Apr 30, 2010

Gerry Ryan, RIP

The last time I gasped aloud—as I just now gasped aloud—was the day I saw that my then pre-teen had googled "Girls having sex" on YouTube. My lungs loudly sucked in oxygen the way a burning building backdrafts right before it combusts. Gerry Ryan, a hugely popular Irish broadcaster, was found dead in his apartment in Dublin this morning. He was only 53.
I'm gutted. I loved Gerry Ryan; his morning radio show was an institution in my youth. Funny, thinking about him now, I have an immediate and vivid memory of sweeping the floor in the back-kitchen (as we oddly called it, not that we had a "front kitchen" or anything) of our first house (yes, we did have a second house later on). The long narrow kitchen was flooded with golden sunlight (typical lighting in childhood memories) and the kitchen was filled with Gerry Ryan's booming, posh-Dublin voice. My mother was elbow-deep in suds over by the window, probably keeping one eye on what Sis Moloney was doing out her backyard, and we both stopped what we were doing to listen intently to Gerry. He was known for being funny and provocative, gregarious and silly, and a bit of a motormouth, but he could also have moments of great depth and seriousness, and when he did, it was heavy. Heavy like the airwaves could barely support the weight of his empathy and sadness. Probably the way the airwaves feel at home today.
I wish I could say "Isn't it shocking news about Gerry Ryan" to my neighbor fussing with her tulips up the street, to the guy who just delivered my Chinese food, or to my own kids all Brooklyn swagger out the back ... but I can't.
I have a pang for home.
I caught a little of Ryan's morning radio show when I was home in January and it felt as quintessentially "Home" as the warm turf fires and cold toilet bowls. I'm sorry he won't be there next time I go home.
RIP Gerry Ryan.

Apr 29, 2010

Bono Covers Vogue

The side of Bono's head stars in one of three May 2010 French Vogue covers issued to promote Bono's (Product) Red campaign, and to celebrate guest editor, Penelope Cruz.
Next up, U2's cover of Madonna's Vogue:

Greta Garbo and Monroe Bono
Deitrich and DiMaggio

Marlon Brando, Jimmy Dean
On the cover of a magazine

Ladies with an attitude
Fellows that were in the mood
Don't just stand there, let's get to it
Strike a pose, there's nothing to it

Vogue, vogue
Vogue, vogue

Apr 27, 2010

Irish-Speaking Teddy Bear

Was so excited the other day to hear of a brand new Irish small business called Bábóg Baby, specializing in Irish speaking products for babies, toddlers, and children. They're hoping to launch their first Irish-Speaking teddy bear in October, just in time for Christmas, and I imagine if they make a quality product, it'll be a big hit. I LOVE this idea and the idea of gifting a cute little bear that teaches na cupla focail (the couple of Irish words) to little ones, so I'm definitely planning to support this small business.
If you can't wait until October to play with your Irish teddy, check out the cute, interactive Teddy on BabogBaby's website.

Apr 23, 2010

Olive Broderick, Emerging Irish Poet

Downpatrick-based Olive Broderick won the Emerging Poetry category at the 2010 Hennessy Literary Awards for her poems Market Forces and Misconception. Next time someone quotes Yeats to you, respond with a little contemporary Irish poetry (and enjoy being a big showoff!)

Market Forces

Tonight, love, the moon is big over Drake's Pool
and the wood on the far bank is clearly defined
in shadow. The air is so clear that I can hear
the faint 'ching, ching, ching' of the breeze against
the masts of the yachts that are moored there.
There is too much sweetness about all this.
Tomorrow everything will be as normal.
All of that has been organised already.
The school run, the groceries, the monthly
- all confidently sorted. Nothing to do now
but figure out how best to tell the children.
When I get home, I imagine, we will talk
'til well past midnight, trying to read between
the lines of a far-off dissertation; and how
the turn of a page can have such disastrous
consequences. But still, hearing in our minds
the voices of our parents, repeat assurances
of how this might well bring something better.
And in the small hours glad to have each other,
whispering, where will we be this time next year?


