30 December 2010
Above, a unique Clock and Bow handbag ornament from Silversmith Tamsin Spenser.
2011 is almost upon us and while I do have some private resolutions - I also have one's I'm happy to share public ones.
Top of my list...more consistent blogging- I've spent a lot of time this week during my holidays researching ideas and have already created a good stock pile of images etc. So, in that regards I'm already off to a good start. I also think that perhaps I need to write shorter posts - which should enable me to do them more frequently - what do you think? Feedback as I look at the New Year is vitally important so I'd love to hear from you.
Secondly, I'd like to grow my numbers - even though I only have 64 loyal official followers - over 3000 people are looking at my blog on a monthly basis. I know it's not a lot but I'm proud of it as I've done very little to promote it.
3rd on my list - I'd like to get more reading in! My excuse of late has been that I end up just being too tired when I get into bed - I seem to only get a page or two read before my eyes close up tight. And I'm working on a good list of books to read to keep my constantly motivated.
4th - I'll be doing a big focus throughout 2011 on Irish Crafts on my blog both from the Republic and in Northern Ireland as on 15th December it was announced that 2011 will be the Year of the Craft in Ireland so to show my support and to show off all our fabulous crafts on this Emerald Isle - I'll be sure to highlight as many talented craftspeople as possible throughout the year - hopefully one a week.
I'm going to leave you now...no need to drag on! Wishing you all a very Happy and Healthy New Year - thank you for all your comments throughout the year and thanks for reading my blog. Keep in touch in the new year and do send along any feedback you may have.
All my best, Lisa
23 December 2010
I highly recommend this book - this year I sent it along to a "Father to be" as a kind of manual for inspiration when he has to fill the role of Father Christmas next year. This man has filled in as the "tooth fairy" for my daughter in a pinch and his tiny writing is very distinct - I think he'll master letters from Father Christmas very well.
Inside this book - there are examples of letters that Tolkien wrote to his children starting around 1920 when his youngest child, John was three. They would arrive from the North Pole in wonderful spidery writing- with drawings and delightful descriptions of life at the North Pole.
I bought a copy for myself as my daughter, now 10, is still an avid believer and each year she writes an extensive letter to Santa - to which he replies - although last year apparently his writing looked a lot like the tooth fairies! It's not easy I tell you - I've got tooth fairy writing, Easter bunny writing and Santa writing! Well, I can't complain - I love that she still believes - I'll be very sad when it is all over.
Happy Christmas to you all - hope it is magical and wonderful.
18 December 2010
The latest issue of ur dream home is out on new stands now. In my column this issue, I touch upon some Interior Trends - mainly paint - and talk about Dulux colours for 2011 and the celebration of their 125 years in business. I've used a lot of Dulux throughout my home so am a big fan of their range of colours.
I also had a chat with fellow bloggers - Lorna Sixsmith of Garrendenny Lane who went to the Maison Show in Paris and Pippa Jameson in London who talked about what she saw at Decorex.
In his column this issue, Mark Stephens shows off the newly restored Cobbler's Cottage - it looks beautiful. Congratulations Mark.
And Ciaran Burke has lovely photographs of frost in the garden - which is just my thing! I love how the snow and frost makes for wonderful images.
Of course, there's always a wonderful home to live vicariously through - and this time it's a chateau in France. Ooo la la. You've got to pick up the issue to see more details - especially the murals. You can buy this place for a cool 3 million euro plus.
This wraps up another year writing for this magazine. Something which I thoroughly enjoy - mainly because the editor and publisher Olga Magliocco is such a kindred spirit and one of the nicest people I've worked with.
Wishing Olga and her team at ur dream home all the best for 2011 - may the magazine continue to grow in leaps and bounds.
15 December 2010
By now many of you may have heard of this fabulous new business started by three delightful sisters - Aine, Niamh and Sheila Cahill. But just in case you haven't - here are some snaps of their gorgeous showroom in Limerick. The Ivory Closet "A Luxurious Lend" - is located at 18 Shannon Street on the 1st floor just above Myles Breens Bar - just below O'Connell Street in the heart of the city. It's like walking into your fantasy wardrobe
So what is The Ivory Closet? - well in a nutshell it is a dress for hire business - but what a selection they have. Frankly it's the perfect solution for all us gals that have such a busy social life - we don't want to be caught in the same dress twice now do we? Well, this will solve that problem. Whether you are looking for an Oscar number - LBD - strapless, floor length - sequins or stripes - you will find something that suits your style and shape here.
