Giveaway Time – Quirky Irish Art by Olyart

March is here at last, and without a shadow of a doubt this is our month – time to celebrate St. Patrick and all that is Irish.

To kick start the month I’m delighted to introduce you to the quirky and entertaining artwork created by Olyart in County Galway, together with a little giveaway to help spread some Irish luck.

enjoy irelandOlyart designs and creates Irish gifts, with a humorous take on contemporary souvenirs. 

First let me hand you over to Joanna from Olyart to explain her design inspiration, and then check out how to enter our giveaway at the end of the post.

 

A Little History Behind Olyart

 

Olyart was established in December 2011. The story behind it is quite unusual as it’s an Irish business but started and run by Polish girls, who literally fell in love with Ireland from their very first minute there.

Four Seasons of Ireland
Aleks and Joanna met in the west of Ireland in Galway, and became very good friends.

Experiencing Irish kindness and Irish people’s need for random chats and socializing, combined with the amazing landscapes, art and culture inspired these two girls to start OLYART. 

Irish population - sheep and humans

They love living in Ireland.

But what about the never ending rain? Here’s Joanna’s perfect response:

 

“Sure, rain is a challenge,

but also an amazing inspiration for illustrations.”

 

Everything is an inspiration in Ireland – the variety of accents, food, music, red hair, Paddy’s Day, summer not being much different to winter, the black shtuff, cottages, slang ……. 

Irish Slang

Where else in the world do people say they are doing the messages when they are going shopping?

Even Irish greetings have to be longer than a simple hello, and sound more like this …….

 

“Hi ….. how are you?…. how’s it going …… what’ s the craic?”

 

OLYART’s idea is to design Irish souvenir gifts, a bit quirky and with a humorous take on contemporary Ireland.

Irish summer - when the rain is warm

OLYART specializes in a range of products such as postcards, mugs, coasters, fridge magnets, tote bags and greeting cards for various occasions.

Lucky Irish Sheep Bag by Olyart

The girls also create personalized gifts for businesses or individuals. Most of their products are bilingual (English and Irish).

They are sold in shops in Ireland and so far in Germany, France and Sweden.

OlyArt Irish Mugs

You can check out the full range of their products on the OLYART website.

You can also follow along on Facebook and Twitter.

Here’s a little YouTube video to introduce you to some more of Olyart’s quirky products …..

The Prize:

 

The girls at Olyart have graciously sponsored a giveaway for Irish American Mom’s readers.

One lucky winner will receive a surprise selection of Olyart products up to a value of 30.

What a perfect way to get March off to a great start.

The Giveaway:

 

To enter our giveaway just leave a comment on this blog post by noon on Wednesday, March 11th, 2015.  You can leave any comment you wish. What you write does not affect your chances of winning.

If you need some inspiration, why not tell us about your favorite Irish gift or let us know if you have ever received a funny or quirky gift from Ireland …

Traffic Jam In Ireland

A winning comment will be chosen randomly.  Remember to leave your e-mail so we can arrange to have your prize delivered.  Your e-mail won’t be published or shared, just used to make contact.

The winner will be announced on the evening of Wednesday, March 11th, 2015 and the name shared at the end of this post.

You may check out Irish American Mom’s complete terms and conditions for sweepstake entries by clicking here.

Best of luck to all our entrants and a big thank you to Olyart for sponsoring this great prize for Irish American Mom’s readers.  I really appreciate their generosity.

And a big thanks to all of you who enter and help spread the word to family and friends about this little giveaway.

 

Slán agus beannacht,

(Goodbye and blessings),

 

 

Irish American Mom

 

Disclosure: Irish American Mom does not have a business relationship with Olyart. No cash payment was received for publishing this giveaway post. I love to help spread the word about small home businesses, artists and crafts people. Thank you to all who support these wonderful Irish and Irish American business enterprises.

Images published with permission of Olyart.

