Rosehip Syrup

Yesterday I climbed a ladder to the top of the garage here at Hunters Lodge where a forest of rosehips awaited my arrival.  Now my balance is not great at the best of times so my nearest and dearest were more than relieved to see me descend without incident and armed with my little red trophies.  I would usually wait until the first frost has arrived to pick rosehips, but with a photoshoot coming up this week which features rosehips, it was time to get my rosehip syrup act together. IMG_2037

Anyway, Ruth and I decided that we would share with you my very simple no-boil method of making rosehip syrup, so I sat on the patio and she recorded the process.  I sound like a bit of a loon and we used Periscope instead of Video, so the picture isn’t amazingly clear but it’s clear enough for you to see how incredibly simple this method is.

Check out my instructions and get foraging!

 

 

Please note that the producer/director of this short film was Miss Ruth Dillon (she likes to appear in the credits!).

 

Back soon folks

 

Fiona

 Buy the full set of Freddy Buttons books (signed) over on www.freddybuttons.com

*  Read Fiona’s feature on lavender in the new edition of Irish Country Magazine – in shops now.

*  To book a ticket to meet Fiona in Ariel House, click HERE * To book Fiona to visit your group click HERE

Honey For Sale

Once again we have lots of honey this year so the Surplus Stall is back in action for the foreseeable.  Miss Ruth has taken charge this time so each morning she pops down to the gate and fills the shelves with jars of pure, raw honey from the bees in our garden.   As usual, the Honesty Box is there too.  Now before you start thinking that she’s the perfect child skipping to the gate each morning, of course there’s an ulterior motive..IMG_5675

We’ve planned a family break for next Spring and spending money will be required.  Her Dad suggested that dedication to her little honey enterprise now would make for a very pleasant holiday next year  – she’s all over this honey-selling business let me tell you! A girl needs her spending money right? Photo 73_Eamonn with bees

So the signs are painted, the price list is up and Miss Ruth’s Honey Shop is open for business..

You know, the lessons that the children learned here years ago by selling half a dozen eggs for €1 are still being learned here today – this time it’s Ruth’s turn to learn about the value of the food we produce and eat. IMG_9165

Long may it last

Fiona

The Surplus Stall is situated at the gate of Hunters Lodge on the L7147 off the Wexford Road.  All surplus produce will be left at the gate each morning.

*  Buy the full set of Freddy Buttons books (signed) over on www.freddybuttons.com

*  Read Fiona’s feature on lavender in the new edition of Irish Country Magazine – in shops now.

*  To book a ticket to meet Fiona in Ariel House, click HERE

* To book Fiona to visit your group click HERE

 

Keeping Chickens

This time every year I’m  brought right back to basics.  Why? Because now is the time the bookings come flying in for me to give talks to groups, schools, libraries and businesses. Requests come in all shapes and sizes – will I talk about blogging, living self-sufficiently, children and social media and lots more (click HERE for more details).DSCF7349  But the one that brings me right back to basics is the request for my Keeping Chickens talk.  It was the first class I ever taught and I have a special love for it.  Why wouldn’t I?  Not only does keeping chickens mean I have a constant supply of fresh eggs, but in the dark days of my corporate life, my feathered friends helped me keep my sanity!  What’s not to love?Eggs (21) And I’m firmly convinced that most of us, whether we’re urban or rural dwellers, could keep a couple of chickens if we set our minds to it. So it’s that time of year again, when I root out my smallest (quail) and biggest (ostrich) eggs to use as part of my interactive Keeping Chickens class.Food From An Irish Garden (45)If you are thinking of keeping a few chickens, here are some tips for you to consider..

Getting Started..
Start by buying “point of lay” hens. These hens are usually between 18 and 24 weeks and are literally on the point of laying (the darker their comb, the nearer they are to laying). In no time at all you will have a fresh supply of eggs, and if you are a beginner, these hens are much easier to manage than chicks. Expect to pay in the region of €20 for a point of lay hen.  

Space
You don’t need a large back garden to keep chickens. A 9ft x 3ft chicken coop that has an attached run is perfect for three laying hens and will fit in most urban gardens. These small coops often come with wheels so they are very easy to move around every couple of days, allowing the hens to enjoy fresh grass.

If you are building your own chicken coop, allow 1ft sq of space per hen in the coop.

You can also download my Keeping Chickens Guidebook HERE or indeed, pop along to one one of my classes.Eggs (12)

Have a think about keeping chickens – it’s not as difficult as you might think, and believe me, you won’t regret it.

 

Back soon

Fiona

 

*  Buy the full set of Freddy Buttons books (signed) for a special introductory offer of €25 over on www.freddybuttons.com

*  Read Fiona’s feature on lavender in the new edition of Irish Country Magazine – in shops now.

