Saturday, June 27, 2009

Dear Tesco Grocery, again? really?

For the past ten months, every fourth time I have been in your store, something, or several things have been moved. I am not exaggerating when I write that the milk my husband likes has now been located in no less than eight places. The items in your produce department have been moved around at least four times, and the bread, I won’t even mention that part of store. I know I’m not alone in the frustration I experience during my shopping trips. Products disappearing, the constant rearranging. What’s up?

While shopping a few days ago, I noticed that you were gearing up for another big 'let’s frustrate the customer', I mean, 'rearrange our fine products'. However, what I saw the other day could not have prepared me for what I witnessed this morning.

Just a few observations that left me a bit perplexed:
flour and baking products in three areas of the store, including next to the canned anchovies and tuna
dvds and cds across from the cereal
cookies across from the nappies and baby food
pet products in three different places
several brands of juice so high that my almost 6’ tall husband could barely reach them
canned soup in three areas, including in the refrigerated section, next to the crackers and cereal

Now that is just weird. Canned soup, cereal, and crackers now need to be refrigerated? Aren’t you worried that they will become soggy?

We enjoy shopping at your store as it’s the only large grocery near our home and your employees are always friendly and helpful. I certainly hope that you are not done rearranging the store, because what I saw this morning is just bizarre.

A loyal customer

PS- thank you for leaving the alcohol alone. By the time I’m done shopping, I need that bottle of wine.

To those of you who live here and know me IRL, go to Tesco if you need a good laugh. Nothing makes one giggle like a box of Corn Flakes in need of refrigeration.

Friday, June 26, 2009

recipe 6: honey and ginger-glazed salmon

From the Nordstrom Flavors cookbook

This recipe is excellent and I will definitely make it again. YUM!

honey and ginger-glazed salmon

½ cup low-sodium soy sauce
4 skinless salmon fillets
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons honey
1 ½ tablespoons peeled and finely minced ginger
6 green onions, white and light green parts only, finely chopped

Pour the soy sauce into a dish. Add salmon. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Remove the salmon from the soy sauce and pat dry. Discard the soy sauce.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly oil a baking sheet.

Season the salmon with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, whisk together the ginger and honey. Evenly spread the honey mixture on the marinated side of the salmon. Evenly sprinkle the green onions over the honey, press to adhere to the salmon.

Heat oil in a large, nonstick pan over medium heat. Add the salmon, green onion side down. Cook until the undersides are seared, about 1½ minutes. Transfer the salmon, onion side up, to the baking sheet. Bake the salmon about 10 minutes, or until it flakes easily.

Transfer to warm plates. Serve immediately.

We had it with boiled potatoes and steamed broccoli.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

I wish I could be in Washington DC today

Resolve Advocacy Day is today, June 25. Resolve is The National Infertility Association; an organization that is working to bring awareness to this disease and get health insurance coverage for infertility. Currently only 15 states have mandated insurance coverage. The rest of us pay out of pocket for everything. Every appointment, every ultrasound, every blood draw, every test, every injection, every operation, and every medication, we pay for.

It angers me that my health insurance covers medical care for conditions and diseases that typically occur when people make poor lifestyle choices. Yet through no fault of my own, I’m infertile and have to pay for my health care out of pocket. It’s absurd.

I’m particularly bitter and disappointed that the federal government only provides two insurance options for employees overseas, neither of which covers fertility treatment. Give us more companies to choose from or give us more comprehensive health care through the two available.

Infertility is a medical condition and we deserve health insurance coverage.

To those of you who are attending Advocacy Day, good luck and thank you for being our voice.

For more information, please visit the Resolve website.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Lobster Pot

The Lobster Pot has an extraordinary reputation in Dublin; well known for excellent food, an intimate atmosphere, and remarkable service. The experience begins with ringing the bell on the ground level. This brings the owner down to personally escort guests upstairs to the dining room. The dining room is charming and everything one would expect from an upscale restaurant.

Upon sitting down, a platter containing fish, shellfish, meat, poultry, and a variety of appetizers was brought to the table. Each dish was thoroughly explained, including a variety of options for preparation. The wine list was superb and we were very pleased with the bottle a member of our group selected.

I chose the crab salad as a starter and grilled salmon with bĂ©arnaise sauce as the main course. I also had potatoes and creamed spinach. The crab salad was among the best I’ve had. The salmon was also very good. Toward the end of the meal, a dessert trolley was brought to the table with a nice selection of sweets.

