Thursday, March 29, 2012

Spring Break Mini-Vacation

Now that my boys are both in college, we only get one week for spring break. And this year, Stan only got one day off. So we decided to take a day and spend it in Denver, get a couple of hotel rooms and make it a mini-vacation. We brought along Kevin's friend T.J. too. We all crammed into our Chevy and headed up. Our first stop was to a place so many of my friends have been talking about--Cafe Rio. Great food, fun place, and a perfect place to stop and relax after driving up there.

We checked into the hotel, the boys in one room and Stan and I in another. Our initial plan was to go and see a movie, but there was really nothing out that I wanted to see, so we just stayed for a couple of hours at the hote. The boys got drinks and watched TV and played video games, and declared it a blast. It seems to me it's what they would have done at home, but it made it more fun doing it in a hotel room.

Stan and I, being the party animals that we are, took naps. Yes, we did! Right in the middle of the afternoon!! It was heavenly.

Then we headed over to Dave and Buster's for the rest of the night. Dinner, games, and tons o' fun!

 My sweet husband!
While the boys took off playing games and spending tickets,
we sat and talked and talked and talked.
It was great! When we're at home we get interrupted.
Here it was like a date .... with three boys with us!

 AJ in his Magnum PI shirt!
He got a burger called "The Heart Pounder!"
It was a good thing he worked some of that off playing games!

 When we were finishing up dinner, Stan and I decided to get a fun dessert
to take with usover to the pool tables while the four guys played a few games.
Chocolate and white donut holes
with chocolate and raspberry dipping sauces.

The next morning we continued our quest to follow Adam Richman from Man Vs. Food.
Kevin and TJ are excited to try the same thing Adam did!
We had breakfast at Jack & Grills in Denver, where Adam was unsuccessful in
the 7 Pound Breakfast Burrito Challenge.

 Okay, we didn't do the challenge.
Instead five of us tackled it just for fun.
Here it is before we dug in!

But, in the eternal challenge of Man versus Food,

But as you can see, we put a dent in it!

We had so much fun, but it went by in the blink of an eye. Sometimes you just need to get away, if only for a day, and let your hair down. I'm glad we did, and look forward to our next "mini" vacation!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Add Some Irish to Your Dinner Tonight

St. Patrick's Day is finally here! If you haven't planned for something special for your dinner this evening, here is an idea for a dish that's easy to make and very Irish: Colcannon or perhaps even Champ.

Colcannon is a traditional Irish meatless meal, but it may also be used as a side dish with sausages, meat or fish. Potatoes are such a large part of Irish cuisine, as are vegetables in general. I have made this dish with kale and found it to be too bitter for my tastes, but with cabbage it is very nice indeed.

Champ, which is similar to colcannon. is made by combining mashed potatoes and chopped scallions with butter and milk, and optionally, salt and pepper. It is simple and inexpensive to produce. In some areas the dish is also called "poundies."

Ingredients for Irish Colcannon
  • 1 ½ lbs potatoes
  • 1 ½ cups of milk
  • 1 ½ cups of boiled green cabbage or curly kale
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Some folk will also add green onion which is commonly used with the recipe for Champ.

How to Make Colcannon

Boil the potatoes until tender.
Drain well.
Mash the potatoes well.
Toss the cooked cabbage in the melted butter.
Add the cabbage and butter to the potatoes and fold well.
Season with the salt and pepper to taste.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Ides of March

The Ides of March .... it’s a term we hear often, a portend of doom in most cases. Do you know anything about the Ides of March?

The word Ides comes from the Latin word "Idus" and means "half division" relative to a month. Used in the Roman calendar it refers to the day that was the middle of the month. Back then it was a standard way of saying the 15th of March, May, July and October. It meant the 13th day for all the other months.