The Sunbeam Path – An Interactive Children’s iBook By Marion Rose McFadden

“The Sunbeam Path” – what an exciting name for a children’s picture book. The very name speaks of faeries and intrigue.

The Sunbeam Patch - CoverJust saying this title aloud makes me want to take a sunny journey to a land of make believe.

In today’s post I’m excited to introduce you to Nora, a delightful little Irish girl who follows a wisp of light dancing on the edge of the forest. A world of faeries and demifay awaits.  These enchanting characters were created by Irish artist and writer, Marion Rose McFadden. 

Maggie Green, a resource teacher currently living in County Donegal, graciously reviewed this book for Irish American Mom. 

She works with children with additional learning needs and has a deep understanding of how to integrate technology into education.

Maggie shares her insights on her wonerful blog “A Geek and a Teacher”.

But now let me hand you over to Maggie for her book review of “The Sunbeam Path”  ……

 

The Sunbeam Path – An Interactive Children’s iBook

By Marion Rose McFadden

 

Book Review by Maggie Green

 

My children, like most children, love stories. Every night we have story time. They both cuddle up beside me and they each choose a book and we read and we talk about the stories.

They have their firm favorites and the books that they now know off by heart and they sometimes read along with me or finish my sentences. It is wonderful to see their blossoming relationship with books and reading, and I hope to see it continue long into the future.

How faeries live

Some books stay with you for a lifetime. Even as an adult when I start to read books I loved as a child to my own children I am transported back to the place I was when I first heard the story.

Cozy in the crook of my father’s arms as he read to me, his soft soothing voice taking me to another world as the characters and magic of the story took shape in my mind.

My children are growing up in a different era. They are very much children of the digital age and they have experienced media in many different forms even at the young ages of two and four.

My children know their way around an iPad and recently we read our very first iBook together and to say that my children were full of wonder as I read was an understatement.

The book we read was called The Sunbeam Path by a very talented author called Marion-Rose McFadden.

The book follows the journey of a wonderfully authentic little girl called Nora as she embarks on an adventure which introduces her to the Demifay. The story is steeped in rich and evocative language which pulls the reader further into the magic.

The iBook gives you the option to read the story or to have the story read to you and we have tried both options numerous times.

As I read the story to my children they were mesmerized by the interactive nature of the book and became very excited as they burst the bubbles that Nora blew and touched the little beams of light that danced across the page.

Interactive Faerie Book

The illustration is magical and brought the book to life as the story progressed.

The Demifay in the story appealed to me greatly as a parent. Too often the manner in which faeries are depicted in stories are too adult in nature and I prefer characters that I can relate to.

TI want my children to have real expectations in life and I want them to be exposed to characters in stories with whom they can find a common ground.

The Demifay in The Sunbeam Path are not dressed in overly sexualized costumes. They are not society’s portrayal of what is beautiful. They are real, they are different and they come to life all the more because of this.

This iBook has become a firm favorite for my children and it is regularly requested throughout the day and at bedtime.

Demifay the faerie

My daughter can relate to Nora because she just looks like an ordinary little girl. The first time we read the story my daughter said ‘oh she does the same things as me – maybe I’ll see faeries too’.

My children have truly been touched by the magic of this iBook and I am sure that many more children will be filled with wonder as they enter the world of Nora and the Demifay.

 

 Digital Media Choices

 

“The Sunbeam Path” by Marion Rose McFadden in a cross-border collaboration with Digital Media Choices.

DMC, a non-profit group of social entrepreneurs, is a company based on the outskirts of Belfast, offering a wide range of expertise in developing digital media.

The Sunbeam Path beautifully illustrated Michael Murray utilises the latest iBook technologies to create a delightful, digital faerie-story experience.

Animation transforms the pages into a dynamic and fun experience, using interactive touch screen technologies, with a narration feature offering an engagin story-telling aspect.

 

Marion Rose McFadden

 

Marion Rose is an Irish artist who lives on the wild Atlantic coast in County Donegal. 

