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!

Recovery

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Even though I woke up at 9:30, I did not get up till 11. I was feeling much better and rested, but I would still get lightheaded and tired if I moved around too much or got in a hurry. I like to live at a fast-pace; always doing something, but my body was telling me to take it easy. I listened. I went downstairs to sell the almond-hazelnut chocolate crescents and apple cake I had baked on Tuesday. I remained there till 3:30 reading in my book, Un Lun Dun. I had bundled up so as not to make matters worse for myself and Teresa fixed a cup of tea for me as usual. Despite my protests, she continues to bring me a cup every time I am there.

I did not sell out. Only the loaf bread seems to sell out. The apple squares went well. But I still had one left. Although I got much praise for the crescents, there were still a good many left. I am satisfied though if I sell at least half of what I bake.

After I left Teresa’s I went over to borrow Marta’s large cooking pot and came back to attempt a soup for the first time. While the water was boiling, I took a shower. Then I fixed the soup by dumping in water, boiled chicken, noodles, a whole onion, carrots, olive oil, salt, and herbes de Provence.

I let it sit with Zach watching over it while I went to take a nap. I slept for about an hour till I was woken up by the doorbell. It was a girl coming to look at the apartment. When I poked my head out of my bedroom door, Zach was showing her around. I decided to go ahead and get up so she could see my room too.

The soup turned out to be more like noodles, and a lot of it! I had dumped the whole packet of noodles trying not to have a lot of food to haul over to the new apartment. It was tasty enough, but Marta’s was better. We have A LOT leftover.

After dinner I began to pack up all my things. Almost everything is in my suitcase and it weighs in at 49 lbs. (50 is the limit!) My carry on is 18 lbs (20 is the limit!). I am barely making it; hopefully, they won’t care if I am over (after my visit to Italy and Germany). Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. It really depends on the attendant at the check-in counter.

I was feeling up to it, so I baked some oatmeal raisin cookies. They were supposed to have a marshmallow cream filling, but I tried substituting the cream for melted marshmallows and it was not satisfactory, so I used some leftover cream cheese icing instead. Everyone loves it. I had some time, so I also whipped up a chocolate picnic cake with fudge frosting. Can’t ever go wrong with that one. It’s Mimi’s recipe. I let them all cool and waited to package them in the morning.

Dreading getting up at 6, I went to be at 10pm. I'm having trouble sleeping at night. I sleep better in my naps now than I do at night. I think it's because I’m paranoid that I won't be able to fall asleep and get enough rest by the time I need to wake up, so I end up not sleeping at all. I went to bed really early, so I would toss and turn and still get enough sleep. The method seemed to work.

I hate this job. I dream about unpacking boxes - that's crazy! I don't get why it is affecting me so. I think maybe because it is an action I do so early in the morning it sticks in my mind. Weird things happen to me if I wake up too early in the morning. I just can't function properly before 9am. I vow never to have a real job that gets me up really early unless it pays extremely well.

Could I have the dreaded flu?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I guess yesterday was too much for me. I have to learn to take a nap even if I can’t sleep I need to rest. I did not go to work today. I was unable to sleep last night between nausea and sweats. I was very dehydrated and a little scared. I wasn’t sure what I was getting, but I knew it wasn’t good. I did get up at 6 (since I was already awake) and put layers on to walk up to Boots and see what the policy on not staying for work would be. My overseer was very nice and understanding. She even tried to find a thermometer for me, but couldn’t. The cash registers wouldn’t be able to be opened till 6:30, so I didn’t buy one either. She gave me a doctor I could go see if I felt like I needed one and asked me to call later and update my condition. Everyone I work with said they hoped I felt better and I went back home to bed. I slept till 3pm. I really needed it. I got out of bed and fixed some vegetable soup and finished the movie about the Gaza strip. It really is a moving piece that makes one think and sympathize. False knowledge is what gets people in trouble more so than a lack of knowledge.

