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It’s amazing how fast memories slip away — things that seem so significant when they happen. It’s a good thing The Geek has an institutional memory! Because now I can use his Ireland journal (which for now basically consists of bullet points to be elaborated upon later) to supplement the bits and pieces left in my swiss-cheese brain.

Like this juicy little tidbit:

Myles got strep throat our second day in Dublin. He woke up at 6 a.m. with a spiking fever and a telltale murky voice. Ed got up with him and navigated his way to a clinic to get him seen and get some penicillin. (Again — totally my hero.) After just a few doses, Myles was feeling much better. He was supposed to take the medicine for seven days.

In Dingle, outside our room in the guest house above the pub, we were delighted to find a little refrigerator. We were worried we’d have to buy a cooler to keep his medicine cold. So we stuck that, along with some milk for the baby in the fridge.

The next morning at breakfast, this couple walks into the dining room, looking like they’d just been dragged from the bottom of an empty Guinness fermenting tank (they smelled like it, too). I delighted at the fact that Simon was in full screech mode — I’d laugh like the Wicked Witch of the West every time I thought about how that sound must be piercing their bloated brains like a hot knife through butter.

We’d get our payback.

After another night of debauchery, said couple showed up to breakfast looking just as rough as the previous day. We had figured out by now that they were staying in the room down the hall from us — I’m pretty sure theirs was the only other occupied room on our floor. They had learned their lesson and sat as far from us as possible.

When we returned to our room, I went to retrieve Myles’ medicine. I was about to pour out a dose when I noticed the bottle was almost empty. Much to Myles’ delight (Irish penicillin apparently doesn’t have that oh-so-appealing bubble-gum flavor), someone had downed about four fluid ounces of his medicine.

Eeew.

On our third morning, we had the delight of discovering them passed out on the floor outside of their room.

I guess staying in a room above a pub did have its down side. But if I had to choose between weird (but mostly harmless) drunks sleeping on our floor and having a pub downstairs or the opposite, I’d do it all over again.

I wish I could say it’s nice to be home.

We were welcomed by an upstairs saturated with cat piss, a musty basement and a cold-ass Memorial Day.

Yeah, I’m cranky.

So I’m going to use it to dig the good old U.S.A. After spending two weeks in Ireland, it’s hard not to notice all the annoying things about where we live.

We drive everywhere. It’s stupid. I got home, walked to the corner to Walgreens, and realized I never do that. I usually drive. Crossing the busy street it’s on is no picnic on foot, but really, there’s no excuse.

We rarely acknowledge each other. Unless it’s a checkout clerk, no one interacts with you when you’re in a public place. I am really missing the friendly “hello, love” I got from nearly every passing stranger. When I first got home, I’d look at people expectantly, waiting for them to acknowledge me, or I’d say hi first, only to be looked at like I was nuts.

Our buildings are ugly. I’m so used to looking at quaint little cottages and brightly colored storefronts that being home hurts my eyes. Even their new buildings are cute. Ours are garish (beige) cardboard boxes in comparison.

Our coffee sucks. Even the “good” coffee house coffee is shit compared to the stuff we had in Ireland. I don’t know what they do differently, but I’m slamming the massive amounts of the black stuff I need to slog through the jet lag like it’s medicine.

We don’t use reusable grocery bags. I’ve actually heard grocery store clerks bitching about people who bring their own bags. In Ireland, if you want a disposable bag, you pay. And it’s not cheap. So everyone brings their own bags to the store.

On the other hand, I did miss vegetables. The Irish diet is decidedly heavy on potatoes (yes, there is such a thing as too many), and light on green stuff.

Other than that, I’m giving Ireland a check in all other categories.

How hard would it be to become an ex-patriot, I wonder?

Washing the day (a hellava day at that) away with a pint (or three) … CHECK!

Awesome room above the pub … CHECK!

Getting a tap on the shoulder and a friendly goodbye from a local … CHECK!

Talked up by a drunken Irishman … CHECK!

Nearly creaming a sheep while driving on a road, as Ed said, as narrow as a bike path … CHECK!

Standing in the wind staring at an amazing green mountain that plummets into an emerald ocean … CHECK!

Loving Ireland … CHECK!

 

Well, it’s Friday of the shortest (and longest) week I can remember. I’ve been busy tying up lots of loose ends and haven’t really gotten around to packing.

We leave Sunday. For Ireland. The kids are coming. That’s a lot of packing.

I’ve been so preoccupied this week that I’ve:

  • Put my underwear on inside out. Twice.
  • Forgotten to get the treats for a work meeting.
  • Spaced ordering my mom’s Mother’s Day gift until it was too late to get there on time. (Sorry, mom!)
  • Ordered and paid for coffee then left the shop without taking it with me.
  • Done numerous other stupid things I can’t remember. I’m preoccupied.

However, it was all for a good reason. I’m proud to be a part of launching this Web site, which is actually functioning now. (Its official kick-off date is Sunday, Mother’s Day.)

If you click on the link to the Daily Juggle, you’ll find me and 13 other moms blogging about the craziness that is parenting. My screen name is 3isthenew2. There are lots of great writers participating, and I’m really proud to be a part of it.

I’ll be blogging there from Ireland. I am not sure if I’ll get around to updating this site while I’m gone. If not, I’ll be back after Memorial Day.

I have a shoe problem. Basically, I love them.

