Saturday, December 5, 2009

Can I just say that Europe has thankfully excluded Miley Cyrus from broadcasting her new song! So, I haven't had to hear it! However, I fear I will be home before it fizzles out in America.

I am in Italy now and the food is wonderful! I missed this country a lot, but I still have an urge to be home. There really is no place like home.

Going back to Florence as a place I lived for awhile is pretty cool. I have been able to pick up where I left off. I haven't felt lost and I've remembered most of the place I had been previously - maybe to the annoyance of the people around me.

I did get to go up to Fiesole today - one thing I didn't get to do while I was here previously. Tomorrow I think I am going to try to meet up with Rebecca and go to the Christmas Market out near Santa Croce!

Loving Italy!!!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Final Post for Ireland

Today has been a busy and sad day all in one. I woke up at 9 amd took a nice hot shower to start the day off. I finished up a few things, went to tell Monica goodbye, had some tea and then left in a caravan consisting of Jordi, Marta, Zach, myself and four pieces of luggage with Roberto running to catch up (he slept in).

Roberto made it to the bus station just before I borded. Many hugs and many goodbyes make for an emotional display.

THe bus ride was long, but I had my ipod. When we arrived in Dublin, I wasn't sure which side of the river we were on. I can never tell. I got off and unloaded my things from underneath. It was quite a load and an Irish guy offered assistance(just like Marta told me to find to help me!) He carried my duffel bag and I wheeled my suitcase and other hand bags. He was very nice. From Galway and in Dublin on business. He carried my things all the way to the USIT office which was thankfully just across the bridge and down a block. I thanked him and then went upstairs to report my arrival and figure out what to do with all this stuff. Most of it will be condensed after I get back. Some of it I am sure I will have to throw out, but I'm waiting till the last minute for that.

The bus did not have a toilet, so while the BUNAC people were sorting out my bags, I ran for relief! I don't understand why some of the buses have toilets and some don't. They go the same route, so you'd think it would just be standard.

I spent some time printing out my tickets for upcoming travel and making sure I had everything arranged as far as the taxes, bus stops, etc.

After I left USIT, I went to check in at my hostel where I have a 3 bed dorm all to myself so far. I picked the bed next to the heater and settled in! I get breakfast, but I have to leave to early for it. BOOOO! I am taking a 5:30 bus to get to the airport for a plane leaving at 7am. Maddie, here I come!

Dublin has all their Christmas lights up and a lot of stands on the streets selling Christmas products. I hope the ones in Germany will be much less commercial.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Last Day in Galway, but a few firsts before I leave

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

I left the apartment only once today with Marta for some eggs. I woke up at noon and spent the day packing everything up and getting all my tickets in order. That was a lengthy nightmare! I discovered that the airport I am flying into – Frankfurt-Hahn- does not have a train station (which I thought was strange that it would have one). My bus connection arrived at the nearest station 30 minutes too late. I decided instead of waiting 4 hours in the middle of the night for the next train, I would stay the night in Frankfurt instead.

Marta had prepared lunch/dinner, which we ate at 4:30 of fried bananas, mushroom rice, fried potatoes and fried egg. It is called arroza la Cubano. I have never eaten fried banana nor a regular egg not scrambled. I hate banana usually, but if Marta cooked it, it’s usually good – same goes for Monica. Evidentially, when you fry a banana it becomes sweeter, which I liked. The egg mixed into the rice was tasty too.

Monica came over after dinner when she got off work. I assumed she’d give me a hand with the chocolate éclairs I was going to attempt, but she decided to watch TV instead. The éclairs didn’t turn out how I expected anyway. I was in a hurry and the dough was a bit odd. Mostly, I think it was because I didn’t have a “baking sac”. I cut the end off a plastic bag instead.

While Marta went to class, Jordi, Monica and I lounged around watching episodes of Father Ted.

Kathleen came over to hang out and say goodbye. Zach was at the pub with the au pairs, so when Marta got home Marta, Kathleen, Monica and I made some visits to say my goodbyes. It appeared to be a couples night so we left to see the ice skating rink. It was closed, but we still got to look in. Cute I guess, but not worth the quid. 15 Euro and the chance of injury definifely not worth it.

After that we went to Monica's house so she could change. We were goin dancin. First dance club I go to in Ireland and it is on my last night. I had borrowed Marta's dress beacuse all my stuff was packed and locked up. It was a beautiful artsy number and I was ready for some good dancin. Much to my dismay, the clubs in Galway are the last thing I would to choose to do again. We had some fun, but having to turn away creeps became annoying. It was 80s night, but I think I even prefer PTs to that - and that's sayin somethin. I did get to do the Macarena and they even played Christmas music in the club, so there was some bustin out of tunes.

We walked home after less than an hour there. Monica decided to go on home fearing that if she sat down in the apartment she wouldn't be able to get up.

Marta and I made hot chocolate and bagels with cream cheese, olive oil, tomatoes and ham. Zach was still up so he joined us. Then it was bed time!

SURPRISE!!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

When I left Monica’s this morning it was freezing! So cold it was hard for me to lock the door. It actually snowed this morning while I was shelving items, but not for long and everything is too wet for it to ever stick.

The rest of the day has been cold drizzle with harsh wind. So inviting!

My apple courgete cake was a hit. Everyone loved it.
I said my goodbyes
Of course in my last 30 minutes of my last day I got the worst kind of paper cut right across the tender spot between the thumb and forefinger. Ouch! I enjoyed taking some time out to doctor it. I have a solution to the predicament. If you get this type of injury use a band-aid immediately. It pulls the skin together and lets the wound heal. If you leave it be then the skin tugs and the cut will not heal instead it burns like fire.

Went back to Monica’s and slept for another 50 minutes. I tried taking a shower, but the water was so cold it was of no use. They combine the worst things in Ireland. Cold shower, frigid air, damp towels (because they never dry out).

I woke up and ate a roll with butter and a tea while watching part of Desperate Housewives that Monica was watching.

I left to meet the Italy woman from work. We took a coffee together in Griffin’s. Yes, I gave up on my grudge. I had a Bailey’s cheesecake, more like mousse and a mini hot chocolate. It was actually quite large and I would have hated to order the big size.

We talked for an hour about how much Ireland is no good for living and neither is Italy evidentially… elaborate on Berlusconi.

I picked up some potatoes and headed home to make tortillas with Marta.

They had not come back from their exam when I returned, so I took a hot scrub bath. While I was drying my hair Marta had come back. Jordi and Roberto had gone for a celebratory drink at a pub.

Before we started the tortillas I suggested to Zach that we go tell Teresa goodbye. I gave her a loaf of bread and we took our picture together. She said she would let us know how Prague is because she gave me her e-mail address.

You can tell a lot about a person by the way they cross the street.

When we got back Zach and I started helping Marta by peeling potatoes. I opted out of slicing them to dice up the garlic instead. I was also unable to cut the onion, but Zach took care of it. The tortilla is not what Americans would call a tortilla. It is more like a cross between an omelet and a quiche with potatoes. We had garlic rice as a side. Marta said that they normally have it with a topping of ketchup mixed with mayo, but all we had was ketchup…thankfully!

I went over to Monica’s in the evening to try some of her curry soup she had made. It tasted very good. She was watching Vampire Diaries on her computer, so I wrapped up in blankets and joined her. When the episode was over she asked me to curl her hair with the new device she’d purchased.

It was a curler, but without a clamp. You just wrap the hair around the tube and it curls. I want one! I curled her hair, and then she did the same to mine. It makes the long wavy curls and not so much the tight ones – which I think look awful on my head.

I had to meet up with the Canadians at 8:50 to go to the storytelling. Due to the severe rains, the normal venue for storytelling is under repair, so it was being housed in the Nun’s Island Theater instead.

When I got to the meeting spot Zach was there too, so we all walked to the performance. It was good, but the other nights were better. I think most people were afraid of getting up to actually perform on a stage instead of the middle of a room. We all left at half time. Zach stopped to say hello to Shin who he saw across the street and I walked on with the girls. We said our goodbyes where it was time to part. I went on back to the apartment and Zach caught up with me to get in the door.

Jordi came to answer the door downstairs, and he seemed unusually giddy. Roberto answered the door to the apartment and started pushing us toward the living room where it was dark. I walked in and the lights were switched on while all our friends jumped out and yelled surprise!! It was my first surprise party!! I felt so loved and included! There was a table full of salty and sweet goodies, so we all stood around talking and taking pictures to preserve the memory. People kept disappearing and reappearing. I tried to go into the bedroom, but I was kept from entry. Something was up!

Eventually, another surprise was revealed and a scavenger hunt was in order! We went from the elevator to the snack machines to the patio to the oven to the hot water heater to the freezer to a map of the world. Finally, Zach and I found a bag in the closet with photo cards for each of us and presents. It was so creative and thoughtful. Everyone had signed the cards in-between and around photographs from our time here.