*  To book a ticket to meet Fiona in Ariel House, click HERE

* To book Fiona to visit your group click HERE

Afternoon Tea at Killashee..

It’s been a while since I have had the pleasure of enjoying afternoon tea at Killashee House Hotel, but having visited again recently, let me just say I won’t be leaving it as long before I visit again.  The food continues to be excellent, but it’s the other changes that have taken place since my last visit that now put Killashee House Hotel firmly on the afternoon tea map. The tables overlooking manicured lawns, the crisp white linen, the vintage china, the new selection of teas and the attentive staff all served to make my visit memorable.IMG_0515

If there was one word to describe Head Pastry Chef Paul Fleming’s afternoon tea, it would be generous.  Arrive hungry because Paul and the team will feed you well.  If you have a sweet tooth, you will be in heaven and if you are a lover of loose-leafs teas and infusions, you’ll love their new range.IMG_0525

As we sipped on a glass of bubbly, the savoury plate arrived.  The honey baked ham, smoked Emmental and tomato chutney on onion bread gave a whole new meaning to the quintessentially Irish “ham, cheese and onion”.  The egg, parsley and lemon mayonnaise was served on delicious sourdough bread and no savoury plate would be complete without smoked Irish salmon with chive crème fraiche on freshly baked brown bread.IMG_0521

Then came the scones.  There’s no messing around with bite size bakes with this afternoon tea.  No, there is a light, crumbly, massive fruit scone for each guest.  Truth be told it’s too big, but how can you not finish every crumb of a fruit scone that is baked to perfection?IMG_0533

Next up were the cakes – mini batterberg, banana bread, carrot and walnut and a beautifully light black cherry and chocolate cake. Teas were refreshed, the conversation flowed and the views were admired before moving on to the final stage of this epic afternoon tea. IMG_0536

And finally we reached the finger pastries.  If you are expecting bite-size, think again. We finished off with a raspberry mousse, homemade macarons and a mini banoffee tart. We could not move, nor did we have to.  Killashee lends itself to the relaxing ethos of afternoon tea and relax we did.IMG_0518

I couldn’t help thinking when I was there that Killashee is like a gateway to the capital.  I imagined many travel-weary visitors from all over the country, stopping on their way to Dublin to be revived, refreshed by the wonderful experience that is their afternoon tea.  This is not a dainty afternoon tea.  No, this is a hearty, generous, wholesome Irish afternoon tea that welcomes you in and works its magic one bite at a time.

Back soon

Fiona

 

Afternoon Tea in Killashee is served:

Monday – Friday 2pm – 5pm

Saturday – Sunday 2-3.30pm & 4-5.30pm

Traditional Afternoon Tea: €25 per person

Sparkling Afternoon Tea: €30 per person

For Bookings: Phone 045 879277

This feature first appeared in TheTaste.ie

 

*  Buy the full set of Freddy Buttons books (signed) for a special introductory offer of €25 over on www.freddybuttons.com

*  Read Fiona’s feature on lavender in the new edition of Irish Country Magazine – in shops now.

*  To book a ticket to meet Fiona in Ariel House, click HERE

Fiona Gets Fit – Days11-31

And so it continues – Project World Domination  FionaGetsFit!

Want to know how I’m getting on?  Well I left you on Day 10 after a great zumba glass and then, well, Day 11 happened…

Eddie Rocket's Power Breakfast

Oops!

Day 11: Decide to accompany my long-suffering husband on a trip to Tullamore.  He has an early morning meeting and by 11.30 the meeting is over and we’re starving.  So, here’s the thing, I’ve never eaten an Eddie Rockets breakfast.  In the interests of research (and a rumbling belly) I bravely tucked into their Power Rocket Breakfast.  It was a fine (unhealthy) breakfast, but what stood out for me was the customer service. BIG pat on the back to the manager.

Day 12: Do a 3 MILE walk for the first time ever!  I’m liking this shifting my ass business.

Day 13: Spent the entire day in planning meetings and didn’t do any exercise – nor did I eat chocolate, cake or biscuits, so it’s all good..

Day 14: Zumba at 10.30am.  Oh boy did I work my butt off.  Another day with no chocolate, biscuits or cake – am I coming down with something?

Day 15: Disaster. I. Am. So. Sick. Woke in the middle of the night with a gastric bug that has floored me.  Can’t even sip water. And my one thought? “I’m going to miss zumba class tonight”.

Day 16: Sick

Day 17: Sick

Day 18 Still stick.  Went to doctor. It’s a virus.  Back to bed.