I usually have my eye on several pairs and wait patiently until it seems like it’s gone long enough since I last purchased some that the geek doesn’t complain about me buying more.

Let’s be clear — this is not a spiky-heeled, strappy, high-fashion shoe love affair.

Me, I can’t get enough of the clunky comfort versions they love to rip on on here.

Comfy! Cute! Probably mom-ish. Whatever. I AM a mom. I’m becoming more comfortable with that. (I guess it’s about time …)

Anyway, it makes traveling a huge challenge. I seriously have never packed a suitcase, even for a short trip, that contained any less than three pairs of shoes (you never know when you’ll need those black clogs).

This time around, I bought one pair of shoes for our trip, and I’m not packing any more. That’s right. One pair of shoes that will already be on my feet. It is giving me hives just writing about it.

But! They’re comfortable enough to walk many miles in, and cute enough to wear with a dress. So, in theory, I shouldn’t miss any of the other members of my shoe family.

But I might just kiss a few of them goodbye before we go.

We’re going to Ireland. For two weeks. All of us. Yes, we’re crazy. But then, you already knew that. Here are a few of the most insane things I’ve stumbled across preparing for this trip:

1. Travel tip: Bring Tupperware in which to pack up your leftovers from restaurant meals. Not all countries understand the meaning of the word doggy bag! You have GOT to be kidding. Who’s nuking leftovers when they’re traveling? And wasting precious suitcase space on Tupperware? Then lugging it with them to a restaurant?

2. Used travel potty seat on Amazon. Need I say more?

3. Take lipstick and a small mirror in your hand luggage – if you’re having a bad time, take two minutes to put on some lipstick and give yourself a pep talk in the mirror. Um, yeah. LIPSTICK is going to fix what ails me. Maybe if it’s laced with Xanax …

4. Wear spunky clothes and dark glasses so that other passengers think you are someone famous enjoying quality time with your kids. Because famous people always sit in coach and fly overseas without a nanny.

jes-and-ed-c.jpg

Our honeymoon, which seems like a lifetime ago, was easily the best week of my life. We left for Puerto Vallarta two days after our wedding, in the middle of July.

Mexico? In the summer? Yep.

It was hot, humid and rained every day. But the rain was usually over by noon, and we were busy waking up slow and drinking our coffee until around then, anyway.

We spent afternoons on walks or horseback rides through the jungle. Early evenings were for margaritas, consumed at the swim-up bar. (It was on this trip that Pepe, the caretaker of the family villa, taught me how to get my friends stinking drunk on a concoction that deceptively tastes like it contains very little alcohol. I warn them, I always warn them, but they suck down the first one and beg for more. I’m a good hostess. I comply. I’m called evil the next day.)

Because Ed’s parents paid for our groceries and our lodging was free, we decided that when we ate out, we were going to eat fabulously. And we did. One of our favorite meals was at La Palapa, in the romantic district.

I don’t remember my entree because the soup overshadowed everything. It was my virgin tortilla soup voyage, so I had no idea that they can be heavy, overspiced affairs. This one was light, refreshing and vegetarian.

When I got home, I spent hours scouring the Internet for a recipe close to what we’d tasted. Turns out, it was the most simple one I found, with just a few ingredients, that brought me to that place, that humid, breezy hut that smelled of seawater and chili peppers.

In the summer, I like it just the way La Palapa serves it, with a light vegetable broth and without meat. But this weekend, being that it’s still cold in this godforsaken tundra, I used chicken stock and some shredded chicken to make it a little more hearty. Tortilla soup must be served with plenty of accoutrements, like sliced ripe avocados, chopped cilantro and crema or sour cream. And of course, crispy tortilla strips. I bake them, which admittedly isn’t that authentic, but it’s easier than spattering oil all over my kitchen and more healthful. And I think they add the required crunch to the soup.

One more thing — you MUST make your own stock or broth for this soup to work. It’s just not worth it to use the canned variety, no matter how high-quality it is.

tortilla soup

Kick-Ass Tortilla Soup

6 – 6 inch corn tortillas
2-3 tsp chili powder (I prefer Ancho, but to each their own. Just please use pure powder.)
1 large poblano chili
1 tsp cumin
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups vegetable broth (or chicken stock if you’re making chicken version)
2 cups of shredded, cooked chicken (optional)
1 can diced tomatoes
juice of one lime

For garnishing:
Tortilla strips you make below; sliced ripe avocado; sour cream or mexican crema; chopped cilantro; cotija cheese. (Use whichever ones you like — it’s a customizeable thing.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut 4 tortillas into matchstick-size strips. Arrange on baking pan and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Sprinkle with chili powder and salt; toss. Bake 15 minutes, or until crisp.

Char poblano over gas stovetop or under broiler until black. Put that beautiful little sucker in a plastic bag for about 10 minutes. Take it out and peel. Seed and chop it into 1/2 inch pieces.

Cut 4 tortillas into 1 inch pieces. Heat oil. DO NOT SKIMP ON OIL. Cook tortillas until crips and golden, stirring occassionally, about 15 minutes. Add poblano, onion and garlic, saute 2 minutes, or until onions are soft. Add cumin and remaining chili powder to taste. Sautee another minute. Add broth and tomatoes. Bring just to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Add chicken, if using, and lime juice. Salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into bowls and garnish as desired.

Stare into the eyes of your dining companion, certain that you’ve found true love.