Today the Ides of March is known to be the date on which Julius Caesar was assassinated, stabbed 23 times in the Roman Senate by the well-known Brutus and about 60 conspirators. When soothsayer told Caesar that he was to be killed no later than the Ides of March, he joked that “The Ides of March are come,” believing the prophesy had not been fulfilled.

“Aye, Caesar,” the seer replied, “but not gone.”

I guess we know who had that one right.

It’s because of this that the term “The Ides of March” has always seemed to evoke a dark mood, partly because of Shakespeare’s play.

Luckily we live in a modern time where we neither refer to the 15th as the ides nor do we attach any feeling of disaster or misfortune to the date and can just enjoy the fact that spring is almost here!

Also, it’s only two days until St. Patrick’s Day!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Myths and Legends of Ireland

Ireland’s long history is riddled with ancient mythology and folklore. Ireland’s ancient societies, the Druids and the Celtics, believed in the power of magic and many of these beliefs spread to modern day legends told again and again across the country. Stories of warriors with all the knowledge of the world, fairies playing pranks on farm owners and leprechauns hiding their gold at the end of a rainbow add to the mysterious appeal of Ireland

While Ireland is a country with countless tales of myth and folklore, none are more often repeated than the tales of leprechauns, selkies, shamrocks and, or course, St. Patrick himself.

The Leprechaun is perhaps the most famous of all Irish legends. Said to be a type of fairy, the Leprechaun is a cobbler, making the shoes of all other fairy folk. Usually depicted as an old and bearded man, Leprechauns are never female. Legend tells that when the Danes invaded Ireland, the fairies hid all there treasure from the marauding hordes. The Leprechauns were given the task of guarding the treasure. Unfortunately, the rainbow always points to the location of the leprechauns treasure, so he must constantly be moving the trove. And with the climate in Ireland and plenty of rain, the rainbows are plentiful! It is said that if you catch a Leprechaun, he must either give you his treasure or grant you three wishes. The image and legend of the Irish Leprechaun has endured the ages and is very prevalent in western society today.

The legend of the Selkie is very similar to the mermaid. But Selkies are brown seals by day and human by night. The legend comes from the numerous seals inhabiting the Irish coast. Sailors who caught a Selkie at night in human form married these lovely brown eyed maidens. For the rest of their lives, they would serve as patient wives, while constantly looking to the sea. If Selkies we released by their captors, they would return to the see but would forever more guard human families while on the sea, and on land.

The three green leaves of the Shamrock is more than the unofficial symbol of Ireland. The Shamrock has held meaning to most of Ireland’s historic cultures. The Druids believed the Shamrock was a sacred plant that could ward off evil. The Celtics believed the Shamrock had mystical properties due to the plant’s three heart-shaped leaves. The Celtics believed three was a sacred number. Some Christians also believed the Shamrock had special meaning- the three leaves representing the Holy Trinity.

To most people, St. Patrick is the man who brought a day of good times and green beer to pubs across the world. In reality, St. Patrick wasn’t made a saint until centuries after his death and he wasn’t even Irish. St. Patrick was born in Britain to a wealthy family. During his childhood, he was kidnapped and sold into slavery in Ireland. During his years in slavery he converted to Christianity and once freed he did spend the rest of his life teaching the Irish about the Christian religion, but he was soon forgotten after his death. It wasn’t until many years later that monks began telling the tale of St. Patrick forcing all the snakes out of Ireland. Something he never could have done as there never were any snakes in Ireland.


Monday, March 12, 2012

Irish Proverbs

It's that time of year ... St. Patrick's Day is coming! I enjoy my Irish heritage, name and stories of my ancestry. One of the things I enjoy the most are Irish proverbs. Some of them are so funny, some so sweet, and all of them are interesting. I've put a few down here to help get in the mood for the day. Bain sult as! (Enjoy!)

A guest should be blind in another man's house.

Firelight will not let you read fine stories but its warm and you won't see the dust on the floor.

It is no shame to tell the truth.

It's often a man's mouth broke his nose.

The schoolhouse bell sounds bitter in youth and sweet in old age.