Here’s how she describes her work on her website:

 

“Resonating with ancestral memory,

the magic of light and half-light,

these paintings celebrate the echoes of what once was,

and is yet evidenced by land and by character.”

 

Wishing Marion every success as a writer and artist.

 

More Information:

 

This book is also available in Irish. It’s simply beautiful.

Irish Version of The Sunbeam Path

You can order the book on iTunes in an Irish language or English language version.

It is also available for the Kindle through Amazon.

A big thank you to Maggie Green and Marion Rose McFadden for this wonderful introduction to the world of the demifay.

Slán agus beannacht,

(Goodbye and blessings)

Irish American Mom

 

P.S. Irish American Mom does not have a business relationship with Digital Media Choices. This is not a sponsored post. I fell in love with this little story and simply wished to help spread the word about this lovely interactive children’s book through this blog post.

Living In Ireland, Then And Now

Life in Ireland has changed significantly over the past 150 years.  Old images relate stories of the past to us, but have you ever wondered how specific locations in Ireland might have changed with the passing of time?

In today’s post a Cork Photographer tells of his experiences in recreating some of the region’s most iconic images from days gone by.

A big thank you to James Walsh from My Ireland Tour in Cork, detailing his amazing work. And so I’ll hand you over to James to tell his story.

 

Ireland Then And Now

 

Grand Parade, Cork

Grand Parade, Cork, circa 1948

 Image Credit

 

For the first 30 years of my life, living in Cork, I had never noticed any real changes taking place in the city.

I guess when you see a place every day the little differences don’t tend to resonate as much. But I recently moved back to the city after spending a year in the UK and, returning home, I couldn’t believe what I saw.

Cork had changed. It must have been all the small, subtle changes I’d never taken note of before.

A paint job on my favorite pub, a new coffee shop, different road layouts, a juice bar next to the War Memorial on the Grand Parade. It felt as though I’d traveled into the future, even if really I’d been left in the past.

After a few days back I started to adjust to my surroundings and it started to feel like the Cork I know and love.

At the same time I kept thinking about the change, wondering if it had changed that much in a year how much had it changed in the last 5 or 10 years.

Knowing about my background in film and photography, a local tourism company called My Ireland Tour asked me to produce a photographic resource based in Cork and I immediately knew the pitch should be “the changing face of Cork city” – an article showing photos of Cork as it was and recreating those same iconic images today.

mit monument

Grand Parade, Cork, as it is today.

Image Credit

I started by researching old archive photos of Cork (some dating back as far as the 1880’s) and marking out the ones that I could recreate from the same location. The results, when put side by side, were fascinating. The cars, clothes, shop fronts had all drastically changed over time but the essence of the city was still there. It was still Cork. It was still Cork people going about their day.

The little story-telling nuances really brought each image to life for me and, bringing in a web-design specialist, I added a ‘magnifying glass’ tool which allows visitors to see every detail up close.

Whether you want to have a closer look at the mysterious woman dashing across Patrick’s Street in 1902 or the license plates of the cars parked across the Grand Parade in 1948 the magnifying glass really adds an extra level of enjoyment to the page. I hope you enjoy browsing through it as much as I enjoyed making it.

Ireland Then and Now : Images of Cork, past and present was conceived, captured and shared by James Walsh on behalf of My Ireland Tour. 

 

A big thank you to James for his amazing work and this guest post. I hope you all enjoy the pictures of Cork, both old and new, which can be accessed through the links above. I loved using the magnifying tool to appreciate details of the pictures from the past.

 

Slán agus beannacht,

(Goodbye and blessings),

 

Irish American Mom

A Cute New Irish Kids’ Clothing Line Plus A Giveaway For St. Patrick’s Day

Funny Monkey is a cute new line of Irish themed clothes for little ones. Today I’m delighted to introduce you to this fabulous fashion line for young kids.

clothes

When the creator of these fun products tried to buy a gift for her newborn cousin she thought some of the Irish themed choices were not very unique.

So guess what she did! She set up her own company and designed some of the cutest little sweat shirts for today’s Irish kids.

