Sunday, March 27, 2016

Happy Easter

"And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb."

Luke 24:2

Christ the Lord is Risen.


Friday, March 25, 2016

Have a Blessed Good Friday

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life."

John 3:16

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Leaving on a Jet Plane

It shows a lack of proper planning I know, to be leaving Ireland on St. Patrick's Day, but that is what we will be doing tomorrow morning.

We will be heading to the states for a visit and some appointments.

Then, on April second we will board a cruise ship for our two week repositioning cruise back to England.  We will not have internet during those two weeks so the blog will go silent.

I am not sure how much I will be posting before then but I will when I have something to share.

Thanks for understanding.

Jeanie Johnston

Coffin Ships.

Between 1845 to 1850 one million starving Irish emigrated from Ireland. Forty percent did not survive the journey.

Hence, the ships they emigrated in became known as coffin ships. Today we toured a reproduction of such a vessel.

The original Jeanie Johnston, however had a much brighter history. All told, she transported over two thousand souls and suffered not one death.

The owner of the original Jeanie Johnston was unusual in that he provided adequate food and water, encouraged his passengers to use the upper deck for fresh air and exercise and, most importantly he employed a medical doctor to sail with and attend to the medical needs of the passengers. This was highly unusual for the time.

If only more owners had taken the equivalent of six months wages from each passenger and then provided adequately for them the death toll might have been much lower.

All told the population drop in Ireland due to the Great Famine was over two and a half million: part from starvation and part from emigration. Today's Irish population is still one million below it's population at the beginning of the potato famine.

Long term consequences still to be seen over 170 years later.

Dublin by DART

Dublin Area Rapid Transit

Yesterday, for ten Euros each, we explored the city via the DART.  Our tickets allowed us to ride freely all day, getting on and off as often as we chose.

First, we rode all the way to Graystones, the terminus of the DART in one direction. It ran beside the shoreline for much of the way, allowing us a beautiful view of the coastline. In some areas there were inviting beaches for strolling, if only the weather had been warmer and less windy. In other areas the coastline was a very rugged wall of stone. Majestic.

The DART turned around at Graystones and headed back towards the city. We jumped of at Dalkey, a charming little town, and spent some time exploring its streets and shops. We found several little restaurants that looked very inviting but left those for another time (maybe October) since we had packed a picnic lunch.

Getting back on the DART we then rode to the other end of the line, getting off at Howth and walking its pier to view the ocean.  The fresh seafood was so enticing we had to stop at a place that smokes his own fish and bought some smoked salmon for enjoying with a cocktail last evening. It was yummy.

The DART then brought us back into the city and a short stroll to our hotel and afore mentioned cocktails, smoked salmon and dinner.

A wonderful time was had by both of us.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Cheesecake Factory Copycat Lentil Soup

Sometimes when my BFF and I head out to go shopping we end up at Cheesecake Factory for lunch. If it is Monday, I get their lentil soup. It is the best.

In an effort to get close to duplicating it I have made many that just didn't make the cut.

But last week I finally got close.

I made mine in my pressure cooker but a slow cooker would work and just take longer.  Remember, lentils do not have to be presoaked.

Here is how I made mine and it made enough for six generous servings.

One and a half cups of dry lentils
Six cups of water
One beef and one vegetable bouillon cube  ( I would prefer stock/broth but didn't have any)
Two chopped carrots
One diced onion
Three diced garlic cloves
One third pound diced ham
One tsp pepper
One and one half tsp dry thyme

I threw it all into the pressure cooker and cooked it for twenty minutes.
It came out thick, flavorful, and just delicious.

One day two I turned part of the leftovers into lentil burgers and they were great!

Day three I served the last of it over spaghetti with diced onion and Parmesan cheese.  Wonderful!

Even Mike liked it in all its manifestations and said it's a make again.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Heeling in a Narrowboat

During the night we were awakened by the slam of my bedside book hitting the floor.

I vaguely remember wondering why it had decided to jump at that particular time but my addled brain pushed the question aside as I drifted back to sleep.

At seven this morning the answer to the question was completely obvious: our boat was heeling at a ten degree angle!

While sailboats are meant to do this, narrowboats are most decidedly not.

The river had dropped about a foot in the night leaving us at our precarious angle of list.

