Irish Air Mail Stamps

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Because I am very well brought up (thanks Mom!), I write thank you notes. I love stationary and pens and the whole process of organizing the writing of thank you notes. I am a thank you note writing nerd.

No one doesn’t like getting a non-bill piece of mail through your letter box or in your post office box. Writing a thank you note is a very easy way to give someone a little jolt of happiness in their day.

Because all of my most recent thank you notes were going back to the States, I had to buy international stamps. American international stamps or “forever” stamps usually have an American flag on them. Some are more interesting, and when you buy books of stamps there are always fun ones to choose from.

lizard otter

As far as I know, you can’t choose what stamps to use when sending post in Ireland. You take what you’re given. The Irish are not overly patriotic but they are certainly proud to be Irish. Yet there is nothing remotely Irish about the international stamps. If they didn’t say Éire on them, you might not guess where the letter had come from.

I like the international stamps though. I think they are fun (the badger one, for instance) and playful (like the otter) and also kind of weird (the underwater creatures). I suppose I am surprised that there isn’t a Molly Malone flying across the Atlantic to all those American fans, or Joyce with his monocle, or Beckett’s craggy visage. Or even a lovely pint of Guinness.

Instead, I get to figure out which of my recipients reminds me most of a wren, and which a badger.

badger wren

Irish Air Mail Stamps

Avoca Café

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“Should we go to Avoca for tea, then?”

“Oooohhh, will we?”

“We deserve it! We can share a scone!”

“Ok! What a treat!”

Then my friend, Charlie, and I would giggle and excitedly make for Avoca on Sussex Street. This was when we were at Trinity and going to Avoca for tea and a scone was a big treat. It made us feel fancy. It made us feel grown-up. It was so cozy and certainly a place where we wouldn’t run into many—if any—Trinity students. Avoca was the perfect place to feel unlike a student while getting to catch up on all the gossip and news of student life.

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What we like best about the trip to Avoca was walking through the shop on the way up to our tea and scones. There are books, socks, scarves, blankets, jewelry, nail polish, kitchen stuff, jam, teapots, greeting cards and mittens that fill the floors below the third floor café. It was a feast for our eyes, fingers and wish lists before we even got up to order our scones.

Avoca scones are legendary, and they deserve such high standing. They are big and fluffy and soft and chewy. They are the antithesis to the horrifying “cold scone” you are lumped with at 4am as you make your decent into Dublin airport on an Aer Lingus flight. Note to all readers: I strongly recommend avoiding this cold scone at ALL COSTS. Please wait the few hours until Avoca opens and go there.

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But Avoca also serves wonderful proper meals as well. I rarely go to Avoca. It is always busy with tourists and Ladies Who Lunch. I walk past it frequently, I duck out of a passing shower to finger the new scarves and socks, and I tell absolutely everyone who is visiting Dublin to put Avoca high on their list. But when was the last time I had actually been?

I couldn’t satisfactorily answer that question, so I took myself on a little date there this past weekend. I waited twenty minutes for a table. I thought my 2.15 arrival would mean that I missed the lunch rush but I was wrong. I was also stupid. Who abides by the 1-2 lunch hour on a Saturday?

I didn’t mind the wait as I got to sit under a plethora of silver teapots and read the Irish Times. Many copies are scattered about for the overflow of guests. Also I had time. Don’t aim for lunch at Avoca if you have somewhere you Need To Be.

The menu isn’t too large, but full of plenty of interesting—all healthy—options. There’s chicken, smoked salmon, pulled pork, and lamb as well as a mélange of veggie options and the necessary soup of the day.

I had the vegan option. Not because I’m a vegan but because I felt like a giant salad and I knew I’d be having a lot of meat at dinner. I ordered the quinoa butternut squash cakes. They themselves were a tad bit bland, but the salad that came with them was fantastic: greens, thinly sliced cucumber, fennel and carrot with some herbs and pomegranate seeds. There was also some beetroot and horseradish crème that was delicious. I could have used approximately 100% more than I was given.

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I didn’t partake of a scone and tea on this visit. I need Charlie or Cian or Aoife or Jane—or all of them!—for that.