The Lobster Pot is rather expensive, though I just discovered that they have an “early bird set menu”, so we will likely check that out next time. The bill for our party of four was €380, including starters, main courses, side dishes, desserts, and drinks.

Overall our group was pleased with our experience at The Lobster Pot. I can see why this is considered a neighborhood favorite. We will be back!



Irish coffee

Monday, June 22, 2009

a couple of ciders and a couple of questions

There’s no better time for a pear cider over ice than a sunny evening in Dublin. After leaving the Street Performance World Championship, our group headed over to a favorite place for a few pear ciders. It was a lovely time of good conversation, nice drinks, and beautiful weather.

As we were drinking our cider and spending a pleasant afternoon together, a man approached our table and began to make small talk. While I’m sure his intentions were pure, nobody at our table is comfortable sharing personal information with strangers, particularly overseas. So, to the overly eager gentleman who interrupted our conversation, I guarantee that you did not get truthful answers to such questions as where are you from, why are you here, where are you staying, and how long will you be here.

Getting back to the evening… We had planned to have dinner where we were having cider, but one member of our party had the grand idea to have dinner at The Lobster Pot. Though I’ve not tried before, I’ve heard that this restaurant can be notoriously difficult to get into. Luck was on our side, one phone call later and we had a reservation. I’ll post a review of it, and more Saturday night fun, tomorrow.

Street Performance World Championship

Saturday afternoon we stopped by the Street Performance World Championship. All four people in our party were very disappointed. The stages weren’t raised platforms, but instead designated areas of grass. It was impossible to see the performers because the surrounding crowds were all at least eight people deep.

Upon entering the park, the first “performer” we tried to watch was obnoxious and using a lot of potty humor while interacting with children. I was immediately turned off. Some of the other performers may have been decent, but again, the crowds. We wandered around for 30 minutes or so, then decided that there are much better ways to spend a sunny afternoon in Dublin.

If this seems a little harsh, please know that I’m not a fan of most street performers in the first place, I’m definitely not a fan of crowds, and I’m really, really not a fan of spending time in a place with thousands of little kids and strollers.

So, off we went…

Edited to add: according to the Metro paper, there were more than 180,000 people in attendance. The winners are the USA break-dancing team.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

it is June, right?

We've had such strange weather. It's been cold enough that nearly every night for the past ten days we've had the fire on. Guinness and Bella love to relax on their scratchers in front of it.

Hopefully the sun will make an appearance this weekend.

recipe 5: Cajun cedar-planked salmon

This salmon recipe is from the “Nordstrom Entertaining at Home Cookbook”. Unfortunately it wasn’t nearly as good as I had hoped. There are so many other wonderful salmon recipes available, so I won’t be making it again.

PS- I apologize that the blog has been neglected this week; it's been crazy. I promise more regular, and hopefully substantial, posts next week.

2009 Street Performance World Championship

When we were here for our anniversary trip in 2007, we noticed that street performers are very popular in Dublin. It was no surprise to learn that the 2009 Street Performance World Championship will be held here this weekend.

We’re going to be in City Centre on Saturday for something else, so we might stop by to watch the performers for a bit. It’s taking place in Merrion Square, today through Sunday.

Check out Street Performance World Championship for more information.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Defiance: Return to the Forest

Wow, what a movie!

On Friday my husband said that our latest Netflix movie had come in. I asked what it was and if he thought I would like it. He responded that it would be violent, but that it was based on a true story, and specifically mentioned it taking place in Belarus. I decided to watch it and I’m very glad that I did.

It is by far one of the most intense, well made movies I’ve ever seen. I’m sure more fascinating because I have lived in Belarus. I had goose bumps watching the winter scenes in the movie, remembering how bitterly cold the harsh, Belarusian winters are.

From the Netflix website:
“Daniel Craig stars as Tuvia Bielski, one of four Jewish brothers who escape from Poland into the forests of Belarus during World War II to lead a band of resistance fighters and create a safe haven for Jewish refugees. The real-life sanctuary established by the Bielski brothers saved more than 1,000 Jews from persecution and death. Edward Zwick directs this moving historical drama that also stars Liev Schreiber, Jamie Bell and George MacKay.”

What a phenomenal story of courage; this movie should not be missed. I also recommend watching all of the extras on the DVD. The interviews with the actors, director, and family members are very moving.

I can’t wait to read the book!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Rekorderlig Strawberry & Lime

I recently wrote a post about finding the perfect summer drink, Rekorderlig’s Berry Cider. A review I included in the post mentioned that the Strawberry & Lime flavor is the most popular from the company. I was able to locate it and after arriving home from a full day of running errands, I was ready for something cold to drink.

