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Smiling the whole day long….

Today is a very very good day.

Exam results were released this was morning. Tulip was out so I asked if I could check for him – I think I was more anxious than him.  After an age of “This page cannot be loaded” and watching that circle going round and around I went to make a coffee.
Should I mention that I had the 2 laptops and the netbook trying to get into the results page?  Maybe best not show how sad I am 😉

Coffee in hand, wee shamrock #2 watching me pacing with a worried expression on her face probably thinking “Parents are from Pluto” the screen finally showed the results page.  Cue loud squeal and a whole lot of muttering to myself I finally reached the actual results.

You know when you are so desperate to find something out that you just cannot make sense of the letters, words and numbers in front of you? Yes that is exactly what happened.  One forced deep breath later, I saw the line that would determine our future

“First Class Honours”

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I am so very proud of my husband!  This also means that our dream to move east side is very much in our reach. *happy happy happy*

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To celebrate he was allowed to make the steak, his favourite meal with whiskey sauce ❤
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The 2013 checklist :  Taken from the very first post I wrote on here:

  • Moving to Dublin
  • Restarting my Early Childhood Education honours degree
  • Turning 40
  • Husband graduating  *tick*
  • Having a family filled summer
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Mmmmm strawberries!

In the last wee while I have been working on crochet orders and new lines for my Facebook page that you can find here. With every order, I have had to try out new techniques so it has been a lot of fun.

Last year, we planted herbs and strawberries in the wall at the front of the house. We didn’t expect them to last too long but the herbs are still alive and to our surprise the strawberries are appearing now.  They have been completely neglected until now…. but look….

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I am determined that this year I will make strawberry shortcake. Wonder if I can make them in the caravan?

This is the recipe I plan to use, courtesy of Nigella

Ingredients

for the shortcakes

  • 325 grams plain flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 5 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 125 grams unsalted butter (frozen)
  • 1 large egg (beaten)
  • 125 ml single cream
  • 1 large egg white (lightly beaten)

for the filling

  • approx. 300 grams strawberries
  • 1 tablespoon caster sugar
  • 3 drops balsamic vinegar (optional)
  • 250 ml double cream (or creme fraiche)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 220ºC/gas mark 7/425ºF.
  2. Mix the flour, salt, baking powder and 3 tablespoons of the sugar in a bowl. Grate the butter into these dry ingredients and use your fingertips to finish crumbling the butter into the flour. Whisk the egg into the cream, and pour into the flour mixture a little at a time, using a fork to mix. You may not need all of the eggy cream to make the dough come together, so go cautiously.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and roll gently to a thickness of about 2cm / ¾ inch. Dip a 6½ cm / 2½ inch round cutter in flour and cut out as many rounds as you can. Work the scraps back into a dough, re-roll and finish cutting out  you should get 8 in all. Place the shortcakes about 2½ cm / 1 inch apart on a greased or lined baking sheet, brush the tops with the egg white, and sprinkle them with the remaining 2 tablespoons of caster sugar. If it helps with the rest of your cooking, or life in general, you can cover and refrigerate them now for up to 2 hours.
  4. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until golden-brown, and let them cool for a short while on a wire rack. Meanwhile, crush half the strawberries with the spoonful of sugar and the few drops of balsamic vinegar if using, and halve or quarter the remaining strawberries, depending on their size. Whip the double cream, if you’re using.
  5. The shortcakes should be eaten while still warm, so split each one across the middle and cover with a spoonful of the crushed strawberry mixture, a few halved or quartered strawberries, then dollop some whipped cream or creme fraiche on top, and set the top back on.

I hope to blog photos of these when I make them.

Family finding frogs with Frenchies and Friends

We were invited to a friends’ parents’ house.  Our friend had dug out a pond on the grounds and there were frog and tadpoles.

The house was really in the middle of nowhere, through a gate in between 2 houses and down a beaten track.  We got stuck halfway up so I had to take over the driving whilst the hubster pushed to get us back on the track.  The commentary from the back seat was hilarious, talk about DRAMA! 

