We are lucky to be able to sit down for a couple of meals a day together, the proximity of work, creche, Montessori, and Rugby Club too I suppose, make this possible.
Our kitchen table is wonderful, solid oak, round, 5 feet (150cm) In diameter it seats 8 people and 12/14 at a push when extended. It is surrounded by windows so the sun shines on it for most of the day. I don't use a cloth to protect it. It is real wood and has taken its punishing life well, with only small scars which enhance it's good looks, and I didn't pay for an oak table to look at a plastic table cloth.
Day to day the four of us only use half of it. The hound lies under the other half, the top of this half was covered in newspapers, kids drawings and other paper - Not any more! 2 radiators that flank the table have been pressed into use.
Using some colourful fabric and those racks that go on the radiator to dry socks and undies (less than 3 euro in a hardware shop) I made two "magazine racks", one for the kids drawings and one for the newspapers and magazines. The kitchen table has been a clutter free zone since they were finished.
Now, if I could just solve the clutter gathered at the end of the work top...
How I made it:
They are basically a hammock, made with a length of material as wide as the rack and twice as long as you need the hammock to be, this means the pattern will be on the inside as well and as it's simply a circle it can be removed by taking the rack of the radiator and pulling it over the end.
Press and double hem the sides of the material and then sew the right sides together along the short edge. Turn it inside out, you will have a loop of material put it over the end of your rack and slide whatever's annoying you inside.
You may need a soft measuring tape and a second pair of hands to see how long your hammock needs to be. Hold the end of the tape against one rail, loop it underneath the items you want to keep in it as if the hammock was already there and bring the tape up to the other rail, double this measurement for the length of your fabric.
If you are completely confused and want to make one, leave a comment and I'll do my best to clear the volcanic ash left by this last paragraph!
Almost every stitch of clothing in our house is clean and line dried! This makes me very happy. I love drying clothes outside. It's better... for them, the environment, my purse and my spirit.
I told a friend recently that I wasn't romantic, too practical you see... but she pointed out that my love of drying clothes on the line is romantic and to see a load of colourful washing fluttering in the breeze against green grass and blue skies, I'd have to agree! It's certainly a pursuit for the eternally optimistic in this part of the world.
I made this peg bag out of an old shirt. A child's hanger is ideal as an adults one would be too wide. Happily this purple one matched the shirt. It really only involves 3 lines of sewing, and a colourful shirt. If you're tempted to try making one, leave a comment and I'll do my best to give you some tips.
It's a Tommy Hilfiger shirt, I guess that makes it a designer peg bag!
Since a fish shop opened within walking distance of our house, about a year ago, I am happy to say I have been cooking fish once a week, I know it should be at least twice a week but it's much better than I was. I am always looking for more ideas though.
My kids love it and to my surprise mussels are their favourite.
I am looking forward to the owner of Fishy Fishy in Kinsale, Martin Shanahan starting his TV series on RTE 1 on Thursday at 8.30 pm, he promises to take the "fear out of fish" and I know he's very enthusiastic and down to earth so maybe I'll be inspired to make it to the fish shop even more!
A dilemma mentioned by Anne Marie of whatshewears.ie some time ago, put me thinking. All her necklaces are around a door handle and extricating one would be more hassle than its worth.
The Princess, at the tender age of 4 had the same issue, so we got some little self adhesive hooks in a DIY/hardware store and put them on the inside of her wardrobe door. This took all of 10 minutes, she helped and we haven't had a missing jewellery tantrum in weeks, they are the only thing she likes to put away! Because they are inside a wardrobe they don't gather much dust.
Just remember if your wardrobe has shelves or drawers inside do not put a hook opposite them or the door won't close - know what I mean? If you do it - you will! I did it in the kitchen with a hook for the tea cosy, still annoying me, the door stops about half a centimetre short of closing.
The arrival of the German discount supermarket chains in this country was greeted with much enthusiasm by my extended family, not just because of the prices but the products also appealed to our Germanic roots. Biscuits, bread, pickles, sweets, and sausages familiar to us were tested enthusiastically and the best of them added to our store cupboard staples.
I now have a list of items I only buy from our local one and we make a trip every month or so to stock up on them. Kitchen roll, ketchup, tinned tomatoes, pasta, baby wipes etc.
The day we head out for that big shop, dinner is a dead cert - it will definitely be Chorizo and Bean Stew.
This takes less than 30 mins, a limited number of ingredients and all of them have a good shelf life so it's an excellent stand by dish or after work wonder.
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed or grated
2 teaspoons dried oregano or mixed herbs
2 tins kidney beans, drained
2 tins of tomatoes
Serve with Pasta
Add the chorizo to a hot saucepan ( it will realease its own oil,) fry until a little crispy.
Turn down the heat, add the onions and garlic, sweat until soft.
Add the tomatoes, kidney beans and dried herbs, bring to the boil and simmer gently until the sauce is thick and glossy, at least 15 mins, but if you have a little longer the sauce will benefit from it.
If I am doing something new I like to "read the book" - this is the case whether I am getting married, growing veg or having a baby! Before our first child was born I had read The Contented Little Baby Book by Gina Ford and The Baby Whisperer by Tracy Hogg and I regularly refer to Dr Christopher Green's Toddler Taming as much for solace and entertainment as for solutions - as anyone who saw my children running around, shouting in the shops yesterday will testify!