Saturday, December 3, 2011


Dear Amy,

You need to sort out your priorities. What have you been spending your 'free' (non-teaching/event organising) time doing for the last, let's say, four months?

a) Cleaning and decorating a house you don't own.
b) Sewing baubles and soft furnishings.
c) Twitter.
d) Going from infection to 'flu to infection.
e) Being involved in a lame-ass T.V. show competition.
f) All of the above.

Oh, Amy. You idiot. You don't need to tell you what's missing here, but just in case you really are that dim, I'll spell it out for you.


Yes. That thing you'd like to do as a career. That thing you're massively, overwhelmingly passionate about but unbelievably inferior in. Oh dear.

I feel rather strongly that you should get your backside in gear, get back to studying singing and piano and start writing again EVERY DAY. That malaise you've been feeling; that sort of weird gnawing in your stomach and tightness in your chest? That's all the unwritten songs in you, eating away at your soul, trying to get out. That uncomfortable feeling in your brain? Feels a LOT like a sinus infection? That's the Amy of the future calling to you and really super hating you for wasting so much time and not improving yourself.

Here's what I want you to stop doing:

1.i Spending money.

I'm not actually sure where you're going with this, but let me remind you that you're not very wealthy. That trip to Florida you insisted on taking (though I understand why) was incredibly expensive. You don't need to spend any more money. You're cool. It's cool.

1.ii. Neglecting the dog.

THE POOR DOG. The weather was FINE for the last two days, you neglectful asshole. She loves you. That poor dog just wants you to bring her out so she can smell things. This  refers back to number one. Do NOT join a gym - you can't afford it. The dog is your gym.

1.iii So much crafting.

This is a hobby. You enjoy it. You are not going to make any more from it. Maybe take a sabbatical from sewing after Christmas. Use the time to practice for another piano grade, or to get back into researching opera, or even brush up on your baroque counterpoint harmony theory! You do NOT need to spend money on any more fabric, thread, buttons or anything of that nature. Go to the Saturday morning knitting group. Improve your knitting in that weekly slot.

2. Cleaning the house.

Just pick, like, two days where you do one hour. Stop spending your life tidying and cleaning, it's moronic. If you were practicing or writing, you wouldn't make a mess anyway.

Write songs. Record them. Upload them. Play the piano. EASY.

Quite frustrated and definitely hacked off at you.


Thursday, December 1, 2011


MY KNITMAS PRESENT CAME!! Look at it! Isn't it beautiful?! The postman came at EARLY o'clock this morning - I swear I was transported back to being eight years old on Christmas morning. It was so exciting!!

Here is the artily arranged window photo.

A breakdown of the delights.

LOOK AT THESE HARRY POTTER-INSPIRED CHARMS! LOOK AT THE OWL!! They're Gryffindor colours!! In real life they look soooo pretty. I've been informed that they're stitch markers for circular knitting. (*n00b*) They came with a 'coffee candy.'

I'm saving these for the Christmas holidays and I'm not sharing. x


In the dark (it was early) I thought this was blue but it's actually a gorgeous shade of teal-blue. It's kind of sheeny like a peacock feather - I LOVE IT! I would never buy yarn this nice for myself! It's made of silk and merino. I'm going to have to do some serious research and thinking before I decide what to do with this!! 


Monday, November 21, 2011

The Christmas Cake...

... is out of the oven.

(Contains blueberries, strawberries and macadamia nuts, as well as the tradition goodies!)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Carrot and Almond Soup

This is my favourite soup recipe which I'm posting for Laura. It comes from Gillian McKeith's cookbook "You Are What You Eat," which, actually, there is no point in buying because it only has about three good recipes in it. Though I must admit that those three recipes are AWESOME!

When ever I eat this soup I always feel like I'm putting something really nutritious into my body. It tastes sweet and the ground almonds give it a lovely creaminess. Gillian does some messing around with herb stalks but I'm inclined to ignore anything fussy like that. It's also nice to double the recipe and freeze ahead for ease of access to yummy deliciousness. :)
Carrot and Almond Soup
Serves 4

  • 2 onions, peeled and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 6 carrots, trimmed, peeled and sliced
  • 2 celery stalks, trimmed and chopped
  • 1 tbsp wheat-free vegetable bouillon powder (I use a stock cube...)
  • 2-3 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
  • 2-3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 100g ground almonds


1. Place the onions, garlic, carrot and celery in a large saucepan. Add 1.25 litres boiling water and the bouillon powder. Bring to the boil and add the herbs.

Lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes until vegetables are tender when pierced with a knife.

Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Strain, reserving the stock. Blend the vegetables with a hand held blender until smooth.

Return the mixture to the pan and add the ground almonds and enough of the reserved stock to make a soup-like consistency.
Reheat, then divide between warmed soup bowls and serve garnished with chopped fresh coriander and parsley.

What I said earlier about freezing was true - I always made double to freeze - but everyone always eats at least two bowls in one sitting so the next time I make it, I'm going to do it when everyone's out and not tell anyone what I made...

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Bonjour, mes amis! My recent absence was due at first to a singing competition and then to the awful, evil flu. I'm better now and ready to blog again -LUCKY YOU, YAY!!

Having literally eaten my body weight six times over in the last two weeks to stay alive, I have now taken up the challenge of losing 7 - 10lbs before Christmas. (I've said it on Twitter now, so it has to happen.) This does mean that my baking will take a step back for a while and the cooking will take a step up. 

HOWEVER! I made this recipe for one of my trips to Dublin two weeks ago and it is so fast and SO EASY and reminds me of being a little person. My sister used to make a variation of this and we always called them 'hedgehogs." 

4 oz butter (at room temperature)
4 oz caster sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten with a dash of milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 oz self raising flour

For the top:
150g raspberry jam, heated until runny
100g desiccated coconut

Preheat the oven to 180 Celsius (170 fan)/ 350 Fahrenheit / Gas 4

                                                     1: CREAM THE BUTTER AND SUGAR!

2: Add the egg, vanilla and flour a little at a time, mixing as you go until all ingredients have been used.

 3:  Divide the mixture between 12 prepared lined bun cases.

4: Bake for 12-15 minutes until risen and golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.

5: Lightly toast the coconut on a baking tray under a grill or in a frying pan until lightly golden.

6: Spread the jam on top of each cake and dip into the toasted coconut until coated.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Autumnal Apple Tart

My attitude to apple tart is a bit 'rough n' ready.' I firmly believe that you should just go with your instincts on this. Here's a rough recipe for my favourite Autumnal twist on apple tart. I used nine apples that varied in size. If you make too much filling for your tart, the left over apple sauce is delicious in steaming porridge on a cold Autumn morning.

In Ireland and the UK we like to use a sharper variety of apple for baking with, commonly called 'cooking apples.' For this reason it's necessary to sweeten them - just make sure you taste your filling as you go along as some apples are more tart than others, and personal preference plays a big part in apple tart. :)

. 6 med-large cooking apples (approx)
. 50g sultanas (or raisins/dried cranberries)
. 1.5 tsps cinnamon
. 4tbsps honey (approx)
                                                          . 30g walnut pieces
                                                         . 20g sunflower seeds
                                                          . shortcrust pastry

1: Peel and chop your apples into a pan, discarding the cores and skins. Allow enough room for them to expand. 

2: Add in the sultanas  and cinnamon. Drizzle over enough honey to cover the tops of the peeled apples. 

3: Add 2 tbsps cold water and turn on to a gentle heat for 15- 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until most of the apples have broken down into the sauce. 

4: Test for sweetness (be careful not to burn your mouth!) and add more honey if it needs it.

5: Tip the sauce into a pie plate lined with shortcrust pastry. Sprinkle over the walnuts and sunflower seeds before covering with more pastry. Brush with a beaten egg, pierce the lid.

6: Brush with a beaten egg, pierce the lid and bake for 20-30minutes at 180°C/350°F/fan assist 170°C until the pastry is golden brown and firm.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Pumpkin and Spinach Lasagne

Yesterday, I showed you how to make pumpkin purée. Now I'm going to share with you a recipe for Pumpkin and Spinach Lasagne I tried out for dinner yesterday. The original recipe comes from a magazine called 'Healthy Food Guide.' (My favourite magazine, so many gorgeous recipes!)

