Saturday, 11 April 2015


Things I don't like about being 41:
1 grey hairs
2 crow's feet
3 not being 21
Things I love about being 41:
1 being a mum of a teenager and a 7 yo
2 having a proper grown up relationships and friendships with my parents and my grandma
3 having friendships that span decades. Having people in my life who have shared so much history - those bonds will never be broken
4 having the experience of 41 years, experience in work, in college, as a parent, as a friend, as a daughter, grandaughter, niece, boss, employee, volunteer. Nothing really replaces experience.
5 I am still young at 41!
6 having knowledge that everything will pass, good and bad, and to make the most of every experience.
The positives definitely outweigh the negatives (but I would still love to book a holiday to the 90s!)

Omega Bread - Vegan, healthy, wholemeal and very tasty!

I know I've done a bread recipe on here before but this bread is so easy I had to put it on.
I use this as a way to get linseed/omega into my kids.  I like to make our own bread as then I know exactly what's in it - I hate reading complicated ingredient lists on the sides of packets.
Also, good it's wholegrain carb goes really well with lentil soup or beans to make a full protein.

450 gr Wholemeal flour
50 gr milled linseed
teaspoon brown sugar
teaspoon salt
heaped teaspoon easy dried yeast
400 ml warm water
a little vegan margarine to grease the tin
some sunflower or pumpkin seeds to sprinkle on top if you like

2lb loaf tin
Large mixing bowl
Large metal spoon for mixing
Wire rack for cooling

1.Put all the dry ingredients into a large bowl and mix well.
2.Add the warm water.  Mix well. Mixture should be wet but not sticking to the sides of the bowl.
3.Put into tin.  Put a few seeds on top, if you like.
4.Turn oven on to 180 C
5.Leave bread to rise while oven heats up.
6.Bake in the oven for about 40 mins.
7.It should come away from the sides of the tin when it is ready and turn out very easily.
8.Cool on a wire rack.

The dough will rise well.  I have sprinkled some sunflower and roasted pumpkin seeds on top here, use whatever seeds you have, or don't bother, it is fine without too.

Friday, 10 April 2015

A Veggie Shopping List @ the

Delighted to have my veggie shopping list published by The Taste Magazine this week.

Here's the online link to the article

Hope it helps when you're doing your first veggie shop!

Thanks to all at for including me.

My first time.. at Boyne Writers' Group!

Last night I went to my first writers' meeting with the lovey group that produces Boyne Berries.

They very kindly published two pieces of mine in the past;  one poem and one short story.

Must admit, I was a little bit nervous going to the group and wasn't sure what to expect.  Everyone brings something  that they have been working on, either poetry or prose, they read it out themselves and then everyone comments.

Sounds terrifying, doesn't it? 

But it wasn't, I had nothing to be worried about at all, it was lovely to be with a group of lovely people who love to write and I look forward to many more lovely evenings with them.

If you are interested in writing and would welcome some friendly support, Boyne Writers meet every second Thursday in Trim.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Far Away from Me - A Modern fairytale

Yesterday, Ruby and I went to Draiocht in Blanchardstown to see Far Away from Me.
It was absolutely fantastic, a real treat of athletics, dance and drama, True performance art.  A theatre full of young children and their parents were transfixed for the full hour of the show.

The set and costume design were by the wonderful and talented Trim native, Maree Kearns.

Here's the description from The Ark website:

'World premiere of a brand new theatre show by Amy Conroy, inspired by The Princess and the Pea and infused with the excitement of aerial performance, dance music and great storytelling.
Kevin is a little prince…at least that’s what his mum tells him.
Kevin likes the idea of this, of being a prince on a horse, a beautiful brown horse with a white splotch down his nose, and galloping across the kingdom. His kingdom.
From his bedroom behind the eighth door, on the eighth floor of a tall building (one of eight in a row), Kevin can go. And he wants to go. Far away from here.  So his towering imagination takes him on some high-flying adventures. But there’s a storm coming and he needs to decide what’s real and what’s not real as his fast paced fantasies land with a spectacular bump right there on his bed.
Far Away From Me is written by award-winning writer Amy Conroy and is inspired by the classic story of The Princess and The Pea. And when we say 'inspired by', we mean that the show takes the story as you think you know it, turns it on its head and flying through the air until it becomes a very modern, exciting retelling of the fairy tale world and characters of the original. Bringing your children to see the show is sure to give you a fun family arts experience that will be long lasting and will provoke lively family discussions!'

It really is a great show, if you get a chance to catch any of the remaining performances, do go!

Hot cross buns, vegan style!