Sleepover!

Monday, November 30, 2009

I woke up for work and was good not to wake anyone else up, except I forgot my watch and scared Jordi when I went back for it. He was getting up to use the toilet and he didn’t know I had already gotten up. When he saw me he said something in Spanish and then looked over at my bed then realized it was me. It was funny, but I felt bad for scaring him!

I took a nap when I got back from work and then Roberto and Marta prepared pork chops for lunch. We eat at typical Spanish eating times. Lunch is usually prepared to be eaten around 2pm. The pork chops were amazing – tomato and pineapple in a tomato sauce. A delicious and simple dish from the south of Spain!

During and after lunch I prepared multiple apple-courget cakes to take to dinner, work and Teresa. They actually didn’t stick to the pan this time, which was a relief because I had a limited number of pans.

Around 6 Monica met Marta, Jordi, Roberto, Zach and me to go take a tiramisu and hot chocolate at the Italian café. It was Roberto’s Christmas present from me. The company was good, but the tiramisu was below par. It was actually very dry with too much cheese. I did snap a picture…for those of you who were wondering!

Monica walked back over to our apartment and I grabbed my things for a sleepover! Since Marta, Jordi and Roberto have their exam tomorrow I wanted to let them rest as much as possible and not accidentally wake them when I went to work. Monica has Tuesday off, so she could just fall back asleep if I woke her.

I unloaded my things at Monica’s place and she showed me a few notes on her guitar before we went over to Michele’s (the Italian) for dinner. We waited around for Andy (the Italian’s Irish housemate) to get home and then started the cooking. He waited so he could show us how he makes authentic Italian Carbonara. His tasted much better than mine. I showed everyone the Italy v Europe video Marta had shown me. Michele said he had already seen it, but still laughed because it was true. He also showed Monica the myspace page for the band he is in. He is the drummer. From what we could hear they weren’t that great - mainly due to the singer, but at least they can read music…that’s more than I can do. I sliced up the loaf I’d made and everyone seemed to enjoy it. It is a good dessert because it is not too sweet and it is filling.

It was about 11:30 when we left. I needed to get in bed for my early morning. Monica and I strolled back to her apartment arm in arm and bellies full after having declined to be walked home. It was a nice gesture, but we’re big girls…after all, I had my alarm with me : )

Monica’s bed is huge and both of seemed to sleep pretty well snuggled up under the duvet.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Swimming in Ireland, the Goonies and some restaurant takeover!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

This morning I was second to take a bath. I learned my lesson after yesterday. Technically I guess it wasn’t a shower. It was more of a bath since there was not constant running water. I turned it on then off and scrubbed down then hosed off again, but at least it was hot.

I ate the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers and then sat around trying to decide if I wanted to go to the swimming pool or not. Marta showed us a Youtube video labeled Europe v Italy - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZAJNFoHuLno. The differences are comical because they are true!

After much debate, I decided I would hike the 30 minutes down to the indoor pool in Salthill. Today was not as cold as yesterday, which I was very thankful for. However, I was still layered up. I also had shampoo and a hairdryer with me.

The organization of the place was much like any pool at home. The lifeguards; however, were able to be fully dressed in sweatshirts on deck. I picked a lap lane and begun my swim. I didn’t put much in the requirement for a swim cap, but here they are serious about it. I was able to borrow one I have not been in a pool since July. It was refreshing. I was more in shape than I thought I would be. Having only run a handful of times while here and nothing much else (except for walking everyday) I thought I would tire easily. I swam for about an hour and got in about 1,800 meters. Not too shabby. I made sure I got my 5 Euros worth and so I sat in the steam room and sauna for a little bit before getting a shower (room temperature water) of course. I couldn’t find an outlet, so I dried my hair under the hand dryers before going outside.

I probably could have gotten a job at the pool if I had my certificates with me, but then I would have had to walk down there everyday and I have had plenty of experience working at a pool. It was time for something different.

When I got back from the pool I was so tired from the long hike that I decided to watch the Goonies. Ok, I had planned to do that anyway, but I felt i deserved a nice sit down. Marta and Zach watched it with me. We got through almost the whole movie on my computer and the end started skipping and we never recovered it. BOOO!

After the movie, we had to hurry to meet up with everyone around the corner for dinner. When I say everyone I mean EVERYONE! We somehow managed to fit 16 people into this little Japanese cafe. It was not really made as a restaurant. It had about four small tables for a sit down lunch or cup of tea, but Shin worked there and we felt like supporting him.

So, our support might have turned into something like a burden when they had to bring chairs out from the back, which they thankfully had and then they ended up running out of rice!!! An Asian restaurant running out of rice! But I think Shin was glad to have all of his friends there and the food surely was good.

After dinner, we went back and Marta showed Monica a game called Samorot. It was an anime game that I actually became obsessed with. Well, at least for that night.

A fairly eventful day near the end of my stay

Saturday, November 28, 2009

After work Marta and I meet in market. It was soooooo cold. We picked up my painting in the market! He gave me a very good price for a larger painting! I like the angle too and I will always have the creation of where I lived in Ireland! It was made from a plaster mold so it is a bit heavy, but I'll make room for it.

As we were walking across the bridge to meet Monica we saw people kayaking in the rapids of the river. They had to be crazy men who could not feel pain. The water must have been at freezing.

Marta, Monica and I all purchased a scarf/hood combo of different colors, but now the three of us matched!

We went for hot coco in a café and Marta and split a bagel for lunch, she wouldn’t let me pay her back because of the feast I had prepared for Thanksgiving. I didn’t want to hear it, but when that girl makes up her mind there is no changing it. Monica had to leave early to get back to work, but Marta and I had a nice time just enjoying each others' company.

Later that day I went out to meet at Monica’s for tea and drawings by Demi. She loves her sketch book, which she carries with her! Monica had some Norwegian chocolates, supposedly the best. I admit they were good. She also had some gingerbread cookies her mom brought her when she visited. Eventually, the guys joined us and we decided to go out that evening.

Monica and I went to Blue Note, not wanting to go to the Crane bar. We split a cider and sipped it while warming by the fireplace where I was glad to have a front row seat. It is soooo cold here, even to Monica because it is a damp cold that chills you to the bones. Not A dry cold where you can just add extra layers to stay warm.

Monica joined me at The Front Door for my work party. We stayed about an hour and half before leaving. I listened to one of the guys, who just got engaged in Paris last week tell about his work experience with his fiancé in New Zealand. Cheap labor picking cherries from morning till 3 , great tan, good money and amazing scenery...sounds great!

Monica and I met up with Michele to go to a house party. We went back to his place to pick up his roommate and wait on another girl to join us. The party got moved from the house to a bar further away and the girl didn’t show, so the four of us went back to the Blue Note to find the others, but it was too crowded. We found a large table at Monroe's and the others joined us. His roommate was Irish, but a traveled enough fellow who seemed pretty nice. Monica and I are going over to Michele’s for dinner on Monday because he is going to show us how to prepare a proper Italian Carbonara! I’m excited!. Everyone else showed up at Monroe's too and I had them trying to get me to talk in Italian and understand. Michale was insistent, but I was tired and I really haven’t had much Italian so my vocabulary is rather limited. It was more thinking of English similarity or French similarity and maybe some actual Italian.

Lots of movies and a little cooking

Friday, November 27, 2009

I slept till 11:30…well I of course woke up early because of my crazy bladder. It thinks it has to relieve itself around 6am now. Great! It was a lazy day. I stayed in my jammies…well, with additional layers. I watched Home Alone 2 on my computer. It gave me some wonderful Christmas spirit. It hasn’t felt like the Holidays around here much. They still have not lit the lights. Most of them are up, but nothing is ever lit.

iTarheel is still my homepage on the computer, and today I actually stopped to look at the weather for Chapel Hill. It just made me sad to think that I would normally be walking around Carolina’s campus right now in my pretty black coat with crisp NOT DAMP air maybe even going to see the Nutcracker ballet and going home to a decorated apartment.

I was about to pull a double feature and watch the Goonies, but Monica called and asked me to come over and help her put together a gingerbread house of her own, so I got dressed a hiked over to her place. I called her and asked if she wanted to make pizza, so I picked up a can of tomatoes (the only ingredient she was lacking) on the way over

She had already prepared the dough and was rolling it out to bake when I got there. The Grinch was playing on her computer, so we watched that while we cut the pieces out. Her gingerbread was lighter because she used syrup instead of molasses. She also used caramel or melted sugar to glue the house together instead of icing. She decorates with the icing. The caramel (if you add cream) was crazy! It hardened fast…no hairdryer needed. It stuck to everything and took some time to get out of the pan, but it worked.