Though the original recipe asks for chunks of pumpkin to be lightly fried, I used my purée instead. I also used adult spinach instead of baby spinach, removing the stalks and wilting it before adding the pumpkin. The recipe also called for 350g of fresh lasagne but I used dried and I only needed five sheets! Very low in carbohydrates. :) (Also low in fat, salts and saturates as well as high in calcium and iron.) How many sheets of pasta you need will depend on the size and shape of your oven proof dish.

Serves 4


  • Cooking oil spray.
  • 500g pumpkin purée
  • 250g spinach, heavy stalks cut off
  • 2 x 400g cans of tomatoes with herbs
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 250g ricotta
  • 250g low-fat cottage cheese
  • 1 tsp dried mixed herbs
  • 30g parmesan, grated
  • 5-7 sheets of dried lasagna

1. Preheat oven to 200°C/ fan 18O°C/gas 6.

2. Spray a frying pan a few times with the cooking oil. Add the spinach, a third at a time and wilt over a low heat, stirring frequently.

3. Add the pumpkin, garlic and tins of tomatoes to the spinach and cook over a medium heat for five minutes.

 4. Add the ricotta, cottage cheese, two thirds of the parmesan and dried herbs together and blend in a food processor or with a handheld blender until it makes a smooth paste.
 5. Pour one third of the tomato into an ovenproof dish. Add a layer of lasagne, followed by more tomato sauce and a layer of the cheesy sauce.* Repeat these layers until the ingredients are used up and finish with the cheese sauce. Sprinkle with the remaining parmesan and bake for 30 - 40 minutes.
*(The cheese sauce can be tough to spread, I found. Try using a spatula.)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Pumpkin Pie

Yes! Finally, the pumpkins are here! Aren't they beautiful? I've literally spent the entire day making various dishes with these lovelies. It  sometimes bothers me that Irish people don't really use pumpkins for anything other than jack-o-lanterns.  I have noticed a record number of said seasonal decorations all over Cork city, though, and they are gorgeous!

I've never been one to sit around lamenting and not doing anything so here is my pumpkin pie experience! I've put together a 'How To' style tutorial to show you what to do with your pumpkin when it's all big and orange and staring at you questioningly. The first step to any pumpkin recipe is to first purée the pumpkin. Once it's puréed, you can freeze it or use it for various recipes.

1. Slice your pumpkin in half, and then into slices. Scoop out the innard-goop and put it into a bowl. You can rinse them later and bake the seeds if you want to use every part of the pumpkin. The stringy bits are great for compost!

2. Place the pieces (skin intact!) into a steamer and steam for approximately 20 minutes until soft. Remove from the steamer and allow to cool before peeling. Do NOT try to peel the slices while they're hot! You WILL burn yourself.

3. Allow the skinless pumpkin chunks to drain in a colander for 10 minutes to get rid of excess juice. Sometimes this isn't necessary, if you feel your pumpkin isn't very watery, you can skip this step!


 4. Whizz up the pumpkin with a hand blender, or mash with a potato masher until it's a thick purée. Now you have your base ingredient, ready to use! If you have some left over, you can freeze it in a lunchbox or in small amount in freezer bags.


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1.5 tsps cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 0.5 tsp ground ginger
  • 0.5 tsp salt (optional)
  • 4 large, free range eggs
  • 3 cups pumpkin purée
  • 18 floz evaporated milk

1. Mix all ingredients together with a hand mixer. It will be a very wet mixture.

2. Line a pie dish with short crust pastry. I find that this recipe makes enough for at least one extra pie, so have some extra pastry to hand, just in case!

3. Pour in the pie-filling, not filling the dish more than 3/4 full, as the mixture will rise! Bake at 200 degrees Celsius for the first 15 minutes. 

4. Turn down the heat to 165 degrees Celsius and bake for a further 45 - 60 minutes, until a knife comes out clean from the centre.