I bought Hot Cross Buns this year from Lidl. They looked vegan to me and tasted good but the ingredient list looked complicated. My mum and dad didn't buy any and dad tweeted at me at how yummy they looked so I decided to make him some!

Here's the recipe
450 gr plain flour
1.5 teaspoons salt
4 teaspoons dried yeast (Doves is great and available in Super Valu)
3 teaspoons mixed spice
1-2 teaspoons cinnamon
75ml warm water
150ml warm soya milk
50 ml vegetable oil
160 gr mixed fruit
2 teaspoons milled linseeds mixed with 2 teaspoons warm water.

To make a glaze
1 tablespoon of sugar
2 tablespoons of water

Put the flour, salt, dried yeast, spice and cinnamon into a large bowl. Mix well with a spoon.
Add the mixed fruit.
Make a well in the centre of the dried ingredients and add the water milk and oil and the linseed mixture.
Mix well, mixture shouldn't be sticky. If it is add a little more flour. If it is too dry add a drop more milk.
Turn out and lightly knead.

Return to the bowl. Cover with a damp tea towel and place it somewhere warming for half an hour or so.

Turn the oven on to 220C.

It should have risen well in that time, knock it back, knead lightly and divide into twelve buns.

Mark a deep cross on the top of each bun.  I used two baking sheets, putting six buns on each sheet.

Bake for about 15 mins until lightly browned.

While they are baking make the glaze by heating a tablespoon of sugar in a sucepan with two tablespoons of water, heat on a medium heat until you have a clear syrup.

Brush the syrup on the warm buns.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Boyne Berries
Spring 2015

Thank you to Orla Fay for including my short story 'autoreply' in Boyne Berries 15.
It was an absolute pleasure to read and to hear pages turning with me in time.

It was also a great pleasure to hear other writers reading their work.  There's nothing quite like hearing the depth and meaning of a writer's voice as they read their written words.

Zen and the Art of CV Writing

Recipe for Success?  It's a piece of cake!
I wrote this as a LinkedIn update a little while ago.
As a long time vegetarian, I am frequently asked to describe meals, what food to buy, how to cook it and, yes, the very common, where do vegetarians get their protein.
Last year, I wrote a couple of articles, one for the Vegetarian Society of Ireland website, about shopping to stock your cupboards as a new vegetarian. Last week, some radio interviews ended up covering a lot of the same information. It occurred to me that stocking your cupboards with the right foods is a metaphorical recipe for success whatever your project or undertaking.
The recipe for success in any area starts with 'stocking your cupboards', and having the right 'ingredients' so, when you're starting a new project;
1)do the research and
2)acquire the knowledge so that you
3)know the 'ingredients' you need and
4)have the right tools at your disposal
5)have you checked your process/recipe?
6)don't be afraid to ask for help!
7)keep your ingredients and tools in order
8)replace if you run out and have a 'shopping list'
9)don't be afraid to try new things
10)if it doesn't work first time, look, learn, try again.
Sometimes a recipe just needs a little tweak, the first result may not be perfect but it is a result and you now have the knowledge, the tool and newly acquired experience.
Last but not least.  Don't forget to enjoy the cake!

No smoke without a zippo lighter and a packet of Camel

No smoke without...
A zippo lighter and a pack of Camels.
What to do when you catch your teen smoking?

I started smoking at age 15. I started smoking because my boyfriend smoked and I couldn't stand the smell. I started smoking because I thought he'd stop smoking for me. However, teenage love isn't as strong a pull as that sweet pull of nicotine addiction!

Years later after many battles with the weed, I don't smoke. Nor do my parents, nor anyone else in the family (as far as I know!) except now for my teenage son.

I had thought for a while that he was smoking and my allegations had been laughed off and denied, but a couple of weeks ago I discovered the unequivocal and heartbreaking evidence that took the form of a zippo lighter, some rizla filters, tobacco and a pack of B&H. 

So what to do? How do you handle it? I took the 'softly softly' approach and said that if he is smoking, he must not smoke in the house and must dispose of dog ends in an assigned bin. We had a a chat about COPD, lung cancer and heart attacks. I also decreased his allowance so he will have to make choices between treats and cigarettes. His dad took a harder approach and confiscated the cigarettes, lighter and has said he will give him no money until he has stopped smoking.  We both offered him help with nicotine replacements.

Would have been nice to be singing off the same hymn sheet but I guess that's partly why we split up all those years ago. We do try at smooth co-parenting but it very rarely seems to work out, despite our good intentions.

Anyway, neither approach worked. Neither approach worked because he is hooked on tobacco. The only difference is, it was Camel he was smoking last night instead of B&H. I remember, when I was a teenager 20 odd years ago, smoking Camel or Marlboro rather than JP BLue or B&H was a step in the direction of cool. Smoking brand awareness can only be a bad thing in terms of his psychological and physiological addiction. Smoking has become part of his image.

