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    Garden to Table: Preserving Tomatoes

    Semi-drying concentrates the natural sugars in tomatoes and makes a wonderful pairing with
    garlic and herbs. They’ll keep all winter in the freezer and easily thaw for using as is on salads, sandwiches, or stir fries. They make a delectable pesto, add super sweetness to spaghetti sauce, and are perfection on pizza. This technique is an all around winner–a super easy way of getting tasty, organic, homegrown tomatoes in January. Continue reading

  • A colourful selection of make and paint your own totebags.

    Learning To Love Sewing

    I fell in love with sewing at age seven and the passion has never waned.  Taught at my grandmother’s knee, I went on to learn about industrial sewing and design at my first professional position and then tailoring at the next. … Continue reading

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    It’s a Good Day to Have a Good Day

    If there’s something seemingly big keeping you from your joy, focus your attention on something small. There are little miracles everywhere in nature just waiting to distract us from our thoughts of ourselves and our worries. Every day may not be good but there is something good to be found in every day if only we decide to see it… Continue reading

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    Family Day at The Black Fort

    Less promoted than the islands main attraction Dun Aengus Fort, the Black Fort offers as much and more.  It’s less visited and one can easily wander off in any direction that catches their whimsy rather than having to stay on … Continue reading

  • Festive Autumn Decorating

    Autumn Wreath for the Birds

    This tutorial was picked up by HomeFarmer Magazine by way of twitter and printed in their online publication.

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    Sandy Toes and Salty Kisses

    It’s the first week of July and despite having mild temperatures and sporadic sunshine here on Inis Mor, many visitors are filling the roads and exploring the island on foot, bicycle, pony & trap, or in guided bus tours. Summer homes are … Continue reading

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    Beginner Basket Making

    For the last couple of days when not toiling in the garden or experimenting in the kitchen, I’ve been at a basket making course. It’s offered a few times a year and I’ve wanted to take it ever since I first … Continue reading

  • Dillisk orzo salad

    Garden To Table: How To Make Orzo Salad With Aran Island’s Goat Cheese & Ground Dillisk Seaweed

    Quick and easy, filling and nutritious.  Loved by both children and grown ups.  Such a great recipe I couldn’t help but share it, after all, this recipe is asked for everywhere I bring it. It is made extra special with … Continue reading

  • know your machine

    How Well Do You Know Your Sewing Machine?–Beginner Sewing Worksheet 1

    As I prepare to post Beginner Sewing Project 3, I realize there is something else that I incorporate with my classes–info worksheets.  Understanding sewing machines, tools, and terminology is important to become an independent sewist.  This first worksheet explains the very … Continue reading

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    Garden To Table: How To Make Fermented Salad Dressings

    Homemade salad dressing is really easy to make and so much better for your health and wallet.   Here are my two go to recipes, one is a vinaigrette using kombucha or apple cider vinegar and the other is a creamy style using … Continue reading

A Recipe of Thanks-Veggie Burgers

A couple posts back I mentioned making a veggie burger that I was finally satisfied with, ‘No crumbling and falling apart, no mushy centre, and just the right balance between the creamy inside and the crunchy outside.’

I used black beans in that recipe and felt most beans would work well with it. This thought was put to the test after I attended a party at Urban Wellbeing, and gratefully won a hamper filled with an amazing array of nutritious and delicious food items from Evergreen Healthfoods via a raffle offered by the amazing Helen Finn of Combination Cooking. We were very excited with our basket of goodness and wanted to create something using the ingredients to express our appreciation. Continue reading

Between the Bustling and the Ambling

Around the equinox, both the daytime and nighttime are of the same length and, depending upon where you are, darkness starts to happen earlier and earlier and the temperature begins to drop.

One of the first things I like doing to mark the seasonal transition is to replace the wreath on the front of our house.  My autumn bird feeder wreath was created as an expression of my appreciation for the harvest, for our family and home life, for all the good things around us.  I like it to be natural and organic and to offer a bit of sustenance to the songbirds.  Since taking these photographs, I added in some seeded ivy, cabbage, and kale.  I plump it up twice in the season as bits begin to wilt, fade, and get eaten.

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The Mysterious Angle


What is the mysterious angle of the above photo?  I’ll give you a hint…the next photograph is of the same thing.