Aside from fatigue, I don’t feel like I have the flu. I’m not really achy, and I can move, but I am still very tired. Thankfully, tomorrow is my day off as well. I called Mr. Kester and explained to him what I was experiencing. I left it up to him to whether dinner was still a go. He said it was best not to chance it, and it sounded like I needed to rest. So, we agreed to still meet up Friday to get the key and drop some stuff off.

I took another nap after my lunch. Just being up for two hours exhausted me. Normally I am not a nap person, just ask my former roommate. However, I will gladly fall asleep during the middle of the day if I need it – and that is usually an indication of being sick.

I woke up again to put some steak and potatoes in the oven and take a shower. After dinner, Zach and I watched a Sherlock Holmes movie and then he went out to meet friends while I went back to bed. With all my napping through out the day I was not sure if I would be able to sleep at night. It made no difference; I slept soundly till 9:30 the next morning.

The social and more cooking

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I kept Neosporin on my burn every hour and it seems to be healing well and not peeling.

Another early morning for me, but I’m getting along alright. I find it hard to come back and take a nap though because I am always finding things I could be doing! Today I came back expecting to sleep, but I ate some pizza and prepared my baked goods instead. Then felt like I needed to get a jump start on selling them since it is a miraculously beautiful day.

My loaves went very well today. The apple and courgette was delicious. I think I like it better than the pumpkin/sweet potato. I sold out even though they went up in price 50cents. I saw a carrot cake for 6.50 and another for 5, so I’m a great value. However, people are coming in for produce and health items so it is more effort to talk them into buying sweets. Samples still help a lot but there are a few regulars that come in and forgo a sample because they know it’s good.

Erika came by to say hello and see about taking me up on the offer of my broadband stick after I am done with it. I also helped Teresa plan her trip to Prague as her father’s birthday present. I showed her the cheap bus tickets to Dublin and a web site to look up hotels in Prague.

After selling at the booth, I baked some almond-hazelnut chocolate crescents and Monica’s apple cake. The cake was not as thick as I was expecting. Monica said it was because I didn’t put in a lot of apples. I called it apple squares instead of apple cake. The crescents were unusual. At first I didn’t like them because it wasn’t really sweet, but they grew on me. They have a crumbly texture, but a nice essence of almond and chocolate drizzle.

At eight o’clock, Zach and I went to the BUNAC social to meet other people from the US, Australia and Canada on the same work program. I was amazed that there were so many people. I thought there were maybe five of us tops in Galway, but there were at least 25 people there. We had the whole upper level reserved at the Cellar bar. A girl sat down beside me and I realized I knew her. It was Laura, a girl I work with at the pharmacy. I didn’t even realize she was Canadian. I like her, but I am kind of glad I didn’t meet 30 people before hand cause I’m much happier with my other friends who I was quick to meet up with as soon as I could.

Marta, Jordi, Roberto, Monica, and Audrey (Monica’s new roommate from France), Zach and I all went out and played games at a pub. We did the drawing game for Monica and Audrey who had missed out on it. But it is an interpretation game with an umbrella, elephant, house, snake and ship.

Nice day then Ugly day

Monday, November 9, 2009

I got to work and it was another day of moving boxes and shelving.
I had to get to the tax office and it started pouring rain, but I threw on my rain jacket and braved it. The wind did not help one bit in the situation.

When I got to the tax office I was filling out some papers and I saw something moving out of the corner of my eye. I looked over and descending into my backpack was a spider about the size of my thumb – menacing looking thing. I started carefully pulling things out of my pack till I found it attached to a piece of paper and seemingly dead. Creepy little thing.

It continued to rain all day, but I went on to the grocery after leaving the tax office. No matter the occasion I tend to visit all three stores each time I head out that way. I needed to get ingredients for my breads. I checked in some toe warmers for here and for Germany, but it was 3-4 Euro for one disposable set. Ridiculous!!

When I was on my way back from the store, Monica called asking if I wanted to go for a coffee. I wasn’t sure she was well enough to venture out, but she seemed bent on getting out of the house, so I agreed. I had a hot chocolate that was delicious and we sat at a table and talked for about an hour till I went home to take a nap.