PS: Avoca Cafés also exist in other various locations around Ireland. Here for more: http://www.Avoca.com and you can take home their recipes in the form of many cookbooks and jams and chutneys, etc from the shop downstairs!

Avoca Café

George’s Street Market Arcade

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“Let’s meet at Simon’s” my friend’s text reads.

“Where?” I think, so I type that back.

“You know, the place that smells like cinnamon buns on George’s Street. The Arcade.”

Yes. It DOES smell like cinnamon buns. In fact, Simon’s makes the whole upper half of George’s Market Arcade smell like cinnamon buns. Delicious.

The Arcade is one of those places–pass-through, walkway, connecting tunnel–that I have come to take totally for granted. So much so that I didn’t even know that Simons was called Simons. I walk through it many times a week but don’t really take stock of the building or what it contains.

The other day I came out of a bar across the road from it and looked up. I had to snap a photo, it just looked so good sitting across the road. It is a stunning building. It sits squarely on one whole city block, and the middle of it is a market.

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There are offices upstairs, a cavernous bar around one side, a super market around the other with two music stores, and a fancy restaurant. There is also a chinese restaurant, a fast food Peking Duck place, a bike repair shop and a new health food store. You can get your haircut on both the west and east corners. That’s just what is along the outside!

Inside is an eclectic mix of vintage flannel, Irish wool, Italian Olives, homemade fudge, Chinese reflexology goods, bubble tea, frozen yogurt and jewelers. You can have your tarot cards read as you nibble a tiny cupcake or buy something clever and useful but very attractive for your home. You can also find a lot of crap. All of this within 100 yards!

I forgot to mention that you can also buy an old fashioned portion of fish and chips.

It is populated mostly with tourists poking around, students doing the frozen yogurt and bubble tea thing, or Dubliners just trying to get quickly from George’s Street to Drury Street and onwards.

There is a stall that sells old books and hanging off one of the walls is a photo of the Arcade in the 50s. There were no stalls down the middle, only shops along either side. It appears so much larger than it does now. Cars were allowed to be driven through it! It looks very elegant with the ladies in tailored wool coats walking along as the sun slants through the roof.

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George’s Street Arcade is one of those magic Dublin places where you can find just about anything you ever (or never) wanted.

George’s Street Market Arcade

Electric Showers

"Ugh. Makes a Shower Hard Work." This Spoiled American
“Ugh. Makes a Shower Hard Work.” This Spoiled American

Electric Showers. Americans are like, “WHAT?!”

I never occurred to me that that I took water pressure for granted. Spoiled American that I am, I assumed that in any country in the western world, hot water would spring from the hot water tap at any time: day or night. I understood a shower to be this: plentiful warm (sometimes hot) water cascading over my head and body for as long I wanted.

When I moved to Dublin in 2001, I (and the twelve other Spoiled Americans I was sharing a house with) had to be given a lesson on how to work the showers in our bathrooms. They were all electric. We were shown how to pull a cord by the door, which “turned the shower on”. There were then two nozzels on the shower box; one signified pressure, one temperature, which you could adjust to meet your personal needs. No amount of fiddling would ever meet our Spoiled American needs.

We cracked jokes about the dribble of water that came out of the spout, discussed at length how to get the temperature just right (we could have written three hundred words on the fluctuations between luke-warm and scalding), and we ladies gave each other demonstrations about how to shave your legs in the tiny space with very little water.

You would think we were living in a country entirely different to our own, and so proud at our dedication to the new experience.

When C and I were looking to move house two and a half years ago, not  having an electric shower was high on the list. We had been living in a house that had been renovated by an American. The shower was full-on American: plentiful, powerful and hot. Not going back to an electric shower was a big deal. That and having gas hobs in the kitchen. Gas hobs and not an electric shower. Not easy to find. We did find them tucked into a perfect, if tiny, home. (This perfect home we have since discovered was designed and owned by a famous convicted murder. No big deal. He definitely had his appliances down.)

Very close family friends own a house in Kinvara, Galway. He is born and raised there. Cold, dribbly showers is what he was reared on. Thirty years of living in the States however, has lead him to apologize profusely every time someone says they are going for a shower in his Kinvara home.