And just because it’s cool, the following photograph is a view of our village taken from the same spot.

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The mysterious angle photograph was taken from atop the steep breakwater (2nd picture) with the camera on panoramic… sea to the left and lake to the right.  The mysterious angle photograph also works perfectly for this weeks photo word of the week, ‘mystery‘.

You must go and check out my friend Sandra’s ‘mystery‘ post.  Just incredible!!

Cheers, Melissa

“If you don’t build your own dream, someone will hire you to build theirs”


Before shot #2

september-2016-before-shotThe above picture is an update on my Sept 22nd Instagram ‘before shot’ (left) that I thought some of you here might like to follow the progress of.  We’re determined to move leaps and bounds this autumn and winter towards our goal of making a business out of our gardens, therefore fulfilling our dream of working together full time and no longer working out of the home for other people. Continue reading

My Quiche ‘How-To’

After posting a picture of 3 quiches I recently made on my Facebook page I received a request to share the recipes with a group I’m in, Green Earth Organics health eating.  Now that I’ve done so, it seemed only right to also share that effort here on my blog.  I’ve called it a ‘how-to’ as it doesn’t exactly fit the criteria of a recipe but it does provide detailed and practical advice on how to make them yourself.


3 quiches- Latticed courgette, deep dish pumpkin & goat’s feta, and baby carrot, broccoli, & corn.

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What’s cooking good looking?

This time of year sees me in the kitchen slightly more than the garden.  My intention is always to produce food that is good for us, tastes amazing, and makes us feel good from the inside out.  Here are a few things I’ve created during this last month…


I’m feeling these are my best fermented eggs ever. I added in some nice pickling spices this time including coriander & mustard seeds, ginger, chilies, cloves, bay leaves, allspice, juniper berries, peppercorns, and cassia (which has an amazingly cinnamon-like flavour). They’re both sweet & sour at the same time and super nutritious & delicious. The carrots and onions give some needed natural sugars but add so much more than that to the finished product. 😍 Wish I could let you all have a taste!   Continue reading

Our Children’s Chores

Several years back I read a couple great books by Robert Kiyosaki.   In one there was a quote about not giving children an allowance because it teaches them to work for money rather than learning to create money.  It made a bit of immediate sense and was worthy of more deliberate consideration.  In the end, Johnny and I decided to do both, give allowance earning opportunities as well as instruct in ways to create money for themselves.

We have five children aged six to twelve years, two girls and three boys.  Most of their chore doing is for no other reason than because we’re a family.  There’s no list of what they earn for which job so the lines are blurred between doing for the family and doing for allowance. They know we give them money in order to teach them how to manage and understand it.  It’s nominal, between 1€ and 2€ each per week.  We also give them €5 per week for depositing into their savings accounts and the majority of gifted money goes in there also.

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Garden to Table: Homegrown Pickles

Someone on my Facebook page asked me to show a picture of my pickles when they were jarred– this after I’d posted the picture below with the caption ‘Time to make dillicious fermented pickles.’


Here are a few pictures of the process I undertake to create my beautifully delicious, incredibly healthy, and quickly devoured fermented pickles.  While not a recipe per se, it’s obvious just how easy it is to ferment your own pickles with three ingredients, cucumbers, salt, and water, and I do give the ratio if you want to give this simplest combination a try.   Continue reading

It’s not that my blog is less important to me…

Screenshot_2016-09-20-11-33-39 (2).jpgIt’s just that the time I have available on social media limits me to using my phone instead of my pc.  Entire blog posts require more time than a quick tweet from the break room at the hotel or a facebook update from one of the back fields does.  So that’s where I’m at these days.  Going with the flow.

This week I’m having fun curating the Twitter account for @smallholderIRL. I’ll be tweeting ten or so times each day as I go through my day.

I’ll have more time sitting here at my pc soon enough as this tourist season is coming to an end.  But for now, let’s catch up on Twitter or Facebook!

Hope everyone is having a fruitful autumn full of good health and happiness!

Melissa Xx

August’s Garden

August is over so it seems time to get my backside in gear and post a few of the many photos I took around the garden throughout the month…


The L, O, & E beds are in view, but the V bed is cropped out at bottom of photo


Here’s the V bed with a good view of the three beds to the right that make up the E.

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