Shamrock 1(4 year old) – “OH MY GAWD!”

Shamrock 2 (7 year old) – ” I knew we shouldn’t have come here”

And on it went whilst I was edging the car forward and hubster was pushing with all his might living up to the bumper sticker
“I would rather push a Volvo than drive a Ford”

Holding my breath just a little bit longer we arrived at the house. The house and grounds were amazing, I did not imagine it would look how it did.  It was like driving into a secret garden. 

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Our first mission was to look through the swamp *cough* I mean pond to look for the tadpoles to show the kids.

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As if the amazing adventure wasn’t enough, as we were in the house the cat began meowing all of a sudden.  Shamrock 1 kept looking at the cat (who was laying in the dogs basket) and asking what she was licking.  I presumed the cat was doing what all cats do and just said that she was cleaning herself. After the 4th time asking and looking intently, I had a look.  I don’t even know what it looked like but saw a wee black shape writhing about then out popped another! This cat was literally having kittens!  The kids were delighted!

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Beach, table, caravan (eventually)

A person I follow on Facebook posted a photo of a very simple activity that I could do with the kids over the weekend.
The Mr needed the car to go to study at a friend’s house so we had to go to the beach to pick up some resources…. So off we went, kids, dogs and I.

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The time we got back in the car, am time.

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Luckily the tide was on the way out but it was raining so the Frenchies weren’t too keen on walking far.

At home, the stones were washed and dried. We put acrylic paint in the palette, covered the table cloth with paper.
I haven’t painted anything since before boy child was born 7 and a half years ago so all my small acrylic paint rubes were dried out. Luckily we had the big tubes still.

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It was fab doing these together. The scenarios that were being shared were so funny!

The plan for these is to take them to decorate the ground around the holiday caravan.

Feeling all productive we tidied up and made the cinnamon pull apart bread which I will link when on netbook.

Changing Direction

We have had a stressy morning.  First, the hubster’s alarm didn’t go off…. He woke at exactly the time the train left the station. On the morning of the interview for the PhD’s. 
Whilst he was getting, I drove into town to get money from the hole in the wall and pick up his ticket from the station to save him time. 
Kids had to be woken up so that we could bring him to the station.  The train he would catch brings him into Dublin in time but it is cutting it fine – living on the edge!.
We absolutely hate being late so I hope he doesn’t get too stressy there.

So, kids have been awake since 6am, they played well together most of the time and wound each other up like always but we were in the car on  time to go to school.

On the way…..
A car came out in front of me on the “fast road” the name we give the back road because there is less traffic. So this woman, drove 40 km in a 60km zone.  Slammed the brakes on when a car drove on the other side *sigh* At first I was moaning about it (following on with the mood of the morning).  Kids started playing up, feeding off my winge  and then I started saying “OOOh a car” with a surprised sounding voice.  I did this every time a car came from the other side or when we approached a roundabout.
This totally lifted the mood in the car.  Giggles and excited chatter came from the back.  This led into big belly chuckles from the kids and they started making up their own “surprises”.   

Boy child: “OOOH! A graveyard”,
Girl child: “OOOH! A skeleton!”
Boy child: “OOOH! A brain, mmm eat the brain”
Me: “Gatver!” (Dutch for minging 😉 )
Kids: Laughing so loud!

It turned into pure silliness but do you know what? Doesn’t matter because we were all laughing together! 🙂

 

 

More good news! Hubster just text.  He is already in the taxi and on his way to the interview – half an hour early! Wooooohooooo! 

Now let’s get crochet projects finished to sell 🙂 And coffee, we can’t forget coffee 😀

Meal planning…. Continued

My quest to find meals from the butcher delivery has finally commenced…

500g Diced Lamb

The shortlist consists of:
Souvlaki,  Greek Beans with seared lamb, Greek lamb tray bake

1kg Topside Roast

Slow cooked cinnamon beef

5 x 5oz Pork Chops

Will be marinated in Kecap Manis or fried in ginger, coriander and served sate sauce. To accompany this I will prepare green beans, with Kecap Manis and garlic.  Served with half brown half white rice.  (Our compromise, hubster doesn’t want brown, I don’t want to eat white) 😉

Oh my word! Did you know there was a Google app for BBC Good Food?!