Day 19: Sick

Day 20: Sick

Day 21: Keeping down water and bread

Day 22: Feeling like a human again.  Great excitment when I hit the weighing scales.  Yay, loads of pounds down – bound to happen when you’re not eating.

IMG_0953

When did chicken wings not make everything better?

Day 23: Off I went to the launch of a fabulous new brunch menu at Soder & Ko on George’s St.  I abstained from the cocktails, but nothing will help your appetite return quicker than Kwanghi Chan’s dumplings and Brunch Buns. In truth, I think I replaced all the lost pounds from the week before.

Scrambled egg and hot sauce brunch bun..

Scrambled egg and hot sauce brunch bun..

Day 24: Still not in form for exercising but I do manage to attend the opening of Daisy Cottage Farm Shop in Kiltegan.  Yes, I had buttery scones.  Yes I brought home cakes.  Yes, I am a failure…!

Day 25/26:  The weekend.  Lots of eating. No exercise (what? I’m still a bit weary okay?).  Vows taken to get back on track next week.  The looming milestone birthday awaits…….

Day 27/31 I have a brilliant plan.  I think I should start again in August.

Yes, definitely, August is a good month to get fit.  And after all this is a marathon not a sprint right? So my epic plan for July didn’t quite work out.  Maybe I’ll try not to be so epic in August and things might work out a bit better for me.  And if they don’t?  Well, there’s always September……

Oh and then these happened over the milestone birthday bank holiday weekend….

Not one but THREE cakes...

Not one but THREE cakes…

What is it the kids say…

“Would you like some epic with that fail?”

 

Yours with great intentions

 

Fiona

*  Buy the full set of Freddy Buttons books (signed) for a special introductory offer of €25 over on www.freddybuttons.com

*  Read Fiona’s feature on lavender in the new edition of Irish Country Magazine – in shops now.

*  To book a ticket to meet Fiona in Ariel House, click HERE

 

Food, Family & My Latest Venture..

At a talk I was giving recently I mentioned that I only work with people I like.  A pretty broad statement I know.  In hindsight I probably should have said people I admire.  But that doesn’t sound right either.  So I’ve been trying to figure out exactly what I meant…

Walking in the countryside really helps me think..

Walking in the countryside really helps me think..

The most important thing to me in this world is my family –  my husband and my children.  In my opinion a family unit, whatever it’s make up, should always be held in the highest regard – for it is within a family that children learn to become worthwhile members of society.  They learn to share, to be kind, to work hard.  They may argue and disagree, but they also unite and stand together when times are tough.  Would you agree?

More contemplating this week while I picked these beauties

More contemplating this week while I picked these beauties

I have come to realise recently that the people I work with have become like an extension of my own family.  For example, there’s the Irish Farmers Journal gang. I love working with them on my Irish Country Magazine features.  They are supportive and sharing – like a regular family.

Then there’s Glenisk.  Talk about girl power – those girls are like my sisters (me being the oldest I must admit).  They are hard-working, generous, great fun and a continuous source of inspiration.

And if you hadn’t heard, I’m the Food Correspondent for KCLR96FM’s The Saturday Show.  Presented by Sue Nunn, Sue has mentored me for many years in the art of broadcasting.  Like any family, the guys in the studio continuously annoy me about bringing in cakes for them all.  Again, just like a regular family.  IMG_4701

And no guys, I’m not baking for ye!

And now I announce the latest family that I will have the pleasure of working with..

I am delighted to say that I have taken up the position as the southeast Restaurant Reviewer for TheTaste.ie.  It will come as no surprise to you to hear that TheTaste.ie is a family run business with an incredible work ethic – so yes, I’m delighted to include TheTaste.ie in my ever-expanding food family.

I know they say you can choose your friends but not your family, but when it comes to work, I always choose my family – and I have chosen wisely.  After all, life’s too short to be surrounded by people who don’t encourage and inspire you.  Well that’s what I think anyway..

So that’s what I meant when I said I only work with people I like. Families may come in all shapes and sizes, and when it comes to work, the shapes and sizes of my extended family units fit me well.

Pondering over – is it time for cake……?

 

Fiona

 

*  Buy the full set of Freddy Buttons books (signed) for a special introductory offer of €25 over on www.freddybuttons.com

*  Read Fiona’s feature on lavender in the new edition of Irish Country Magazine – in shops now.

*  To book a ticket to meet Fiona in Ariel House, click HERE

 

 

Dream It & Do It!

I’ve been dying to tell you about a little event that I’ve been working on for some time and I am so excited to finally share it with you.