This is a poem about a moon
that was visible one clear day
in December: three quarters visible
buttermilk against delphinium -
as framed in a pane of this window:
and a sequence of airplanes
with short contrails, swimming
through the blue, in its direction,
particularly the first seemed sure
to merge with the stationary orb –
but missed it by what looked like
little more that a millimetre.

"The faint 'ching, ching, ching' of the breeze against the masts of the yachts that are moored there. There is too much sweetness about all this." Sigh. "Buttermilk against delphinium." Exhale.
I'm ready for the weekend.

Apr 22, 2010

Bacon and Parmesan Scones

I finally had a wee window this morning to have a gander at Rachel Allen's Favorite Food at Home cookbook. I didn't have enough time to get a good feel for the book, mostly because the structure of content is not exactly intuitive. I'm sure Rachel knows the difference between what you would cook on"Big Celebrations" v's "Sweet Celebrations," for "Dining Alfresco" v's "Picnics and Days Out" (okay, this one isn't so bad I suppose), and for "Easy Family Food," "Food for Children," and "Extended Family." I don't, and found myself reading the index to get a feel for the types of recipes featured. Long story short, my quickie assessment is that the recipes seem good, many are very straightforward and easy—like Rachel's tone, and her insights are cute; it's just a pity her Editor didn't suggest a complete easy-reference table of contents.

Gripe aside, I've already flagged several recipes I want to try, like Rhubarb, Plum, and Cardamom Crumble, Upside-down Rhubarb and Ginger Cake, and Sponge Cake with Rhubarb Cream. First, I had to get these Bacon and Parmesan Scones out of my system, or rather, into my system (and then I need to find me a rhubarb patch!)

These scones are sooooo easy to make (apart from the extremely difficult not-eating-the-crispy-bacon-before-you-add-it-to-the-flour part), a classy alternative to a McMuffin sandwich, and a nice swap for a plain dinner roll, too.

3 2/3 cups of all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 3/4 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup chopped cooked crispy bacon
2oz finely grated parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 450 deg F. Combine all of your ingredients in a bowl, adding the buttermilk last. This makes a soft and not-too-sticky dough. Turn it onto a floured surface. Flatten slightly and cut out scone shapes using a floured glass/cup. Brush the top of your scones with a little buttermilk and parmesan. Bake for 15—20 mins.

Recipe from Favorite Food at Home: Delicious Comfort Food from Ireland's Most Famous Chef
P.S. This recipe is included in the aforementioned free download

Apr 21, 2010

Personalized Ogham Bookmarks

I'm really loving these personalized Ogham bookmarks from Michael Connolly, designer and maker of bespoke furniture in Ireland, and the creator behind Fine Irish Crafts on Etsy. Ogham (pronounced oem) is an early Medieval alphabet used to write the earliest form of the Irish language. Ogham inscriptions, which date mainly from the fourth and fifth centuries, can still be found on standing stones around Ireland, especially in the south.
A personalized Ogham bookmark in Irish oak with rosewood inlay would make a beautiful gift for a reader/lover of all things Irish, and a unique wedding favor or gift (with the couple's initials in Ogham).

Fine Irish Crafts
Fine Irish Furniture

Apr 20, 2010

Shopping List Tee

I just came across this cute t-shirt from FluffyCo. detailing a classic California shopping list—milk, eggs, cheese, bread, beer, tapatio—in bold black print on a soft organic cotton tee. It reminds me of the t-shirts I had printed two years ago (back when ampersands were cool) listing the ingredients of a jumbo breakfast roll, and the chorus of Pat Shortt's hilarious Jumbo Breakfast Roll song.

I made two shirts; one for my friend Amy who was traveling to Ireland for St. Patrick's day, and—true to my shopping philosophy—one for me. I made Amy's white with green font so she had something festive to wear (and sing) on St. Patrick's Day, and (because I have a green chip on my shoulder) mine was hot pink with navy-blue font. I printed them at Neighborhoodies.

Of course the California shopping list tee is cooler; it's organic cotton, black and white, has that cool papercut font/look, the model has nice jeans, everyone in California has nice jeans, and it has beer in its list of ingredients. Still, mine is hot pink and it says "2 pudding." I love pudding.

