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A day out in county Armagh

We really enjoyed the last weekend. So much so that we couldn’t wait for this one to come around!

This time, we decided to head towards Armagh, it has been ages since I was that way and Alex came up with a very well-documented plan of action which we followed loosely ;-)

Our first stop was Portadown, I hadn’t been before but I was really keen to go as that is where BittyButton has its shop. I had known of BittyButton since it was a one woman operation with a small Facebook page. Emma had a personalised hat made when she was two by the very kind grandma of the owner.IMAG0091

I haven’t taken a photo of what I bought as they were mainly gifts but I would highly recommend a visit, especially if you are into stationery, easy crafts and Christian artsy things. Oh, and buttons, of course :-):

10393659_942655275759171_5712013224481817741_nWe continued on to Armagh after our delightful stop and we took the scenery route as we wanted to show Emma the apple orchards. She expected apples on the trees and was a bit disappointed but I found the orchards beautiful, even at the end of winter and bare. Hills and hills covered in them:

10899531_618004271633190_1910625476_nEmma was going through a growth spur and despite the fact that she had been up from 6.30 a.m. and been eating more or less the whole time, she got hungry again so we decided lunch was in order, before the planned visit to the Armagh Planetarium.

Alex had included places to eat in his printed guide and one in particular had got my attention so we decided to give it a go. We didn’t regret it!

The Moody Boar Bistro and Restaurant is very ingeniously located in the former stables of the Armagh Palace Demesne grounds.

10954514_782980385105492_710031878_nThe service was quick, the waiters pleasant and confident and the food beautifully presented and flavoursome. I ordered a small burger and Alex went for their chicken salad, which came beautifully garnished and intriguingly flavoured on a bed of celeriac, rocket and roasted peppers.

10995080_429639903869366_915930325_nDefinitely would recommend a visit and not to forget, please accompany your meal with one of the local ciders, as we did:

11015514_1416351065327068_1500356433_nFilled to the gills, we decided for a quick run around the beautiful playground placed on the same palace grounds, before heading out, chased by the pouring rain:

11004978_1561750877400332_1172350339_nThe Armagh Planetarium was our next stop and thanks to hubby’s organisational skills, was a success as well. I am sure that for older children the planetarium would be a hit on its own but Emma enjoyed the star show mainly and learning about planets and constellations and the sun. She found it fascinating and although Alex snoozed a couple of times in the dark, she was more alert than both of us and repeated the show almost word by word afterwards!

11008150_611995732234217_946676730_nAfter the Planetarium we decided to head home but on the way we stopped to pick some fresh fruit and veggies from Chapman’s Farm Fresh, a local greengrocer’s.

10932432_841251739275036_1336922337_nWe were a bit baffled to find out that out of the probably 10 varieties of apples in store only one was local but we got some cracking bacon, parsnips and local potatoes plus goose and organic chicken eggs.

The best surprise was to be discovered home at dinner time, their steak and onion pie was meaty and tasty and with the exact pastry to do it justice.

Alex is under clear instructions to visit the shop again on his weekly work rounds and buy again the pie and some of their own desserts :-).

All in all, we had a really enjoyable day in county Armagh and will definitely visit again, much sooner this time!

How did you spend your weekend?

Spanish Rice Recipe

FLORA

Tonight, I decided to make paella.

I hadn’t made it in ages and I am partial to chorizo and sticky rice so it had to be done.

Emma smelled the chorizo being cooked and asked:

“Mum, are you cooking bacon?”

She wouldn’t admit it but she is getting a taste for good bacon.

She is an Irish born and bred girl, after all, it was just a matter of time until it happened :-).

I said: “No, Emma, it is not. I am cooking Spanish sausage.”

She then went, out of the blue,

“Oh, Spanish sausage! OLE!”

When did this child of mine become such a polyglot?!?

Moving on…

This is my recipe, in case the picture made you hungry for it:

Step 1

  Add 400 gr. of turkey steak, bite size, to a frying pan with two tablespoons of virgin olive oil.

Step 2

When your turkey is nearly cooked, add chorizo cubes. I bought mine from Tesco, comes in a very handy little 200 gr. box. Let it cook together with the turkey for about 5 minutes.