You see, I think we all need inspiration and motivation from time to time, and one of the people that most inspires me is Nicola Carolan, aka The Naked Blondie.  It’s flattering that she also finds me inspirational (my kids would laugh their heads off at that!) and between us we’ve come up with an idea…

We get asked constantly about our lifestyles – be it parenting, weight loss, getting healthy, blogging, writing or recipe testing.  So, we’ve decided to come together for an evening of chat and laughter in Ariel House.  There will be lots of our top tips, cool prizes, super goody  bags and more..

Places are limited to 25 – we want to be sure we get to talk to everybody.  So if you’re free on September 10th, take some time out for yourself and join us for a cuppa and a chat (and delicious nibbles from Glenisk).

Poster - jpeg4

We’d love to see you..

 

Fiona x

Book your tickets HERE to meet Fiona and Nicola in Ariel House.

My Working Week..

Instead of doing a #FionaGetsFit for my Friday evening blogpost, I’ve decided to fill you in on the working week of a blogger/author/broadcaster.  I’m prompted to do this in advance of an event I am speaking at next week.  “Follow The Recipe”, an event organised by Lorna Sixsmith and Amanda Webb of We Teach Social, takes place next Thursday evening in Wood Quay.  For this talk, I’ve been invited to pair up with Emma Walls, marketing director of Glenisk, and we’ll do a Q&A session about how a blog and a brand can successfully collaborate together on a project.  If you are attending, please say hello – it promises to be a great event for those from the food world interested in online marketing.  In advance of the event, both Emma and I were interviewed by Lorna Sixsmith.  You can read the interviews here:

Fiona’s Interview

Emma’s Interview

Speaking at events like this serves as a reminder of how many small businesses rely on blogging and social media for custom.

Raspberries July 2015

Last Sunday’s dessert

For me, my #FionaGetsFit diary is very much where I am on this food and lifestyle blog – it’s an honest and open account and I’m really getting a lot from writing it. But what about the man himself, Freddy Buttons?  Well like any other 8 year old boy he is keeping me on  my toes!  Freddy has captured the imagination of so many people in so many industries, well, it just still overwhelms me.  Last week I saw him on Glenisk yogurt packs in Tesco and Supervalu.  This week I spotted him in Dunnes Stores.IMG_0747 My boy on the supermarket shelves – it does my heart good I can tell you.  His popularity goes from strength to strength.  Freddy featured in the Irish Times last Saturday, and on Monday next, you’ll find him on the kids page in the RTE Guide (there’s a competition there too so be sure to check it out).  Some fine day over the next week or two, Irish TV are coming to film at Hunters Lodge and, yes you’ve guessed it, they want to talk about Freddy Buttons.  There’s lots more in the pipeline for Freddy that I’ve been working on this week, but I’ll leave it til another day..

In the meantime, I’m “happy out” sending Freddy Buttons packages to children all over the country (remember if you’re ordering books, leave a note if you would like me to add a personalised message for your child).IMG_0723

Oh and next week I’m dusting off my broadcaster’s hat once again because on July 25th, I will take up the title of Food Correspondent for The Saturday Show on KCLR96fm.  Each month I shall join Sue Nunn in studio and fill the listeners in or the latest and greatest local and national food news.  It’s a while since I’ve had my own radio slot and I really do miss the hustle and bustle of live radio. Speaking of live radio, I’m on ConnemaraFM at 6pm on July 30th – tune in if you can.

One other thing that has kept me occupied this week has been preparations for my Dream It & Do It evening with The Naked Blondie (Nicola Carolan) in Ariel House on September 10th.  More info and tickets will be released early next week – this is going to be a super event, so put the date in your diary.  Nicola is, without doubt, one of the women who inspires me most on a daily basis – and I know a lot of you feel the same way so I’ve no doubt this event will be great.

I’m up to date on all my magazine articles and coming soon in Irish Tatler will be my “healthy food ideas for children”.  In the next issue of Irish Country, I have written a feature on the delights of lavender. More about these when I have the dates..

And lastly, I’ve been meaning to work on my YouTube channel for ages now (never seem to get around to it), but in the meantime, I’ve been introduced to an app called Periscope.  Do you know it?  Check out my recording from last Sunday…

So there you go – a snippet of a week in the life of a blogger/author/broadcaster/mama/brand developer.  I’ll be back soon with a #FionaGetsFit update.

How was your week?  Good I hope..