I still groan when I see that I have to survive an electric shower. I’ve never really got the knack of it. You can take the American out of America, but obviously getting rid of the “Spoiled” descriptor is much harder.

Electric Showers

An Irish Picnic

Summer is upon us, so of course we all want to go out and enjoy the sunshine, warm breeze and Dublin’s amazing parks and green spaces.

The Rush Under the Tree
The Rush Under the Tree

This weekend we were invited to a picnic celebration in Phoenix Park. Like any classic Irish picnic, it poured rain for a quarter of it. A little rain can’t ruin our picnic! We all huddled under a tree and just kept celebrating! I will always admire that about the Irish–a little rain certainly doesn’t get in their way. Well, how could it? Nothing would ever get done! No adventures would ever be had!

Picnicing in the Rain=Irish Summer Fun
Picnicing in the Rain=Irish Summer Fun

There were small children with us, blankets, three cakes, four bottle of champagne, and not one umbrella. A giant beech tree provided just enough protection. We carried on making sandwiches, popping the champagne and chatting away.

Baby Gets His Own Copper Beech Umbrella
Baby Gets His Own Copper Beech Umbrella

Within the hour, the fierce winds (that regularly carried off napkins and plates for us to chase) had blown the rain away and the sun shone. The wind made sure we never got too hot. We wouldn’t have wanted that.

Summer in Ireland means never having to decide between sunglasses and a raincoat.

See?! Sunny and Gorgeous. Eventually.
See?! Sunny and Gorgeous. Eventually.
An Irish Picnic

Ballyfin House

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The last part of 2014 and the first part of 2015 were filled with some pretty amazing hotel visits. Getting married and going on a honeymoon is a great excuse to treat yourselves to fancy hotel time. From the Merrion (our wedding venue) to Mount Juliet for a few days revival in Kilkenny, then onto Vanuatu’s Havanna Resort to finish our honeymoon, we were spoiled rotten. Staying at a Holiday Inn will never be satisfying again. We’ve ruined ourselves.

The most expensive hotel in Ireland is Ballyfin House in County Laoise. It had a taste of international fame last year when Kanye and Kim decided to take over the whole house for their honeymoon. Luckily, I think that the guests who would visit (and are able to afford) Ballyfin House don’t really have any idea who Kanye and Kim are.

View from the Drive
View from the Drive

My mother and I went down to Ballyfin for tea one day. One cannot simply drop in for tea at Ballyfin. You must be a guest or a friend of a guest. Happily for us, we had friends staying there on “business”, so were able to jump onto their coat tails and sail through the gorgeous house one afternoon.

The house was bought and restored by an American. Most people get nervous when they hear that an American is buying up famous old Irish houses and “doing them up”. Well, I must say that this American is a big fan of that American’s job. I don’t know much about restoring a Regency mansion, but what I do know is that Ballyfin is stunning. As much of the original details have been restored to their full grandeur as possible, and though the decore is lush, it is not gaudy.

Interior Dome
Interior Dome

I loved that the original floors, with their intricate geometric designs, were saved. The glass conservatory took my breath away, and the domed hall wouldn’t be out of place in any gallery or museum.

Floor Detail
Floor Detail
Floor Detail Too
Floor Detail Too

The public rooms are massive, the windows are 12-15 feet and there is a fire burning in all the grates. Somehow it is at once grand and cosy. We took tea in “The Gold Room”, under portraits of men in fabulous wigs. Guests are allowed (and encouraged) to make themselves at home; to use any of the public rooms available, and to ask for whatever their hearts desire. Our hearts desired some tea biscuits and some cucumber sandwiches and potato chips. I know, the potato chips were a curve ball, but the staff, without batting an eyelid promptly brought us a bowl of hand-cut waffle crisps. Those five-star ratings don’t come from nowhere.

Conservatory Detail
Conservatory Detail

After tea we got to take a tour of some of the bedrooms. Like the public rooms, the bedrooms are grand but not overwhelmingly so. They are comfortable. Cosy (not to overuse that word, but it is the truth). The bathrooms are fabulous. I am a firm believer that a bathroom in a hotel is just as important as a nice bedroom. Maybe more? A deep bath, a good shower, two sinks and a view. Each bathroom at Ballyfin has these elements.