When we got hungry, we threw together some dough and cooked the pizza. It was a pepper, red onion, garlic pizza with mozzarella cheese and it was excellent. As soon as Monica started cutting the onion and I started wailing….red onion is the worst for my tear ducts, but it tastes the best cooked. I hate this impediment to my cooking skills. I will have to start wearing goggles to deal with onions!

I would like to say that these last two months have mainly been a cooking experience/school for me and it has been great!

While we ate dinner we watched Mr. Magorium’s Emporium. I wasn’t too fond of the movie. I liked some individual parts, but overall I didn’t think it was well developed or at least I felt like there was much missing.

As we were washing dishes Monica said, “There are so many things that just don’t work as well as home”. She is so right. You would think Ireland could be a little more advanced since they’ve had to deal with these things so long. I told her that I was glad to know Norway isn’t stuck in the Dark Ages!

When I left Monica’s I meet everyone else on my way home, so I could get a key. They had called and told me to stop the Dail where you could learn to make a mojito for free…and yes you got to drink it. It was kind of a cool promotion that I haven’t seen anywhere else, so I stopped by and we stayed for a little bit in a corner booth upstairs. It was a nicely decorated place.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Happy Turkey Day!!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Mr. Kester did arrive late just before midnight last night. He looked exhausted. We sat down and talked for about 5 minutes and I showed him the leftovers we saved for him as well as the apple loaf cake I had baked, frozen, thawed and heated for the occasion. When Zach and I went up to his apartment today he thanked me for the food which he ate for lunch. He was impressed. I’m glad he liked it even though the pork chop was a little tough. He especially liked the apple cake, of which he said he ended up eating the whole thing before he went to bed. He also commented on the spotlessness of the apartment and inquired as to if we had actually stayed there. I’m glad my handy work was noted.

I really enjoyed my morning at work, mainly because of the people I worked with. I won’t use names, but Personality 1 brought me chocolate for Thanksgiving. We keep the door locked while stocking, so she was knocking on the door to be let in. When I opened it, she pulled a box of chocolates out of her purse and told me “Happy Thanksgiving! It’s nothing, but I thought it might be good after your meal.” We had been talking the day before about the American Thanksgiving traditions. I was so impressed at the touching gesture.

Personality 2 is having a birthday tomorrow and everyone is bringing sweets. I’ll miss it because it is my day off (thank goodness), but she was talking about chocolate all morning. It was killing us all! Scots Clan is her favorite, so I got some to take in on Monday.

Personality 3 asked me if I was taking any turf home with me. I was like, “what?” He explained he meant sod, grass, dirt clots. I laughed and said, “as strange as it is I had already attempted to do that, but I left it in a container that molded from the dew.” Ireland is known for turf. It was what I took from the National Park. Irish are fond of their land. He said he lives by a turf farm where they dig it up, roll it, and burn it for fuel. He is bringing me some on Monday! He was also wanted to write a list of all the chocolates I needed to try such as: Moro, Yorkie, Mars and more. He is a list person and felt it would be a good thing to have.

Personality 4 is Italian, and she is so friendly. She came up today asking if she could talk to me later about a green card. I said sure, but I was thinking “oh no”. But really she just wanted to know what it was and about jobs in the States. She mainly was curious about traveling for holiday in the States. I think we might meet for coffee some day before I leave. She talked about how she came to Ireland for a job because the government system in Italy has become so corrupt; nothing runs correctly and she couldn’t get a decent job. She was very passionate about her disapproval. Roberto seems to say the same thing.

I’ve discovered the Irish/British have a whole other set of celebrities that we probably don’t hear about often. Katie Price - Jordan and Girls Aloud – Cheryl Cole are two in particular. Beware: Cherly Cole is rumored to be ‘about to break through America!’ Run for your life! I looked up some Girls Aloud music videos (British female pop band). They’re shameful. They aren’t very good. It’s just A LOT of sex appeal. They are like the Pussy Cat Dolls of Britain, but PCD actually sounds better.

Look for yourself:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i17yeIbU5tM&feature=channel

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lLZwZyfHxCA&feature=channel


When I got off work I saw a lady pushing out 6 x 24 packs of Budweiser from the grocery store…now try to tell me the Irish don’t have a drinking problem!

I took a nap from 2-4 and when I woke up it was time to start cooking Fred (yea I named him)! First he had to be gutted and washed. I let Zach dig in for the neck and pack of guts! Hehehehe.



I then took the bird over to the sink and gave it a bath. It was so weird. It was dead, but it felt like I was bathing a live animal or a baby or something. I was having fun – lifting up the wings like arms and turning it up and down. A little morbid maybe, but worse things can be done; at least I was enjoying myself. I then took a rub of salt, pepper, sage, fresh basil and chopped garlic and rubbed it on top and under the skin of the turkey. I poured butter and chicken stock over him and popped Fred in the oven for a little over 2 hours. He had a self-timer stuck in him. People always talk about how it takes all day to cook the turkey…no it doesn’t. In fact it doesn’t take long at all.



While the turkey business was going on, my sous-chefs, Roberto and Zach, had been chopping up carrots and potatoes for the mashed potatoes. Roberto had started cooking them. It’s a good recipe when done right. I caramelize the carrots with butter then add the potatoes (washed multiple times after sliced to get the goop off so they aren’t gummy). Then add some chicken broth and water to cook till they get soft enough to mash. Then I add some milk or half and half then mash some more!

During all this I got to Skype with my whole family. They could see me, but I couldn’t see them…not fair! They had all gathered around the computer to see me for Thanksgiving. I felt special! also got to watch some of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade streaming online. I don’t often see it anymore, because I never wake up early enough on Thanksgiving : ), but with the time difference I saw some of it!

People started arriving just before 9:30pm. We waited on Marta and Jordi to get here before we started eating. They arrived at exactly 10. Marta was not feeling very good because of the bus ride which was bumpy and crazy. The driver had been trying to avoid flooded roads and some he could not since they were coming from Shannon airport (Shannon River is the one that had flooded with so many problems just south of Galway). Needless to say, Marta had gotten a bit sick. She came in and took a shower to freshen up before joining us.

The smorgasbord:



Fred



Stuffing



Green Bean Casserole



Sweet Potato Souffle



Mashed Potatoes with Root Vegetables



Gravy



Monica's Rolls



The dinner plate

I was trying things as I was going through the buffet style line hoping I wouldn’t run across something disgusting! I was quite surprised that even with all my substitutions and crazy methods of preparation I not only liked everything I tasted…I LOVED it! I stayed quite and sat down waiting for everyone else to start digging in. I wasn’t sure how foreign taste buds would react to the American feast. To my delight everyone showed compliments on me. Monica was humming as she ate (her sign of pure satisfaction) and Zach told me it was the best sweet potato he’s ever had. It’s always nice to hear the compliments that go the extra step. Marta joined us and although she wasn’t up to eating, she tried the items and went back for more mashed potatoes.

While we were all gathered I decided to go ahead and play Santa Claus. Yea, it maybe wrong to combine two holidays into one, but hey, I’ve already had a Christmas party before Thanksgiving, so there! I didn’t know if we would all be gathered (and only these people) again before I left. I actually had everything ready, so I brought out the sack.

I handed out the gifts:
Demelza got a sketch pad, colored pencils, a sharpener since she is always drawing everyone as well as some fuzzy bedroom socks. Before the end of the night she had used it to draw portraits of Marta and Monica;

Monica got the colorful tights she’d been pining over, a photo album and some body lotion;

Marta got a photo album and fuzzy bedroom socks as well as a candy bar;

Paula got a make-up utensil kit and some flashy royal blue (her favorite color) earrings to wear for her New Year’s party in Madrid;

Zach got an old hardback book set on the high seas during World War II. It had crisp yellow pages and I thought it would be a good read on his way home. He also got a candy bar and a patch of Ireland. I figured he’d eventually want something to show he’d gone to Ireland;

Jordi got some electric yellow shoelaces for his futball cleats and a candy bar;

Roberto got a coupon for a tiramisu date at a little Italian café I discovered, an orange chocolate candy bar (a favorite) and the piece de resistance – a flashy gold thong! Yes, I did it. It had been a running joke since we all went Halloween shopping. They had these at Pennys not as a costume, but as a legitimate piece of clothing. However, we all joked it should have been Roberto’s costume. When he opened it, everyone howled! He laughed and immediately tried it on…over his jeans. It was labeled: Halloween Costume 2010.

The night was a success! We all relaxed going in and out of sleep from full bellies. There is enough leftover even after feeding eight for lunch tomorrow. I finally got Monica to show me a few tricks on Photoshop for editing photos in bringing out the color, sharpness and contrast. There are so many options; I could spend forever on it.



Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Change of Plans

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I was extremely tired from staying up an hour past my bedtime last night. So much so that I was in a deep enough sleep during my nap to wake up at 2:30 and think I had slept through the next day for work. I started panicking and trying to remember what day it was and if it was 2:30am or pm.