I told Zach to wake me up when dinner was ready which gave me about an hour and half nap. Dinner was a lamb dish with rich and veggies. I’m not a huge fan of lamb. It’s not just the animal, but I’m not so keen on the taste. Depends on how it’s done, but it’s not really my preference; however, the dish he made was nice enough.

After dinner I began my baking. I altered the pumpkin bread recipe to be a sweet potato recipe at the suggestion of Laurel. It turned out to a wonderful substitute, and tasted quite similar. I also made apple and zucchini bread, which I chose to name apple corrugate loaf. Zucchinis are called corrugates in Ireland, England, Australia and New Zealand. I like the way it sounds better anyway. I think it’s French.

In the process of cooking, I managed to burn my palm. I wasn’t sure how bad it was at first, but I managed to get through it with a lot of cold water and Neosporin.

In the adaptation of the recipe, I was not sure exactly how to get puree out of the raw vegetable and because mom was MIA I went ahead brazenly trying things out! What I did worked and the loaves turned out wonderful. Some stuck to the pans again considering it had rained all day, so I left them to sell with the pan again. I also topped the sweet potato loaves with cream cheese icing I still had in the fridge.

Monday, November 9, 2009

A < Not > Rainy Day

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The weather was wonderful today. Wonderful for Ireland…it didn’t rain one drop and it was about 5 degrees warmer than yesterday! Zach and I ran into many people we knew today so that helped pass the time.

Evidentially, the Irish drink more tea than any other country, so I guess it is only fitting that I developed a taste for drinking hot tea here. So much so that I took a sugar water today from Eddie Rockets because I am worried that it might have an effect on the coloring of my teeth!

After work we went over to Marta’s for her torta de chocolate and hot chocolate. So much wonderful chocolate! She, of course, showed me how to make it! We played games on paper which we found to be similar. They play dot to dot, tic-tac-toe, hangman, Parcheesi and snakes and ladders with variations on the names.
When she asked me about the famous comics in America, I gave her Peanuts and Foxtrot. We have Calvin and Hobbes in common. In Spain they also have Mafalda (Argentinean). I have noticed that following comics seems to have more emphasis than we put on them in the US. Marta also told me about places to go in Bologna!

I left early so I could go to bed in order to roll out of bed at 6am. It is going to be a long month!

It seems I am Employed by a Pharmacy!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

I did it!!! I got to work on time and I wasn’t too tired. I separated crates, unpacked boxes, shelved merchandise, and catalogued it in storage. I don’t know if they plan on training me on the register or not. Since I had to sign the security agreement, I won’t be talking about my job much but I think I will like it enough despite the hours. The people seem pleasant. I got a pack of tissues accidentally thrown my way and the apologies and teasing/joking that followed made me feel welcome, like part of the team. They started off playing Christmas music (!!!) until some employees complained and they changed it.

It was a quick turn around to go work for Eddie Rockets at 12, but I made it through the cold and rainy day. Every time Zach and I passed by a doorway emitting warm heat we tried to stay close for awhile before walking on.

After work Marta called me to come watch Demelsa make pumpkin fritters out of flour, milk, sugar, pumpkin, and egg. Evidentially, the mischievous Roberto had added some water he should not have added when left in charge of some stirring and so Demalsa was not satisfied with the result. She needed more flour, so I offered up mine and she and I made the trip to my apartment and back. She fried them up and served with honey. They reminded me of fair food, so I could only eat one, but it was tasty. Marta had made chicken noodle soup and offered that to everyone as well. She and I took some soup over to Monica’s who is still a shut-in with flu-like symptoms – but not seemingly the swine flu. She said she felt better, but it is still too cold for her to venture outside.

At 9:30 Zach left to meet up with Johanna (French), Julie (Austrian) and another girl Beatrice (Swedish). Roberto (Italian) and I (American) followed at 10. I stayed till 11 listening to the music at Monroe’s pub and trying to talk over it, but not being very successful. I walked home with Beatrice when she left at 11. We both needed to get some sleep, so I was glad to have to opportunity to walk back with someone earlier. Since this was my first time meeting her, it was nice to be able to hear each other talk as we walked. She is an au pair for four Irish children! I don’t know if I could handle that many all the time.