I don’t know that I will ever be able to afford a night at Ballyfin House*, but even our few hours there were delightful. There is nothing like getting to step back in time and being allowed to enjoy being taken care of.

Grand Staircase
Grand Staircase

Even though I was thoroughly spoiled in my hotel visits over the past six months, I do hope that I will never lose appreciation for those types of establishments. It’s a treat to get to step into that world; if only just for tea.

*If anyone wants to pay me some money to do anything that would get me a night or two there, please email me.

Exterior With Mom and Friends for Scale
Exterior With Mom and Friends for Scale
Ballyfin House

Guest Blogger: My Dad! On YES EQUALITY for Ireland

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My father moved to Dublin in 1963, fresh out of Yale, when he was twenty-three years old. The Dublin he lived in could not be more different from the Dublin I arrived to in 2001. Over the past fifty years Dublin–indeed, Ireland–has changed profoundly. On May 22nd, it will change again. Though my father and I are powerless to effect this change, as Americans who have called Dublin home, we feel quite strongly about the outcome. 

So, without further ado, my father, Michael Gates Gill:


The Irish Dark Ages~~Time to See the Light?

Arriving to live in Ireland in early 1960’s was like going back into a kind of cultural Dark Ages. As a student at Yale College, I had just been taught that James Joyce was “the most important writer of the Twentieth Century.” In Ireland I discovered that he was banned. I couldn’t buy Ulysses in the city in which it’s set.

Even the movies that were shown were mainly from the 1930’s. Groucho Marx was okay, but no films or books or plays that showed skin or hinted at Karl Marx. Becket was not being performed. If you wanted to see a play of his you had to go to Paris or London or New York.

Brendan Behan had a hit play at that time running simultaneously in London and New York—but his artistic efforts were banned in Ireland.

The artistic fire that had flamed in the turn of the last Century with Yeats and Synge seemed to have been fanned by the tension between the Irish culture and the oppressive English attacks. There were whispers that the Irish really needed the English oppression to fight to express their own unique culture artistically. And now that Ireland had won its freedom—at least in the South—the Catholic Church—so long the underdog—couldn’t wait to exercise all the power that it could. Especially culturally, and the church seemed eager to censor all the arts.

In America we had just elected our first Catholic President. Beautiful, witty, cosmopolitan and sophisticated Jack and Jackie brought a whole new enthusiasm for the arts to the White House. Jack and Jackie led America to a new respect for the arts. Culturally, they were leading the way!

In Ireland at the same time there was a cloud of suspicion over some of the Irish artists that were so famous and so well regarded in the outside world. It would be like a woman going to Saudi Arabia today where women are still not allowed to drive or show their face.

In Dublin, in the l960’s, a single woman was not welcomed in most pubs—even in Dublin, let alone in the country. The bars were dark with old men in damp overcoats. Yet still it was thought that a young woman was taking her virtue too lightly if she entered such a place. Would it be too tempting for these sad old men to see such a cheerful young face? And this fearful code of behavior affected every aspect of life.

Once, having lunch in a hotel in Kerry, I ordered a steak.  The young waitress looked at me as though I had committed some sin that was sure to land me in hell. I didn’t understand.

So I just repeated my request.

“Sir,” she said slowly, obviously getting up the courage to say something that really need not be said, “It isFriday.”

“Friday?” I asked. And then it came to me: Catholics should not eat meat on Fridays!

Okay, “ I said, “what would you recommend?”

“Fish, Sir, some fish.”

So this was the power of the culture at that time to expect that even a young American visitor would know and obey such deep seated religious codes and artistic censorship that were full of “NO”. If you said “YES” to meat on Friday or read James Joyce you were on the way to Hell.

This was a country at that time where most of the ambitious, creative youth had left.  On Grafton Street there might be one old man playing a fiddle. Few cars. I was told that Dublin was a Danish word meaning “dark pool” and I could well believe it!

