On the Road around Ireland, Again and Still

donegal ireland

Since Wednesday, I’ve been on the road around Ireland. First to Waterford with my mother-in-law, and now to Donegal with Michael. And in case I wasn’t already completely brainwashed, these last few days have reaffirmed my awe of Ireland. The sea views, the green pastures, gah. It does not end.

We’ll be back in Dublin tomorrow and hopefully we’ll have more reliable internet (my only complaint about the countryside in Ireland!) so I can properly brainwash you with all my gorgeous green photos.

Happy weekend, friends!

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Irish Yogurt with Blackberry Jam

Irish blackberry jam yogurt

You know what Ireland has done to me? It has spoiled me for any dairy products – butter, milk, yogurt, all of it. And there’s something that happens when the dairy products are so delicious. Somehow it means you need less sugar in your life. Not when it comes to chocolate, though, but especially the case in yogurt. We really only eat plain, unflavored but delicious Irish yogurt now, but I like to spice up that plain yogurt myself with fruit, granola or nuts. Since it’s blackberry season in Ireland (and boy was it a good year for blackberries!), I’ve been mixing all my delicious Irish plain yogurt with homemade blackberry jam and it’s a completely addictive treat.

Irish blackberry yogurt made with jam A few times over the last weeks, my mother-in-law and I have been out picking blackberries in the sunshine. The first time we were real novices about it and we both ended up with lots of nettle stings. Apparently it’s also a good year for nettles – they are everywhere!

My mother-in-law made a few batches of blackberry jam and I watched. From what I can tell, the recipe goes like this: 2 kilos blackberries, one kilo sugar. Put the blackberries in a high-sided pot and mash them as you bring them to a slow boil, at which point add the sugar and slowly stir. When the sugar is dissolved, add the juice of a lemon and half an apple, grated. Boil and stir for ten minutes then transfer to sterilized jars. This made about four regular jam jars and I’m already mostly through one!

Irish blackberry jam yogurt It is beyond delicious spooned over plain yogurt – just the right combination of sweet and tangy.

If you aren’t in Ireland, I think Greek yogurt will give you a fraction of the same satisfaction, but really only if you mix it with homemade jam from berries you picked by the side of the sea. If you’re planning a visit to Ireland anytime soon, can stop into a grocery store and pick up a few little jars of Irish yogurt to try, and you’ll quickly be ruined for all other dairy products as well. You’ll just have to imagine the blackberry jam party!

Posted in Baking, Truly Irish, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

A New Gig – Contributor at Conde Nast Traveller

Emily Westbrooks contributor Conde Nast Traveler

Well, friends, this here was a giant pinch me moment. A few months ago, I was contacted by Conde Nast Traveler and asked to become a monthly contributor to their website. I actually sent my friend Anne an email to ask her if she thought it was spam! I just couldn’t quite believe it was true. But it was! We went back and forth all summer, working out a plan and today I start!

I’ll be writing six times each month, about Dublin, about our travels around the country and around Europe. When I’m home in Maine I’ll likely write about some great finds back in my home state, and sprinkled throughout I’ll be dishing out useful travel tips and tricks. I hope you’ll hop over every once in a while and read a few posts. They redesigned their site this summer and it’s gorgeous, but I may be biased already.

And to those of you who come here every day or week or even month, thank you for giving me a place to practice my craft. From China Village has been a blessing that has led to so many other blessings!

Posted in Dublin, Elsewhere, Exploring Ireland | 9 Comments

Uncommon Gift Ideas

uncommon gift ideas

My mom had a birthday last week, so when Uncommon Goods reached out and asked if I wanted to a little window shopping on their site, I was inspired to think about a few gifts my mom might like. Unfortunately, I had already put something in the mail to her (and it was very like one of these six options), otherwise I would have ordered one of these.

The older I get, the more I care about the origin of the things I’m buying, both for myself and for my family and friends. I was instantly impressed by Uncommon Goods’ commitment to their own employees (in their warehouse, their lowest paid workers make 50% over minimum wage), to the people around the world who make the products they sell, and to the environment. It’s nice to have a place where someone has already done the homework for you – both in curating a collection of useful and beautiful goods, but also in doing the background checks on the producers.

For more information on Uncommon Goods and some of their delightful handmade gifts, visit their website. Some of the jewellery on this page is just stunning, and you can have some of it customized here!

Now, for the gifts I window-shopped for my mom: 1. wooden wine glasses since she and my dad are always looking for safe glasses to bring on the boat / 2. flavored salt since she is the queen of condiments (Michael claims this has made me the princess of condiments) / 3. an agate necklace since she loves rocks / 4. or this necklace made from found stones (I sent her something just like this but made by an Irish artist with a stone from Ireland!) / 5. a maple leaf night light to accompany the tree night light that’s lived in our kitchen forever and ever / 6. an architectural desk organizer since she spends way too much time working hard at her desk!

Happy birthday again, Mom!

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A Podcast about Delightful Dublin on Irish Fireside

Happy Friday, friends! What a short week in the land of From China Village, but we’re ending it with a bang! This morning, I woke up to an email from my friend Corey at Irish Fireside to say that the podcast interview I did with him a few weeks ago was live. In it, I talk all about Delightful Dublin, our process for creating it, how Julie and I both fell in love with Dublin and lots of tips for getting the best out of my adopted city. Honestly, for the first time maybe ever I thought gosh, I don’t sound like a total goofball! 

So I hope you enjoy, and if you’re in the market for a Dublin trip, you can get your copy of Delightful Dublin right here. And make sure to visit Irish Fireside for tons of podcasts with Corey. Doesn’t he make you feel like you’re sitting by the fire? Thanks so much for having me to the Fireside, Corey!

See you back next week for even more fun news, Delightful Dublin and otherwise! Have a wonderful weekend!