Long day in Training

Friday, November 6, 2009

This morning I started training for the pharmacy at 10am and it lasted until 7 pm with an hour break for lunch and another 30 minute break in the afternoon. There were three videos that we watched. I learned that there are four fire extinguishers. The red one is water, cream is foam, blue is powder and black is carbon dioxide (most common in America). Each is used for a different type of fire. For example: electrical fires require the carbon dioxide extinguisher while it is best to use the foam on contained flammable liquids and the powder on running liquids. I thankfully got paid for the training, so I didn’t mind as much, but the computer modules were tedious and occasionally insulting of my intelligence, but I can see how they are necessary. I had to do more written exercises from a manual and then go over contracts and guidelines. I also signed a security contract about searches and social networking. Ever since Facebook became so popular, they have had some problems with co-workers talking about other co-workers and it getting out of hand, so it is now a clause in the contract. As far as the searches: I can be searched at anytime and so can my things. I am not allowed to have money in my pockets and if there is anything that could have been purchased at the drugstore then I must have a receipt with it to prove I paid for it. I can understand I guess, but wow! They don’t seem to trust their employees. Probably a good policy though. Thankfully, I don’t have pockets on the pants I wear so no problems there!


During my lunch break I had enough time to set up a bank account at AIB (yea! I have a foreign bank account!) and talk to Teresa about moving out. Teresa surprisingly said that we could move out whenever, and if we did relocate to the Kester’s apartment on the 14th then it would be enough time for her to advertise and hopefully get someone when we leave. Kathleen had called me too about possibly staying with us for a week while she relocated to another place. I was ecstatic, but trying to be a bit pessimistic and plan for it all to fall through- just in case.

When I got back from a long day I walked in the door and saw a coat hanging up that I did not recognize as Zach’s. I walked up the stairs and was greeted by a kitchen full of people! Marta, Demelsa, Zach, Roberto and Jordi were all in my kitchen. Some people you don’t want to see after a long day, but the people I know here are the ones who will always be welcome to be standing in my kitchen.

Zach had fixed a coconut chicken curry from scratch. I had been encouraging him to use the recipe books I had and he did! It tasted wonderful too. Nam accompanied it – an Indian flat bread that is quite good.

As expected, something fell through and Kathleen said she would not need to stay with us for a week because her landlord was going to let her stay on at a reduced rate till they found a replacement. It probably worked for the best because I wouldn’t want to be waking her up every morning at 6.

We all sat around the table talking for awhile, but I was so tired. I stayed behind when everyone left to go out. I had to be up at 6am…and stay awake working till 6pm. Eek!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Dryer sheets will kill you!

Read on to find some tips I got in an e-mail from my aunt, some of which I found interesting and useful.

CLEVER IDEAS WORTH KNOWING

Take your bananas apart when you get home from the store.
If you leave them connected at the stem, they ripen faster.

Store your opened chunks of cheese in aluminum foil.
It will stay fresh much longer and not mold!

Peppers with 3 bumps on the bottom are sweeter and better for eating.
Peppers with 4 bumps on the bottom are firmer and better for cooking.

Add a teaspoon of water when frying ground beef.
It will help pull the grease away from the meat while cooking.
To really make scrambled eggs or omelets rich add a couple of
spoonfuls of sour cream, cream cheese, or heavy cream in and then beat them up.

For a cool brownie treat, make brownies as directed. Melt Andes mints in double broiler and pour over warm brownies. Let set for a wonderful minty frosting.

Add garlic immediately to a recipe if you want a light taste
of garlic and at the end of the recipe if your want a stronger taste of garlic.

Expanding Frosting
When you buy a container of cake frosting from the store, whip it with your mixer for a few minutes. You can double it in size.
You get to frost more cake/cupcakes with the same amount. You also eat less sugar and calories per serving.

