Happy New Year 2012

We have wonderful news for the new year.  Tricia and I are very excited to announce the upcoming release of our book, Wise Irish Women. We hope you will love it as much as we do. The book contains the stories of 36 different women from all walks of life and from different parts of the world. It has been an amazing journey that has introduced us to women who have many reasons to be admired. Many of them have overcome personal obstacles and tragedies. All have words of wisdom that they have graciously agreed to share with us.

The tentative delivery date for our first run of books is scheduled for early February. We are anxiously awaiting the final product. The preview chapter we have seen looks great.

We will let you know as soon as we have the official delivery date.

Check out our website for a peek at the cover and look over the partial list of featured wise Irish women. We will be updating the bio list soon.

We have also posted a form on our website that will allow you to preorder the book. Just let us know and we will be happy to save you a copy.

Tricia and I have decided to give you all a sneak peek at some of the chapters. We will be posting an abbreviated version of some of our stories on a weekly basis. Check back to get a taste of what Wise Irish Women will be like.

Thanks to everyone for your kind words and support. It is hard to believe that we are on the home stretch and will soon be seeing our project in print.

Laura

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day with a Traditional Irish Dinner

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Traditional Irish Dinner

Many of you celebrated St. Patrick’s day with friends and family by enjoying a delicious dinner of corned beef and cabbage with boiled potatoes on the side. Tricia and I were very happy to be able to spend St. Patrick’s day together with our families. While we were planning a celebratory dinner, we started talking about what to prepare. I mentioned the idea of corned beef and cabbage as a traditional Irish meal. She explained that we needed to prepare a truly traditional meal–roast beef, mashed potatoes and green beans.

One of the unexpected benefits of our amazing book project is that we have been able to collect words of wisdom from our contributors, many of whom we now consider friends. Tricia mentioned to me that thanks to Diane Stopford and Rachel Gaffney, she is aware that the traditional meal of corned beef and cabbage enjoyed by many Irish Americans is purely an American tradition. Many Irish American immigrants were faced with financial challenges and sought out cheaper cuts of meat when celebrating special events so they turned to the tasty dish of corned beef and cabbage. Over the years, corned beef and cabbage, with boiled potatoes has become a St. Patrick’s day staple.

In our family, special dinners were always celebrated with Grandma’s roast beef dinner. We decided to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by preparing our comfort food meal. Here is our recipe for our family favorites.

Roast Beef

5 1/2 lb eye round roast
Canadian Steak seasoning
4-6 cloves garlic coarsely chopped
thick slice of onion
6-8 slices bacon

Place the roast upside down (fatty side up) in a roasting pan.
Coat both sides with Canadian Steak seasoning
Spread garlic over the roast
Separate the onion and lay it over the roast and other spices
Cover the roast with slices of bacon

Bake in oven at 375 degrees for 1 1/2 hours.

Allow roast to rest and then slice thinly. Serve with homemade gravy made from the drippings.

Mashed Potatoes

5 lbs russet potatoes, peeled, quartered and boiled until soft.

2 sticks butter, melted and placed in the botton of large bowl,
Smash potatoes in bowl with butter, Add milk and keep mixing.
Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 8

As we sat around the table, I could feel my Grandma smiling down at us. She loved nothing more than seeing her family together enjoying a meal. We hope you will enjoy this holiday.

God Bless.

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Is it an Emergency, Urgent, Important, Necessary, or Desired?

Know the difference between what is an Emergency, Urgent, Important, Necessary, and Desired.

Like many “modern” women, I am faced with the task of juggling competing obligations, and demands on a daily basis. Sometimes it feels as if I am a living pinball merely dodging one hazard or crisis after another. I try to be available to my children, responsible at my job, and connected with my husband. Throw in my friends to the mix and my plate is full. Of course this does not even consider responsibilities we all have to our church, our community and to the world at large. At the end of each day, I frequently feel the disquieting feeling of not having quite accomplished what I should have.

The other day I responded to a frantic phone call from my daughter who is at college out of town. Her car had died. Just died, no warning. Fortunately it happened on a weekend and she was able to pull into a parking lot where she could leave it overnight. Most important, she was with a friend, in the middle of the afternoon, so she was not in any danger. Still we had to deal with it, via long distance and quickly. I was in a meeting at work and so my brain was racing with sorting out a solution to the myriad problems created by the car breakdown. She had to get back to school, get the car towed, deal with the repair shop, and get a ride back to the dealership. On top of it all, I was concerned that the repair would be over-the-top expensive.

This situation could have been an emergency–thank goodness it was not. It was urgent, because we had to deal with part of the problem immediately—find a place to leave the car and get it towed. It was also important and necessary because we had to get the car fixed for her to use and it could not be put off. Naturally, we all desired that the car be working again.

