Friday, August 28, 2009

tomato & corn slabba-dabba-doo pie

I know what I want for dinner tonight -

tomato & corn pie, from the genius vaults of yum at smitten kitchen.

Could be a delicious use of my first homegrown tomatoes. If only it wasn't Burger Night... This is definitely marked for the weekend. Ahh, sweet weekend. When I'll be investigating this new (to me) slab pie phenomenon, too.

Oh my! A further scroll down SK (trying to catch up) reveals a few more lovely & simple ways to put Tom & Tammy through their paces. How about a cubed Caprese or fresh Israeli salad? Or both! Thank you, smitten kitchen. Your photos make me drool with happiness.

concrete update: tomatoes! murder! feathers!

And now an update from the garden.

I'm so proud to show you this. Major Tom, Brigadier General of the Viking Road Tomato Army, is reddening up nicely. Check out his tan.
Um, can I eat him now? That's Tammy Tomato, his lieutenant & life partner, hidden behind him. I couldn't frame a better picture because I was too distracted by the crime scene behind me.

I came home last night to find bloodshed & gore (and a lot of feathers) all over my little garden patch. I think one of our four-legged, fuzzy wall neighbors got into a scuffle with a pigeon - and definitely won. It was disturbing. I still have feathers stuck all over the place. I'm hoping my pretty pink impatiens will be able to bounce back from the trauma (the corpse was left smack dab on top of them.)P1060093
Quite the action-packed night for my humble garden, huh?

friday happiness

I was sent this video at work. Nice to finally see some office forwards with meaning. Not just of the "Ladies! There's a rapist hiding under your car!" variety.

And since I'm in such high spirits, feelin' the love of my very own wedding buzz, how perfect then to share a video that really hits home. Because really, how *silly* is it to tell two people who love each other & want to spend their lives together that they don't have equal civil rights as the rest of us because of their true love's gender?

You've probably already seen the poignant Regina Spektor video created by the tear-jerkers at the Courage Campaign, the California-based marriage equality group that's doing important grassroots work in America. It's nice to see Irish voices chiming on this decisive, international human rights issue. Take a moment.

More info found on

Thursday, August 27, 2009

in the face of bridal madness

Even the most level-headed, down-to-earth & laid back of brides (well, I like to think so) can find themselves teetering on that forbidding precipice, peering down into a canyon of crazy from time to time. First thing I read this morning was a really inspiring post on A Practical Wedding, about a wedding that sounds so sweet & relaxed, real honest to jaysus as a certain husband to be might say. I love that they apparently didn't set a budget & their explanation is really similar to how HtB & I are approaching ours. We set one, but it's flexible & we're not driving ourselves mad with calculators & tallies. I admit, I did at first. But I'm not now!

Unfortunately, there are so many outside influences that can crack even the most determined non-bridezillas & turn them into spreadsheet-wielding, floral fact spewing, mason-jar collecting, DIY obsessed, self-bullying nutbags. (That's me I'm describing.) Pressure from those close to us to conform to the "norms" of weddings, influence both direct & indirect from retailers, media & even our trusty blogs. Those online hang-outs where we usually find so much lovely inspiration & encouragement? It's certainly possible to OD on them & even they can make us feel just plain bad. In a time when the low-budget DIY aesthetic is more in vogue than ever, sometimes I feel like my wedding isn't DIY enough, isn't hip enough, isn't CHEAP enough! Can you imagine? Feeling guilty that I'm spending a (still very) modest amount on my Mexican-themed rock n' roll Vegas wedding to an Irish cowboy & that it just doesn't seem *unique* enough? Hello crazy canyon (Hello! Hello! Hello!...)

But to be brutally honest, all that pressure really comes from within. Why even the most well-adjusted, happy-in-love-who-cares-about-a-fancy-wedding gal can find herself repreatedly comparing her wedding choices to those of complete strangers, I just don't know. Maybe it's just a case of close-to-the-wedding-momentary-lapse-in-reason.

