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A question I am asking myself almost daily at the moment!!!  Seriously, how often have I said on here or to myself ‘do not volunteer’.

Folks, I’ve gone and done it again.  I volunteered!!!  I volunteered to help out our local tourism organisation Mid Ireland Tourism by bringing a group of bloggers into the midlands.

You see the trouble is that tourists are attracted to Dublin (naturally)…. and now there is the big draw of the Wild Atlantic Way, so it is as if the middle of the country was just one great big black hole.

We need to remedy this.  There is so much to offer in the midlands.  It truly is magical.

Magical Midlands

Magical Midlands

How difficult can it be?  You know, just 8 bloggers, a coach, accommodation, an itinerary, lunch, dinner, a mini cruise with lunch.  Easy peasy????

Not so.

Despite the many obstacles that had to be surmounted, I am almost there.

I gave the tourism board a diverse list of bloggers – they chose who they would like to come.  I asked the bloggers, and they agreed to come.  Done.

A coach…. one phone call, sorted.

Itinerary…. many phone calls and it was sorted.  I’ve chosen some of our favourite places which I’ve written about here, and I hope will impress everyone.

Lunch and dinner on the Saturday – easily sorted.

A picnic lunch for 12 people on the Sunday????  A nightmare.  Many many phone calls.  No responses, total dis-interest.  There’s supposedly a recession out there.  Do people not want to do business?

One huge lesson learned is that there is still such ignorance about ‘blogging’ and the power of blogging.  Even more mind-blowing for me is the fact that so many businesses have no website – or a very poor one, and don’t know the first thing about using social media to promote their business.  And probably worse still, are not willing to learn about it.

Folks, social media is HUGE.  It is am immense tool for small business.  It takes time but it is free.  You need to schedule it into your day the same way you’d schedule accounts or other stuff into it.  And if people don’t know about you, how can they come to you????

Next weekend is the big WEEKEND!

I’m quietly confident that it will all come together seamlessly in the end.  Well, if it doesn’t it won’t be from lack of effort.  This coming week may be a bit frenetic, but I promise to be outwardly calm on the day :)

Now all I need is some good sunshine.

If you’d like to travel virtually along the journey next weekend, we’ll be using two hashtags #midireland and #magicalmidlands

Friday Photo

Really enjoying daffodils from the garden at the moment :)

Daffodils

Daffodils

A bit of DIY

DIY in an old house is never done!  If you’re ever tempted to buy a ‘doer upper’ be aware of this.

Before Christmas, having celebrated our 11th year in this house in October, I finally got the hallway painted.  I was determined to keep the DIY momentum going and was excited to be trying out the much read about Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.

My first project for 2015 was re-covering and re-painting our ‘dining room’ chairs. In fact the chairs had originally been our kitchen chairs, but had got a new lease of life in the dining room some years back. They were desperately in need of a face-lift.

Renovating chairs

Renovating chairs

They are just your average melamine chairs, but everything I read said Annie Sloan Chalk Paint was the way to go.    As luck would have it a local shop stocked the infamous paint and a colour was chosen, a pot of paint and wax was bought.  (At the time of buying the paint I wasn’t aware that there were other chalk paint brands!).

Has anyone else used this paint?

The first thing I noticed about it, is that it has a different ‘move’ to it.  There is almost a hesitancy to it as you apply it, but as you work away at it you get used to a different move.  Two coats of paint were applied, and I was mightily impressed with the transformation.

Next it was apply the coating of wax.  To be perfectly honest, I was kind of disappointed initially on applying the wax, it looked messy.  I was advised to give it time and it will ‘settle’.  And it did, and the wax does give the finished product a nicer feel.  Yes, chalk paint, feels like chalk and powdery to touch.

Then it was time to head off to Athlone to find the fabric for the seats.

Fabric was purchased, and thank you so much to Daili Perez (who was visiting at the time) for the help with the re-upholstering.

I’m pleased with the outcome.  Six nice clean, new looking chairs for under €70 :)

A brand new chair :)

A brand new chair :)

Now that I have the bug, I’m looking at other things in the house that could do with a brush up!!!!

 

Friday Photo

Disaster!

Favoured plate from Tunisia

Favoured plate from Tunisia

Just broke in smithereens…. we both nearly cried!

Chicken Laksa

When Alfie’s daughter, Stephanie, was home from Australia in October herself and her partner introduced us to Laksa… a dish found in Singapore and Malaysia.  We loved it!  I’ve been dying to try to make it myself and finally got around to doing so a couple of weeks back.  It lived up to my memory.

We were also exceedingly lucky that Stephanie had brought us some Laksa Mix from Herbie’s Spices in Australia.  Has anyone ever seen such a mix here in Ireland?  I’m sure you could experiment as here’s the list of ingredients that go into the mix (it is an awful lot!) – coriander seed, cumin, chilli, salt, fennel, galangal, coriander leaf, turmeric, sugar, garlic, cinnamon, cloves, lamellae, lemon myrtle, pepper and cardamom.

Chicken Laksa

Chicken Laksa

Here’s Stephanie’s recipe:

Ingredients: (for 2 people)

  • 1/2 tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. Laksa Mix
  • Small red onion, chopped
  • 200 ml can of coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp fish sauce
  • 1/2 pt. chicken stock
  • 2 chicken breasts (we buy whole free-range and Alfie dissects) chopped.
  • 1/2 small yellow pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 small red pepper, chopped
  • Broccoli, chopped into florets
  • 1 Pak Choi, chopped
  • Rice noodles to serve

Heat oil.  Add Laksa spice to make a paste.  Cook for a minute or two to allow flavours to become aromatic and intensify.

Add the onion to the spice and fry gently.

Mix the coconut milk, stock and fish sauce together, add these to the onion and spice mix.

Bring the soup to a low simmer, add the chicken – cook for about 10 minutes.

Add the vegetables as you need to cook – depending on the thickness of the vegetable, i.e. broccoli first, peppers, pak choi, etc.

Cook your noodles separately.

To serve make sure everyone has some noodles and some vegetables.

Optional toppings include bean sprouts, finely sliced red chilli, squeeze of lime, freshly chopped coriander or basil.  We love the addition of finely sliced chilli and a squeeze of lime juice.

Enjoy!

 

Friday Photo

Spotted this chap swimming in the harbour at Portumna Forest Park at the weekend

Wild Mallard

Wild Mallard

Friday Photo

You may be fed up of my photos of crocuses…. but I do love them :)

Crocus in sunshine

Crocus in sunshine