On my shift this morning, I took over the Christmas delivery and was in solitude with the radio for the last hour and half. It was methodically relaxing. I got issued a polar fleece from work today. It is so extraordinarily warm, but I don’t know if I get to keep it or not. So far every uniform item they give out has been packaged and new. I don’t think they take them back once worn. The thing is as snug and a bug in a rug : ) I was a bit surprised they still told me to take one, but it had been ordered for me the previous week.

I went straight home, craving nap. Just as I was about to set my alarm clock, my phone rang. It was Mr. Kester calling to say his flight to Dublin had been canceled and he had been rerouted through Paris. It would be at least midnight before he got back to Galway. He wanted to apologize for not being able to make it for dinner, and ask if I could e-mail Karen (Mrs. Kester) the change of plans since she would still be asleep. I agreed, only to find that our internet is suddenly not working. Thankfully, we have a backup! I guess the internet stick was good for more than just two weeks. I just wish I could sell the stick before I leave, but so far no takers.

When I got up from my nap I set about cleaning and writing. Monica called and asked me to meet her at the grocery. I went along to see how her trip to Dublin with Amnesty had been and to pick up some tomatoes and zucchini. I put the pork chops in the oven. They had marinated in whole seed mustard, worstechire and balsamic over night.

We strolled the aisles of the store just talking about this and that. I’d like to add that food coloring here comes in blue and red. They must be bought separately as far as I can tell, and I find this strange and inefficient.

Monica had a lot of heavy things, so I grabbed a handle to her bag and she the other. I went about half way then parted.

When I got back, the pork chops had burned a little, but Zach had gotten them out. More the sauce than the meat. I set about fixing the green bean casserole for tomorrow. I made my own fried onions with flour and oil. I ended up leaving it in the oven longer than it should have been, so the beans seem a little dried out, but I guess I can add some milk to them when I heat it up tomorrow.

For the side dish with the pork chops, I wanted to make stuffed peppers. They always look so pretty. I had a yellow, red and orange pepper that I hollowed out. I grilled zucchini, tomatoes and red onion with pepper olive oil and balsamic. I spooned that into the peppers and grilled a little longer with the addition of more dressing and mozzarella cheese. Once the cheese was melted I considered them ready. It was actually delicious. The meat was a bit tough, but the flavor was great!



I spent the remainder of the evening empting the cabinets and cleaning up my bedroom and the kitchen. I left the floor and the sink for Zach who had been watching TV.

On TV was actually a show about a British guy visiting different places in America with a theme on environmentalism. It was Borat-esque, but legitimate. No wonder people get bad ideas about Americans. I, myself, was cringing and most of the stuff they showed. It’s a shame. Most of it was true, but tended to be one-sided.

The start of Thanksgiving Preparations

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I was very against having to get up this morning. There is a screen over my window, so I can’t see outside from my bedroom, but I can always hear the rain pelting the glass because it is blown sideways from the wind. It also hails about 2-3 times a week, so that makes it even louder. I’m certain all the windows have to be shatterproof!

This morning was no exception. Usually the rain waits to start when all the people are going out; it is mostly dormant at 6 in the morning. However, today it started early, but luck was smiling on me because by the time I got outside, it had stopped.

I have begun to get in the habit of running to work. I am wearing my tennis shoes anyway and it is cold. I see it as a safer way of getting to work and a good form of exercise to wake me up. Plus, if it is raining the quickest way from point A to point B is to run.

The shipment at work was on the lighter side, and that made things more sociable. I informed my boss I would be leaving in a week, and although not thrilled, that was ok by her. My co-workers were harder to convince. They seemed genuinely sad to hear I was leaving in a week. Although excited for me about the prospect of returning home for a job, they all talked about how much they would miss me, even though they knew I was going to leave around Christmas anyway. I think I will miss the too, especially a select few. I will be a little sad I can’t stick around for the company Christmas party, but seeing how the Irish party, I don’t know I could survive it!

After work I finished picking up a few Christmas gift ideas for all my friends and then went home for my oh so wonderful 2 hour nap.

It continued to rain on and off all day, so I was glad today was a cooking day. I have so much to prepare. Dinner with Mr. Kester is tomorrow and Thanksgiving is Thursday. I am going to fix a marinated pork chop and stuffed bell peppers for Mr. Kester and Thanksgiving will include: turkey, dressing/stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole and sweet potato soufflé.

Today, I started on the sweet potato soufflé and stuffing. The turkey is thawing and it will be prepared on Thursday since we aren’t eating till 10pm when everyone gets back from class!

The dressing calls for cornmeal and I have been to all possible grocery stores looking for it, but to no avail – I have substituted it for wholemeal self rising flour. Cornbread does not exist in Ireland; therefore, neither does cornmeal. It’s kind of sad, but other than getting corn (which is rare), drying the kernels and grinding them up, I am at a loss on that one.

This will be my first turkey and my first Thanksgiving dinner prepared by moi! It’s kind of exciting, but no one need get any ideas back home. I’m not fixing Christmas dinner!

Cooking here is an adventure. I went from having one mixing bowl at the last apartment to no bowls at this apartment. However, there is an assortment of pots, so I just mix everything in a pot with a spoon or a fork. The baking pan situation is limited, so I have developed a liking of baking parchment. It works wonders with clean up and sticking.

The cornbread turned out alright I guess. I crumbled up the wholebread as much as possible and added it to the dressing mixture. The potato soufflé was a little greasy and runny when I pulled it out of the oven, but it eventually set up quite nice. I’m not sure I made it correctly with the topping because the topping sank to the bottom, but my theory is that it is mostly the same ingredients, so it should still taste good!

At 7:30 I had organized a large group of people to meet at a pub in town. I was not sure how many people were coming, but there seemed to be a lot of interest. When Zach and I arrived, Kathleen was there. We sat and talked for some time. The Italian guys were the next to show up. Jacaopo, Samuelle, Luca and Michaele (I’m sure I butchered the spelling of those names). Since Kathleen didn’t make it to the Christmas party, we introduced her to the guys and they proceeded to get along well. The Italian men I have met outside of Italy seem to be a complete 180 from the Italian men I met in Italy. These guys and Roberto are cordial, funny but not rude, polite and even a little shy (at least not boastful and boisterous). An Italian woman I work with said she didn’t know many Italian here and I told her I knew one (Roberto). She said to be careful because Italian men can be “not so good”. I laughed in agreement, but smiled knowing that good Italian males do exist!

The Canadians were the next group to walk in; Laura, Kristyn, Julie and Jennifer (Canadian visiting from Cork). I switched off between ends of the long table we had trying to talk to everyone. I was loving it! Beatrice and Clara were the next to arrive, followed by Julie and Roberto (who entered together). According to Beatrice, Roberto had invited Julie over for dinner. This was the reason that when I went to borrow a baking pan from him he was preparing fish for dinner and 3 hours later when we went to see if he wanted to walk with us, he said he was just eating. It seemed fishy : ), but that explained it. I got messages from both Marta (in London) and Paula asking if I knew whether Roberto was alright because he did not show up for English class and couldn’t be reached on his phone. I gently scolded him and he felt a little bad for making them worry.

Patrick, the English guy from work, showed up to join Laura and the rest of the girls. They eventually left for a music venue, while the rest of us stayed to finish up the night. Jacaopo tested me on my Italian and made a game out if it. I seemed to surpass his expectations, and I certainly surprised myself with how much I remembered. He and Michale thought it was fun to say sentences and see if I could understand them. I will be honest and say I enjoyed showing off too. They told me I should visit Saturnia, Italy. It is a little village in Tuscany where you can get a hot mineral bath from hot springs. Sounds nice to me! Only problem is that no trains and maybe no buses go there.

Three of the Italian guys were headed back on the 1am bus to Dublin for a flight home. So, at midnight the four of them, Roberto, Zach and I walked home. We said many ciaos and goodbyes then parted ways. Zach told Roberto he hoped he and Julie hit it off together. I thought for a moment and then asked Roberto if he knew the meaning of “hit it off”. He said no, so I proceeded to explain that it meant to get alone well with each other. It was a little later than I would have liked, but my days are numbered and I want to spend as much time with the people who have made my trip worth it.



Eddie Rockets: Position Terminated

Monday, November 23, 2009

Ever work with those high energy people? Sometimes they are the way over excited and pepped up people, and sometimes they are the stressed out and frazzled people. These people tend to pull everyone around them into their elevated levels of emotion, which can be a good thing, but more often than not it is exhausting for those around them.