Regardless, I'm not suffering from that right now. I feel so safe & warm in the knowledge that my wedding is going to be AWESOME. It may not be to everyone's taste - its moments of quirkiness, it's mixed up tropical/south of the border decor. But I don't care. It's going to be very us. Without heading into the planning process 15 months ago with a clear cut theme or vision, we have somehow, sereptitiously, arrived at the perfect theme - the theme of us. And I can't wait. Only 59 days to go.

*Photo from the groovy Arkiva Tropika*

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

love. marriage. pancakes.

I think this beautiful message is a nice sentiment to end the night on. The always eloquent & head-straight-on-her-shoulders Meg from A Practical Wedding, who's fresh on the heels of her own practical & lovely affair, had this to say about experiencing it all - and what really matters.

My Valentine.Mrs. PancakeMr. Pancake

major tom

I have a thing for tomatoes. I love 'em. I think they're little edible jewels. I also think they should be ripening in abundance by now in my cement patch, but they are certainly taking their sweet time. This is my first time growing my own. Maybe I just need to be a bit more patient - it really has been fascinating watching them grow.
In fact, today I am proud to announce the first touch of red to show up on my humble vines.P1060051
Check out Miss Tomato Sauce in the background, supervising as usual!

Now as much I am wholeheartedly in favor of buying local & in season as much as humanly possible, I admit - sometimes I can't wait. But if I'm gonna cheat & buy tomatoes (that come from god knows where), they better be damn cool tomatoes. Like these beauts -
Seriously. Couldn't you just stick one of those on a band of gold & wear it on your finger?

Or these - from which I rustled up tonight's easy, end-of-summer meal.
A simple, yet striking sauce of yellow tomatoes simmered in olive oil & garlic, with a dash of salt, a few cranks of black pepper & a bunch of excited handfuls of fresh basil from the patch. See, nearly homegrown.
These yellow tomatoes break down quickly & become instantly saucy (Saucy!), more so than red ones I'm used to. No need for paste or anything to thicken it.
I dumped it on some simple spaghetti that I had tossed with more olive oil, chickpeas & sundried tomatoes. Oh & some shaved parmesan on top. A little brightly colored hodge podge in the kitchen on a blah Wednesday evening never hurt anybody, did it?

room to let. non-smokers only.

Our little lodger has flown the coop!

save irish cinema!

This week, the monkeys running the Department of Finance will decide the fate of the Irish Film Board /Bord Scannan na hEireann. In other words, they will basically be deciding the fate of Irish cinema (& the jobs it provides, the tourism it stimulates, the jobs that tourism in turn stimulates & so on... not to mention the value placed on Irish art & the continued promotion of Irish culture & its prominent place in the larger context of Europe & the world, but I digress).

I have to admit that I have a sinking feeling about this. In a time where the government seems to be failing us to an almost grotesque degree, running its laughable Health Service Executive into the ground like a mad drunk whose taken leave of its last sense, doling out fat checks to fat cats while the rest of us enjoy recession, making the biggest cuts first to those areas of that can withstand it the least (health & education for starters) & continuing to bail out corrupt bankers & line the pockets of crooks - well, forgive me for not feeling the most optimistic today.

Hopefully, I can be proved wrong when the verdict comes down, but something tells me that the crazy people in charge of the government finances, who place health, education & long-term investment in growing jobs at the very bottom of the priority barrel aren't going to have the foresight to see how vital support of a country's cultural heritage & support of homegrown art really is to the wider interests of the economy.

And the oscar for Most Short-Sighted, Ill-Advised Government goes to?

The winner will be announced later this week. Let's keep our fingers crossed (after writing & calling our local reps and demanding that they support the continued work of the Film Board).

Further reading:

And please check out the amazing grassroots action started by our very own Jessie @!!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

if only i was still a new yorker...

Oh my goodness. I just discovered this & I want to be there right now.

It's been a while since I lived in NYC & not a day goes by (ok, maybe every few days) that I don't miss the amazing, exciting, buzzy uniqueness of life in New York City. There really is no place on earth like it. And reading about the High Line - a fabulously reinvented elevated garden space, created along a disused railway line running from the Meatpacking District (always an obsession of mine) to Hell's Kitchen - well, it just about brings tears to my eyes.

