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Breakfast


newspaper boy

I got my first job when I was 12 years old as a paper girl for the local newspaper, the [now defunct] Temple City Times. Every week the company would drop off 75 newspapers and I’d have to roll each one, secure it with a rubber band and if it was raining, put it into a plastic sleeve. Once they were ready to go I’d put them neatly into my canvas bag and hop on my bicycle to make the deliveries.

The rest of the delivery crew was all boys and they’d sling their big canvas bags casually over the handlebars of their bikes. But I found this too awkward; the weight of 75 papers was just too much for me to be able to balance it on my handlebars. So I had to wear the bag – which was essentially a big parka with a large pouch on each side to hold the papers. Even though the bag was designed to be worn exactly this way, it wasn’t the most stylish accessory and I looked like a complete spaz wearing this potato-sack parka/ bag thing.

One day when I was at the Temple City Times office to pick up my [paltry] paycheck, one the paperboys asked me why I always delivered all my papers. “You know that out of those 75 papers, only 15 are subscribers. The rest are just free papers you have to give out so people will sign up for a subscription.” He then went on to tell me that he only delivered the subscription papers and threw the rest away, because “no one would know.”

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bagles

I feel incredibly lucky and grateful when I receive comments and emails from readers of this blog. When I started the blog 18 months ago I never thought the readership would extend beyond friends and family back home, so it’s always a thrill to get emails written by complete strangers from all over the world.

I get a lot of emails from Americans who have recently moved here and are looking for advice on how to adjust to their new lives in Ireland. They range from super excited to completely freaked out (“I just realized I don’t know ANYONE here!?” wrote one) and they always remind me of what I went through when I first landed in Ireland. Recently a DCU graduate student wrote to ask me where she could buy basic things like towels, bedding and a few kitchen items. Having only been here a few days, she realized she had no idea where to go for such items. It made me recall a time where I, too, was  utterly clueless about where to shop and how to get there and how to go about paying for it once all of the above was accomplished.

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When Mark Twain said, “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco,” he’d obviously never been to Ireland. From what my friends tell me, the last three summers here have been unbearably wet and cold, with weeks of downpours and cloudy skies keeping any semblance of sun from making an appearance.

That is the reason why they all predict we will have a fabulous summer this year (“Ah sure after dem last few summers, we’ll have a great one – we deserve it!”). Of course this makes no logical sense at all; good weather isn’t earned. This type of wishful thinking is just a way to cope with the weather in Ireland, which can be flat-out schizophrenic at times. In a 24-hour period, you can experience lashing rain, sun, gusting winds, hail and cloudless skies. The sheer volatility of the climate here makes it impossible to plan anything outdoors in advance, and often wrecks havoc on such important events as weddings and funerals.

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My friend Sinead is a new mother and working hard to get her “5 a day” of fruit and veg. My friend Aoife is always trying to eat healthy. I’m making an effort to stay away from the tempting variety of cakes and sweets that seem to be everywhere here in Ireland.

These Wholemeal Blueberry & Lemon Muffins fit the bill for all of us. Made with wholemeal flour (different from whole wheat flour), yogurt and lots of blueberries (known as one of the foremost “superfoods”), these are delicious and relatively healthy. Calorie-wise these clock in at around 230 calories a piece with a good amount of fiber and loads of antioxidants. Enjoy for breakfast or as a satisfying mid-afternoon snack!

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Me, just after waking up. I know you are sooo attracted to me right now!

Ever since I moved to Ireland, my hair has been less than cooperative. Gone are the soft, touchable locks of my LA days; here my hair is unmanageable and constantly tangled.

The reason is the hard water that is prevalent throughout Ireland. According to this map, I live in an area with “moderately hard” water (I can just imagine those poor folk who live in the “hard” areas!). For pipes this means lime scale buildup. For hair, it means disaster. The water here makes my hair very sticky, and by that I don’t mean sticky like honey or melted marshmallows. The best way to explain it is by comparing it to spaghetti. When you first drain cooked spaghetti, it’s loose and easy to toss with a fork. But if you let it sit in a bowl for five minutes or more, it starts sticking together. If you stick a fork in it, you’ll get clumps of spaghetti instead of nice, individual strands. My hair = five-minute old spaghetti. Fork = my hairbrush.

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