Brands like Rachel Gilbert, Matthew Williamson, Catherine Malendrino, Marchesa, Jovani, Tibi, Haute Hippie, Philip Lim, French Connection and many more - hang from the racks. With hire cost starting at as little as €60 running up to €90 or €100 for three day rental - treating yourself to wearing one of these hot little numbers ends up being less expensive than buying something new - they you may only wear once or twice.
Plus, they've even got lovely clutches to hire out as well and accessories to buy - I love their crystal embellished Bangles they come in a fabulous range of colours to BLING up any outfit.
There's also a beauty range with a range of lip glosses, eye shadows, bath treats, nail varnishes - you name it! And always expanding.
You can stop into the showroom and have a look in person - Tel: (061) 314422 or be sure to check The Ivory Closet out on Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/theivorycloset where you will be able to see the most up to date additions to their collection and can message them back and forth regarding pricing and sizes available. Not everything is available in every size but I can assure you that you will not be disappointed. By the way, the cost to hire covers dry cleaning and they also have insurance for a nominal fee - highly recommended if you are planning a wild night out - you can party without worry then. You can also reserve dresses - so rush in their for any last minute Christmas parties or get your gown sorted for New Year's Eve - a wedding etc.
The Cahill sisters are delightful and very helpful and I cannot wish them more luck with their business.
12 December 2010
I just love all the cooking that goes on at Christmas. There are loads of wonderful ideas and so many great shows on TV demonstrating great dishes - I could sit for hours watching them taking it all in. Everyone has their special way of making certain dishes but I always love picking up new tips. Jamie magazine as usual has not disappointed me with the range of ideas along with wonderful photographs. His website is also very comprehensive and well worth a visit (link above).
I have a stuffing that I make for Thanksgiving every year and also then for Christmas to bring to along to which ever house we'll be celebrating in that year. One of my favourite ingredients is cranberries - last summer I bought 3 bags of dried cranberries at Trader Joe's when I was back in the States as they are not always the easiest for me to find and fresh ones are even more difficult. This year I think if I find them, I'll buy several bags and freeze them.
Jamie suggests using cranberries to make (clockwise from top left) cranberry sauce, cranberry bakewell, white chocolate and cranberry cookies and cranberry and pork stuffing.
Recently I've been a bit of a chutney obsession after my sister in law brought over some pumpkin chutney at Thanksgiving that she'd bought locally in Nenagh at Country Choice. This is one of my favourite shops in town for buying a wonderful range of food items including jams and chutneys but also fabulous Irish cheeses, delicious hams, Christmas puds and much much more. Plus, in this chilly weather, it's always a great place to pop in for a nice latte or hot chocolate to warm you up. They also now have another branch in the Milk Market in Limerick - also worth a visit.
Anyway, yes I've got a chutney obsession and I'm determined to make my own! some day......
Happy cooking this holiday season.
11 December 2010
Now that Master Chef Australia is over - I'm now devoting time to other cooking shows and of course, at this time of year - there are lots of Christmas shows. Nigella Lawson is always planning some wonderful party and I love being able to see her house in the background and little hints of decorating ideas.
Last night I got loads of ideas and tips for roasting a turkey, parsnips and Brussels sprouts and I'm going to have to implement them into my own plan - create a butter and maple syrup concoction and pour that over your turkey before it goes into the oven to guarantee lovely brown skin. Drizzle olive oil and maple syrup over your parsnips before you roast them. Delighted to see that she prepares her Brussels sprouts the same way I was taught - take the ends off and then cut an X across the bottom to encourage better cooking - but cooking some lardons with butter along with chestnuts and then tossing in the Brussels sprouts - delicious.
Finally, she had a wonderful recipes for Roast Squash and Sweet Potato Soup with Buttermilk Blue Cheese Sauce - she told the viewers that is a stable for her freezer at this time of year - and the great thing is you don't need to take the skin off the sweet potatoes or squash - such ease - I'm off to whip up a batch for my own freezer - click on the link above to see the recipe.
08 December 2010
Today is my daughter's 10th birthday and as it is the Immaculate Conception - she has the day off from school. We are planning a delicious birthday breakfast for her - she loves sausages, rashers and croissants. It is also the day that we always light our Christmas tree - never before - it has been a tradition since she was born and it is a nice way to officially kick off Christmas in our household.