Fiona

 

Buy the full set of Freddy Buttons books (signed) for a special introductory offer of €25 over on www.freddybuttons.com

 

Fiona Gets Fit: Days 4-10

Day 4: Another 2 mile walk done.  This time with Kate.  This time listening to music  (at last!).  More healthy BBQ food.  However, when they say nowadays that chocolate is good for you, I don’t think they meant the full bar of Turkish Delight I had after dinner.  Ah, it’s the weekend AND I’ve just spotted Freddy Buttons on Glenisk yogurts in Tesco – I’m too happy to be miserable dieting.11707696_10206601748103612_1076070580834952603_o

Day 5:  Another 2 mile walk done.  On my own – in the pouring rain. Somehow this makes me feel all the more virtuous, which is just as well because it’s our favourite Indian restaurant for Sunday Lunch…

Day 6: My day is mostly spent with twenty 8-13 year old at a food camp.  We talked and tasted and had great fun, which distracted me nicely from the impending 6pm Metafit class.  But I survived the class in surprisingly good condition.  Foodwise, I was a great girl altogether.  My friend Sean was visiting from Dubai, so instead of going out for a fat-filled dinner, I cooked steaks on the BBQ and served them with new potatoes and lots of salad.  Healthy dessert was Glenisk Vanilla strained yogurt, slices of banana and a “little” crumbled Twirl on the top.  Visitors=Twirls okay? And if I’m being totally honest, the real reason that I decided to stay in and cook relatively healthy options was because finding a restaurant open in Carlow on a Monday night proved difficult..

Day 7: Forgot to go to Zumba class at 10.30am. Too tired to walk. Went for a sleep early afternoon – while I should have been making dinner later in the day, I was fast asleep. My lovely family let me sleep away (while they took the opportunity to order Chinese food). My unfitness is taking it’s toll methinks. On the plus side, not one crumb of cake, biscuit or chocolate was consumed.

Day 8: Very early start to Dublin.  Enjoyed a nice healthy breakfast treat in Ariel House at 8am.IMG_0564  When my meetings were over I indulged in a late lunch with Kate in Counter Couture in the Powerscourt Townhouse (Counter Couture is a healthy food establishment with lots of guilt-free delights).  The Cucumber and Pea soup was sublime (€5 with a slice of soda bread).IMG_0570

Day 9: How do I say this….. healthwise, I was a feckin disaster. Back in Dublin for the relaunch of Orangina in Residence on Stephen’s Green.  The food was magnificent, the cocktails, not to mention the hoptails, needed tasting.  T’would have been rude not to.  Should I leave it at that or will I mention the large popcorn at the movies later in the day?  Probably best to move on and start again tomorrow.IMG_0616

Day 10: Zummmmmbaaaaaaaa!  I now love my Zumba class.  I can do the feet and the arms at the same time and not collapse into an unGodly heap on the floor!  This is good right?  Holy God, my former dance teacher better not be reading this!! Dinners continue to be mostly barbecued meat with salad/veg or potatoes.IMG_0628  As the weekend looms, I know I’m going to deteriorate into a whirlwind of bad food choices and chocolate (which I’m not even particularly fond of) but Lesley from Fusion Fitness continues to stay in touch and tries to keep me on the straight and narrow…

Next week I start on a programme of ab exercises, along with my zumba, maybe a bit of metafit and, hopefully, lots of healthy eating choices.

But I know this…

I’m not on a crazy fad manic diet, I am on a lifestyle change to get fitter.  This is not a sprint but a marathon, or for me, a leisurely walk..

Since July 1st, I’ve attended four zumba classes, one metafit class and enjoyed three 2 mile walks.  It’s probably more than I did in the six months leading up to July 1st.

I’m getting there…

Fiona

Buy the full set of Freddy Buttons books (signed) for a special introductory offer of €25 over on www.freddybuttons.com

* Fusion Fitness is based in Graiguecullen, Co Carlow.  I pay a monthly fee of €50 to attend any amount of classes, have access to one to one consultations and loads of motivation from fellow members in a closed Facebook Group.  For more information check out their Facebook Page.

Freddy Buttons – have you spotted him?

I knew the time was fast approaching for my beloved Freddy Buttons to appear on some of the Glenisk yogurt range (2 of their products), but actually seeing Freddy “in person” in the supermarket the other day, was really quite something.  I may have screamed – okay I did.  There he was, my little boy, standing as proud as punch on one of my favourite brands.  Truly it was a great moment.11707696_10206601748103612_1076070580834952603_o  I took photos while Eamonn piled the Freddy yogurts into the basket – for souvenirs like!  There’s lots more Freddy Buttons news to come before the year is out, but for now, I’m just relishing the wonderful feeling of seeing him on the supermarket shelf.  Thank you Glenisk!

Have you spotted Freddy on the shelves yet?

Fiona

 

 

Buy the full set of Freddy Buttons books (signed) for a special introductory offer of €25 over on www.freddybuttons.com