I worked with a frazzled type this morning up in the stock room where a larger than normal amount of boxes were waiting to be sorted. It didn’t seem that bad, and as far as I am concerned it would eventually get done, and the longer it takes, the more occupied you are. However, she did not seem to share my sentiment. It’s not often I hear that many curse words from someone even to be Irish. She wasn’t cursing me, just the universe I guess. She kept thanking me for my help. The best thing to do is to try to keep a calm demeanor and work efficiently around those people, while occasionally asking them questions so that they remain in control, but still know what you are doing.

After work I went around checking off some of my Christmas list. I have decided it would be fun to get little goodies for my really good friends here, especially since they have been so accommodating and will be ever so much in the near future. I actually put a bit of thought into what to get everyone and I am pretty proud of what I came up with for the most part. There have been a few toughies.

When I got back home, I took my nap and kept napping because of the rain. I had told Zach that when I woke up we should probably go get groceries for the dinners coming up, but I was not about to try to go traipsing across town in the downpour carrying bags of groceries.

It finally let up a smidge, so I got out of bed and we braved a drizzle with multi-layered jackets. I stopped at The Gaff to print off all of my upcoming bus and plane tickets while Zach went on with the list. When I arrived at Lidle, he had almost finished the shopping so we picked up the remainder of what we could find on the list such as a ready bake, self-basted turkey with giblets and a pop up timer weighing in at 9.7 lbs! (It was only 10 Euro) and we got a turkey roasting pan to be safe. We split the bill and he took those groceries back while I went on to Tesco to get what could not be found at Lidle.

The trip back was mostly dry with the exception of puddles. I saw Mei in the window of Eddie Rockets, so I stopped in to say hello. Good thing I did because she had some big news for me. Our paychecks had come in, so I picked those up and she informed me that John had decided for us not to come in next weekend thanks to the likelihood of a big thunderstorm. So…I am DONE with Eddie Rockets. A rather anti-climatic finish.

I gave Zach the news when I got home as well as his paycheck. It was bittersweet because we were kind of expecting another paycheck, but oh well. A least now I have some down time with my friends.

I made a lemon caper chicken for dinner (without the capers). It had paprika, button mushrooms, lemon, garlic, butter, salt and pepper. It was actually pretty tasty. I had the recipe, but I had never made it before.

After dinner we met the Eddie Rockets staff at Kelly’s bar for the sending away party of Mei who is returning to China. She and most of the people who worked there are from the Northeast part of China. I talked to John’s wife for a long time (also Chinese) about the country itself. She is really nice. At first, Zach and I felt a little on the outside since we work there but not with anyone. Most of the staff is Chinese with some Polish and Irish. We talked to a few people and felt a little more comfortable. One girl from Moldova seemed cold at first, but became easy to talk to once the ice was broken. John bought everyone a drink on the company, so I had a cider. I thought that was very nice of him. There was large card passed around to sign and a huge cake. More whipped than the thick cakey texture we are accustomed to.

We told Mei goodbye, and she walked us out after saying we should exchange e-mails in case we were ever in China! We left Kelly’s after about 2.5 hours and stopped in at The Quays to see the au pairs and Italians who had gathered there. I only stayed about 30 minutes before I left to go to bed, but it was nice to see people I know. The girls and I talked about the New Moon for a bit. I had heard mixed reviews about it, but I think it was good enough. Something nice to look at in the least : )

New Moon

Sunday, November 22, 2009

I thought I wouldn’t be at work again today. I was woken up by rain being hurled against my window by gushed of wind. Then is stopped right at 11:30 again. The day repeated itself much like yesterday. At 2:45 we got another downpour, so Zach and I ran to the cover of Eddie Rockets for an early break.

We saw almost everyone today: Demi and Isabel, the Austrian and Frenchies, the Italians, and the Canadians. It seems like we know a lot of people now.

The day was mostly uneventful and dreary. After the rainstorm at 2:45 it continued to rain on and off. Zach and I went in at 5:20 to get a tea and ask if we needed to stay out. Mei told us we could go home. I was elated.

I decided to go to the movie with Monica. She had wanted to see New Moon (the Twilight series) and was not sure if she would be back from her trip to Dublin by Tuesday night to see it when there is a student discount. So, I decided that tonight would be a good night despite the weather. If you didn’t go out in the rain, you’d never do anything in Ireland.

I met her and Audrey (her French roommate) at 7:30, and we made it out to the theater for the 8pm showing. It was the classic series movie that picks up where the last left off and leaves it open ended for the next one, but I liked it. A lot of dramatic action scenes after another. The girl did seem a bit overdramatic to me, but Monica said the book does a better job of making it fit than the movie.

On the way back from the theater she explained the whole series to me. I love people like that. If I ask for it then I can take it. It isn’t going to deter me from reading the books, if anything it has made me more interested. Yea, I know what is going to happen, but I don’t know how it is going to happen. The reason I haven’t read the Harry Potter or Twilight craze series is because I know I will get wrapped up in them I won’t be able to do or think about much else till they are finished. The movie itself stayed with me all night and the next day. If I read them, it will be when I have an extended amount of time (like here in Ireland would have been good). Monica and I stood and talked in the drizzly wind for about 20 minutes before parting. With my multi-layer system, I’ve become quite accustomed to the elements. Well, at least wind and rain.

*As I am writing this I can see out the apartment windows and it is not raining, but the clouds are beautiful. This sun is basically gone, but a little bit of light is still creating outlines of the layers of cloud cover. It really is something. It would be cool to have a small airplane to go exploring at cloud level with. I think that is the coolest part about flying…the clouds. It is like a completely different world up there.

Christmas Party (yea, it’s before Thanksgiving - So What!)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

I stayed busy at work today, but I was glad to be out of there. I woke up with a thicker cough than usual. This country makes me sick…literally! It’s mostly just the weather. I thoroughly enjoyed myself yesterday. If everyday were like that I wouldn’t mind Ireland at all. A combination of rain with cold wind and having to walk everywhere is what gets me, but I’m still fighting!

I can see white caps out on the bay from my apartment. Today is another rainy one. I took a 20 minute power nap, and all I could hear was the harsh rain while I was resting, so I felt certain I wouldn’t have to go to work for Eddie Rockets. I was wrong. It cleared up about 11:30 just as I had to get ready. Zach and I decided to go and see if it stayed clear.

It actually did till 2pm when a huge gray cloud blew in fast from the West straight off the Atlantic carrying heavy rain, wind and not surprisingly hail. We ducked under a ledge of one of the businesses on Shop Street and tried to make ourselves as thin as possible. We were mostly sheltered, but a sudden change in wind direction and we’d be soaked. It was as if someone had a bucket they were dumping out. Drops of rain could not be distinguished for a solid 10 minutes.

The flooding has gotten worse in Ireland. They have not had this much rain in decades. Many villages outside of center city are road blocked because the Shannon River has flooded. The sand bags are there, but the wind pushes the water over them. It stays to damp in Ireland that even when the sun comes out it can’t dry up much. It isn’t the best feeling. When I got to bed I can feel the dampness sometimes unless I’ve left the heater on for awhile. Towels don’t really dry completely overnight. I’m still wondering why people settled here.

We seem to have some kind of run in with someone ever since October. Today it was a crotchety old man who told Zach to “get the f**k out of my f**kn way” and then barreled past us. I just laugh in surprise and Zach seemed well offended. There had been a crowd of people passing on one side and I was holding back as so: l l l l l l l l (Zach)
(me) l l(man)

Sure they use those words here like it’s “hello”, but this man seemed malicious and he kept grumbling and looking back after he had shouldered Zach to get by.

I realized today I haven’t been in a car since August except that one time “hitchhiking” back from Conemara with the Americans. It is going to be weird to drive again, but I miss Eddie (my car) a lot.

When we got off work, we hurried home to get ready for the party. I had cider to make, cookies to bake and a place to rearrange.

Here is a little side note about icing: When it is hard, especially royal icing that has been used to glue gingerbread, it will not move easily. It is just as dangerous as a knife. Some had hardened to a plate and I tried to slide it off with my finger, It sliced the side of my finger open. Yes, it started bleeding and I had to go into First Aid mode...yes, I seem to be accident prone. But beware!

Paula, Demelsa Roberto and Isabel came over around 6:30. Demelsa and Roberto stayed to help, but Paula and Isabel had to work.

Everything was ready in time. Monica brought a thick chocolate cake. Julie brought a thin hazelnut cake. Charlotte, a French girl from Brittany, brought a delicious quiche Lorraine. I was sure to get the recipe, and she asked for me peanut butter ball recipe in exchange! She was new to the group, but a very funny and outgoing character.

Overall we had three Canadians (Laura, Kristyn, Julie), one Austrian (Julie), two French (Clara and Charlotte), one Norwegian (Monica), one Swede (Beatrice), five Italians (Roberto, Jacopo, Samuele, Michaele, Luca), three Americans (me, Zach and Abbey) and one Spaniard (Demelsa). I was very pleased with the party and it’s turn out. Everyone mingled and nothing was broken (well except for a plate that I actually broke earlier in the night when I pulled some down, but they were part of an assortment from the thrift store).