I passionately love the transformation of urban space into garden refuge, however manicured or wild, big or small. The mix of barren cement & triumphant plantlife, the inherent human need to return to nature despite our love of fast, modern cities. From this very blog's name & a good chunk of its content, you can see how proud I am of my own (very) small contribution toward greening up our concrete world.

As the idea of the city garden has not only become central to my life, but also a hot topic amongst my friends, the High Line has really hit home for me. It seems to me to be the ultimate community garden. OK, so maybe it's not a neighborhood veggie patch (yet) and true, my precious Sauce Box wouldn't allowed to prance around & poo in it (yet), but it is an astounding use of what once was urban decay & creating a really beautiful & unexpected reinterpretation of mother nature, elegantly elevated above Manhattan's West Side.
I could go on & on about the park's fantastic origins (a live railway line until the 1980s, the discovery by self-proclaimed "urban explorers" of rugged wildgrasses & sturdy trees popping up amongst abandoned steel tracks, the community's coming together to overrule Giuliani's demolition orders & succeeding to get millions of dollars to realize their green dreams). To me, it's just heavenly & I hope I can visit it someday soon. Imagine strolling along meandering grassy paths, amidst the concrete & steel and dirty whirl of city activity below, the sparkling view of the Hudson one way & skyscrapers all around, sipping peach berry lemonade on a New York summer's day. (A few weekends ago, they were handing out free iced coffee from Crop to Cup!)I really think it's time for me to return to NYC. But could something as wild as this happen in Dublin?
*Photos courtesy of the High Line blog & Flickr pool*

Monday, August 24, 2009

a lesson in patience - coming soon


That's what made me go so mental in the garden shop on sunny Saturday. Bulbs.

Lovely pretty future beautiful springtime flower bulbs. I've never attempted to grow flowers from bulbs before, but hey - this is apparently the year that I finally make good on all my half-assed resolutions and personal vows. (Check me out! I'm already sewing! CHECK! *woo hoo*)

So I came home with an armload of intriguingly ambiguous brown paper bags, filled with what looks like mutant garlic cloves & star anise. But they tell me that one day, in the not too distant future, they too will join the caterpillar in his backyard costume change & transform themselves into pretty ranunculus, tulips & these tall fuzzy Billy Ball-type thingies. Awesome.

A serious garden journal must be started pronto.

No photos yet (just picture, um, garlic in a brown paper bag). These guys however are also part of the plan. A serious concrete gardener stops for no season!

this one's for madre

These have been a long time coming.

I've been talking about making curtains since we first moved in, when we stuck a blanket over the window as a makeshift placeholder. Many months have followed, minds have been changed about patterns & material (well, one mind, the other isn't concerned) and basically I was afraid to start. If you know me, you know this sewing thing is new to me and I'm only just getting to grips with the sewing machine. I have so many ideas in my little brain & so few skills to call upon! But I try.

And then I went to Ikea & picked out this fabulous material -P1050768
I've been on a real color kick lately. I'm obsessed with patterns, both bold & sweet. Our house has a lot of... blank-ness in it. And as renters, our hands are tied in terms of changing things. I'm talking white walls, no holes for hangin', white walls... This tropical splash of ruby red fruit smoothie is just what we needed.
I left the sides fringey for added island appeal. And I'm very pleased with the results.
I love walking into this room now. P1050975
Look how it glows! Will it look like this in January? When they're drawn, we might think we're in the Maldives (if we've been hitting the rum).

