Feminism · Parenting · Politics

Why I won’t stop crying

I don’t know where to begin or even what I want to say. Like so many others I feel utterly useless today. Here in the privileged bloated West we have seen a picture of a little boy, a beautiful little boy lying face down. He looks utterly relaxed, his hands turned palm up, his wee feet stretched out. I’ve seen my own beautiful child lying in a similar position so many times. The difference is she was in her cot and then later in her bed, or on our sofa. Safe and warm in her own home. But that wee boy is lying on a beach in Turkey and he is dead. He drowned as a refugee trying to escape to safety. His brother and his mum died along with him.

But what can I do? That’s a question many people ask themselves about all the pain and suffering we see in our world. Can I stop the refugee crisis? No, of course not. Can I go to help? Apart from the fact that a well meaning but untrained volunteer is the last thing that refugees need in their faces, my own family circumstances mean I can’t travel to Syria or to Lebanon or to Calais or to any of the many many other places around the world where my neighbours need help. I can donate money to various charitable organisations, I knit hats and jumpers for a little charity in Turkey that helps Syrian refugees in camps there. I can help organise collections of much needed items in my local community and get them to people who can get them to Calais. I can organise grocery shopping for the women’s refuge in my county. I can go to coffee mornings to help children with illnesses and disabilities. I can do all of these things and I try to.

I wonder is the most important thing the one that in many ways is the easiest to do.  I can and will bear witness.  I will not turn away when I see these pictures.  I do and will continue to get angry, to question, to ask, to read, to listen, to think and to learn about why such things are happening and what we as a world can do to help our sisters and brothers.  I encourage, no I implore everyone reading this to do the same.  Don’t turn away and bury yourself in a superficial world of entertainment, so called reality TV, celebrity happenings and other amusing stuff.  Yes that all has a place but don’t ignore what is happening in the world.  Don’t think you can’t do anything.  You can.  You can bear witness.  You can get angry and demand answers.  You can let those in power know that you are watching.  For those of you in Ireland, you can sign this petition and demand that our Government allow more than a few hundred refugees in to our country.

I cry every time I see that picture of little Aylan Kurdi. And then I get annoyed with myself and vow not to cry any more, my tears are useless, they don’t achieve anything. Then I realise that the day I stop crying for the wrongs and injustices in this world is a bad bad day.

read feel act

Members of the Irish Parenting Bloggers have come together in a blog-hop to share their thoughts on the current crisis and to let people know what they can do to help. Click on the link below to read our posts and please feel free to spread the word by sharing on social media platforms using the hashtag #ReadFeelAct.

If you want to do something to help, here are a few suggestions:

  1. Sign the petition to ask the Irish Government to do more to help. Just click here.  For anyone in the UK you can sign a similar petition here
  2. There are numerous charities helping the refugees crossing the Mediterranean sea. Please, please donate even a few euro to Medecins Sans Frontieres, Amnesty International, or Trocaire.
  3. Alternatively, if you’d like to be part of a very worthy organised event the Irish Parenting Bloggers have organised a virtual coffee (or tea!) morning – check out and ‘like’ the Facebook Event page here  –  to help raise much needed funds for the Ireland Calais Refugee Solidarity Campaign. On Friday, September 11 just pour yourself a cuppa; go to http://www.irelandcalaisfund.ml/ and make a donation to the fund (we suggest €5 per person but please give what you can) and upload a screenshot of your donation plus a pic of yourself enjoying your cuppa to your Facebook page or other social media channels and tell your followers all about it.  Then just link to this event to encourage your friends and family to take part too.
A Year of Living Seasonally · Ritual food

Borrowing a tradition

I’ve been a bit busy of late but my Year of Living Seasonally project is still ongoing. Its now late November and my attention has been turning to Christmas but it occurred to me the other day that November gets a bit of a raw deal in terms of calendar celebrations, occasions etc. Musing this over a cuppa I was reminded of Mary Feely’s piece in the Irish Times earlier this month. Here in Ireland it would be fair to say that November is seen by many as a nothing month, or a month to lay off drink in order to gear up for December, or more recently a month when a lot of men become decidedly hairy in a good cause. But in terms of seasonal living and thinking, there’s not a huge lot going on. I grew up in England where “Remember remember the 5th of November” meant huge excitement with bonfires, fireworks and in our house a dinner of baked potatoes and sausage rolls. As a child I was more excited about Bonfire Night than Hallowe’en. Its not marked over here and I still kind of miss it. Ah well.

After reading the article linked above I started thinking about the American holiday of Thanksgiving. I’ve never celebrated or observed it, not being American, having never lived with an American and having never been to America (yet) and so I don’t pretend to be an expert on it. But from what I understand its to do with giving thanks for the harvest (please do correct me if I’m wrong) and that quite appeals to me, again its the idea of marking a turn in the year. So I think I might have a go at doing some kind of a Thanksgiving dinner. I’ve asked a few American friends for the essentials of such a dinner but I’m open to all suggestions! So any Thanksgiving veterans out there, do please share your meal plans/recipes etc with me, I’d love to hear them.


Making – and taking – stock

I buy a fresh turkey from our local butchers every year for Christmas. And every year I vow that I will be frugal, do the whole domestic goddess thing and make stock from the carcass which I will then use as the basis for nourishing, flavoursome soup for my family. And every year we get sick of looking at the bloody thing and the remains get binned. Well not this year I decided. I’m the proud owner of many cookbooks includng Darina Allen’s Forgotten Skills of Cooking so I figured she’d surely be able to talk me through the process of making stock. Can’t be that complicated really.

Start with the ingredients: a carcass, an onion, a carrot, some lovage or celery leaves, a leek, 6 peppercorns, a few parsley leaves and a sprig of thyme. Or in my case, a carcass, an onion, a carrot, a handful of peppercorns and whatever herbs were left in the fridge after Christmas. So not the best start. But let’s keep on going. stock beginnings

On to method. Ok so chop the carcass as small as you can she says. Now to me chop means use a knife or similar. so I tried my biggest sharpest knife and got fecking nowhere. No cleavers in this kitchen and I draw the line at using the axe I chop kindling with. My husband had broken up the carcass with his hands to get the last of the usable meat of it already so it was in a few pieces. Ah feck it I thought that’ll do.

Chuck it all in the pan and cover with approx 7 pints of water. It took 8 pints to cover it. Hmm. 8 pints of stock is a lot. Bring to the boil – yep that’s easy done. Then skim the fat off with a tablespoon. Peer into pot, lots of foam but nothing that looks like fat. Is that because I didn’t chop it up or did I just have a skinny turkey? Then I realised another problem for me when making stock – a large stockpot full of boiling steaming liquid and glasses do not mix well. I could see bugger all of the fat that I was meant to be skimming off.

After a few minutes I gave up the skimming as a bad job and let it boil for another few minutes before turning down and simmering. For 4 hours. It smelled pretty good I must admit. Rather green in colour but I’m assuming that was down to the proportionately large amount of herbs I threw in. The aroma crept throughout the house and it was one of the first things my husband commented on when he came in from work. Cue enhanced feelings of domestic goddess-ness. hubble bubble

Eventually the time ticked around and the stock is done. The book told me to strain all the fat off completely. I figured the first job was to remove all the solidscreatures from the green lagoon

Hmmm, creatures from the depths. Will this be edible? Well I’ve come this far. I ladled it all through a sieve into another large pan and this is what I’ve ended up with – the stock

Tomorrow I’ll have a go at making soup. This stock making is hard work, I’m curled up with a pizza (homemade cue brownie points) and a much needed glass of red!