as the fields fill, so too do my memory card as I can't resist the temptation to take photographs
of these beautiful babies.

My husband, who grew up in a city, can't understand how I can coo over these lovelies and then go home and tuck into a dinner of roast lamb and mint sauce.
With out going into the arguements for and against vegetarianism, I guess my farming background means I take it for granted that certain animals are reared for the table. But I definitely want them to be well cared for and feel, that of all the meat that ends up on our plate, lambs probably have the most natural and careful life of all - although admitted a short one.

Wednesday 24 April 2013

Beauty On Our Doorstep

The Mountains of Mourne
The question of where to go on our summer holidays is being discussed in our household at the moment.
However, as the task of deciding on a destination, finding flights and accommodation always falls on me, it's been a rather one-sided discussion so far.
Himself would be quite happy with a Stay-cation - and a real one at that, not moving from home apart from day trips.
I thought about supporting the Irish economy and exploring our beautiful countryside as I'm somewhat ashamed to admit that the average American tourist has probably been to more parts of Ireland than I have.
The teenager wants to go abroad and the more exotic the better.
So there are still lots of decisions and compromises to be made.

Mourne Mountains
If the weather was always as nice as it was at the weekend, I would have no problem with not going abroad. But unfortunately, if recent summers are anything to go by, there's no guarantee of sunshine and every guarantee of rain.
Looking towards Greencastle

Greenore Beach

One thing I do know is that if we decide to travel around Ireland, our dog won't be coming with us.
I had thought that it would be nice to take him as  it would save having to put him into kennels.
However,  although he is perfectly well behaved at home and when going for walks locally, once we go further afield, he forgets all  his manners. The sensory overload of scents and sounds sees  his  training go out the window and, being a strong dog, he pulls the arm of the unfortunate on the other end of the lead. 
Fudge Enjoys A Dip

Thursday 18 April 2013

Still Waiting For Spring

I am growing weary of waiting for spring.  Fed up of wearing my winter clothes. Longing for warmth, sunshine and bright colours.
After a long winter, I want to come out of hibernation, to enjoy evening walks along the beach, to venture into the garden and  prepare for a new season. I want to pack away the winter woolies, the greys and blacks, and bring out the cottons and silks, the pastels and the jewel colours, the dresses and sandals. I want to feel the sun on my skin, a warm breeze in my hair, the sand under my feet.
Instead, winter is reluctant to let go its grasp on the countryside. After a few warm sunny days, it's back to cold showery weather, raincoats and scarves.
But the swallows have arrived. Maybe they know something we don't and perhaps my wishes will come true.
In the meantime I content myself by bringing spring indoors.

Tuesday 9 April 2013

The Seasons Meet

It's beginning to look like spring although it still feels like winter.
The snow lingers  on the mountain tops while the spring flowers finally burst into bloom.

March was  a truly horrible month with most unseasonable weather which caused dreadful problems  for farmers who lost flocks of sheep and new born lambs and claimed the lives of poor abandoned horses on the mountains.  Much as I love the snow, I don't want it when it's supposed to be spring and when it brings such hardship.
However, as April arrived, still cold but bright and sunny, I couldn't resist the beauty of the snow clad peaks and set Saturday afternoon aside for an outing with himself and the dog.
We drove across the Cooley Mountains and into Omeath with stunning views across Carlingford Lough to the majestic Mountains of Mourne.

We stopped in Omeath and walked along the shore, braving the crisp sea breeze to enjoy the view of Warrenpoint and The Mournes across the Lough.
I just love this Georgian  house, right  on the shore. What fantastic views the owners must enjoy as they look out.
We continued to Carlingford, which has become a popular destination with tourists from Dublin and Belfast as well as abroad.
We stopped off at the antique shop.
And the new craft shop.

My companions waited patiently.
Hot chocolate to finish the outing

Sunday 7 April 2013

Spicy Carrot and Coriander Soup

Lunch is always a problematic meal. If it's up to me, I'll make a sandwich. If it's up to himself, he'll open a tin of something. And the teenage offspring always has an opinion on what's served up, usually coming up with requests for something more elaborate than what's on offer.
Inspired by the many great Irish food bloggers out there and by Conor Pope's article in the Irish Times on how to save money by making soup for lunch, preferably using vegetables bought on special offer, I decided I'd make soup using the carrots I'd bought for just 29 cents.
I fancied making carrot and coriander soup and actually had the foresight to buy a pot of coriander when I did a quick grocery shop yesterday, but after consulting all my cookery books, I couldn't find a recipe.

Time to turn to the excellent food section of the BBC's website and sure enough there was a recipe for carrot and coriander soup. The only trouble was, it called for a leek, which I didn't have, and half way through making it, I decided it seemed somewhat bland, so it was time to  improvise and add some spice.
 The result was declared tasty, and the carrot-hating teenager has actually said I can make it any time I like, so I guess it was a success all round.

The Recipe - makes three servings
One onion, finely chopped
Six carrots, finely chopped
One pint vegetable stock (I used a Knorr stockpot)
Two teaspoons cumin
Half a pint of milk
Salt and pepper
Chopped coriander.
Olive oil

In a heavy based saucepan, fry the chopped onion in the oil on medium heat for until soft and transparent.
Add the cumin, carrots, stock and bring to the boil. Reduce to simmering and cook for 20-30 minutes until the carrots are tender. Add the milk and simmer for five minutes.  Remove from heat and blend, using a hand blender or food processor. Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper according to taste.  Garnish with chopped coriander.

Monday 1 April 2013

The Scented Room

A while ago, thanks to my day job, I got the chance to try out a reed diffuser by the Irish company Voya so I thought I'd share my impressions.
Living, as we do, with a dog and a cat, I occasionally wonder if we may have become immune to pet odours and worry that visitors might not be enchanted with eau de wet dog.
Therefore, despite our best efforts to keep the house hygienically clean, I sometimes find myself lighting scented candles before visitors arrive.
For some unknown reason, I never got round to using reed diffusers before so I was interested in finding out just how effective they would be.

Voya  is a company based in Co Sligo on the Irish west coast who have branched out from the traditional family enterprise of seaweed baths (which still operate in Strandhill) to producing natural organic beauty and lifestyle products.
The Oh So Scented reed diffuser comes in attractive packaging with the company's distinctive seaweed logo.

The  frosted glass bottle is discreet with a wooden top to hold the reeds although I did find it quite difficult to get the plastic stopper out.

The scene combines lemon and basil notes and six week after placing it in our living room, I can still notice a distinctive citrus aroma, and I'd guess there's three quarters  of the bottle left.
At €40, it's not cheap but I will probably be tempted to buy another diffuser when this one is finished.

For more information about this and other Voya products, why not visit their website
 (Aside from getting the product free, this is not a sponsored post and the views are my honest opinion)