You’ll never plough a field by turning it over in your mind.

Hunger is a good sauce.

If God sends you down a stony path, may he give you strong shoes.

A turkey never voted for an early Christmas.

There's no need to fear the wind if your haystacks are tied down.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Parting Glass

"The Parting Glass" is an Irish traditional song, often sung at the end of a gathering of friends. It was allegedly the most popular song sung in both Scotland and Ireland before Robert Burns wrote "Auld Lang Syne".

The Irish song is thoughtful and quiet, and I love to hear it. Here are the lyrics ....

Of all the money e'er I had,
I spent it in good company.
And all the harm I've ever done,
Alas! it was to none but me.
And all I've done for want of wit
To mem'ry now I can't recall
So fill to me the parting glass
Good night and joy be with you all.

Oh, all the comrades e'er I had,
They're sorry for my going away,
And all the sweethearts e'er I had,
They'd wish me one more day to stay,
But since it falls unto my lot,
That I should rise and you should not,
I gently rise and softly call,
Good night and joy be with you all.

If I had money enough to spend,
And leisure time to sit awhile,
There is a fair maid in this town,
That sorely has my heart beguiled.
Her rosy cheeks and ruby lips,
I own she has my heart in thrall,
Then fill to me the parting glass,
Good night and joy be with you all.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

My First Love

One thing I think is common for all of us is that we always remember our first love. They are someone who makes an impact on our lives, helps us to feel those deep feelings of connecting with a special someone. We’re usually very young, and of course it doesn’t last, but we are left with an experience and a memory that stays with us the rest of our lives.

My first love was Davy Jones of the Monkees. I was just about to turn 11 when the Monkees came on television. I’d been hearing about it, seen the commercials and was anxious to see this show about a band. I was not into the Beatles, although my father made me watch them when they first appeared on Ed Sullivan. But this show looked interesting and fun!

I was hooked from the start. It was a terrific show for someone my age who was just trying to discover things like musical tastes and boys. And the sweet-faced young man from England just stole my heart. I put his pictures up all over my walls, wrote his name on my PeeChee folders, and saved my allowances to buy the Monkees albums. I was in the sixth grade, and the boys teased me for liking the Monkees, and Davy in particular, but I didn’t care. I was in love!

He was a good guy to have a first crush on. Funny, sweet and his music was gentle and happy. The Monkees embraced who they were. They weren’t the Rolling Stones or the Beatles, they were a band made for television and the young girls who would watch it. In recent times Davy continued to perform, continued to accept who loved him. He said recently that he knew his audience was filled with grandmothers, daughters and granddaughters. He knew, he said, how the music made them feel because he felt the same way about it.

When I started junior high the next year, I met my friend Beth. And -- oh happy day! -- she loved Davy too! We have spent many happy hours over the years listening to his music, talking about him, laughing over the memories. In our twenties we wrote him a fan letter, and took all of our Monkee albums and made a tape of songs that Davy sang lead on. About seven years ago we made a CD of it as well.

Beth and I finally got to see the Monkees on their 25th anniversary tour. Sooo much fun! Dancing, singing, laughing! One of the best experiences I’ve ever had. About 8 years ago Stan and I took the boys to see them when they came to town. Again it was one of the most amazing times. We spent most of the evening on our feet dancing and singing and laughing and just having the most fun you could ever have at a concert.

I’m listening to my Davy CD as I write this. My first love died February 29, 2012. He was 66. Too young to have died. Beth said she wonders if he still has our letter. I’m pretty sure he has our letter as well as all the letters that were written to him with love and sweet memories. Unlike so many former teen heartthrobs, Davy Jones enjoyed who he was and what he represented to so many of us.

He gave his last performance February 19th. He ended the show saying, “When you go home tonight dance like no one is watching, love like there’s no tomorrow, and if life gets to hard to stand, kneel. God bless America!”

I hope He blesses Davy as well.