Posted in Dublin, Truly Irish, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Spicy Applesauce Recipe

spicy_applesauce_recipe_autumn

I toyed with calling this recipe spiced applesauce because it’s full of autumn spices, but it’s actually a little zingy, too! Hence, spicy applesauce. I blame the star aniseeds, personally. They pack a punch!

Applesauce is one of the simplest recipes, and I love it because it uses up even those kind of mealy apples no one wants to eat. I used five large, tart baking apples, but you can use whatever you have on hand. If you’re in America, darn you and your ability to go apple picking! I’m forever jealous to be missing that American autumn ritual. One of these days I’ll be back in Maine in time for it, I swear.  autumn_spiced_applesauce_recipe

So you peel and core the apples and chop them up. Place them in a pan so they take up about 3/4 of the room and then add water to fill to 1/4 of the pan. It’s hard to mess this up, which is why I’m giving you barely instructions there. You just need to leave enough room for the apples to bubble up as they’re cooking.

Now, here’s the spice: one (two if you’re daring) star aniseed, a few hunks of cinnamon stick (this is from the Asian market and feels extra authentic but is also really cheap) and 5-7 cloves. Once the apples have broken down and started to look more like applesauce, add the spices and stir them in. Turn the heat down to low and let the applesauce simmer with the spices for 30-40 minutes. Taste and add sugar as needed – I try not to add sugar, but these apples were tart and needed a little help.

spicy_applesauce_recipe When the applesauce is done simmering, fish out the spices and serve with a pinch of grated nutmeg on top. I gave Michael a spoonful this afternoon and he said it tasted like Christmas. I think it tastes exactly like fall, but close enough!

 

Posted in Baking | 2 Comments

Happiest of Fridays

 

strawflowers

 

Today was a mostly-day-off for me and it was an absolutely wonderful Friday. I’m spending tomorrow giving a day-long tour for a German journalist who’s visiting Dublin, so I decided to give myself today off. I find myself doing quite a bit of work on the weekends, and when that happens I’m realizing I need down time on other days in order to not hit a wall mid-week.

 

The day started with babysitting my little niece until lunchtime. Michael and I took her out for a few errands and up to Howth for a coffee (us, not her) and to watch the boats. Then we sat in our living room for a picnic lunch on the floor (no highchair at our house but the floor cleans up easily!) in the sunshine. The weather has been gloriously warm and more sunny than we can usually expect and it’s making the shorter days feel a little more civil.

I spent the afternoon picking blackberries up in Howth with my mother-in-law in the aforementioned glorious sunshine. We’re making jam on Sunday! Tonight I’m watching Scandal and catching up on some emails while Michael is out. Such a good day.

Also good? These straw flowers on our dining table in the sunlight this afternoon. I picked up a bunch as a complete impulse buy from The Garden flower shop in Powerscourt and the smell of them reminds me of home. A neighbor, Nancy, always had them or made arrangements with them? I can’t quite remember but I’m absolutely sure I remember them from when I was little. And it makes me terribly happy to have their cheery colors on the table.

strawflowers_02 strawflowers_03

Have a happy weekend, friends! See you back on Monday!

 

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Fall-ing Back in Love with Veggies

autumn_kale_salad

{Autumn kale salad with maple bacon vinaigrette}

I go through phases during which I completely avoid green leafy things. Well, that’s not really true. If someone else is making the green leafy things, I’ll eat them, but I go through phases where the last thing I feel like doing is making something leafy. I am a big fan of vegetables, but the green ones are often my least favorite. Also, if anyone can give me tips on how to make the green leafy things last more than two days in the fridge, I’d be all ears!

But, I figure fall is as good a time as any to fall back in love with green veggies. Mostly by distracting from their green leafiness with lots of butternut squash, cranberries and pomegranates! Here are a few recipes I’m eyeing for a healthy and green start of fall.

butternut_squash_kale_tart

{Butternut squash and kale tart PAN-SEARED-BRUSSELS-SPROUTS-WITH-CRANBERRIES-PECANS-from-Rachel-Schultz1

{Pan seared brussel sprouts with pecans and cranberries}  quinoa_butternut_squash_chickpeas

{Roasted pumpkin and quinoa salad with chickpeas} sweet_potato_pomegranate_salad

{Roasted sweet potato salad with pomegranates and pistachios}

I have a bunch more pumpkin/sweet potato/butternut squash distracting from the green things recipes on my Savory Recipes Pinterest board, too!

 

 

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On Failure

failure

I’ve been staring at a blank blog post page for at least an hour (while half watching that George Clooney movie The Descendants which is an absolutely depressing movie, by the way), and what I think I’ve really been trying to figure out how to say is that over the last several years of starting a freelance career, I’m glad I haven’t been afraid to fail.

Last night, over Gchat with my little brother, I was trying to explain why it’s absolutely okay to try all of the things when you’re trying to land on a career after collegeHow the heck else are you going to figure out what you want to do with your life if you don’t give things a shot? Some people (like my darling husband) figure out what they want to do pretty quickly, and others of us shop around for a while – and might keep shopping forever!

Over the last few years, I’ve tried so many ideas and pitched so many projects. Some of them have worked, and some of them just haven’t. But I’m glad I wasn’t afraid that some of those ideas would fail. I’m glad I was able to focus on the projects and ideas that were successful and capitalize on and replicate those.

So the moral of my story is that there is no shame in failing when you’re trying things out. It’s the only way some of us learn what success looks like.

Image above of me failing at taking a selfie a few weeks ago. There’s a little shame in that. 

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Inspiration / New Specs

inspiration for new glasses

I’m in the market for a new pair of glasses. Mine are a few years old and could use an update.

What’s your vote?

Sources, top to bottom: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4

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