Thursday, 30 August 2012

A tale of two Hollywoods and a Vintage Fair

This is probably one of the iconic images conjured up by many people if you were to ask them to think original Hollywood. 

But actually the ORIGINAL Hollywood is not to be found on the warm west coast of the United States of America, where the sun shines all year round, palm trees sway in the breeze, and a large percentage of homes have a swimming pool. 

No, the original Hollywood is to be found in a much cooler, drizzlier and more rural part of the world entirely. 

Although it does bear some striking similarities, the American Hollywood was named by an Irish immigrant named Matthew Guirke. He named the suburb of Los Angeles after his native homeplace Hollywood Co.Wicklow

 Up until his passing in 2003 Matthew Guirks' great grand nephew Jim Guirke(not pictured) ran the post office and shop in Hollywood village.
this same village shop and sub-Post Office for over 60 years until his death in 2003. 

The tradition of a Hollywood Fair was resurrected last year and this year saw the second pre-1950's fair swing into action on the weekend of the 18th August. 

Loads of people make the effort to get dressed up.

The village takes on a real old fashioned fair feeling, the whole village is strewn with straw.

Open air cauldrons of delicious colcannon (mashed potato and kale or cabbage) which was served with sausages for a traditional meal.

There were butter churning and wool spinning demonstrations.

You could buy the freshly churned butter parceled up in little packages of greaseproof paper.

And everything from fancy walking sticks,

to the sweetest little piglets were for sale.

The King of the Fair

We only made it to the daytime events but I believe the music and dancing at the crossroads in the evening and well into the night was something not to be missed again.

 I heard the craic was mighty.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Ta-Dah Tuesday

I have been threatening to get this little job done for a while now, its the kind of job that i get around to on a day that I don't need to leave 'the ranch'. The perfect rainy dull day presented itself, last week and along with   a batch of blueberry jam (which didn't set very well) and a birthday cake for Little Bee, I made just three bottles of blackcurrant vodka.

The process is quite simple, sterilize bottles in the oven and leave to cool. 
Put blackcurrants in bottle.
Sprinkle liberally with sugar.
Top up with in vodka.
Shake gently to dissolve sugar.
Stash in cool dark place.
Will be ready by Halloween, but try to keep some until Christmas.

I normally make this with raspberries, but i'm loosing all faith in any Autumn raspberry harvest this year.
From what i read though the blackcurrant version is supposed to be excellent.

This is what it looks like this morning nearly a week later.

No, I haven't had a nip out of bottle no. 3 . I just ran out of vodka ;)

Linking up to Ta-dah Tuesday

Monday, 27 August 2012


Thrift was thin on the ground this week.

Patchwork quilt €7.

Someone had splattered paint on it, but it scratched off without harm.
It just took a little time.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Time Capsule for the aliens.

As part of our ongoing extension project,  we had removed part of a garden wall attached to the back corner of our existing house and the corner needed to be strengthened. 

With the pouring of a small amount of concrete Little Bee and I decided it would be a perfect moment to sink a time capsule into the concrete which would soon set like stone.

She gathered mementos from me and her father, I donated a small piece of crochet, her Dad gave her a small polished stone, and she drew a picture of the three of us and our cottage along with the date. We put it in a small plastic jar and ceremoniously pushed it into the fast setting concrete.

She was certain that it would be aliens that would discover this valuable piece of information and instantly regretted not writing the note in 'alien'.

Some would say we should have better things to do with our time.

I say the aliens will probably be fascinated at this little piece of future history, I just hope they can read English.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Thrift Haul

It was the last of four large car boot sales that happen throughout the summer, at one particularly pleasant venue. 

I was selling at the last ones, but still recovering from my surgery I was attending as a buyer this time instead. 
Mr Thrift Bee was talked  into joining me. Mr Thrift Bee does not like car boot sales, and once he decides he doesn't like something it is very hard to get him to change his mind. 

He came along in good humour and carried my bags all morning. It may have been because of this that i went a bit mad, bought quite a lot and even managed a few things on my thrift list.