The Strawberry & Lime is decent, but not nearly as tasty as the Berry flavor. I found it to be too sweet, with a bit of an aftertaste. The Berry is well, perfect.

We’re invited to a bbq at a neighbor’s house this evening, so I’m going to bring some of the Rekorderlig ciders for our host and other guests to try. I will stick with the berry flavor; it really is the perfect summer drink.

recipe 3: stir-fried spinach and recipe 4: roasted potatoes

Both recipes are from "Williams-Sonoma Essential of Healthful Cooking".

Stir-Fried Spinach with Garlic and Lemon Zest

2 lb (1kg) spinach
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 minced garlic clove
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Rinse the spinach carefully in 2 or 3 changes of water, discarding the stems and damaged leaves. Drain in a colander.

Over medium-high heat, in a deep sauté pan or wok, combine the olive oil, lemon zest and garlic.

When the garlic begins to sizzle, immediately add the spinach, and using tongs or 2 wooden spoons, toss and stir quickly until wilted, 2-3 minutes.

Transfer the spinach to a warmed serving dish and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of fresh pepper. Serve at once.

Roasted Russet Potatoes with Parsley and Garlic

2 long russet potatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1 clove garlic
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 400F (200C). Cut the potatoes into slices. Rinse under cold water, blot dry.

Place the potatoes in a bowl, drizzle with oil and toss to coat.

Arrange the potatoes in a single layer on a nonstick baking sheet. Roast the potatoes, turning every 10 minutes, until evenly browned and tender, approximately 30-35 minutes. While the potatoes are roasting, combine the parsley and garlic.

Transfer the potatoes to a serving dish and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt and a grind of pepper. Add the parsley mixture and toss to coat. Serve at once.

We enjoyed both dishes very much and I will be making them again. I served the stir-fried spinach and roasted potatoes with a simple, baked salmon.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Reva- interesting concept

Today on my morning jaunt to Starbucks, I was walking down the street and saw

When I returned home, latte in hand, I looked up Reva on the internet. From their website, “The REVAi is a lightweight battery electric vehicle designed for low speed, congested urban conditions."

While the size and safety of the car make my Volvo-driving self nervous, it’s definitely an interesting concept. With the traffic problem and cost of fuel in Ireland, I expect to see more Revas on the road.

Visit the website for more information.

no comment

I was always told that if I didn’t have anything nice to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. For the past week I’ve been trying to find a tactful way to comment on this, but I think I’ll keep my mouth shut.

July 4th invitation

recipe 2: oven fried eggplant (aubergine)

This recipe is from an old "Cooking Light" magazine, or so I was told. Very tasty and very easy to make. I served it with whole wheat pasta and a green salad. Yum!

oven fried eggplant (aubergine)
• 1/2 cup fat-free mayonnaise
• 1 tablespoon minced onion
• 1 lb unpeeled eggplant, sliced (about 12 1/2 inch slices)
• 1/3 cup fine dry breadcrumb
• 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
• 1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
• vegetable oil cooking spray

1. Combine first 2 ingredients, stir well.
2. Spread evenly over both sides of eggplant slices.
3. Combine breadcrumbs, cheese, and Italian seasoning in a shallow bowl; dredge eggplant in breadcrumbs mixture.
4. Place eggplant on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray.
5. Bake@ 425 degrees for 12 minutes.
6. Turn eggplant over; and bake an additional 12 minutes or until golden.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

the perfect summer drink

My husband and I were at one of our favorite restaurants in Temple Bar a few months ago and ordered a pear cider. The waitress asked if we'd like to try a brand from Sweden. When she brought our order, she mentioned that this particular brand is supposed to be served over ice. Delicious.

On Saturday I was at the grocery store and noticed the Swedish cider. Not only do they have the wonderful pear cider, they have berry cider. Even though the weather last weekend was certainly not meant for drinking chilled beverages, I had to try the berry cider.

We filled up our Guinness glasses with ice, popped open the cider, poured, took sip, and that is when I fell in love. The berry cider is amazing. Everything about it is perfect, including the color ;)

Here's a description from a Finnish beverage importing company,


Hugely popular both in its native Sweden and in Finland, Rekorderlig is a perfect drink for the Scandinavian taste. The secret of its clear flavour is in fresh spring water and exciting flavor combinations.