*contented sigh* Yes, I am happy with my very first homemade curtains. Saucy approves, too. She supervises all craft projects.

weekend craft report

I'm happy to report that there was much domestic success in the house of Vikings this weekend. Dublin enjoyed some surprisingly lovely weather (sunshine, greyness & rain that held off til nighttime) that inspired some frenzy at the garden shop. I did, however, manage to rein in some of that excited energy in the form of little sewing projects.
I'm particularly pleased with my matching set of mini pillows which I finally completed on Saturday. I had recently bought some fantastic organic cotton with the sweetest tree pattern on it from Scottish etsy seller, showpony. Her series 'Seasons' helped me make four cute pillows, representing winter, spring, summer & fall. P1050913P1050952
I really love the 'Nasty' & 'Nice' versions of her 'Insect Soup' pattern. I think I might have to surround myself with endless mini pillows that tell little Discovery Channel stories. Cute, huh?

happy monday morning


Sunday, August 23, 2009

curry weekend

Welcome to the first installment of the Curry Weekend Project. I can foresee the hubby-to-be & I tinkering with curries & pilaus & taking bold stabs at spicy, colorful, Rick Stein-influenced cooking for the infinite future. Here's our first chapter - a Sri Lankan cashew curry. A perfect birthday weekend meal.

In perfect Food Network style, hubbo lays out all the necessary ingredients (Tiger beer included). Besides beer for sipping, there's fennel seeds, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, mustard seeds, uncooked rice (cool, huh?). Crushed in the mortar & pestle with cinnamon stick, a few dried kashmiri chillies, cardmom pods, cloves & turmeric (we were missing fenugreek that day).
That's cassia bark (or did we buy cinnamon?) sizzling away. This makes the kitchen smell like you're sunbathing on a cinnamon bun. In Sri Lanka!P1050852
Fresh curry leavesP1050848
Then comes the various veggies & faux chicken.
Coconut milk action shotP1050858P1050859
Serve with thisP1050863
and thisP1050867
It's funny, as I'm posting this, the hubster is sitting on the couch with the Ultimate Curry Bible on his lap & I have a cinnamon tomato "chicken" pilau bubbling away on the stove. Then he asks me if I want green coriander chicken tomorrow, apparently a favorite of Ismaili Muslims from Kenya. Who knew! Gonna have to google it in anticipation. Will report back.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

travel by chair

I love stumbling upon something, whether in a book, newspaper or blog, that connects to a subject I’ve recently begun obsessing over or something I've always fantasized about.

Take my recent fascination with embroidery and long time love of old furniture & cool chairs. Did you know that I briefly, but quite seriously, considered pursuing graduate studies in furniture design? It's all true.

More recently, as I try to learn how to wield a very small needle in my self-taught stitching exploits, I've found myself reading about the many world cultures that have this colorful, quietly expressive & painstaking craft of embroidery deeply woven into their heritage. South American cultures, for example, as well as Central Asian. The other day I found myself passing an hour (or two) at work reading about suzanis (embroidered textiles from Uzbekistan that happen to have an awesome name). Even though I can only manage a 4 inch needlepoint of very simple design at the moment, I began sketching designs in my head for a large, intricate, brightly colored tapestry that would hopefully, one day (if I managed to not make it look crappy) become a treasured family heirloom for future generations of my family.


Fitting that this morning, as I snuggle up in the late summer morning sun, sipping a mug of macadamia nut coffee (thanks, Madre) I would find Beirut-based furniture design company Bokja (and thank you, design*sponge).

If I had a normal-sized house and more wapums in my pocket, I’d grab my friend Joanne & make frequent trips to this Lebanese shop of wonders. And I would definitely have a room (or six) that looked like this:


Designers Hoda Baroudi & Maria Hibri create some of the most beautiful items I've ever seen. The bright clashing colors, the intricate detailing of many, very skilled hands, the mix of recycled industrial chairs, antique wood & old metal, wrapped up in the most luxurious Eastern textiles. The perfect manifestation of the artists' philosophy and the meaning behind the name Bokja (an old Turkish description for wrapping a treasured item in velvet, like a bride's dowry - what inspiration!). Imagine taking a beautiful, antique tapestry off a museum wall and wrapping it around a vintage armchair. Amazing.

As they say themselves, they are breathing new life into once-treasured embroideries by creating modern, eclectic pieces. Like ripping out a page from the Arabian Nights & turning it into a new reading chair. Perfection.


good morning

Everyone should wake up to a pile of Sausage at the end of the bed.