In America we were just entering the dawning of the Age of Aquarius. In England there was “swinging London” and soon the “British Invasion” of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones would infect America with its music and the idea that the young had the answer to fun and happiness.

Patrick Kavanagh said at the time I was in Ireland: “The Irish live in the deep cave of the unconscious and they scream when they see the light.”

There was little light of any kind at that time. And the silence, even in downtown Dublin, was profound. You could hear your own steps echoing— often the only being on the sidewalk. And there was no sound or talk of new, influential Irish songs or plays or artists of any kind!

Recently I discovered that this has all changed! “Changed utterly,” as Yeats might say.

Last November I went back to Ireland to attend the wonderful wedding of my daughter Annie.  Annie, although born and raised in America, has chosen to live in Ireland. There she found and married an equally creative and talented man. Annie is a successful actor on stage and in films, a writer who has a blog and is also very involved in establishing her own improv performing group. Her husband, Conor, is also in the creative arts. For more than a decade he has been a creator of major street fairs and the successful City Spectacular! Conor has also started a Podcast featuring prominent creative people who are now living and having so much impact in Ireland and around the world.

Annie and Conor, by the nature of their creative careers, could live anywhere. Yet they have chosen to live in Ireland!

This is the new, creative Ireland of what I might call Ireland’s greatest Artistic Age—rather than the old Dark Ages I knew so well.

This is such an irrefutable and positive fact about how much has changed in modern Ireland in the arts. On example: despite the fact that Annie was born in and lived in and performed on the stage in New York City, she has also chosen to live in and act on stage and in films and write and center her life in Ireland today.

What a dramatic evidence of how much has changed from the Dark Days of my day!

Annie and Conor’s wedding was another testimony to this transformation of Ireland. Friends and family gathered from around the world to celebrate this loving, joyous union.

Annie and Conor were united in love and also officially, legally married. As we all know you can’t live and work and be married in any country without that significant and important and essential legal documents.

Yet after the wedding I was shocked to hear that such a legal wedding is still being denied in Ireland to gay and lesbian couples who also love each other and wish to get married.

This inequality is not now true in the rest of the advanced world. And it seems so shocking and sad that in this case of not allowing love and marriage, Ireland is still in the Dark Ages. 

It is so out of time and tune with everything else I saw. I was convinced that in so many other ways Ireland had left the Dark Days so far behind! New light and love and art has been born since those dark, old days.

In fact, the dramatic proof to me is that my daughter Annie who has chosen to live in Dublin instead of New York City or LA (where she also lived) there is a lot more light and life in Dublin than anywhere else! 

Young people of every age striding with such confidence on Grafton Street—on all the streets—and in the theaters, bars, cafes, among the gourmet food, the music in the air, and poetry, novels, plays—all being created by some of the most talented people anywhere—and all encouraged by a kind of Irish Renaissance of the original Irish spirit and the unique Irish arts.

Queen Elizabeth comes over to Dublin and speaks Irish, an endearing effort to please this new and vibrant, artistic Ireland, and her effort is courteously accepted by the female President of Ireland. How things have changed, and how they have improved!

In America, we have yet to elect our first female President, and for Ireland it is now a matter of history!

Isn’t this the Ireland of the Irish that made history by keeping the light alive— that as the best-selling book described “saved Civilization” during an earlier Dark Ages?

Ireland has left the Dark Ages I first experienced so far behind.

Dublin, like London used to be, is today one of the most “happening” places for the latest, best in artistic expression and the happy art of loving and living.

That is why that it is so tragic and out of joint that it is still impossible in Ireland to have two loving people who wish to marry not be allowed to come together in a profound legal reality.  It seems that Ireland is still saying NO in a sad way that reminds me of the old Dark Days.

Let’s hope that Ireland, like Molly Bloom, cries out a resounding YES and moves forward with love and light and life as it should be–and will be–lived today and in the future.

YES!

Guest Blogger: My Dad! On YES EQUALITY for Ireland

I NEED Your Help: Vote YES.