When it is done, take it out and EAT IT UP, YUM YUM! :)

I hope you try this recipe! I originally found it online somewhere about two years ago and I've stuck with it. It's really delicious! I have a lovely recipe for pumpkin and spinach lasagne which I'll post soon. Let me know what you think! x

Friday, October 21, 2011

Coming tomorrow!

These last few weeks have been insane for me. Between work and traveling, I've barely had time to sit down. Between last Thursday and Tuesday I went from Cork -> London -> Gothenburg -> London -> Cork -> Dublin -> Cork with work from Tuesday evening to Thursday evening. So today (Friday) has been the first day that I've been able to go out and get some food shopping.


Three of them. Beautiful little ones! I'm excited about making them into pies, soups, pasties and curry! It's been more than a year since my last Pumpkin Post. This time I promise to post recipes.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Horizontal Thinking

I'm in bed. It's WAY past my sleep-time but I'm just being stubborn. I feel like a useless lump because I'm ill so I haven't gone for a walk in.... weeks.

But I wanted to make a few notes:

  • I am going to Sweden on Thursday and I have not thought about it AT ALL.
  • I wrote and posted three letters today.
  • I made 15 pairs of key earrings and three Wizard Rock tote bags.
  • I have eaten one proper meal in the last three days. If I have not at least lost 2lbs, I will be most put out. It's the least this illness can do for me, really.
  • I don't want to teach drama tomorrow.
  • I hate spending money on clothes, but I really needed to. 
  • And, in the last half an hour, I've actually felt hungry.

It occurred to me about an hour ago that I put pressure on myself to do things that I really shouldn't. I should worry that I miss a day of reading a book, or that I didn't get my room tidied today. Maybe I should make a list of the things that, if neglected, actually merit guilt. (Singing practice, piano practice, walking the dog...)

Sunday, September 25, 2011


Amy, please be professional. I don't know if you think about it enough in your singing. Be professional. Try not to be too bossy. :S

I think I am professional. It's how I roll? But I won't be running this show, for once.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

For the Future.

Just a few thoughts before I turn off the light.

1. ALWAYS be humble. Don't ever do it in a false way. You are the same as everyone else, remember that. In fact, most people are actually better than you at most things.

2. Always be nice. No matter how much someone or something is irritating you to the point of explosion, save it for when you are in private with someone you trust. Get it out, get over it, move on. If you're mean in public it will come back to bite you in the ass.

3. Don't be someone you're not. Just stick to you.

4. Distractions are just that. You don't need to keep up with things on TV or YouTube - they just distract you from more important things.

5. Sing more. Sing always. Don't stop singing.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

September Makes Me Insane

September approaches. It's the new school year, and for me that carries more meaning than the start of the calendar year. It's deeply rooted psychologically - the excitement, the new stationary, school bag, putting on your school uniform again. It's also the promise of something stable, secure and familiar - the routine of getting up, going out, doing things and coming home to relax.

OH HOW THINGS HAVE CHANGED! Well, to an extent. Now I work in the evenings, so I wake up in the morning and wait for the day to begin at 3.30pm. It does seem that I am learning how to do life on a very gradual basis. For example, this end-of-August I have quite a detailed schedule of work I do from waking up time until about 6pm, after which time I can read, watch TV or Skype my friends. (Mostly the latter.) This is so lovely, and so reassuring and just like the days of yore. In a way, I am a little but wary of going back to the routine of getting up and waiting to work.

At this time of the year I start to get anxious that I'm not fulfilling my potential, and that I'm basically wasting my life because of sheer laziness. This year, at least, I can take a step back and say to myself: 'No. I am working towards goals. I am doing as much as I can.' A lot of this feeling of inadequacy comes down to being distracted. I look after people and let them take my time, even when I have a defined schedule. At least I recognise this now, and I can work towards fixing it.

Does anyone else have a panic in late August/September? Or do you just think: "I WANT NEW STATIONARY!!!" (I think this too....)

Monday, August 22, 2011


If you love someone very much, and they love something very much, do you think it's your responsibility to engage with the thing? Like if it's a nerdy TV show, books, game, music, whatever?

I do.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


It's weird how I only start to get things done at about 7pm and finish up at 1am. I'm sure these aren't normal working hours.