The Rekorderlig family has severalwonderful berry and fruitflavours, together with fresh sugarless variants. The flavours are innovative and the combinations are enchanting. The most popular flavour is Strawberry&Lime which already is in the top of the cider bestsellers in many retail chains. The Rekorderlig ciders get plenty of feedback from satisfied friends of cider. Rekorderlig has been praised especially for the purity and freshness of its taste and the excellent selection of flavours. We listen to consumers' wishes for new flavours.
Rekorderlig's market share keeps growing which shows that consumers have taken to the brand.
Read more:"

I'm looking forward to trying the Strawberry & Lime flavor.

Run to your local liquor store and buy a bottle today!

recipe 1: chicken burritos

Last weekend my husband had to work both Saturday and Sunday, unexpectedly, so our plans were changed. I decided to stay around the house and work on some big projects, more on that later. Since I don’t particularly like to cook, I wanted to make something quick and easy. We both like Mexican food and I had most of the necessary ingredients, so I chose a chicken burrito recipe from the Limited Edition Better Homes and Gardens book.

I’m not going to type up the recipe because honestly, it wasn’t that good. I did have to substitute one item, so maybe that would have made a difference. The recipe calls for a can of jalapeno-flavored bean dip, which I didn’t have. I used a can of 99% fat free refried beans instead.

The burritos weren’t horrible, just not something I would make again. As I looked at the recipe later, I was surprised to see a “best loved” label next to it in the book. Like I said, it could have been the beans.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

poor boy, I promise it will grow back

Guinness and Bella love to wrestle. They are very gentle with each other, but they do enjoy play fighting. Yesterday Bella took a swipe at the boy’s face and caught it just right. He’s now missing a small piece of fur above his eye. He looked so sad when he glanced over and saw a bunch of his fur stuck in his sister’s paw. Poor Guinness, I promise it will grow back.

The picture doesn't show the full extent of the damage, but you get the idea.

new feature, reviews of cookbooks and recipes

I’ve decided to start using my cookbooks more often. Throughout the next two years (until we move again), I’m going to experiment with new recipes and decide whether particular cookbooks are worth keeping or need to be donated. I’m very picky about cookbooks and only like them if they include lots of pictures, readily available ingredients, and nutritional information. However even with that criteria, I seem to have too many again. It’s time to figure out which will make the next move and which will be donated.

My goal is to try at least two new recipes per week. Depending on our schedule and availability of ingredients, it may be more. The first recipe and a review will be posted tomorrow.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

there goes the weekend….

Last night there was an embassy bbq that we were scheduled to attend. I was ready to go, the desserts I was bringing were ready to go, unfortunately my husband was not ready to go; he was stuck at work. He was so stuck that he didn’t get home until several hours after the bbq ended and is back at work today. Boo :(

This work nonsense in addition to the 180 with the weather has changed/ ruined our weekend plans. Today we had planned to go to a home improvement store to buy supplies for an outdoor herb garden. It is pouring outside, raining buckets, hail, wind, YUCK! What happened? It has been beautiful here for a full week, sunny skies, pleasant temps, bit of a breeze, now this? It’s June!!

I guess today will be a day of indoor projects. I have no desire to run errands in the nastiness outside, and I really, really have no desire to plant anything in this mess.

Oh well, maybe next weekend.

an animal huh?

When we arrived here, our housing association was using a different garbage collection company than the one we have now. I asked about recycling and was told the company didn’t have a program in our neighborhood. Several months ago the association switched to a new company. Their motto is “An Animal for Recycling”. Really? Then why is it that there are no recycling bins in front of our house, or any of the neighbors'? The Seattle girl in me does not like this one bit!

Panda, you will be receiving a phone call from me. An animal for recycling? Prove it.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

it’s been ordered

Several weeks ago I mentioned that I was in the market for a new printer and a new digital camera. After doing some research, I decided on, and just ordered the camera. I wanted something small, simple, and relatively inexpensive. I already have a really nice Olympus, but it's just too big and complicated for every day use. This little Canon seems perfect for my needs. Hopefully the new camera will put an end to the poor quality pictures on the blog.

Canon SD780 IS

interesting post on another blog

For obvious reasons, I’m going to withhold my personal feelings and comments, but I highly encourage you to visit another blog I frequent and read the post titled “Discussion: Ambassadorial Qualifications“.

Enjoy this thought-provoking article and the comments that have been submitted below it. The author mentions more posts on the topic in the near future. I’m very much looking forward to it as we are now in the season in which newly appointed ambassadors will begin arriving at posts around the world.