Fail Better

Loving, wanting, needing this letterpressed Lesley and Pea print, inspired by one of my favorite Samuel Beckett quotes. I don't just need this beautiful print, I need to wallpaper my walls with this quote, drink from the mug, and wear the t-shirt, too. Lately, I've been feeling afraid to try, in case I fail. Enough scaredy-cat-chicken-shit-nervous-nelly. I need to shake myself. I need Beckett to shake me. I need to fail and fail BETTER!
(But first I need breakfast.)

Available framed (about $70) or unframed ($40).


Apr 17, 2010

Free Cookbook Download

I just got my copy of Irish chef Rachel Allen's Favorite Food at Home cookbook the other day (hope to read it and try it out this weekend), but just saw that Kerrygold Butter is sponsoring 10,000 FREE downloads on the Harper Collins website. This way, you get to sleep with the book and all its buttery goodness before you marry it. (Be careful; I was pregnant (looking) the minute I opened it!)

You just have to register, enter the code (in all caps) KGLD-0319-2010-RACB, and you get twenty recipes with photos.

Get cooking: HarperCollins.com

Woolly Crush: Scarisbrick Shrunken Cardigan

I have a crush on a cardigan. I knew it was serious when I was lying in bed this morning cheating on my other cardigans with this one; imagining it with my jeans, as a jacket alternative over pretty dresses, and growing old with me.
It's got the look of an aran sweater I might have worn as a kid, with its chunky knit and traditional cable design, but in this case the Aran-Island knitter flew off to Scotland for a hot-and-woolly affair with a traveling Italian and his stash of 100% Italian wool. They were too busy getting busy to make it full size so it's got a shrunken style with small pockets and three-quarter-length sleeves.
I want this woolly offspring of a highland fling in both iris and dark smoke colors.

Aubin & Wills

Apr 15, 2010

Bouncing Mad!

I'm dragging. I caught a bit of a cold on my way back from Atlanta the other day, and now I'm motoring on less than a full tank. I came across these photos, taken this time last year at my grandmother's, and just remembering how much fun I had springing and flinging myself in the air with the kids instantly re-energized me. If these pictures had audio, you'd hear my mother screeching that the hens were going to run out on the road, me screeching that I needed to pee, and the kids...well, just screeching.
I've decided that this is how I'm going to feel today—bouncing mad!

Love the fact that there are hens in the background ...

... and a dead crow in the foreground!

Apr 14, 2010

Orla Kiely Spring/Summer 2010

I like this cute little film showing Orla Kiely's Spring and Summer 2010 collection. It's exactly what I look like when I'm trying to decide what to wear; I try on absolutely everything I own and then I rearrange plants and chairs in an attempt to make my backside look smaller. The only difference is that my clothes are not as cute as this girl's ... oh, and neither am I. Sidenote: I do love the shoes she wears throughout, though I'm not sure I could carry the shoes-and-ankle-socks look without looking like I escaped my carer.

Here are a few favorites from Orla's Spring/Summer 2010 collection:


Home Sick at the New Yorker

I emigrated from Ireland in the mid 90s but have often wondered what it would have been like to move to America from Ireland in the 40s or 50s. I have many family members who did it, but they kept their stories to themselves, so I'm delighted to discover Maeve Brennan. Maeve was an Irish-born journalist and short story writer who emigrated to America with her family when she was a teenager and began working as a fashion copywriter for Harper’s Bazaar in New York during the 1940s. She also wrote a Manhattan society column for a Dublin based magazine called Social and Personal and contributed a few pieces to The New Yorker before being offered a staff position in 1949. The New Yorker began publishing her short stories in the 1950s and she worked there until the 1980s.

Brennan was admired for her beauty and style and was known for being self-isolating and for wearing all black outfits and oversized glasses. Apparently, she is often considered to be the inspiration for the character Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffany’s as she worked alongside Truman Capote at Harper’s Bazaar.