The party was actually started off with a game of ….don’t know the name. But everyone writes down a famous person/character and tapes it to someone else’s forehead. So, you don’t know who you are but everyone else can see. You get to ask a yes/no question and if the answer is yes you get to ask another till you guess who you are. If the answer is no, it is the next person’s turn.

See if you can guess who I was. Here are my clues:

Male
Not alive
Cartoon
Strong
Had a job-task
Has a Girlfriend
Has a pet, but not a dog
Eats vegetables
Created in the 1980s
Not a Disney character
Middle aged

I was having a hard time with this one. I will go ahead and say it isn’t Popeye (which I got with the 1980 bit), but I could think of nothing else but his character. Good Luck… I will post the answer soon.



It was 3am before the last people left. Zach and I agreed to leave the clean up for Sunday and I went straight to bed!

Exploratory

Friday, November 20, 2009

When I got to work this morning I had mixed feelings about seeing the guys sitting around in the make-up counter chairs and not unloading boxes. I was excited about doing nothing, but knew that would mean boredom or something new. Plus, I had gotten out of bed to sit around. The team leader said I could get trained on the tills today. Again I had mixed feelings about that. As it turned out, the delivery did show up about an hour late. It is normally a little over 100 boxes. Today it was over 200! No trying to keep busy today.

I’m actually starting to feel like I belong there. They still all know my name. Even a lady I swear I haven’t seen called me by name today - I have my name tag covered up by the way. I get called Jessie too, but with an accent I don’t really mind it.

I realized something today I found to be interesting. Not only do they drive on opposite sides, but the escalators are on opposite sides. I have almost done a face plant too many times with that one. The weirdest part is that they walk on the other side like they drive, I keep almost running into people. I asked someone at work today when we were going down the steps, which side they traditionally go up and down. It was opposite from what I would do! Weird.

After work I stopped by Teresa’s for the power bill. It had arrived. I also bought a bag of oranges to stick cloves in. I looked at the bill as I was walking home and found it to be horrifically expensive. I wasn’t sure why, but there was a charge of an additional 123 Euro I couldn’t see a purpose in and it was labeled “Arrears”. I looked it up on the internet and found out it was a debt owed for unpaid bills. This would almost always be a bad thing, but not today. I showed Zach, and he asked about the arrears too. We took the bill back to Teresa and she apologized for it. She said she had not looked at it, but discovered that it was a penalty on her part for not paying a bill in between tenants. I was thankful that she was accepting about it because I was ready to fight it if I needed to, but once again Teresa was as polite and accommodating as anyone could be. So the bill was paid off at a very reasonable price. A little less than I had expected it to be.

Often I forget that I am actually living at the beach. It is just a cold, windy, no sunbathing beach, so I guess it is easy to forget. The weather today was trying to compensate for the awful weather. It was actually sunny with not a drop of rain. I decided to go for a walk as far as I could take it down the promenade toward Salthill for some exploring.

The salty air was refreshing and the view was gorgeous. It must be nice in the late spring and earl summer in Ireland as long as it isn’t pouring. I noticed a jet ski ramp and thought how fun it would be on a warm day. I walked by the golf course and the driving range. I was surprised to see it. It made me sort of happy. It looks out over the ocean and makes for one heck of a golfing experience that is if you can actually ever have a nice day to play golf. If you tried to hit a golf ball here it would just come back and hit you in the face because of the strong wind.

I kept going. Past the diving boards that just out into the ocean. I actually saw people swimming. I saw one guy and just thought he was crazy. Then I saw an older woman getting out of the water and drying off, while another older man entered. I went down to test just how cold it was. I was VERY cold. These people must be members of the polar bear club or something. I hiked up to the cliff. The promenade ended just past the diving boards, but I kept going across the rocky beach. It was more desolate and the solitude was refreshing. I could still see people behind me on the prom, but it was open space before me with my destination just ahead. I have seen these green plateaus for months now and have always wanted to climb up one. I was thinking a bike would get me out here, but walking seemed to do the trick. I would have had to leave the bike back at the prom anyway. I passed a couple strolling on the rocks, and I could tell there might be a few more people on ahead from the footprints in the sand, which had to be fresh otherwise they would have been washed away by the daily rain.













I kept hiking, eventually the sand and rocks turned to mud and grass and I was headed up. It felt like a mini version of the hike in Connemara National Park. The weather was very similar too. I reached the top and made sure to stay away from the precarious edge made of mud. There was a narrow foot path I stuck to. The view was gorgeous. Hard to believe it was just about an hours walk from my apartment. I saw the person whose footprints I’d been following sitting on the edge taking in the view. We exchanged polite nods and I was on my way back toward town. I got my phone out to call Monica to see if she was back from work yet. Surprisingly enough, she was calling me.









I stopped by her house for a rest and a potty break. She asked me to go out with her for Amnesty bag packing. I was tired, but a agreed. I thought I would be doing the bag packing, but she actually just wanted someone to be support when asking the managers to pack bags.

Here you pack your own bags at the grocery store, mainly because they don’t buy as much as we do in one trip. So they don’t have employees packing bags. You do it as they scan. The employees at the register also sit down in chairs and don’t stand up.

When we got back to my apartment after setting up appointments for bag packing ( a common charity thing) I started making peanut butter balls and cookie dough. Monica helped to some degree, but was more distracted with The Extras Zach was watching on TV. The peanut butter balls are so yummy, and Monica and Zach proceeded to eat the ball without the chocolate! I had to swat away their hands. Zach seemed to know better, and stayed away, but Monica would come into the kitchen and sneak some to take to Zach! She got a call about babysitting for her guitar teacher, so she left to get some food before babysitting. She seems to love her lessons. Almost like two in one with relaxation therapy and lessons.

Zach cooked enchiladas for his dinner night and I whipped up some sugar cookie dough and set it in the fridge to chill for tomorrow. I’m getting excited about the Christmas party!

I got a call from Marta and Zach and I went downstairs for paella and barraquito. I was excited to try Marta’s version of paella, but then I found out it was the seafood variety. I said what the heck and ate it anyway. I ate the squid and crab, but I stayed away from the mussels. It was very flavorful, unlike some of the paella I actually ate in Spain. The barraquito is a special coffee drink that even I seem to like. Coat the bottom of the glass in condensed milk about the width of a finger. Pour in a shot of espresso. Pour in regular milk on top with some cinnamon and a bit of lemon peel. The layers look cool in a clear glass, but before you drink, you stir.

I took some peanut butter balls for dessert. We had many laughs as usual with Paula, Demi, Roberto, Marta and Jordi. Marta and Jordi leave for London tomorrow.

Hanging out with Monica today and then with the Spaniards and Roberto really hit home. Although I will be happy to get home and see friends and family, I will be leaving behind a group of people who have come to mean a lot to me. It makes me very sad to have a bittersweet goodbye. However, I do know that I will see them again. Maybe their next destination will even be America and I can play tour guide!

Shop Night

Thursday, November 19, 2009

When I was waiting at the elevator this morning on my way to work at 6:15am two Guarda officers and a woman who looked like she had been crying were coming up the stairs and asked me if I heard any disturbances or yelling last night. I said all I could hear was the rain, but I could be a heavy sleeper and was not sure. I thought it was strange. Given the circumstances of the match between Ireland and France last night, I would not be surprised if there were fights and disturbances.

Yesterday was the other match between France and Ireland. I didn’t see it, but supposedly Ireland was wronged by a goal that was considered a handball, but the ref didn’t call it. As a result France won and pushed Ireland out of the chance to go to the World Cup. That was all that was on the radio, and practically all the guys could talk about this morning at work. I used the opportunity to distract from the event and talk about the logistics of the futball organization instead.

Delivery didn’t come in today because of the crazy weather. The pharmacy is an English company, so shipments come over the Irish Sea. Evidentially, it was determined that it was too dangerous to get the ships across with the wind and rain. So, that means I got to do Christmas stock today and goof around a bit.

Ireland is actually experiencing flooding from the severe storms. Yesterday, four girls were killed and the other girl, the driver, survived the crash but she is in critical condition. They ran into a truck, possibly because of the weather. It would be awful to survive as the driver knowing your four other friends are dead. Pray for her.

I gave myself a haircut when I woke up from my nap today. I couldn’t sleep long. I didn’t really feel like it. I wasn’t anxious; I just couldn’t fall into a deep sleep again. I guess it was more of a power nap. The haircut was nothing drastic, but I did cut a lot off my bangs, which had gotten quite long. Someone looking at my hair probably couldn’t tell a difference, but I haven’t cut it since the beginning of the summer and the length hasn’t change a whole lot considering. The ends are breaking, so I gave it a trim to try and keep it healthy. I’m going through the “should I get it cut short when I get back or keep it long”??

