Monday, March 10, 2014

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

My mother-in-law was 100% Irish.  Her mother was a Corcoran from County Cork and her father was an O'Hare.  Through the years I've tried to keep traditions in our house and what better holiday to be part of but St. Patrick's Day.

My hutch is the first thing that get's decorated.  I don't have a lot of St. Patrick's Day decorations but what we have are small treasures we've collected over the years.

I have no idea where I acquired these Leprechaun flour sack dishtowels.  For some reason I don't think they come from my mother-in-law because I can't remember her ever giving them to me BUT I can't imagine them coming from my mother either because my parents didn't celebrate St. Patrick's Day. I was never home on that day.  Like almost everyone else of my generation I was on a barstool at Malone's having one of the best nights of the year.  Maybe that's why I can't remember!  Anyway, I always forget about them but somehow they magically appear every year in time to be displayed.

This is Paddy O'Leary.  I made him years ago for my husband.  He's out and about all over our house the whole month of March.  Over the years many people have wanted to buy him but he's just too precious to ever leave us and I know I could never recreate him.


I checked the internet and eBay for anything like these  flour sack dishtowels and came up with nothing so I'm figuring they're worth something.  As with everything I own, I would never part with them.  Once treasures enter my house they rarely leave.

I made the potholder/hot pad below many years ago when I was a stay-at-home mom.  That's when I had time to make all kinds of neat things.  I enlarged an internet clip of a Shamrock.  Then I printed it out, xeroxed it and cut the pattern out.  I keep all sizes of batting from past projects.  I found a little square and placed one piece of batting and one scrap of Insulate (a heat resistant material found at Jo-Ann's) together and put the copy of the cutout pattern on top. Next I traced around the pattern and cut that out.  Then cutting around the pattern again, I trimmed about 1/2 inch so it will fit easily into the middle of the Shamrock.  There's no need to be exact.  Next I took 2 different scraps of Irish themed fabric and sewed right sides together leaving enough space to turn the fabric and slip the batting and Insulate into the opening.  The Insulate should be right side up because that's where it comes in contact with the hot vessel.  I folded the trimmed piece to get it inside the Shamrock and then straightened it out and sewed the opening closed.  I used embroidery thread (now I like pearlized thread better) and buttonhole stitched around the Shamrock in green for a more decorative look.

When everyone was home for dinner I used to make a big St. Patrick's Day feast.  I would serve corned beef and cabbage, Irish soda bread, scones and beer.  For dessert I always made a white cake with coconut frosting.  Now because we are almost never all home together, I mostly go to the deli and pick up corned beef and fresh rye bread.  I'll make a variation of a Reuben with homemade coleslaw and thousand island dressing.  No holiday ever goes unnoticed in my house-I've just tweaked the menus. 

When I met my husband he had his own apartment and he was a pretty good cook.  I should have let him continue to cook but I made the fatal mistake of taking over that chore.  After that like everything else I owned it.  He brought some really good cookbooks to our new house and I've tried a lot of the recipes and some of them are still our favorites.  Below is a really good Irish Soda Bread recipe.

  At the time I wrote on this recipe making homemade buttermilk was a new procedure for me.  It's very easy.  For instance, if the recipe calls for 1 cup of buttermilk (I like to do this in a 2 cup measuring cup but a small bowl will work fine) add 1 tablespoon of cider vineager to the cup of milk.  Give it a quick stir and let it sit for 5 minutes.  It will bubble up.  When that happens it's ready to use.  You can figure any measurement out by that rule.  Another example, if the recipe calls for 1/2 cup of buttermilk, use 1/2 cup of milk and 1/2 tablespoon of vineager.  All the other little notes are just my preferences.  The bread is moist and tender and the next day fabulous for toast.  Traditional Irish Soda Bread doesn't have any fat in it but it's also hard as a rock so I would rather cheat a little and be able to eat it!

A few weeks ago I said goodbye to all of my winter decorations.  It took me one whole Sunday to sort all of my pine cones and put each color in their own container in the basement.  I kept everything up a lot longer this winter because it has dragged out so long.  When everything was put away I felt hopeful maybe pretty soon we would see a sign of spring.

I redressed my wine bottles.  This year I'm into burlap and I've found a lot of neat ways to use it.  Next time I'll post my new in-between seasons front door wreath.  

I really like this bottle.  It's on my counter and actually makes me like standing near the stove and cooking!

This bottle sits on my bar.  I have a big peacock feather near the mirror so this little one kind of compliments it.

It's really hard to see this but I attached the seal of the label with a thin rope because it has a saying on it.  The name of the bottle of  Cabernet Sauvignon is called The Dreaming Tree and it's a North Coast 2011.  I love Cabernet and this is a good full-bodied wine which is a perfect pairing with wine and cheese.  The label  reads 

Standing here - The old man said to me - Long before these crowded streets - Here stood the Dreaming Tree

The theme in my sunroom is beachy so I used starfish to dress this bottle.  I hung them with rope and decorated the bottle with a little raffia bow.

I'll light these glasses and bottle all summer when it gets dark.  I have a few more bottles lined up for my husband to drill holes in.  When he does I think I'll decorate those bottles with sand and shells. They will look great outside on the deck IF we ever get outside on the deck again.  I think the last time I was out there was October!

Now that basketball season is over we're really rolling along.  Here's the latest progress on the family room bookcases.  They're starting to look like something and it's very exciting.  This wall has been in renovation since October too!  Lots of things stopped in October.  I'm hoping for a big change in the weather and my family room in the next few months!

Paddy is hanging around waiting for spring too.  

Hopefully next time we visit there won't be any more snow on the ground!

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