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Everyone has on opinion about weddings. It’s fun to have opinions about weddings; everyone loves talking about them. From the moment you walk into the church or wedding venue, most people are thinking “I love the flowers” or “I hate the mother of the groom’s hat” or “getting here was a nightmare, but the view is lovely.” We all complain about what we’ve spent to be there, we judge the brides-maids dresses and the food, and generally pick apart every long thought-out detail. It’s half the fun of going to weddings!

I always took for granted the fact that I would be able to plan my own wedding and do it absolutely perfectly. It was never a question in my mind about whether or not I would have a wedding. I knew that when I fell in love with someone, we would get married in a wonderful wedding and begin our married life. Our married life would include children, a house, a car or two, etc. I get to have that. I get to have that because I am straight. Throughout the ups and downs of my life, the boyfriends, the moves from one country to another, the struggles with career, the “getting married and having a wedding” bit was never in doubt.

Ireland has the opportunity to democratically vote to allow same sex couples the right to get married. This is not about weddings. It’s not about two cars, a house and some dogs.

Yesterday with my husband and close friends of ours, we joined with 5,000 people to show our support for the YES EQUALITY campaign for the coming referendum in Merrion Square.

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When my husband and I got engaged last year, we debated about where and how we would celebrate our wedding. Ultimately we decided that if we were going to invite people to a wedding, we needed to make sure the ceremony, the actual legal marriage, was the focal point. That is the big moment. Standing in front of family and close friends we promised to love each other, take care of each other, and be each other’s family in the eyes of the State. That is an honor and a privilege beyond anything I had ever imagined. We were surprised at how emotional and moving a moment it was. Even planning our ceremony had us in tears. Starting a new family and asking for the support and blessings of the people you care most about is a solemn and beautiful occasion. It is worth every stressful, expensive moment of wedding planning.

The fact that anyone, in any country, of any sex, does not share that same privilege is wrong.

I am an actor. I work a lot in improvisation. The first rule of improve is to say YES. Yes opens up possibilities for scenes and relationships that you never knew existed. Yes is the start of wonderful and powerful things.

My Grandfather Gill always said that Yes was the most romantic word in the English language. He felt that way because of the last ten pages of Ulysses by James Joyce. I challenged him on it once as an outspoken fourteen year old, and his reply was: “Of course Yes is the most romantic word; nothing can happen unless you say YES.”

I have close family and close friends whom this referendum will affect directly. Voting YES will allow them to get married. Far beyond any one wedding day, this referendum will allow them to live as a family in the eyes of the law. We straight people have always taken that for granted.Civil Partnership does not grant same sex couples the same rights as married couples. Allowing same sex couples the rights that every straight person has means that same sex couples can be at each other’s bedsides if something terrible happens, they can share finances and child care. This particular referendum has nothing to do with whether or not gay people should be allowed to adopt or parent children. But on that point, not voting Yes puts hundreds of children being raised by same sex parents right now in jeopardy of losing one of those parents in the eyes of the law. My niece, Elsie Walsh, has made a beautiful video on this very topic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=883CDJA5EGI  Her experience of being raised by my sister and her partner speaks for itself.

I cannot vote in Ireland. I feel powerless as a member of my community here. But I have my words. So I am urging anyone who reads this and can vote to ask themselves, really ask themselves, what they would accomplish by voting No. I am trying my hardest to keep an even keel in my tone and to be eloquent in expressing myself. However, I can’t help feeling like a No vote is some busted-ass Shakespeare bullshit: everyone trying to tell other people whom they can and cannot marry.

Equality will happen eventually. It is not a threat to my marriage or to the institution of marriage. This referendum is about love. Surely you would like to be on the right side of history? Surely you want to promote love in all its forms and boundless possibilities? Yes is positive. Yes is powerful. Yes is beautiful. Yes if fair. Yes is happening. So VOTE YES.

For more information on Marriage Equality and the referendum itself, visit: http://www.marriagequality.ie

I NEED Your Help: Vote YES.

Nettle Soup. Scary in a Fun Way.

Nettles + Protection
Nettles + Protection

My mother-in-law loves to tell the story about how she got her children to eat nettle soup every spring. “I would tell them it was spinach soup,” she laughs, “but they would look at it and say, ‘This doesn’t look like spinach to me!'”, laughing harder, “and I would say, ‘oh, it is!’ but it was just the stinging nettles from the garden!”