I went to the grocery and got some pasta and milk for the carbonara I decided on for dinner. Instead of bacon, I used ham that I cooked with butter. I didn’t realize that it called for raw eggs, but you are to add them immediately after draining the pasta, with the idea that the heat from everything will still “cook” the egg. The recipe I used also called for a tsp. of wine vinegar (compliments of Mrs. Kester’s leftovers) to help curdle the milk to make it more like cheese. It was good, but maybe could have used more salt. I’m still experimenting with that one!

Zach and I now have TV dinners and it is glorious! However, to turn on the TV you have to change the channel. As a standard rule, the off button is only off not off/on.

After dinner and some Friends/Scrubs watching, I met Monica at Boots for some shopping. Amazingly, the rain had stopped. She was waiting on me with a surprise in hand. She had gotten me a chocolate éclair just cause she passed by it and thought I might like it! How sweet. We went from the pharmacy to Pennys where it is always a bargain. Although I have some income now, I haven’t seen it yet and I should be saving it. I splurged on a 12 Euro shopping spree, so I would say I’m safe. Except that I still have to think about luggage weight. So…I’m organizing my suitcase as follows: To keep on the bottom. Near the top is throw out and on the very top are things I can add as extra layers if needed. I’m hoping that strategy works. I like to think ahead!

A new episode of Scrubs came on at 9, so I was back in time to watch that. Thursdays are shopping days where the shops stay open till 8 or 9 instead of 6 or 7. Don’t ask me why it is Thursday and not Friday or Saturday.

After that we met Paula, Julie, Beatrice and Clara at The Quays for an outing. I haven’t been out at night in a loooong time. Or at least it seems that way.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Does anyone know how to….?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Often at work I cover the hair care section. I stock a lot of hair dye and it is almost making me want to dye my hair. When I expressed this sentiment today, a lady I worked with said I was crazy for wanting to change such a lovely color on my head. However, sometimes I get tired of it. I do love my hair color, but I wish I could go drastically different for a week or something then go back to the original. My hair is also not as blonde as it used to be. Lack of chlorine and sun this summer made it darker and being in Ireland does not help. The lady joked that by the time I leave here, my hair will be black. The vitamin store is advertising “sunshine in a box” deals on Vitamin D because of the extreme deficiency here.
After work I stopped in to Teresa’s to say hello and check on the mail. The ESB bill has not arrived (I’m scared of it), but my AIB banking information had…in four different envelopes. Wahoo! I officially have an overseas account.
I am hosting a Christmas Party this Saturday where we will be decorating Christmas cookies and having mulling cider. I needed Crisco for my icing recipe, but the only substitute turns everything a bit yellow and not white. I can use the icing I made for the gingerbread house with egg whites and powdered sugar, but I feel a bit uneasy about the raw eggs. Food coloring should help with the problem, but we just won’t have white icing. I have invited 17 people. I don’t expect them all to come, but I do think we will have a good turn out.
I have questions about baking abroad and I find that I am not the only one when I look it up on the internet:
Does anyone know where you can buy Vegetable Shortening (crisco type) in the uk like from asda or tescos?
Im originally from america and now moved to the uk, im just beginning to do my christmas baking, AND it seems like all my cookie recipes call for shortening back home i used crisco, but ive been up and down every isle in ASDA and TESCO and can not find a similar product anywhere, when i asked an employee they didnt have a clue what i was talking about. I know a lot of american products have a uk counterpart im sure there must be something similar to crisco over here does anyone know what the products called and in what general isle i might find it?

Best Answer - Chosen by Voters
we don't have crisco in the uk, but all the big supermarkets have veggie shortening, certainly sainsbury's do.


I was playing Where is Waldo today on the internet. I used to love that as a kid, but now I’ve discovered it reminds me too much of work...trying to find things, and it gave me a headache.

I’ve created a sporcle monster! I introduced Zach to sporcle tonight and that’s all he wanted to do the rest of the night. That and watch Extras (compliments of Monica). I can’t take Extras. The series is just too much, the awkwardness; it’s wrong.

I also spent the remainder of the evening exploring travel options in the US. You can fly from Wilmington to Orland for $80 round trip, plus taxes. You can get from Atlanta to St. Thomas for $350. Williamsburg (Busch Gardens) ticket prices are $62 for the day pass +$12 parking. I really miss home. I looked at the McAdenville Christmas lights and Old Salem.

Dinner was some Mexican bar-b-que fajitas Zach cooked up. Nice and filling. More than I can say for my pancakes last night, but at least I had fun making them.

Attack of the Rain

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Work was easy today. We did not get in much stock, so we were all done well before opening. In the leftover time, I was taken upstairs to do some e-learning modules on electric beauty. I went through male and females hair care, electric dental, and an overview.

Despite the tedious and occasionally insulting methods, I actually learned some things. Enough to know that I would like an electric toothbrush and that I do not brush long enough as it is. I also learned about battery life and memory. The reason they say to completely run the battery out before you recharge is because it will eventually only charge from that mid-way point and not use its full potential. I actually knew this, but I was unaware of how to fix it. If you run the battery full out and recharge it three times, it is supposed to get 80 percent of its life back. Good to know. I feel like I can tell you all about the men’s rotary and foil shavers. I learned about hair removal instruments I was not even aware of, but the also came with a disclaimer, so I’m glad I didn’t know about them.

When I got home from work I took a 2 hour nap and then ate some leftover lasagna.I went to the grocery store to buy some basics and came home to make dinner.

Today I made pancakes from scratch for dinner and I also tried a caramel sauce. It was cool to see sugar and water boil. It makes an exciting spectacle. It really wasn’t aware that caramel was mostly milk, sugar and vanilla.

The pancakes turned out well too. The first one was a flop (haha, no pun intended, but the rest formed well considering my limited tools for cooking.



After dinner, I was on the internet for awhile and Zach and I watched TV. My afternoons now get to be occupied by Friends, How I Met Your Mother and Scrubs. It’s wonderful.During this time, the heavens poureth down. I haven’t seen anything like it in Ireland. We actually had thunder and lightening – very rare. The streets were finally flooding and the rain was so hard we could hardly hear the TV. Eventually, the TV signal got knocked out because the rain and wind were so harsh. It came back on, but it was a tad scary, especially since we have huge windows looking out over all the city.

We were half way through another Michael Cain movie when Marta texted me to see if I wanted to come down for hot chocolate. I had called her earlier to see if she wanted to run to the grocery with me, so she was getting back to me.

Demi was there and they had all just returned from their lessons. We sipped on a rich hot chocolate and munched on chocolate orange cookies. Demi showed me her latest creation in felt, which was a gorgeous flower that looked kind of like plumeria – my favorite. I brought up a picture online, and she said they have them on her island! I knew they grow in , but I guess it is just a tropical thing.

Jordi, Marta and I breached the topic of religion for awhile and I felt very comfortable discussing it with them. I realized it was after 11pm, so I said my goodnights and went upstairs – still in my footies and lounge clothes. I love not having to go outside!

Gingerbread!

Monday, November 16, 2009

In Ireland you can not access hot water after the sun goes down. The sun goes down at 5pm. So, if you want a hot shower it better be during the day; however, two showers cannot operate at the same time from the same water tank. Beware the ghost shower!

I seem to be unable to sleep till noon these days, so I woke up at 9:30 and finished Un Lun Dun. Debba saved the world! Yea! I couldn’t get a shower last night thanks to the frigid temperatures, so I took one this morning. It was wonderful for about 2 minutes. Then Zach evidentially decided he wanted a shower too. My shower started hissing and spitting till it just turned itself completely off then sprout back to life only to die down again at random intervals. The temperature would go from scalding to freezing with no adjustments on my part. I had to laugh. It was like a ghost was controlling my shower. Thankfully, I had not just watched a horror movie, so I chocked it up to European inefficiency.

I didn’t go out of the house today. I have also been in strictly work clothes, lounge clothes and an apron. I haven’t put on normal clothes in over a week. I feel like I live in an apron.

Today I used it because it was gingerbread day!! I wasted hours of my life on Facebook and YouTube ogling like a zombie. Lady Gaga seems to have done it again. Just after I thought her music videos couldn’t get weirder Bad Romance takes the cake. But after that Monica came over about 2:30 and Marta and Paula followed soon after. Mom couldn’t find her gingerbread recipe to send to me, so I pulled one off the internet (I can do that now!!). The internet is revolutionizing baking. It makes it so easy. Monica and I both just pull up recipes and set the computer in the kitchen. Don’t even need a cookbook anymore, but I still like to write my favorites down. Someone told me that there is a web site where you can just type ingredients in and it lists what all you can make with that particular item. Say you have an abundance of lettuce you want to get ride of. It will pull up a bunch of things that use lettuce. As for the gingerbread, the dough seemed really grainy and fell apart easily, but Monica beat it down and whipped it into shape. She uses it as a stress reliever.