During this time frame, I also wanted to make an appointment to have a manicure and pedicure. Clearly, these tasks were not an emergency, urgent, or even important, or necessary. This was only desired. Still, I found myself feeling stressed and upset because I kept staring at the calendar looking for a time for fit in the two hours necessary for the appointment and wasn’t finding any options. I really wanted to fit in the appointments but just wasn’t going to be able to. I was also annoyed because I was headed out of town on vacation and wanted my hands and toes to look good for my trip.

Finally, I had to let it go. I just had to realize that absolutely nothing long term would happen if I missed the appointments and went on vacation without them. Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Really, at the end of the day, it is just better to stop and realize the difference and then try and control your reaction. Is the problem or situation an emergency, urgent, important, necessary, or is it only desired. Stop, look at the situation and figure out what you need to do.

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Irish Soda Bread

As we negotiate the many trials and tribulations that make up a “lifetime,” traditions and symbols of home and security become even more important. I find that am more aware of and more appreciative of the poignant moments that make up memories. I recognize that as a child and, even as a young adult, I took many of the moments for granted.

As I mentioned on our Facebook page, I am on a quest for the “perfect” Irish Soda Bread recipe. Even discounting the cook’s impact on the result, I have tried several recipes, all of which are very good in their own way just not my “perfect.”  I have a memory of a thick, warm, delicious, raisin laden slice of moist bread that was perfect with a cup of strong, hot tea. I know that memories play tricks and there is certainly a subjective component to perfect, but I am not deterred. I know what I loved as Irish Soda Bread and it was tied to fond memories of my earlier family life.

That said, I will share the results of my quest with you….

Late last night, as midnight approached, I was feeling a pull for Irish Soda Bread but was not quite willing to undertake the whole idea of baking a loaf from scratch. I was looking for something on the internet when it occurred to me to enter a random search for Irish Soda Bread. Lo and behold, I found a quick and easy recipe for Irish Soda Bread that can be made in a bread machine.

I love my bread machine. It makes fragrant and delectable loaves of warm, fresh bread with little or no effort. The ingredients are simple, staples I usually have at home, so I can make bread whenever the mood strikes. I did it. In a flash, I had the ingredients in the machine, kneading away and ready to turn into, yet another version of Irish Soda Bread.

This morning, a still warm loaf was waiting to be sliced and lathered with butter. This recipe is very good….really delicious but, sadly, it is not the one.

Never-the-less, here is my version (naturally I had to make some modifications) of the bread machine Irish Soda Bread recipe. Try it. It is easy, quick and very, very good.

Bread Machine Irish Soda Bread

As always, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your machine when adding the ingredients.

1 1/2 Cups Warm Water
2 Tb margarine or canola oil
2 Tb white sugar
1 tsp salt
4 1/2 cups bread flour
2 Tb Powdered milk
3 tsp Caraway seeds
2 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 cup white raisins
1/4 cup black raisins
1/4 cup craisins

Directions:

Add the ingredients into the machine as instructed by the manufacturer of your machine.  If your machine has a fruit bread setting, use that one.  The basic bread setting will work also.  If you want as darker crust, be sure and select the type on your machine’s settings.  Add the fruit as required by your machine.

This recipe makes one, two-pound loaf of bread.  Slice and enjoy warm with butter.

 

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Happy New Year!!

We are right in the middle of the holiday season. Part way through the 12 days of Christmas. Now that Christmas is over and we are facing the start of a new year. many of us are struggling with the fact that last year is coming to an end. We are collectively amazed at the fact that the time has passed so quickly. Time is the ultimate equalizer. Every person is given the same amount, 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, 24 hours in a day. No more, no less.

Sometimes we begin to use our time to focus on regrets, goals not met or problems unresolved. That the holidays are stressful is an understatement. Show me a woman who claims she is not stressed when dealing with the whole thing and I will show you a liar. Even the most organized and positive feels some anxiety over something related to the holiday hoopla. That said, Christmas is behind us. A new year is before us. As always, the newness feels liberating. It is liberating. It is new. We each have 365 days ahead to do what ever it is we want to do.

Embrace the new year. Embrace the time we are given. Happy New Year—really, really Happy New Year!!!

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Thank you!!

Tricia and I had a conversation with a woman who is helping us as an editor on this project. She has some very good suggestions and has given us a lot to think about. We appreciate the fact that she is a professional and can give us an objective opinion on what will work best to get our message out to the world.

I have been thinking a lot about what she told us. One thought repeats itself over and over though. As we make progress, I think that Tricia shares my opinion that we feel a great responsibility toward all the women who have taken the time to speak with us and share their stories. Each of them is unique and has given us much to work with. We are grateful to all of the women who have been so honest and generous, giving us of their time and thoughts.

One thing that has amazed both of us is the way that people have been willing to share their stories. Please know that we appreciate the gift of trust we have been given. We cherish the words and value each of them. We feel humbled by this gift. We also, very sincerely, promise to do our best to share this project with other women.

Thank you to all who are helping us.