Reheating refrigerated bread
To warm biscuits, pancakes, or muffins that were refrigerated, place them in
a microwave with a cup of water. The increased moisture will keep the food
moist and help it reheat faster.


Newspaper stops weeds
Start putting in your plants, work the nutrients in your soil. Wet newspapers,
put layers around the plants overlapping as you go cover with mulch and for-
get about weeds. Weeds will get through some gardening plastic they will not
get through wet newspapers.

Measuring Cups
Before you pour sticky substances into a measuring cup, fill with hot water.
Dump out the hot water, but don't dry cup. Next, add your ingredient, such
as peanut butter, and watch how easily it comes right out.

Hate foggy windshields? Buy a chalkboard eraser and keep it in the glove box of your car When the windows fog, rub with the eraser! Works better than a cloth!

Re opening envelopes
If you seal an envelope and then realize you forgot to include something inside, just place your sealed envelope in the freezer for an hour or two. Viola! It unseals easily.

Goodbye Fruit Flies
To get rid of pesky fruit flies, take a small glass, fill it 1/2' with Apple Cider Vinegar and 2 drops of dish washing liquid; mix well. You will find those flies drawn to the cup and gone forever!

Get Rid of Ants
Put small piles of cornmeal where you see ants. They eat it, take it 'home,' can't digest it so it kills them. It may take a week or so, especially if it rains, but it works and you don't have the worry about pets or small children being harmed!

Easy Deviled Eggs
Put cooked egg yolks in a zip lock bag. Seal, mash till they are all broken up.
Add remainder of ingredients, reseal, keep mashing it up mixing thoroughly, cut the tip of the baggy, squeeze mixture into egg.
Just throw bag away when done easy clean up.

Broken Glass
Use a wet cotton ball or Q-tip to pick up the small shards of glass you can't see easily.

No More Mosquitoes
Place a dryer sheet in your pocket. It will keep the mosquitoes away.
To keep squirrels from eating your plants, sprinkle your plants with cayenne pepper. The cayenne pepper doesn't hurt the plant and the squirrels won't come near it.

Flexible vacuum
To get something out of a heat register or under the fridge add an empty paper towel roll or empty gift wrap roll to your vacuum. It can be bent or flattened to get in narrow openings.

Reducing Static Cling
Pin a small safety pin to the seam of your slip and you will not have a clingy skirt or dress. Same thing works with slacks that cling when wearing panty hose. Place pin in seam of slacks and ... ta da! ... static is gone.

INFO ABOUT CLOTHES DRYERS
The heating unit went out on my dryer! The gentleman that fixes things around the house for us told us that he wanted to show us something and he went over to the dryer and pulled out the lint filter. It was clean. (I always clean the lint from the filter after every load clothes.) He told us that he wanted to show us something; he took the filter over to the sink and ran hot water over it. The lint filter is made of a mesh material .. I'm sure you know what your dryer's lint filter looks like. Well ... the hot water just sat on top of the mesh! It didn't go through it at all! He told us that dryer sheets cause a film over that mesh that's what burns out the heating unit. You can't SEE the film, but it's there. It's what is in the drye r sheets to make your clothes soft and static free ... that nice fragrance too. You know how they can feel waxy when you take them out of the box ... well this stuff builds up on your clothes and on your lint screen. This is also what causes dryer units to potentially burn your house down with it! He said the best way to keep your dryer working for a very longtime (and to keep your electric bill lower) is to take that filter out and wash it with hot soapy water and an old toothbrush (or other brush) at least every six months. He said that makes the life of the dryer at least twice as long! How about that!?! Learn something new everyday! I certainly didn't know dryer sheets would do that. So, I thought I'd share!
Note: I went to my dryer and tested my screen by running water on it. The water ran through a little bit but mostly collected all the water in the mesh screen. I washed it with warm soapy water and a nylon brush and I had it done in 30 seconds. Then when I rinsed it .. the water ran right thru the screen! There wasn't any puddling at all! That repairman knew what he was talking about!