Step 3

Add 400 gr. of risotto rice. Start adding hot chicken stock(I used about one liter)  to the frying pan, ladle by ladle, stirring often and making sure the liquid evaporated before you add more. Make for creamy rice in the end.

Step 4

Once your rice is nearly cooked, add prawns(optional), green peas and a dash of lemon.

Step 5

Remove the pan from the heat. Add fresh/frozen/dry parsley.

OLE!

I mean, voila!

Tasty Tuesdays

Living Arrows-8/52

I did debate a lot whether I should or not link up to Living Arrows again.

Last time I did, I had two Living Arrows.

Sadly, one has left us for Heaven, way too soon.

But then I decided to go for it.

In my heart, I still do have two living arrows.

One lives only in my heart for now. And in my memories.

I think of my Georgie every day. Many times a day.

Most of the time, I remember the bad times.

The hospital days. The trauma.

But today, when I thought of him, I had this memory.

Of him grinning. Being happy.

Not understanding the magnitude of his diagnosis.

Not knowing that chemo would make him sick.

Just basking in our love.

Just soaking in the attention and the pouring of our hearts.

I remembered your smiles today, sweet boy.

And for a moment, I smiled too.

1977035_10151953966906512_943992643_nMy other living arrow, I still have with me and it is such a joy to see her grow.

In wisdom, knowledge and years.

This weekend we spent a lot of time together as a family.

Emma loves being out.

Running free.

Playing rich imaginary games.

And hospitals and hide and seek with daddy.

Asking questions about everything.

About life boats.

About Heaven.

About earthquakes and “bolcanoes.”

10593424_882050315191787_808732959_nI still have two living arrows.

One living up in Heaven.

One living with us.

I love them both equally.

And I am so proud they were given to me, as precious gifts.

Living-Arrows-250

Next time…

Next time we do the baby thing, if we will be blessed with another precious little one, I will do things differently.
With Georgie, I got a second hand pram and Moses basket, thinking I was saving money.
I did, that is true, but I have always felt I didn’t give him the best.
And boy, did he deserve it, my little brave boy!
So, next time, if there will be a next time, I will get everything brand new.
Brand new to symbolise a fresh start.
And hopefully a different story.
With both Georgie and Emma, we couldn’t do the Moses basket.
They just wouldn’t settle in.
Emma had bad infant reflux. And Georgie, poor baby boy, he had sore bones.
So next time, I want to get a BEDNEST, to have my baby so close to me, within easy reach.
For those early days when everything is fuzzy.
For those late night feeds.
For those much needed and wanted cuddles.

Bednest

Next time, I will buy a brand new pram. No second hands. A brand new baby deserves a new pram, a new start, a new beginning.
A Silver Cross will be lovely. If it is a boy, a Sky Blue one, to remind us of his baby brother in the sky. If it is a girl, a Raspberry one, to remind us of all the raspberries blown to us by a sweet brother from way up high.

PicMonkey Collage

Of course, I will get all the matching accessories and paraphernalia.
Why not?
seat_liner_lime___sky_blue_2I will want my new baby to be warm and cuddly and dry.
To feel loved every single ride he gets into that pram.
I would love his nest to feel soft and padded and cosy.
In the hope that his or her bones will never get sore.
That he or she will outgrow the pram in due time and its cosy foot muff and will live to give us many joyous moments.
Next time we do this, I will do everything different.
Who could blame me for wanting the best for my next?

A day out in county Down

We love travelling as a family. And we love good food.

I have meant to do this sort of post forever.

But it is only now that I found the time and the energy to do my first travel and food review.

Exciting!

We live in county Antrim but a couple of years back we lived for a year in Bangor, county Down.

It is a beautiful part of the world and we lived in a stunning location but we didn’t find the people very friendly nor genuine nor kind.

So in the end, we moved back where we felt we belonged.

But now and again, we return for a visit.

And a compulsory bite to eat.

This is the seafront in Bangor, in all its sunny splendour. Always chilly and windy, due to the open sea and the currents but always beautiful to look at!

924097_1421895328108189_877834180_nWe decided to go for lunch at The Salty Dog. Emma and I (and Georgie, as a seven month bump) had stayed there in November 2013, when we moved home. Alex ordered us to comfort while he did the relocation. As a hotel, we found it cosy and back then, the staff was very kind and friendly. And we loved their breakfast area and their homemade muesli!