And today she is sponsoring a giveaway for one of Irish American Mom’s readers.

But first let me hand you over to her for a quick review of her products and company philosophy.

 

Introducing Funny Monkey

 

Funny Monkey is a new Irish brand of clothing for babies, toddlers and kids all over the world.

Our garments are all made with 100% organic cotton and they are designed and printed in Ireland.

facebookad4

We are based in Galway but we ship our fun products worldwide to spread Irish pride everywhere.

Funny Monkey is all about Irish culture, Irish people and having fun.

missella

We are extremely focused on creating the best quality products, at an affordable price.

Our first collection has 7 designs and each design has 3 different bright colors: Mint, yellow and red.

penny

Cliché Irish clothes are not enough for us.

We are original and organic!

Let’s do it “Irish”… just for the craic!

 

The Prize:

 

The good folks at Funny Monkey have graciously sponsored a prize for one lucky reader.  To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day they have created two limited edition T-Shirts.

Green Irish T-Shirt For Kids - St. Patrick's Day GiftThe St. Patrick’s Day line is made with 100% organic cotton. The sizes of the green tees are 3/4 years and 5/6 years.

St. Patrick's Day T-shirt for ChildrenThe white T-shirts come in sizes  3-6 MONTHS, 6-12 MONTHS and 12-18 MONTHS.

One lucky winner will receive one St. Patrick’s Day T-Shirt in a child’s size requested from the choices above.

 

The Giveaway

 

To enter our giveaway just leave a comment on this blog post by noon on Wednesday, March 4th, 2015.  You can leave any comment you wish. What you write does not affect your chances of winning.

If you need some inspiration, why not tell us what you like to wear on St. Patrick’s Day …

A winning comment will be chosen randomly.  Remember to leave your e-mail so we can arrange to have your prize delivered for St. Patrick’s Day.  Your e-mail won’t be published or shared, just used to make contact.

The winner will be announced on the evening of Wednesday, March 4th, 2015 and the name shared at the end of this post.

You may check out Irish American Mom’s complete terms and conditions for sweepstake entries by clicking here.

Best of luck to all our entrants and a big thank you to Funny Monkey for sponsoring a fantastic prize for Irish American Mom’s readers.  I really appreciate their generosity.

And a big thanks to all of you who enter and help spread the word to family and friends about this little giveaway.

 

Slán agus beannacht,

Goodbye and blessings,

 

 

Irish American Mom

 

Disclosure: Irish American Mom does not have a business relationship with Funny Monkey.  I receive a sample product as part of the review process. No cash payment was received for publishing this giveaway post. I love to help spread the word about small home businesses, artists and crafts people. Thank you to all who support these wonderful Irish and Irish American business enterprises.

Images published with permission of Funny Monkey.

Creamy Chicken And Mushroom Stuffed Boxty

Irish boxty is a potato pancake made with grated raw potato, mashed potato, flour, buttermilk and baking soda.  In recent years the popularity of boxty has soared with the introduction of thinner boxty pancakes wrapped around savory fillings.

Irish Boxty stuffed with creamy chicken and mushroom filling

My version of this delectable Irish delight comes with a filling of chicken, mushrooms, bacon and white Irish cheddar in a rich cream sauce, wrapped in a tender potato pancake.

A few months ago I received an e-mail from a reader who first tasted stuffed boxty on a visit to Dublin. She raved about the pairing of a creamy chicken filling and a hearty potato pancake created taste perfection on the palate.

Ever since returning to the United States she has failed in her attempts to recreate the delectable meal that introduced her to boxty.  I’ve never tasted restaurant style boxty in Dublin, but I hope my version of chicken and mushroom stuffed boxty will rekindle tasty memories of Ireland for this reader.

Chicken stuffed boxty with mushrooms and bacon

A few years ago for my blog, I cooked traditional boxty, a thick, satisfying cake that is really a cross between a pancake and a hash brown.