Mike and I stood on the shore, mouths open, surveying the scene.  What now?

If we loosened the ropes, all that seemed to be keeping her from toppling on her side, wouldn't we be making matters worse, much worse?

But how did we correct the heel without loosening the very taught ropes?

Twas a puzzlement.

So we did the only logical thing, we send out a distress call via our phone to Canal and River Trust.

A young man quickly appeared, took in the situation, mentally scratched his head and called someone with more experience.

The verdict, loosen a rope and see what happens.

I was down in the boat securing possible breakables when said ropes were loosened and the boat floated off the ridge and righted herself.  Good thing she didn't topple onto her side.

Quickly the nice man went on his way and our morning returned to normal. Coffee anyone?

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Linoleum Floors

When I think about my childhood, one of my first memories is of the linoleum floors.

Shiney, bright, waxed linoleum.

 It was a wonderfully cool surface to sleep on during hot and muggy summer nights.

It was easy to dust with the big rectangular dust mop that seemed to be found in everyone's house those days.

And only occasionally did you have to get down on your knees to scrub and carefully wax it. Usually a good damp mopping sufficed.

In the winter, every bedside sported a warm rag rug for your feet to land on first thing in the morning.

Rag rugs also appeared in front of the bathroom and kitchen sinks.

And the front and back doors had substantial runner rugs to absorb the rain, mud and snow of the seasons.

Squares, rectangles, ovals, rounds. Whatever fit the situation and the areas needs appeared.

To this day I dislike wall to wall carpeting, preferring tile or hard wood. They just seem so much cleaner.

But still, after all these years, my heart responds to the simplicity of these floors and rag rugs.

For me they were normality and security. And they still are.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Mothering Sunday

Or, as those in the U.S. think of it, Mother's Day. It is known as both here in England.

To celebrate, Mike made potato pancakes for breakfast (one of my favorites). Later we will enjoy some of Megen's cheesy melt always before a dinner of leftover Tuscan sausage and potato soup.

I also got daffodils from the father of my children.

But my greatest gifts are my children and grandchildren. They have and they do fill my life with joy.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Charity Shops, Rainbows and Crocheting

We are now moored in Northwitch after doing the amazing Atherton lift yesterday. So, I did what I always do, I went in search of charity shops. And I did well. I found both a top and a pair of sandles that had never been worn for 10pounds (the top was originally 45 pounds). I also found gifts for the grandchildren BUT, no yarn. I had fun.

We had the usual British rain later in the day but then we also had an amazing double rainbow that stayed in the Sky for over five minutes!  And then the rain returned.

And, I have been using the rest of the day to crochet. I can feel my blood pressure dropping.

A good day.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

5 Cheese Mac and Cheese and $923.31 in February "Savings"

We are moored just outside of Middlewitch where we will be "processing" some of the wood we have picked up along the way into lengths appropriate for the wood stove and then stacking it on the roof to dry to be ready for next winter.  We need to collect some more but first we have to make room.  Keep your fingers crossed for us that we come across some more along the canal path this spring and summer.

It appears that we will run out of "aged" wood to burn this year and will have to transition to coal.  I live in hope that spring and its warmer temperatures will arrive before then.  But, considering that yesterday the boat inside was near freezing when we got up I am not holding my breath.

I hate to burn coal.  It stinks.  It isn't renewable.  It's expensive.  But, it will keep us warm if we need to use it.

I am making a five cheese mac and cheese for dinner.  It should be nice and warming and comforting after an afternoon spent outside with the wood.  It also allows me to use up some bits and pieces of different cheeses that I had lurking in the fridge.  Pair that with a salad with croutons and can nirvana be far off?

I finally did the math for my February "savings" and the number was $923.31.  Not as good as January but quite respectable.  If you remember, I am counting things like free ebooks for my kindle, items bought "on sale" at the charity at lower than normal charity shop prices, orders from an online grocery salvage store called Approved Food, reduced to clear grocery items at normal grocery stores, Old Age Pensioner discounts and credit card points redeemed instead of having to pay cash.  Normal shopping at charity shops, shopping at discount stores, making gifts, etc. I do not count since that is normal and not out of the ordinary savings.

So far in the two months I have been keeping track we have averaged $1185.12 per month.  I'll take it  That will go along way to funding the travel we love to do.  See little things do add up.