Paula and Marta went out for the ornamental treats and Monica and I got resourceful by using a red wine vinegar bottle in place of a rolling pin. I had cut out patterns for the house earlier in the day and we used those to cut the six pieces of the house.




Marta and Paula got back and Jordi and Roberto came over. We all were getting hungry so Monica took Roberto and Jordi to the grocery with her to carry back ingredients for lasagna alla Monica. While they were out, Paula Marta and set up the house with the icing I made from powdered sugar, egg whites and almond essence. It was set!...or so we thought. When Paula and Marta started lining the top with marshmallows before the icing dried the house started falling apart! “Quick! Zach, go grab my hairdryer!” As Marta said, she and I were slaves to the house holding it up till the icing dried, while Zach swept over it with the dryer.






We let the house set up for awhile, and started on dinner. Marta, Monica and I chopped, browned and simmered produce and meat to bake in the oven. We added mushrooms and celery in addition to all the stuff she and I used last time. It was delicious. We also had a salad of mixed greens and sweet corn. Monica prepared a dressing of sugar, lemon and oil. It was delicious! I need to get the measurements from her.

While we waited on the lasagna to bake we all had wine and bread. We moved the house to the table and continued to glue on pieces of candy. Marta had craftily created a gingerbread man and woman and I cut out a dog to go with the house. The house is complete with a marshmallow snowman, Christmas bush, chimney, sled, fence, light post, two doors and four windows (2 round, 2 rectangular).










We ate the salad with the lasagna and everyone loved it. I still uphold that is my favorite, and with less noodles and cheese it has to be better for you.

After dinner Paula had to leave, but Monica, Jordi, Marta and Roberto stayed and we watched episodes of Father Ted, an old Irish sitcom comedy about a priest.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Kesters are Awesome!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

I slept like a baby! It was amazing. I was warm and comfortable. The pillows are made of down and a bug in a rug couldn’t have been happier. I got the bigger room this time since Zach has had the big room for the last few months. His bathroom is bigger, but mine is connected to my room. I am so content I could pop! I don’t want these 10 days to be up.

I woke up at 9:30 and tried to stay in bed, but I just started reading around 10:30. I am almost finished with Un Lun Dun. It is a very environmentally aware book and every time I see broken umbrellas lying around or pollution I think about the book. It’s 520 pages, so I’ve been proud of my progress through it. I think I might try to pick up a Wrinkle In Time next.

In Italy I got what I expected out of the trip and more. Here in Ireland I haven’t gotten what I expected, but I’ve learned a lot through experience and I’ve learned more about myself as well. I wouldn’t say that both are equally exciting and am glad I have had both experiences within two years of each other.

Here is a little bit of non sequitor:

The appearance of Prostitots and Sororistots at home is the average Irish girl’s appearance here. The make-up is caked on the face to an extent that I am tempted to draw my finger across it and see the deep marks it makes.

Words are different too scheme does not have the negative connotation it has at home. Here it simple means something like a plan.

That being said, when Zach and I were passing by the “donations to handicap” table outside of the mall, the man we always see said something to me like “you’re a –osse” I have no idea what he said, but it didn’t seem nice. I stopped and asked him what he said. He repeated it and I still didn’t get it. I had a blank look and he said never mind. I assume it was some Irish word I am unfamiliar with, but like I said…it wasn’t meant to be nice. This bothered me. Aside from not donating every time we pass by, we have never bothered him whatsoever. I couldn’t understand why he would harass me. I told Zach and we continued to walk our route around the park. When we got back to the man I stopped. I asked him to repeat what he was saying because I did not understand, did he want a stamp (although I knew that wasn’t true). He just said, “don’t worry about it lovie” and patted my shoulder. I am not sure what to think of it, but he never said anything else when we passed him.
Monica has had it worse though. She is working with Amnesty International to get people to sign petitions about human rights violations. That is what she has been doing ever since the café changed hands. Some very rude people have said unkind things to her. People disrespectfully throw things at the volunteers and someone set off a stink bomb near their table.

Austin Powers comes on TV tonight and I am thrilled to be able to watch movie on an actual television!!

Penthouse Level Please!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

For the first time in three months (today) I have access to television, unlimited internet, and constant heat! I feel like I am back home!

Work wasn’t so bad. Since I am on the morning team I got issued a safety alarm today, so Nanaw should feel proud and reassured. I got to work upstairs in the Christmas store room again. I like it up there. It’s secluded with only a few other people and not constant surveillance.

I went home after work excited about moving into my new apartment, but I needed to follow routine first. I thankfully remembered where I had stored a zinc lozenge in my book bag just before falling asleep last night, so I had that to help prevent it from getting worse. However, I still needed rest. I took a quick shower and a 20 minute nap. Most everything was packed up, so Zach and I ate some leftover Chinese from last night and headed out the door with the last of our things. We turned the keys back to Teresa and dropped our things off at the apartment on Merchant’s Road. We looked like hobos with all our sheets and belongings being carried through the streets.

It was supposed to be a rainy and windy day, but it wasn’t rainy at all. The sun was out all day and although it was chilly and windy, I was thankful it wasn’t pouring. For some reason my nose stays cold even if the rest of my body is warm. I have this problem at home in the winter, but here it is amplified. I feel like Clifford the Big Red Dog needing the sweater for his nose. Even at night when in bed, my body is mummified, but my nose remains to face the elements. Hopefully, I won’t have this problem in my new apartment.

Time passed slowly, but when the job finally came to an end it was straight to our new home. It was already dark, but the view seems very promising. Straight to the top floor (5th) on the elevator and we actually have a terrace overlooking the harbor. It isn’t private, but few come up there and we are the closest apartment to the access.

Tonight was the big game between France and Ireland, but it is also the UNC v Miami game which Zach and I tried to access via internet. After searching about twenty web sites we were unsuccessful at finding anything streaming for free. We thought we were at a loss, but then I had an idea. A ghetto-fabulous one! Thanks to Craig we got to watch the game at decent enough reception over skype! Carolina beat Miami and Ireland lost to France!!! What a great night.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday the 13th! Last day at Teresa’s (living and baking)

Friday, November 13, 2009

So now that it seems I have gotten over the flu symptoms, I am getting a sore throat. With the weather, my early hours, time outside and at least two of my friends sick all the time it is sooo hard to stay well. I move into my new apartment tomorrow and most of my stuff is already over there. We got our security deposit back today, so I've come into a lot of cash, especially after Eddie Rockets pays me tomorrow. I think I will deposit it into my new overseas bank account. So glad I got one of those...now I can check that goal off my list of aspirations in life. I think I will just transfer my money and not close it. See how long I can keep it before it just goes away. OOOOO - maybe I will always keep a little money in it and then I can always have euros when I travel. Oh marvelous! No more worries about fees on withdrawals in Europe.

Work this morning was alright. I at least woke up rested. I had to find a way to give myself little breaks and not overexert myself. I drank plenty of water while there too. I went straight home took a shower and a two hour nap after work. I might not have felt really tired, but the nap proved that I was. I slept like a baby. When my alarm finally went off, my eyelids were so heavy I could hardly open them. I got up and ate some leftover steak and set up downstairs much later than usual. Sadly, I had missed the lunch crowd at the produce stand, but I stayed from 2-5:30. I did not sell out, but the chocolate picnic cake was a hit. The crescents still did not sell well. To be honest, I did not like them when I first tasted them, but they grew on me. They are not extremely sweet, so they would be good with coffee or tea or even hot chocolate (not too much of an overdose since they aren’t that sweet).

While I was selling today, a lady came in who asked me a bunch of direct questions in a seemingly unfriendly tone. I think that was just her way of conducting a conversation, but she asked me who baked the items. When I replied it was myself, she asked me who I was. I told her I lived upstairs and Teresa lets me sell down here sometimes. She then told me that she liked what I had made and asked how long I would be around. I told her today was my last day selling at Teresa’s and that I would be leaving in two weeks. She replied that it was a shame because they could have used something like this at McCambridge’s. That is the fancy gourmet shop on Shop Street. Woah!!! What? She said I should have come in to sell the cakes to her. It was flattering and disappointing at the same time. I wish I would have known I could do that. Although I have two weeks left, they would want something more long term and I’m am honestly tired of baking on a schedule! It isn’t as fun when you don’t do it for fun.

At 5:30 I packed up shop and went to straighten a few things upstairs. Marta, Roberto and Jordi came over to help Zach and I carry things to the new apartment since they live two floors below us now! While we waited on Teresa to come and check the apartment and give us our deposit back they took stuff over.

We finally got over with everything and Mr. Kester showed us the ropes of the new place and gave me the key. He leaves at 6:30am, but I will be up then too! Boo!