The batter used is too thick to create a pliable pancake that can be wrapped around a delicious creamy filling.

And so I adapted my boxty recipe slightly to create a thinner boxty batter.  This soft but slightly textured boxty highlights a tasty creamy chicken and mushroom sauce, zinging with decadent flavors of bacon and cheddar cheese.

Gaelic boxty originated in the northwest counties of Ireland around Cavan and Leitrim.

The name boxty derives from the Irish language name of arán bocht tí  (pronounced aw-rawn buck-th tee).  This literally means poor house bread, but trust me, these hearty stuffed boxty are far from a poor house meal.

Ingredients For Chicken And Mushroom Stuffed Boxty:

 

Ingredients for chicken, bacon and mushroom stuffed boxty

Boxty Pancake:

  • 1 Medium potato (peeled and grated)
  • 3/4 cups mashed potatoes
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 and 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2oz butter or oil (to fry pancakes)

Creamy Filling

  • 3 Large chicken breasts (4 medium or 1 and 1/2 pounds cut in 1 inch pieces)
  • 4 strips of bacon
  • 10oz sliced button mushrooms
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 2oz butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup grated white cheddar cheese
  • salt and pepper to season
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley (optional)

 

Making the Boxty Pancakes:


Do you make the filling or the pancakes first? Decisions, decisions, decisions.

I usually make the pancake batter first, but cook them as I am making the filling.  This takes a little bit of multi-tasking. If you don’t feel comfortable overseeing a few pans together, then I suggest cooking the pancakes and keeping them warm in the oven as you work on the chicken filling.

Removing starch from grated potato for boxty pancakes

Grate the peeled potato and place it in a strainer. Rinse it under running water to remove water and starch. 

Squeeze the grated potato with your hands, then press it against the strainer to remove any excess starch.

Mixing mashed potato and grated potato for boxty pancakes

Add the drained, grated potato to the mashed potato and mix them together.

Sifting flour, baking soda, salt and pepper for boxty pancakes

Sieve the flour, baking soda, salt and pepper into the potato mixture.

Pouring buttermilk into boxty pancake batter

Next add the buttermilk.

Buttermilk potato batter for boxty Irish pancakes

Blend all of the ingredients together to form a smooth, finely grained batter.

Cooking a boxty pancake in a cast iron pan

Melt a small pat of butter on an 8-inch cast iron skillet, or frying pan over medium heat.  Add a 1/2 cup of batter and tilt the pan to spread it around completely.

Boxty on the griddle, boxty on the pan

Cook the pancake over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes over medium heat. 

The underneath side will be a beautiful golden brown, but the top side is a great indicator for when your pancake is ready to turn.  The batter will have dried out completely.

Cooking these pancakes on high heat will not work. They burn on the outside before the raw potato inside can cook.

Cooked side of a boxty pancake

Cook the boxty for an additional 5 minutes on the second side.

Keep the pancakes hot in a warming oven as they cook.  I like to place a small piece of aluminium foil between the pancakes in a stack to prevent them sticking together.

This recipe should yield six boxty pancakes.

 

Making the Creamy Chicken and Mushroom Filling:

 

Melt a small piece of butter in a skillet. 

Sauteed chicken in a pan

Add the diced chicken and cook for about 5 minutes until the chicken is turning white all over.

Frying chicken and bacon for stuffed boxty

Add the bacon pieces and cook for an additional 3 minutes over medium high heat.

Adding mushrooms to filling for boxty

Toss in the minced garlic and mushrooms and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Remove the mixture from the pan and set aside.

Making a roux for a creamy cheese boxty filling

Melt the remainder of the butter in the pan. Add the flour and mix thoroughly as it cooks for 1 minute.

Adding milk and cream to sauce for chicken boxty filling

Gradually add the milk and whisk the sauce to prevent the formation of lumps.

The slight speckles you see in the photo of the sauce above are little bits of residue bacon.

Grated white cheddar in stuffed boxty

Add the cream and the grated cheese, stirring constantly until the cheese melts.

