I lived in Ireland for a year during college, and every St. Patrick's Day finds me reminiscing about that romantic time in my life. I loved Ireland. I loved my crappy apartment in Cork, I loved the beer, I loved the music, and I really loved the people there. I would love to go back some day, but a part of me is scared that it wouldn't be the perfect place I've built up in my memories. You know the whole bit about never going home again. Anyway, the two things the I am really missing today are Beamish stout and Barry's tea (in the red box). Hard to find in the States, and impossible in Alaska. Sigh. To make up for it though, I've been drinking a lot of English Breakfast and playing my Pogues CDs really loud. So far, the kids have not appreciated Shane MacGowan, as their tastes still seem to run to the Beach Boys and reggae.
Something else I loved over there was Irish soda bread. The grocery store I went to sold this whole wheat version (just called brown bread there) that I ate almost every morning for breakfast. It was the kind of bread they served in pubs with stew. None of this caraway seed raisin business that always seems to be passed off as soda bread here. I've tried many times to recreate this stuff, and always failed. But today, I'm trying again. I've done my research, and it's baking now so we will see. Updates tomorrow.
Another thing that happened that year is that my family came to visit. My dad came out first, and we spent some time driving around the country. We were at a pub in Belfast, having a pint (or two or three), when I got the first parenting advice of my life. I was newly engaged, but pretty far from even thinking about having kids. My dad told me that it didn't really matter what I did or how much money I had or what I thought I knew about parenting. He said that all you had to do was spend time with kids, doing anything, doing nothing. And if you did that, everyone would turn out okay. Somehow, that made the whole thing seem less daunting. And I think about it a lot when I'm getting all riled up about which kindergarten I should send Porter to or if I should go back to work or if I'm doing the right thing. And I have the fondest memory of that afternoon in Northern Ireland. So even though I'm pretty sure he doesn't read this, thanks Dad.
And Happy St. Patrick's Day.
Thanks to Tracey for the cupcakes!