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Renee Gatz-Wise Word & Witty Expressions

Tricia and I had a wonderful three day trip to the northeast to work on our book. The trip passed without incident and in addition to meeting and spending time with Mary Higgins Clark, we met Renee Gatz for dinner. As you may recall, Renee is an author who has written a book, “Wise Words and Witty Expressions” which was published about a year ago. In her words, it is “A fun book focused on keeping life in perspective by inspiring peace in you and others.” She is enjoying promoting her book and has become a popular speaker. She is spending a lot of time visiting Irish related fairs and activities while talking about her book.

Her book is a fun read with lots of thought provoking expressions. The Irish have the gift of making a point through the clever use of language. They have always shared wisdom through words. Look for her book, available on line and at book stores.

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Mary Higgins Clark

Today was one of the highlights of my life. Tricia and I had a wonderful afternoon hearing the words of wisdom from one of the world’s most popular and prolific authors–Mary Higgins Clark. Despite being in the middle of a new project and facing a deadline to complete her new book, she graciously took off the afternoon to meet with us and answer questions about her life.

Imagine, Mary Higgins Clark invited us to meet with her personally at her lovely home located in Saddle River, New Jersey. We flew into Newark, New Jersey on Wednesday afternoon and found a hotel not too far down the road from her hometown. Thursday morning we spent working on various tasks, some related to the book and some not, before we headed out from our hotel at around 1:00 pm. Though it was not more than a couple of miles away, we did not want to run the risk of being late, so we left with plenty of time. Naturally we were early so we parked the car and waited until it was appropriate for us to go in.

Her home is spectacular, large and gracious. Mrs. Clark was immaculately dressed in a green plaid jacket with her hair beautifully coifed. She invited us to visit with her in her study-a loft located in the third story of her home in a cozy nook with bookshelves filled with books, awards and mementos. The walls are covered with numerous awards, and illustrations of her many book covers. It is a dream office for a serious author with windows that let in the light and overlook the beautiful trees that dot her property. We were served tea and cookies and then Mrs. Clark patiently answered our questions and told us stories about her life.

Once again, I was touched by the message that seems to resonate with all the women we have met. Each of them have dealt with problems and struggles–many of which are of tragic proportions–yet they are incredibly resilient. When we talked with Mrs. Clark about her philosophy on life and finding her path, she responded, “Somebody once said, if you want to be happy for a year, win the lottery. If you want to be happy for a lifetime, love what you do. That’s the way it is for me — I love to spin yarns.”

The take away —Love what you do.

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Serendipity

Tricia and I have been enjoying our time together. We are focused on our project and tasks but this whole experience is very rejuvenating and exciting–more like fun than work. We have a dozen different ideas for the next step and hope that we can continue with our enthusiasm. The more time we spend together the more excited we become and the more focused we are on getting this project finished.

As we talk and brainstorm and plot our course, we are repeatedly amazed at the serendipitous circumstances that keep touching this project. Things are happening so easily and are coming together like a perfectly planned puzzle–each piece connected to the other pieces and joining together to create a picture. In truth, we are both spiritual people and have faith that God is helping us with this project. We know in our hearts that our special saints, my Dad, her Mom and our Grandmother, are helping us. Still when we sit down and start to list the coincidences that are bringing this all together, we are amazed.

We are going to interview Mary Higgins Clark this afternoon. I am still not quite believing that she is willing to do this. We are two strangers who she is willing to help with a project for no other reason than pure kindness. I was reading her own story written many years ago to honor her mother and was struck by her description of her mother as generous of heart. How very true this trait and characteristic is of the Irish- generous of heart and kind of spirit. The Irish women we know and have come to know have become a rallying community of support and enthusiasm for our project. What a gift of the heart each has given to us.

Still, I have to recognize a touch of something more powerful than us. As you know, we have been working for several months to get this work put together. Nearly everyday we see a sign that this is a good thing to do. You may disagree or you may dismiss my beliefs but I have come to believe that there are miracles and signs around us all the time. You have to be open and willing to see them.

Just yesterday, Tricia and I were given a discount coupon for dinner at a restaurant near our hotel. The name? Houlihans—Irish Restaurant and Bar. How appropriate. While reading Mary Higgins Clark’s bio, I noticed that she grew up in the Bronx and actually graduated from Fordham. Our parents grew up in the Bronx and my father graduated from Fordham.

As you know, two weeks ago we had the wonderful opportunity of interviewing Marianne McDonald. During the first five minutes of our conversation, we discovered that we were both Alumnae of Bryn Mawr College. Kerry Williamson was referred to us because of a casual email that was forwarded to me from a friend. He had heard a little bit about our book and passed on the info when he read about it on the internet. She is incredibly busy but, by mere “coincidence” was available while we were already in San Diego for our interview with Dr. McDonald and could meet us. She normally lives in Santa Barbara and just happened to be in San Diego. Serendipity, yes coincidence, yes. Miracles, maybe.

LPG

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Welcome to our new Blog….

Tricia and I are excited to be making progress on our project. We are moving forward and making progress. We are headed to New Jersey this week to meet one of America’s most famous Irish Women–Mary Higgins Clark. We are so excited.

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