Meanwhile, the hotel and restaurant have changed hands several times. The restaurant has tried to raise the standards(although I couldn’t have faulted it in the first place myself) and has been featuring over the Christmas season sampling dinners and other posh deeds.

We arrived before the lunch rush hour so we had the place to ourselves. Not for long, though, as it filled up pretty quickly, mainly with reservations made in advance.

11007933_1540489052879375_1339106863_nThe specials sounded ambiguous for a non-connoisseur like me so Emma and I decided to go for hearty burgers. Alex LOVES fish chowder so he went for that. Plus the house’s lager, which we found light and refreshing:

herculesWe found the place a little understaffed and the attitude of our waiters and waitresses prevalently Bangorian: a bit abrupt, bordering rude at times, as if politeness comes with a price, like the “a la carte” menu. But the worst was yet to come as, as soon as the orders started pouring in, so did the shouting from the kitcken poured out. Emma is very sensitive to loud noises and kept asking us: “Why is the chef so cross, mummy?”

The food was lovely but lacked or overdid it in seasoning. My burger was completely salt-less and Alex’s chowder was beautiful and creamy but a bit too salty.  The presentation was lovely, as expected from a place with such high self-imposed standards. The chips were precooked.

11015597_858326537539155_358431439_nWe decided to head out as soon as we finished our food as the service didn’t improve, we were left with our plates to wait for the bill, the money was lifted as soon as it came out but not the plates, sure, this is a business, at the end of the day…

Our score? Average.

We were disappointed with the service and the kitchen shouting and not terribly impressed with the food either.

The views sell the place but unfortunately, the staff and the lack of customer care do the restaurant no favours.

Our next stop was Donaghadee. We hadn’t been in absolute ages and Emma loved the idea of a lighthouse and a scoot around the small town.

11008190_315157078695601_1651742644_nWe bought veggies and fruit for our Sunday lunch from a local greengrocer’s, some meat from the butcher and then, we got hungry for dessert :-)!

We decided to try Pier36, as Alex had had food there before. We didn’t have any big expectations as this is, at the end of the day, a small pub in a small little town.

10899427_713480468773178_2102589375_nWe were pleasantly surprised to arrive into a welcoming front room with an open fire. The staff, although international (or may, because international) was very welcoming and friendly and in no time, we were tucking into our Mauds’ ice cream and a beautiful rhubarb crumble and homemade custard. Divine!

10995225_1066515393375374_28833222_n Although the temperatures were close to freezing, we decided to indulge Emma and let her have a little run in the beautiful play area by the sea before heading home, red- cheeked and palatably satisfied at last :-)

11005139_1607009082869052_2028054801_nHow was your weekend?

Princess Emma’s T-shirt Review

This week, the lovely people at buytshirtsonline sent Emma a Disney princess kit to review.

11008187_882831808445890_1739665032_nEmma is 5 and still very much into her princesses and fairy tale endings so as soon as the parcel arrived, she started pestering me relentlessly to assist her in making her own personalised t-shirt.

We were out yesterday but this morning we decided it was time to give our creativity a go!

The instructions were clear and easy to follow: we cut out the princess shape, leaving a 5 mm edge around the picture.

We used the kitchen table as a hard surface to work on and a folded pillowcase to place our t-shirt on. Alex got the iron out and got the t-shirt all wrinkle free.

DSC_1078The next step was simply applying our cut out princess, face down, of course, on the t-shirt and passing the hot iron over it for about two minutes.

DSC_1087Emma was very pleased with the result but wanted to add her own touch to it, once it cooled off.

DSC_1089We were a bit nervous to let her loose with the fabric paints at it but luckily we had a set of fabric markers in the house and she used them safely.

Here is Princess Emma, all chuffed with her own creation! We will keep and treasure this t-shirt, this is Emma’s very first confident attempt at writing more than her name and creating her own piece of clothing!

DSC_1096Disclaimer: we were sent the princess t-shirt kit to review. No monetary payment was made in exchange for this post. All opinions expressed above are personal and entirely our own.