Sooooo, getting back to the task in hand….

Chicken breasts

I love Mexican food so I will make fajitas? Might marinade the chicken breasts with lime, garlic and coriander beforehand? homemade guacamole, salsa and garlic sauce, lettuce, mixed beans and nachos with melted cheese.

Oh! Just found a recipe perfect for the caravan! Feel another blog coming on 😀

Oh! Mackerel recipe! Mmmmm! Tostada

^^ this is me trying to find a recipe for the steak! Going off in a tangent is what I can do very well 😀

Edited to add…..

I wasn’t even finished *sigh*

5 x 5oz Striploin Steaks- Soy and sake marinated 

2 x 7oz Sirloin Steaks – Keep this simple, medium rare, red wine or port sauce, onions, mushrooms, bacon bits…..

 

 

 

Exams

My husband is currently studying for his finals.  It is a very stressful time for him and his classmates.  We regularly have a kitchen full of his classmates studying together (although now there is too much laughter :-D).  Crazy or not, I am slightly jealous – no, jealous is too strong a word….. I am…. slightly envious

I cannot believe that he is nearing the end of his degree.  We had just found out that we were expecting our littlest one just as recession really hit everyone.  There was no work available, things were looking grim.  Following a conversation with a lecturer, M started looking into following his line of work in Environmental Sciences.  I remember feeling excited that he wanted to return to education and helping him with the application process.  His interview for the degree took place when our littlest was a few weeks old.  He looked a tad shell shocked when he arrived home as he was convinced that he didn’t do well as the interview was finished in 5 minutes.  Needless to say he was successful!

He really took to the studying, was always in the top three in the class and I didn’t even know in the 12 years of our relationship that he was a mathematics and science genius! 😀

Our life then took an unexpected turn (I might even write about it… one day) and we had to move house to the closest town.  It was a good move from a bad situation….

I started thinking about what I was going to do in the future. Boy child was at school and girl child was 2 years old.  We were closer to civilisation being in town, opportunities were available. There was an information night for part time courses at the I.T that hubster was at.  By the end of that week I was accepted onto the Early Childhood Care and Education degree program.  After being at home for the last 6 years, it was very exciting, scary and daunting all at the same time.

Since qualifying as a Nursery Nurse in 1993 I hadn’t written anything academic, unless you count observations, accident/ incident reports and medicine forms.  I was absolutely dreading tackling essays/ reports and exams.  I needn’t have worried, I found that I loved researching and writing. I managed to get 80% for my first ever essay! To say I was delighted was an understatement!

The times of lectures and fees changed.  It was meant to be on in the evenings but then changed to a full day Friday and Saturday.  This condensed the duration from 6 years to 4 and a half years, this meant the fees increased annually.  It crippled us financially, impacted on our relationship and the kids were not getting the dedication that they deserved and it was incredibly difficult to find the time to really get my teeth into the course work.

Our plan was always to move to the east coast of Ireland, more opportunities available for the future. So it was decided that I would defer my degree with the idea that I would apply to carry on in Dublin.  This would give M the opportunity to give 100% to his thesis, continuous assessments and exams.  It would also mean that I could give the kids more attention.

I was incredibly sad to defer at first but you know how things just fall into place and everything confirms that you made the right decision. M was able to to devote all his time on his final semester. Oldest boy was discharged from speech therapy. *grin*  It would be easier to transfer from the point where I finished here to apply by advanced entry to institutes in Dublin.  This week, the exams started, Monday evening and Friday evening at 18.30 hours both for the hubster and my old class.  It would have been impossible for both of us to attend the exams.

Applications have been sent in for me to carry on with my degree so fingers crossed please 🙂  I am desperate to start again 😀

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