Tag Archives: Johnny

Foraging Food For Thought

Perfectly sunny, calm, dry weather and an especially super low tide happened simultaneously today. And it was at the ideal time– midday.

Because of this, Johnny and I went to the shore with hopes high for gathering razor clams (or scana mara, as they’re known in Irish) for this evenings supper and, fingers crossed, a little extra to put in the freezer.



There are so many moments to cherish in a day like today. Whether breathing in the cracking fresh winter air or inhaling the aroma of garlic butter wafting from our freshly foraged supper. And the pure bliss of quiet time, both alone and with Johnny, on the beach!



My intention when sitting down to write this was to wax on about how we humans find a joy that affects all the senses in the simplest of things, things that leave one full up with contentment that’s not purely motivated by a desire for material benefit. Something that fills one up physically, emotionally and spiritually whether or not there’s anything of matter to behold afterwards. Like how I feel after a visit to the shore on a day like today even when we return with buckets empty which happens more often than not. The pleasure comes from just being there and doing that, with and without whoever else is also there.

But now I have this niggly feeling which I’d like to say I’ve not had before except there’s a tinge of memory suggesting that might not be true. Two years ago my daughter and I decided not to eat meat and we were content with our choice to not consume chemical laden, poorly treated animals. As a family, we decided to no longer eat our own well cared for poultry and goats but we decided locally sourced seafood would be an exception. Clamming and fishing have always felt like myself at home with nature but now I’m questioning whether I might instead be trying to conquer nature.

We won’t waste our harvest nor will I deny myself the pleasure of the day’s delicious memories even with this moral dilemma unassumingly seeking my attention. For now, I’ll sleep on it.


If you’re partial to shellfish and feel tempted to track down and sample razor clams then prepare to rejoice because they’re smooth and flavour-filled when properly prepared, disappointingly hard and rubbery when overcooked. They can be used as chowder ingredients and are excellent sauteed, baked or fried.

To prepare, rinse well to clean then immerse them in boiling water until the shells are detached–takes less than a minute. Immediately rinse with cold water or plunge into an ice bath to stop them cooking further. At this point, they’re not quite cooked through– ideally still a little translucent. Next, separate the clams from the shells then individually remove and dispose of the guts.  If needed, rinse again. They can now be patted dry then bagged and frozen or they can be prepped to suit immediate use.

Pallet Picnic Table Repair

pallet picnic table

Our picnic table was given to us a few years back by some lovely people who handmade it themselves but couldn’t take it with them when they were moving away from the island. It’s been in dozens and dozens of our photos though never itself the subject of attention. Being extra long, makes it extra perfect for our large family, especially when friends and family are added to the mix. More often the tabletop is used as a platform for the children to sit upon and to spring from; this resulted in a board breaking and creating a hole. Just before Nuala’s birthday party last week Johnny refurbished the top using recycled pallet wood and then it was painted with some awesome paint from #Faherty Paints in Galway. It’s substantially heavier but that’s not a problem. I need to pick up more paint to finish the job next trip to the city, but even so, we’re really happy with the results and here you can see the transition for yourself.

DSC_0323 (3)

Hooray for having a handy hubby!! 🔨📐🖌

An Awkward Rescue

When asked what type of goats we keep we answer as best we know by saying ‘island goats’. They’re wild and hardy and prefer to roam the day in whichever large field they’re currently stone wall fenced into. Whatever the weather, they sleep outside under the evening sky with their herd of a half dozen or so. While they’re far from constrained, there’s a tendency for them to go through periods of rebellion where day after day for a week or so Johnny spends hours searching for which direction they’ve headed off to explore. It’s often not as easy to find them as one might think, especially if they decide to lie down and take a nap under a high wall. The children and I have helped their dad look plenty of times and there’s no doubt we’ve walked right past them on more than one occasion.

