March 18, 2012

Celebrating St. Paddy's Day

You might remember me mentioning a couple of weeks ago that I wanted to make a big deal out of Saint Patrick's Day this year. Well, I think yesterday was my favorite Saint Patrick's day ever. I found so many little ways to celebrate throughout the day that I was really feeling ultra-festive from morning until night.

Matt works on Saturdays, so it was up to me to do my own little celebrations until he came home.

I started my day with a bowl of hot Irish oatmeal and a steaming cup of Irish breakfast tea.

{I did get up to make Matt Irish oatmeal and scrambled eggs before work, so he could get a little "Irish" start to his day...}

I drank my Irish breakfast tea from the lovely Claddagh cup and saucer my mom and dad got me for Christmas.

Our apartment was already adorned with the Saint Patrick's Day decorations I made a few weeks back:

I had a shade of green on my nails...

...and shamrock socks on my toes.

In addition to my green attire, I wore this beautiful necklace which Matt gave to me as a birthday present a few months before we were married. I was so touched at this gift--he had ordered it from a jewelry shop in Ireland and had it shipped to the States for me. He knows me so well!

The necklace reads, "Anam Cara," which in Irish Gaelic roughly translates to "soul friend."  It refers to an ancient and eternal union of souls; two souls flowing together.

On Friday, I whipped up these shamrock sugar cookies. I bought a shamrock cookie cutter several  years ago when shopping in Portland and I figured it was about time to put it to good use! I made these cookies as gifts, as a way to pass around the Irish spirit, though I did set aside a couple for Matt and myself.

I had my iPod adding Celtic music to the background during the entire day. That alone made the day feel quite festive, and nothing puts me in a cheerful mood quite like Celtic music. {It is my favorite kind of music, after wouldn't believe how much of it I own!}

I spent a most of the afternoon in the kitchen preparing our Irish dinner menu. There were many cyclic periods of food prep, dish washing/drying, and counter clearing in preparation for the next phase of work. {That's the trouble with having a tiny kitchen.}

Dinner wasn't too elaborate--on the menu: Irish Beef Stew and Irish Soda Bread.

I was thrilled with the way the stew and bread turned out. I had never made a stew from-scratch before and the 2 1/2 hours of simmering time for the stew were well worth it, even if the delicious aromas were driving Matt and I crazy with hunger. And the Irish Soda bread was so easy to make. It was crispy on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside, and made the perfect companion to our stew.

For dessert, I made Irish Cream Trifles:

{Got this dessert idea from Pinterest}

The trifle has layers of crumbled brownies, Andes mint pieces, whipped cream, and vanilla pudding made with half milk/half Irish coffee creamer. Oh, and green food coloring, of course! Simply delicious.

After dinner and dessert, Matt and I cozied up on the couch to watch "The Quiet Man." This is an early 1950's classic with John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara set in Ireland. Matt had seen it before but it was my first time. I loved it! How can you not love old movies?! Our other favorite Irish movies include Disney's old classic "Darby O'Gill and the Little People" with Sean Connery, and the relatively unknown "Waking Ned Devine". {Meg, wasn't it you who introduced me to Ned Devine?} If you haven't seen any of these films, I'd highly recommend them all to you.

It was the quietest of Saint Patrick's Days, but also the loveliest. The best part is having plenty of stew and Irish Soda bread leftovers to last us for days!

Hope you all had a delightful St. Paddy's day, too!

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