Brennan's best known works are The Long-Winded Lady, pieces she wrote for The New Yorker observing life in the city which were compiled into a book The Long-Winded Lady: Notes from the New Yorker,a volume of her short stories titled The Springs of Affection: Stories of Dublin, and her novella The Visitor, which was written in the 1940s but not published until 2000. Many of her stories were about Ireland, including Wexford where her parents were born and Dublin where she was raised, as well as about the Irish in America. Sadly, she died penniless and mad in an obscure nursing home in 1993.
In 2004 Angela Bourke wrote a biography about Brennan called Home Sick at The New Yorker—the cover of which makes me sorely wish I had known/been Brennan (except for the sad ending, of course). I'm going to to start getting to know her now, starting with The Visitor, and working my way up to her biography.

Find Maeve Brennan: Homesick at the New Yorker

Apr 13, 2010

W.B. Yeats Recording

It's a grey morning, a still, grey morning that hints at rain. I feel caught as the wind seems caught between stroking the branches of the tree at my window and shaking them over and back. Caught as the shoulders of that teenager I saw this morning seemed caught between reacting and relaxing.
A while ago, I sat back in my chair, and back in time, to listen to one of my favorite poets read a few of his poems to me. "I will arise and go now, and go to Inisfree" William Butler Yeats reached out with his priestly voice from 1932. My tea unsipped, sat cupped in my hand. My breath held, maybe for fear that if I let it out it would betray the cold presence of a ghost.
I've read that same poem a million times; it was drilled into me years ago for exams in school. I loved it then—maybe because I too wanted to arise and go now and go to Inisfree, or anywhere. How I wish a teacher could have played us a recording of Yeats reading it himself.

This morning I listened to a borrowed record, The Poems of William Butler Yeats; Read by William Butler Yeats, Siobhan McKenna, and Michael MacLiammoir, and the still, grey quality of the recording hinted at rain. Hard not to wonder if Yeats, with his interest in mysticism, spiritualism, and occultism, didn't know how to impress his whole stormy being—not just his voice—into this vinyl record.

As April is National Poetry Month, I thought you might like to get caught in a little Yeats, too. I found the exact recording I was listening to this morning on YouTube (of course it was there!), and while it lacks the intimacy of hearing the record in person, you get a sense of the rhythm and music. Read along with Yeats:

The Lake Isle of Inisfree by William Butler Yeats

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honeybee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a-glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements gray,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

Note: I'm hooked now on Spoken Arts recordings, though they are hard to come by in record stores and online. This past weekend I started my collection with recordings of Robert Frost and Dylan Thomas. Now, I need to find some Yeats of my own. Vinyl Rehab has a section dedicated to Spoken Arts, with current offerings including James Joyce; Soliloquies of Molly and Leopold Bloom Read By Siobhan McKenna and E.G. Marshall and William Butler Yeats; Five One Act Plays Read by Siobhan McKenna and Cyril Cusack.

Apr 7, 2010

Rain, Rain, Come Again!

These umbrellas make me want to move back to Ireland where they can really get a work out (keeping me dry and keeping everyone around me smiling!)
$35, from Lime Green Rhinestones

Apr 3, 2010

My Easter Tea Wish List

I find myself wishing I'd had the strength, nay, the balls to give up tea for Lent this year. Sure, I might have been a small bit of an Antichrist, and everyone around me would have wished I'd taken to the desert, but imagine the tea-buying binge I could now justify?

I'd get this cute house-shaped Tea Cozy ... in every color
from Tas-ka
These angelic mugs
from Kir DeVries

These bake-and-serve Tea Cupcake Molds

I'd spring for some fun teas ...

from Bag Ladies Tea

And maybe even a twelve-month subscription to a Tea Club ...

And to make use of all that tea, I'd need a double-spouted tea-pot and matching cups ...

Oh, and I'd need to replace all the mugs I smashed in Lenten frustration with pretty new cups ...

from Samantha Robinson at Anthropologie
And to make sure I could never afford to give up tea for Lent again (with all these Resurrection-inspired purchases), I'd also stock up on some pretty new tea towels

Sigh, wonder if it's too late to start believing in the Easter Bunny?