Thursday, April 28, 2011


Brilliant yellow spikey
on the roadside and the verges.
Turn to seed
 translucent and drifting in the wind,
 a thousand little possibilities.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


Photo taken by a friend but I can't remember who!

When Murphy was a puppy, he was the sweetest, cutest puppy you could possibly imagine....I mean it! There is nothing more adorable than a Staffie puppy. They embody the very ideals of puppydom. All wobbly bums and wiggly bodies, shiny wet noses, fat little bellies and masses of enthusiasm. They think the world is purely for their benefit.   
Whenever we went out, he would get lots of attention from everyone we met, kids would run over to pet him, adults would coo and ahh and Murph would relish being the centre of attention.

A few years on Murphy still expects the same reaction from his public. He will run joyously to greet any people we meet on our journey (given the chance!) especially kids. Inside he's still that lovable pup and for some reason he can't fathom, he's not getting the same reaction anymore! It's taken me some time not to take this personally on his behalf, the suspicious looks, the grimaces and sometimes, hurtfully, the comments. I wish people could see what we see: a beautiful, stocky, glossy doggie who 'smiles' every morning when he sees us, who is always up for a bit of fun and who is so good and gentle with Maisie.

Since Maisie was born, Murphy hasn't gotten the level of attention he was previously used too. But he is so much a part of our family that I really couldn't imagine not having him around. He is the ultimate distraction and amusement for Maisie, on bad teething nights we have called him into the bedroom and watched her tears stop. She plays with him every day, laughing and running around with him shrieking with laughter, and I know he would protect her with his life if he had too.
So thanks Murphy, I take you for granted most days but every so often I stop and think what a gem you are.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Carrageen Moss Pudding....and some excuses!

Soooooo. I had no laptop for a while....then somebody got sick of my complaining and now I'm the proud owner of my own portable computing device! Might be time to start complaining about my camera situation!

Starting April 1986 a regular, (but not much enjoyed, sorry Mam!) part of our diet was Carrageen Jelly. Carrageen, meaning 'little rock' in Irish is a seaweed that has been used in Ireland for generations as a remedy for coughs, colds and other ailments. Recent research shows that it has antiviral properties but it's the high concentration of iodine in Carrageen that made it of interest to our Mam. In the months after the Chernobyl accident that released radioactive material into the atmosphere and over parts of Europe, she served this jelly to top up our natural iodine stores. Iodine, that can in some way protect against the effects of radiation.
On the 11th of March once again we had a terrifying reminder that we are not in control of this planet we inhabit and it behoves us to take care of our planet and ourselves if we want to remain here.
Being a practical Mammy, my Mum was quick to deliver a package of Carrageen Moss with instructions to feed it to her precious Granddaughter as often as possible! That night at 11.30pm (that's when I get extra things done!) I started cooking.

I figured my Masie mightn't go for the jelly of our childhood so I reached for Irish Seaweed Kitchen: The Comprehensive Guide to Healthy Everyday Cooking with Seaweeds and found Myrtle Allen's Carrageen Moss Pudding recipe.

I adapted her recipe a little, since we had no eggs I used apple purée but I think the apple worked really well with the recipe.

Firstly (and most importantly!) it pleased the palate of our youngest family member and second it tasted pretty good to the rest of the family!

Carrageen Moss Pudding
from Myrtle Allen
in Irish Seaweed Kitchen

3.5 - 4.5g carageen moss (I used a handful!)
1 1/2 pints milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla pod seeds
1 1/2 oz sugar
1 egg, separated (I used a cup of apple purée)

1. Soak the carrageen in cold water for ten minutes, then remove and put in a saucepan with milk and a vanilla pod.
2. Bring to the boil and simmer very gently for 15 minutes, semi-covered, taking care that it does not boil over.
3. The carageen will now be swollen and exuding jelly.
4. Pour through a strainer and into a mixing bowl.
5. Rub the jelly through a strainer and beat it into the milk with the sugar, egg yolk (apple).
6. Whisk egg white and fold into mixture if using.
7. Transfer to serving bowl and serve chilled.

Making a yummy pudding and protecting us from radiation at the same time, is there anything this magic seaweed can't do! 

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Urban Fox

Recently we spent some time in Belfast. Staying in a small apartment in the Titanic Quarter. Murphy was confused about the absence of green.....
Look up Murph!

"I'm supposed to wee against this?!!"

We did find some green spaces to play in eventually.

And fancy buildings make good back-drops!

And who cares so much anyway, as long as you have a good pal to play with.....

All in all we had fun, Belfast has amazing playgrounds and great places to eat. But we were relieved to get home. To fields and green and stone walls and new lambs and the comforts of home.