As well as getting one over on her four children, she also is quick to add that nettle soup is a very important part of the Irish spring diet. “It cleanses the blood, it refreshes the whole body. It’s very good for you. It’s important to take nettles every spring.” She’s a nurse, so she knows.

My sister-in-law who bought me these particular nettles told me the same thing: “they are very good for you. They cleanse the whole system.” Both these women come from a long line of Irish mammies, so I believe them.

My first encounter with stinging nettles was in West Cork years ago when I was babysitting. We went out to pick blackberries along the road and all of us came back with sore arms and fingers. It’s an awful feeling: an ache, a sting and sore to the touch. The idea of eating these stingers seemed crazy.

But far be it for me to miss out on an old Irish cure-all dish! So I washed off my new pink plastic gloves and got into some serious nettle soup action.

I read a few different recipes and decided what I liked from each. This is generally how I roll when it comes to cooking: I read a recipe, decide I can do it (or not), then kind of do it in my own way or how I feel it should go.

So this is the nettle soup I came up with:

2 Carrots

1.5 Leeks (I bought two, but one was HUGE)

1 giant potato

1 pink onion

1 bag of nettles

Veggie stock

Really Good Rosemary Infused Salt

Butter

I decided not to include cream or milk in my iteration. A little cream at the end would be lovely,though.

My ingredients
My ingredients

I sauteed the onion and leeks in butter and some olive oil, added the carrot and spud, added the stock, waited ’til everything got mushy, added the cleaned nettles (GLOVES FIRMLY ON), let them get bright green and soft, then I blended it. Voilá!

It tastes delicious. It does taste like spinach, so I can believe that telling kids to eat it  that way (if they will eat spinach) is a good trick. But I think the idea of eating nettles is more exciting and even a bit scary. Scary in a fun way.

I hope I am getting all the benefits of the nettles. Not only are they cleansing but they also contain a lot of calcium. Best of all, they grow like weeds so this is not only a healthy super food, it is also EVERYWHERE.

But the season is short, you’ve got to get them before they flower. You’ve got about two weeks! GO!

Finished Product
Finished Product
Nettle Soup. Scary in a Fun Way.

April Showers

Though my last post was a celebration of the warm spring air and sunshine in Dublin, it is April, so there are obviously showers. And it’s Ireland, so what do we expect?!

An American ready for the Irish elements. Patagonia? Check.
An American ready for the Irish elements. Patagonia? Check.

When it rains in Dublin, you can always spot the Americans. They are the ones walking around with their fancy Patagonia rain gear and large umbrellas. If the American is also a female under 30, she will certainly be wearing a pair of trendy Hunter Wellingtons.

Most Dubliners take the rain in their stride and let it fall on them no matter what they are wearing. Umbrellas are used, but not as often as you might imagine. Unless an umbrella can fit in your purse or handbag or satchel it’s not worth bringing one around for the day. Huge umbrellas often get left in cafés or shops unless the rain is heavy and consistent, so it’s not worth it.

On a sunny day, this would be packed with people at lunchtime.
On a sunny day, this would be packed with people at lunchtime.

Americans are always prepared. Hooded raincoats, Wellies, and sometimes waterproof trousers. Always an umbrella. Because they have been told that it rains all the time in Ireland.

Being an American living in Dublin, I fall somewhere in between total rain preparation and rain ignoration**. I have all the gear, but I rarely wear it unless I am doing some kind of active activity outside the city. I almost never wear my Wellies*. I never have an umbrella. The only one C and I own is huge and can’t be brought on our bikes. My birthday is coming up, though, so perhaps a small umbrella can go on “the list”. I can’t be sure I would ever remember to take it, though.

My rain gear and Wellies match my daisies.
My rain gear and Wellies match my daisies.

And anyway, aren’t April showers meant to give way to May flowers?!

*my Wellies are hand-me-downs from girls I used to babysit in NYC. I wouldn’t spend over $80 on plastic boots. That I didn’t buy them makes me feel a bit better about not really ever wearing them.

**if Shakespeare could make up words .. . .

April Showers