Leafing through the December issue of Country Living magazine- in their story Christmas Creations they had a selection of wonderful Christmas craft projects which I always yearn to have time to make. But this year I'll just have to live vicariously through the pages of the magazine. The simplicity of the white branch (above) in the jar - is a perfect little decoration to place anywhere in your house - the centre of your dining table or in a deep window sill.
These jars filled with memories are quite delightful as well - what a great idea for a little gift to someone to remind them of a specific trip. It's also a great way to display cards - especially if you can find vintage Chistmas cards.
I love displaying my Christmas cards when they come in. Although the numbers seem to be dwindling each year - I, on the other hand, have my mother here from the States right now so I'm sending mine for America back with her! I just love getting cards from friends and family especially with photographs of their kids inside - this year we finally got a new Kodak printer so I've printed up a collage of photos of the three of us over the last year to send along with my cards to the US. I've also written a general letter giving a brief account of the last year - the thing is I like writing little personal messages to everyone but in lieu of time restraints with work - it's just not feasible.
Sophia loves Christmas and it is always her job to set up the creche in our front window - we bought the figures on Ebay before we moved to Ireland three years ago but unfortunately baby Jesus was missing - this year we found a baby Jesus at the Knock Souvenir shop in Limerick city - thankfully! Mary was also missing so this year a kitty cat from Sophia's Sylvanian collection of animals is filling the post. We must be creative! Happy Crafting and getting your home ready for Christmas!
Styling for these images by Sophia Martel - Photographs by Claire Richardson.
07 December 2010
Just a quick little post with these images of the frost on my car windscreen over the weekend. I didn't move my car on Sunday and this is the result of the frost overnight.
It's amazing how it's formed these raised beautiful patterns - very unusual.
On the roof of the car - which I forgot to take a photo of - were all these little peaks - like a miniature frosted forest you might find on top of a Christmas cake.
06 December 2010
On the Isle of Sky in Scotland - Kinloch Lodge has been home to the Macdonald family for four decades. It is their ancestral home which is run as a luxury hotel complete with big blazing fires and portraits of their ancestors lining the walls. It boasts breathtaking views
all year round and luxurious accomodations along with fantastic meals in the restaurant.
Kinloch Lodge is the home of Scotland's best loved cook - Claire Macdonald. The kitchen team at the restaurant is headed up by Marcello Tully who works closely with Claire to produce some truly exceptional meals. So exceptional that in January 2010 - Kinloch acheived a Michelin Star - the first for the Isle of Sky.
There are cookery courses available and a wonderful idea for a Christmas gift for the "foodie" in your life is Claire Macdonald's Menu Club. For 30 (sterling) - members will receive an email pack with a seasonal dinner party menu each month. You'll get a choice of 2 starters, 1 main course along with vegetable dishes and a choice of desserts. It comes complete with the recipes and a shopping list.
You can also buy Claire's preserves and sauces from the website along with a range of "Kitchen Essentials. Claire Macdonald.
This spot is definitely on my list of places to visit in the future.
This spot is definitely on my list of places to visit in the future.
*All Images are thanks to Kinloch Lodge and Claire Macdonald.
05 December 2010
Sophia and I just finished reading Marguerite Henry's wonderful book from 1947 - Misty of Chincoteague. It's an American childhood classic and this copy was my mother's growing up - Sophia and I were amused to find her book stamp throughout with her name, address and town stamped everywhere - just in case in were to fall into someone else's hands. I then read this growing up and loved the entire series. So, as you can see - this is a very worn copy.
The story of Misty is based on a true story. Off the coast of Virginia in the States are two islands - Chincoteague - inhabited by people and Assateague - inhabited by wild ponies - which as legend says, were descended from the survivors of a Spanish galleon that wrecked there long ago. Every year, these wild ponies are rounded up and they swim over from Assateague to Chincoteague island where they are auctioned off. The book talks about Maureen and Paul Beebe - who, many years ago, bought a young foal, Misty, along with her mother - The Phantom on one of these Pony Penning Days.
Marguerite Henry went to Chincoteague to write a story about the ponies and met Maureen and Paul. The resulting book is absolutely charming and if you have a child who is obsessed with ponies - do pick up a copy of this book along with the many other's that Marguerite Henry wrote. It is delightfully illustrated by Wesley Dennis.
You can read more about Marguerite and the ponies of Assateague at the Misty of Chincoteague Foundation website.