I get why he's started. It is totally a social thing for him. He was never sporty and didn't fit in. Bit of an outsider like him mum! I get it.  And now he fits in with the other smokers, they have their own brand of smokin' cool and he has made friends with them. He's not going to give up because I explain the health risks nor because his dad tells him to nor because his allowance is cut nor if he sees how heartbroken his parents and grandparents are.

He's all tooled up for smoking. Cool lighter, cool cigarettes, cool friends and now even has a cool and throaty smoker's cough to boot.

I don't think there's any way of making him stop, he's got to do it himself. He has to realise that cigarettes aren't his friends - despite the voice in his head telling him that they are  and nor are the fellow smokers if they don't remain friends post tobacco, he has to realise that cigarettes are a waste of money, he has to decide to quit.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Vegetable Soup for a cold Spring Day

Spring is in the air and the daffodils are blooming but it's still cold!
Today, it's Saturday and it is also Pi day 3.14.15, I should have made a perfectly round pie to celebrate  but instead we started off the day with pancakes, chocolate and bananas #veganstyle and then had a warming vegetable soup for lunch. Usually I make scones on Saturdays, today I went to visit my friend Tracy as it is her birthday so we had had delicious seeded rolls from Lidl instead.
Pancake recipe, I will post another day as I never measure the ingredients, it's easy though and just made of flour, a little sugar, a little salt, milled linseeds and plant milk. Always turns out perfect.
Anyway, back to the soup recipe

Warming vegetable Soup

A butternut squash, peeled and cubed
4 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 large onions, roughly chopped
3 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
A vegetable stock cube
A bunch of fresh parsley if you have it.

I have decided not to sweat my veggies first when I make soup, so it really is as simple as throwing everything except the parsley into a large pot with enough hot water to cover. Bring to the boil and then simmer until tender, 20 mins roughly. Then add the parsley . Remove from the heat and smooth with a handblender.
I used pre prepared butternut squash today, which made the whole thing so much easier. This made four large portions ad was deliciously sweet and tasty.

Easy as Pi ;)

Monday, 2 February 2015

Vegan Cook-Off #2 * Dublin * Friday 13th

Vegan Cook-off Competition Friday 13th February

Friday the 13th will be lucky for one person at the Vegetarian Society of Ireland’s cook-off competition! The second vegan cooking contest will fundraise for Focus Ireland and is being held in St. Andrew’s Resource Centre on Pearse St.

For €9, members of the public can sample both sweet and savoury vegan dishes and vote for their favourites to win. Food lovers have a chance to cook up a storm; you don’t need to be vegan to enter but all dishes must use vegan ingredients. Anyone interested in taking part can register

VSI spokesperson, Louisa Moss said “The original cook off held four years ago was a great success and I’m excited this year that all proceeds will go to Focus Ireland to support them with the wonderful work they do for the homeless and those at risk in Ireland.”

Come along and discover the delights of vegan food!

For further information you can email

The Vegetarian Society of Ireland would like to thank the Hopsack for part-sponsoring this event.

Ten Minutes to Kindness

Ten minutes to kindness sounds so easy and it so easy to say 'be kind', but, quite often, so hard to be it. People can be difficult, minds and voices clash, we are hurt and then we lash out, causing more hurt and more retaliation in a never-ending cycle of anger.
None of us are perfect, but we are all perfectly human, perfect earthlings, perfectly imperfect, we are what makes our world turn around.
I stumbled upon what follows earlier this year and it became my New Year's Resolution. Whilst it is not always easy, a month in it is becoming easier and I am a happier and less stressed person for it. This has impacted on every being and every situation I have encountered. Don't get me wrong, I still mess up - all the time - but kindness is winning.
Dalai Lama's Millennium Practice
1. Spend 5 minutes at the beginning of each day remembering we all want the same things (to be happy and to be loved) and we are all connected to one another.
2. Spend 5 minutes -- breathing in -- cherishing yourself; and, breathing out cherishing others. If you think about people you have difficulty cherishing,extend your cherishing to them anyway.
3. During the day extend that attitude to everyone you meet. Practice cherishing the "simplest" person (clerks, attendants, etc.), as well as the "important" people in your life; cherish the people you love and the people you dislike.
4. Continue this practice no matter what happens or what anyone does to you. These thoughts are very simple, inspiring and helpful. The practice of cherishing can be taken very deep if done wordlessly, allowing yourself to feel the love and appreciation that already exists in your heart.
Ten minutes to kindness, ten minutes to less stress, ten minutes to a gentler heart.
May Monday be kind to you!