You spend all your life dreaming of one day owning your own camper van and then all of a sudden two come at once!! The VW is a money box and of course will be used for the camper van fund. The other was given to friends that are currently actively shopping for one, hopefully as a good luck charm.

For €1.50 i couldn't resist another vanity bag, good condition inside, but I think the outside used to be white and someone dyed it (badly) blue. 
I probably have enough Le parfait jars but never pass them up. 
The large jar with aluminium lid is a cracker, Mr Thrift Bee spyed it ,he has a good eye, and often spots things that i have missed and this jar was only €1.

I picked up a nice selection of crochet items throughout the morning.

A letter tray/paper organiser has been on  my thrift wish list for some time, it is easy to find plastic ones but i was very pleased with these Ikea ones.

I have also been after a new fruit bowl. I dropped something on the one i have had for years and needed a replacement. It will also be used as a salad bowl on occasion. Little Bee is a great fruit eater and i'm a big believer in always having it in easy reach for her just to help herself. Another well spent €1.

We don't own a scrabble board. This is a travel one in its own zip up case. It's not old, the letters are plastic, but it will sit with my collection of board games waiting for a camper van, or a power cut.

Finally some vintage teatowels.

'Cooking with apples'
Nice recipes printed on it. We often get given bags of apples in autumn from kindly neighbours with more productive apple trees than our own.
Our best apple tree will this year, be offering from its boughs, just one solitary apple, which  is about the size of a small plum.

            London landmarks. (pre London Eye which was when i lived there and met Mr Thrift Bee)

From the year i met Mr TB - strange to me to think this classes as proper vintage now! 
Neither of us have ever been to Australia. I just need a 26 year old Australian to gift it to.

Linking up with the following

Friday, 17 August 2012

Homegrown Homemade

You just cannot beat the taste of homemade strawberry jam. In this case homemade and homegrown strawberry jam. 
I have two ways of growing strawberries the early ones are grown in the polytunnel suspended from a shelf.  The later ones are outside and have to wait patiently for a bit of warmth from the sun.
When a strawberry flower is poorly pollinated, it can result in a  misshapen fruit. Whether it was lazy bees or the crappy weather we have been having this year the outdoor strawberry bed has produced the ugliest of ugly looking strawberries which is a complete contrast to the catwalk specimens that prompted me to start this very blog in the first place.

Anyway, some of the ugly strawberries along with some of the juice from the redcurrant harvest (for pectin to make it set) has made my first little batch of delicious strawberry jam.

Continuing on a homegrown theme, I just had to post a picture of my very colourful stir fry prep, everything here except the ginger is from my garden.

Mange tout, broccoli, carrot, yellow courgette, prizewinning purple beans  garlic and spring onions.
Colourful, healthy, nutritious, fresher than fresh, and practically free! 
The smug self satisfaction - priceless!!

Think i'll link up with Lakota's Ta dah Tuesday even though its Friday!

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Cheesy but true good life post

It was a beautiful day here in the mountains on Friday. We had the luxury of knowing at least a day of good weather was on the way. On a day like that I am determined to spend the day in the garden. And that's exactly what we did. 
Lunch was homegrown lettuce, french beans, and broad beans, a friends rocket and eggs and the tuna was from Aldi. (Lidl's tuna is much better)
The dressing was garlic, Dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar and an olive oil that we brought home from Spain.
Washed down with our very first attempt at homemade elderflower champagne. 

I wasn't sure what to expect from this drink. We only made it about 3 weeks ago. About 7 bottles. One of the bottles exploded in the shed even though we were letting the gas out every other day. Another bottle didn't seem to be fermenting as much as the others, which is the one we stuck in the fridge and had while sitting in the sun. It is sweet and floral and still fizzy, and absolutely lovely.  

One of the jobs for the afternoon was picking the soft fruit. Redcurrants like dangley earrings will be used for their pectin content in the strawberry jam fest that i am planning for the wetter weather that is forcast for next week.

Great blackcurrants this year, i'm thinking these might be infused in vodka, as the raspberry vodka that i normally make is under question, because the raspberries look half the height they usually are and i'm not sure that they will crop well this year.