If like me, you enjoy the extra sharp tang of Irish cheddar your filling will be beautifully cheesy.  But if you find extra sharp cheddar cheese too over powering for your palate, then simply use an American white cheddar.

Chicken, bacon and mushroom cream filling for boxty

Return the chicken, bacon and mushroom mixture to the cream sauces.  Mix them well to fully coat every chicken and mushroom in sauce.

Simmer for a further 5 minutes to let the flavors meld completely.

If you wish you can add some finely chopped fresh parsley to the sauce to add a little color.

Boxty pancake with savory chicken filling

Now you simply need to divide the filling between the six boxty pancakes, and serve them as a delicious wrap. 

I like to add a little grated cheddar cheese on top of each serving, and garnish it with a sprig of fresh parsley.

Gaelic boxty stuffed with creamy chicken, bacon, mushroom and cheese sauce.

Then all that’s left is to dig in and enjoy.

Served with a side of vegetables or a green salad, these boxty pancakes are a perfect meal for any Irish themed celebration or a St. Patrick’s Day feast.

Here’s the printable recipe:

Creamy Chicken And Mushroom Stuffed Boxty

Serves 6
Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 40 minutes
Total time 1 hour
Meal type Main Dish
Region Irish

Ingredients

Creamy Filling

  • 3 Large chicken breasts (4 medium or 1 and 1/2 pounds cut in 1 inch pieces)
  • 4 strips of bacon
  • 10oz sliced button mushrooms
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 2oz butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup grated white cheddar cheese
  • salt and pepper to season

Creamy Filling (Optional)

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Boxty Pancake

  • 1 Medium potato (peeled and grated)
  • 3/4 cups mashed potatoes
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 and 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2oz butter or oil (to fry pancakes)

Directions

Boxty Pancake
Step 1 Peel and grate the raw potato, then place it in a sieve. Rinse and drain the raw grated potatoes with cold water to remove excess starch. Squeeze to remove excess liquid.
Step 2 Place the raw and mashed potatoes into a large batter bowl. Sift the flour, baking soda, salt and pepper into the potato and combine well together.
Step 3 Gradually add the buttermilk, mixing continuously to form a loose pancake batter.
Step 4 Add a little oil or butter to a hot 8-inch round griddle or skillet. Add about 1/2 cup of batter. Tilt the pan around in circles to make sure the batter covers the pan completely. Do not make the pancakes too thick.
Step 5 Reduce the heat to medium. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes until the bottom is golden brown and the top is dry. Flip the boxty and cook through for another 5 minutes.
Step 6 Place the finished pancake on a plate. Cover with aluminum foil and keep warm in the oven. To prevent boxty pancakes from sticking together, place a small rectangle of foil between each one.
Chicken Filling
Step 7 Melt a tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the diced chicken and saute for 5 minutes. Add the chopped bacon pieces. Saute for 3 minutes.
Step 8 Add the minced garlic and mushrooms to the pan and saute for 5 more minutes. Stir to prevent sticking.
Step 9 Remove the chicken and mushroom mixture from the pan and keep warm while preparing the sauce.
Step 10 Melt the remaining butter in the pan. Add the flour and mix to form a roux. Stir constantly for 1 minute to cook the roux. Gradually add the milk whisking continually to create a smooth sauce. Reduce the heat to low once the sauce starts to bubble.
Step 11 Add the cream and whisk to fully combine. Add the cheese and stir constantly until melted through the sauce.
Step 12 Return the chicken, bacon and mushrooms to the sauce and simmer gently for 3 minutes.
Step 13 For added color add chopped fresh parsley just prior to filling the pancakes.
Assembling the Boxty
Step 14 To assemble the boxty, place an individual pancake on a plate. Place a few spoons of the creamy chicken filling on one half of the pancake. Fold the other side of the pancake over the filling. Garnish with grated white cheddar cheese and fresh parsley. Serve warm.

 

Slán agus beannacht,

Goodbye and blessings,

Irish American Mom