On this day, a month old kid had gone missing. After a second search within the same day, Johnny found him at last. Having fallen four feet down between a narrow crack in the stones, the goat was a huge challenge to rescue. What else would Johnny do but try and try again until at last successfully looping a noose around his neck and lifting him to safety? As if he would have been able to focus on anything other than helping save Hop’s life. Wild they may be, but they’re each named and cared for as best as possible.


A very scared baby Hop and an awkward rescue for Johnny.

No doubt, Hop learned a valuable lesson about keeping an eye on where he’s bouncing about in his playfulness. Considering that these cracks are a common part of their terrain, it’s a wonder that this doesn’t happen more often. Gratefully, it’s a rare occurrence though.

Taking part in in the One A Week Photo Challenge with my ‘awkward’photograph. Next week’s word is ‘gate’. Have an idea? Join in!

Cheers, Melissa Xx

“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

eat fish pie as dusk dusts over the days end

Not too long ago we spent a beautiful few days and evenings with the visiting family of some island living friends.

Amazing weather makes amazing memories and on this night the swimming, dining, and fishing all at the Kilronan pier offered some fine photo opportunities.  Click on any picture to start a wee slideshow.

eat fish pie

as dusk dusts over

the days end

I think any of the pictures could represent this week’s photo word ‘strength’ for many different reasons.  Does one say ‘strong’ more than the others to you?

Haiku fun brought to us by Ronovan Writes, thanking him for the two cool words, ‘pie and dust’.

I hope all who read this are well and so are those you love.

Melissa Xx

It’s a Good Day to Have a Good Day

Every day won’t be the best ever, but there’s a best part to each and every day.  It may not be what you hope or expect.  In fact, better on these less than best (hard) days to stop expecting and instead wait with optimistic anticipation for the completely unexpected joys that appear out of seemingly nowhere from unlikely people, places, and things.

If there’s something ostensibly 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…

💛💛💛💛💛💛💛💛 Continue reading

Spring Willow Project


Hanging on the front of our house, about four foot by four foot in size.


Have you ever entered an Irish home and wondered what the handmade cross hanging above the door represents?  Or perhaps you’ve seen a charm or pendant bearing the symbol that shares pride of place right aside shamrocks, harps, and claddagh rings.


St. Brigid’s Blessing20160211_160309

May Brigid bless the house wherein you dwell

Bless every fireside, every wall and floor;

Bless every heart that beats beneath its roof;

And every tongue and mind for evermore;

Bless every hand that toils to bring joy

And every foot that walks its portals through.

This is my wish today, my constant prayer

May Brigid bless the house that shelters you.


I made a small cross for the inside of our house and using the above willow, I made a giant St. Brigid’s cross for the outside–my welcome to spring offering, traditionally placed near doorways to ward off evil, fire, and hunger from homes.

Here is a photo step-by-step tutorial of how I made the giant cross.  Scroll over any picture to read the details of each step or click on any picture to start a slideshow.

Below is a tutorial of how the cross is woven.  It’s the normal size and uses the rushes that are typically used.  My friend Bernie shared how to make them with me and a group of friends this past Feb 1st when we gathered to celebrate St. Brigid’s Eve together.
Continue reading

Vintage Vogue


My grandfather loved buying me clothes when I was a child and thought Salvation Army and Goodwill were just ‘neato bandito.’  I remember as a child feeling embarrassed and being teased when he innocently mentioned it to my schoolmates.  Obviously insecure, it took me until young adulthood to realize that he was on to something–second-hand shopping was not just a great deal, but it supported some wonderful people and great causes. Continue reading

From the Garden of My Mind

20160114_133643Just as common sense doesn’t grow in everyone’s garden, neither are we all born with a green thumb when it comes to cultivating a vision for the future.  To cultivate anything requires an attention to detail, knowledge of what is being nurtured, a bit of patience, and a smidgen of resilience (for when things don’t go as expected).  

There are plenty of ideas and dreams growing on our homefarm; envisioning comes naturally to us.  It’s in the journey from idea to fruition that we sometimes go off course.  Fortunately cultivating, or nurturing, a vision is a skill that can be refined with practice; with common sense, it’s not so easily done. Continue reading

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