The blueberry bush is a great plant. Laden with fruit at the moment, our four bushes enjoy our acid soil and will be picked  several times in the next month, as you can see they don't all ripen at once. Once they have offered up all their fruit, then the foliage goes flaming red and are wonderful to look at. These berries rarely make it into the house. If they do, they are in such small numbers they are snaffled out of the little bowl in the fridge before i can ever do anything with them.
This year I am determined to make a blueberry pie or at very least a batch of muffins.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012


 July was a very busy month for me. Work started on a new extension, and surgery at the end of the month knocked it out of me a bit. But even with out those events, July is always a busy month.

 In recent years my fruit and vegetable garden has become really productive, and July  is a month where just working in the garden and kitchen can keep a girl busy. Lots of things to sow, weed, feed, water, plant out, and of course harvest. I love bringing in the food. 

There are some things that  you just harvest as you need them, the garden becomes like another cupboard in your kitchen. Like making a crumble and popping out to pull an armful of rhubarb, or nipping out to snip a bayleaf, parsley and thyme to tie up a bouquet garni for a slow cook stew.

 Then there are things that NEED  to be picked everyday while they are in season to keep them productive, like mange tout peas and french beans and courgettes, if you skip picking for a day when they are really powering along, they become like triffids and you can be facing a glut. It still amazes me how much growth they can put on in 48 hours. In the rainy summer we've been having, the strawberries go from ready to mushy very quickly, so these too need to be picked everyday.

One of my favourite harvests is the soft fruit. Gooseberries are generally only harvested once, in one sitting. There is a window of a good couple of weeks, where they are ready and can be picked.

 Its a sunny day job. Little Bee and i will get little chairs and sit below the bushes and pick and chat away. Inevitably she will remind me of how sharp the thorns are. She will remind me of how funny it was two years ago when i was bending over picking one bush and i backed onto another and let out a holler as I got pricked in the bum. She was three at the time and thought it was hilarious. Any mention of gooseberries since then, and she loves to tell the story.

The picking in the garden is very satisfying, but it isn't over at that. Food will be wasted if not dealt with efficiently. Gooseberries need topping and tailing, washing, bagging and freezing. Armed with a  small scissors and my 7lbs of gooseberries took about an hour to top and tail. 

Sometimes the occasional visitor makes his way in with the crops. 

This snail was really really tiny,

and this little fella was extremely green.

I'm not sure which one of them was responsible for this very artistic.....

poo initial left on this gooseberry.

For me and my daughter, harvesting gooseberries never fails to dissappoint.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

County Show

 August bank holiday weekend means our County Show. 
An Agricultural show that includes everything from 

vintage cars, 

amazing quilts,

unbelievable crafting skills,

and ingenuity.

Dog agility performances, led by large dogs but the 

little fellas were the most entertaining. 

The really serious business of judging the best breeds in farming begins at the bovine hairdressing salon.

                      The care and effort that goes into showing these wonderful animals is incredible

The judges deliberate 

Their decisions aren't just about the prizes and rosettes, but accolades in these shows also impact on the businesses of the farmers who breed and sell their prizewinning animals and their offspring.

One of the reasons we go back every year is for the competitions for crafts, flowers,                              (these dahlias won best in show and were grown by a very  frisky 89 year old gentleman)

flower arranging (in this case just leaf arranging, isn't it wonderful)

and home produce. Honey and vegetables. Check out those leeks and parsnips!!

So what did we bring home from the day..........................Tah - Da!!!!

Two firsts, Two seconds and a third!!

First prize for Mr Thrift Bees honey.
First prize for my Peas (for the fouth year running - I'm a legume legend!!)
Second prize for my green beans.
Second prize for my handmade apron. (First time entering craft section, i'm particularly chuffed with that one)
and Little Bee won third prize for her purple beans presented on a red heart shaped plate.

So a great day out, with a small profit in prize money which pays for seeds and compost for the vegetable garden for next year. It means we get about 6-8 months worth of fruit and veg for free!!!