17 Days of Green – A Visit to the Emerald Isle

For our 5th anniversary in 2006, Andy & I toured Ireland, where we both have family roots.

Atop the green Cliffs of Moher, County Clare, Ireland.

We flew into Shannon Airport & started our tour on the rugged west coast of Ireland.


Andy is fearless as he peeks over the precipitous edge of the Cliffs.

If you’re a fan of traditional Irish music, a visit to the little village of Doolin is a must.

From Doolin, we headed north to explore “The Burren,” a fascinating geological region, rich in ancient archeological & historical sights.

No matter where you go in Ireland, you’re bound to see sheep. Lots and lots of sheep:

Sheep are a common sight in the Irish countryside, as they outnumber people by nearly 2 million.

Next, we visited Sligo Town, on our way to Donegal, ancestral home of the Mulligans.

County Donegal is the least touristed part of Ireland, with fantastic natural scenery.

Fishing boats on the blue Atlantic between the green pastures of Kilcar, County Donegal, Ireland.

Luckily, we had gorgeous weather for our hike up the Slieve League cliffs, which are a breathtaking 1,972′ high. The little footpath would be treacherous in heavy wind or rain.

Next, we circled north and east to arrive at the Giant’s Causeway, a World Heritage Site.

Andy amid the 40,000 basalt columns of the Giant's Causeway, County Antrim, Northern Ireland.

The repeating hexagonal columns boggle the mind. It’s one of the coolest places, ever.

The columns of the Causeway formed from the even cooling of an ancient volcanic eruption.

I took so many photos here… these are just a few!

We hiked all around and lingered near the water until sunset, when the park closed.

No trip to Ireland would be complete without a visit to the capitol city, Dublin.

Fancy wrought-iron lamps line the streets of Dublin, Ireland.

There’s lots to see in Dublin – live music, the Book of Kells, the shops on Grafton Street:

So many choices!

And we sampled our share of chocolate-y rich Guinness, too.

Guinness stout is ubiquitous in Dublin, although Beamish and Murphy's rule the south of Ireland.

It was just a 2-week trip, but so grand! A wonderful visit to the Cahill Mulligan homeland.

Whew! That’s it! Seventeen straight days of posting… something entirely new for me.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I hope you’ve enjoyed my 17 Days of Green, and had a very happy St. Paddy’s Day!

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If you missed them, you can read my previous 16 green posts here:

Day 1: From My House To Yours
Day 2: My Big Green Day Job
Day 3: Local Food is Green Food
Day 4: Up, Up Green Hornets
Day 5: My 2nd Embroidered Felt Hat
Day 6: The Green & Grey of the NPS
Day 7: Andy’s 1st Handknit Hat
Day 8: Moss & Lichen
Day 9: Frozen Fenway
Day 10: Long Wind Tomato Farm
Day 11: Northern Lights
Day 12: Embroidered Hat Design Collage
Day 13: My Hat Studio
Day 14: Grow Your Own
Day 15: Pesto Fest
Day 16: Quinn & Cinder

With special thanks to FireMom who started this crazy green meme in the first place!

17 Days of Green – Quinn & Cinder

I’ve been blessed to know a lot of cool dogs in my life. When I married Andy, I lucked into having Quinn-dog in my life as well.

Quinn, deep in the lush green foliage of Valdez, Alaska, 2002.

Quinn was purebred Siberian Husky, but seemed more cat than dog, sometimes.

Quinn relaxes next to my green fitness ball - Gabriola Island, Canada, 2003.

Quinn moved with us from Denali, to Canada, where we spent the summer of 2003.

And he made the cross-country move to our new home here in New Hampshire.

The Mighty Quinn & our old-growth rhubarb patch, Canaan, New Hampshire, 2004.

Quinn lived to be nearly 13 years old, which is a good, long life for a large, purebred dog.

Quinn-dog enjoying the sun on our front porch in Canaan, New Hampshire, 2005.

We missed Quinn so much after he passed, we couldn’t think about getting another dog.

Five years passed and we were still dog-less. Until, at last, our friend, Carmen, needed a home for one of the Denali Park huskies in her care.

Cinder, Andy & Me (in my green jacket) sledding in New Boston, New Hampshire, January 2011.

Cinder is 100% Alaskan husky, which isn’t an officially recognized breed.

Rather, it’s a term for a northern working dog, adapted to pulling sleds through deep snow. Hence the long legs:

Cinder & his green tennis ball, Canaan, New Hampshire, 2010.

Cinder is amazing! He’s the only sled dog I know who plays fetch. He also plays soccer. And he’s coming along as a hockey player, too.

Cinder under the apple trees, Canaan, New Hampshire, 2010.

Cinder is unusually friendly and willing to please his humans. If he didn’t suffer from seizures, he would have made an amazing lead dog. I just know it.

We are so grateful to have Cinder in our lives. He brings us boundless joy (despite his penchant for chasing skunks)!

What about you? Do you have a special dog (or two) in your life?

17 Days of Green – Pesto Fest

If there is one reason we grow our own garden, it’s to make a year’s worth of pesto every summer. Pesto can be very pricey to purchase, but is not difficult to make.

Every August, I make & freeze a year's worth of pesto.

I grow basil from seed, but you could also visit your local farmer’s market in season & get plenty of fresh basil for a fraction of what you’d pay for it in winter months.

Tiny basil seedlings grow slowly in June in New Hampshire.

Because garden space is at a premium in our raised beds, I plant intensively, in grids.

Sometimes my basil seeds don't germinate well, but I always seem to have enough come August.

When the plants get big enough to crowd each other, I thin them, adding the leaves to fresh tomato & mozzarella sandwiches.

By August, my basil plants are growing strong.

“Genovese” is the most common basil. It’s great for pesto, but there are over 60 basil varieties, so why not try something different?

I usually grow Genovese basil, but have also tried a "Red Opal" variety with great results.

By mid-August, my basil plants are ready for harvest.

By the end of August, nighttime temperatures here in New Hampshire drop low enough that I start to get nervous. It doesn’t take much of a frost to kill off your lovely basil crop.

Harvested basil makes a heavenly bouquet!

We usually harvest the plants on a Friday night, after work. That’s the easy part. Next comes the slow task of separating basil leaves from stems. It’s nice to make a party of it!

Picking leaves from stems is slow work, but smells fabulous!

I love Ellen Ecker Ogden‘s pesto recipe because it calls for 1 cup Italian parsley for every 2 cups basil.

Flat leaf parsley is more flavorful than the curly type, but you'll still need to pick leaves from stems.

That helps stretch your basil harvest, and adds a nice fresh flavor. You could substitute other herbs, like oregano or chives, as well.

Toasted pine nuts are a traditional pesto ingredient, but you could substitute walnuts or even almonds and save yourself some money.

Toasting nuts in a skillet brings out their nutty, golden flavor. Keep stirring so they don't burn.

You’ll also need a bottle of lemon juice, some freshly grated parmesan cheese, several heads of fresh garlic and a good supply of quality olive oil.

Pesto ingredients assembled and ready.

Once you’ve got all your ingredients assembled, it’s time to get out the food processor!

Making pesto is messy but not complicated.

Ellen Ecker Ogden’s Basil Pesto

In a food processor, pulse to combine:

4 cloves garlic
2 cups basil
1 cup flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup toasted nuts
1/4 cup lemon juice

With the blade running, slowly drizzle in:

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Add & pulse to combine:

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Season with salt & pepper to taste.

That’s it! Simple, right?

Pesto can be frozen in a silicone muffin tray for smaller servings, ready to be used all year long.

I make anywhere from 10-20 batches, mix it all together in a big bowl, then freeze it in muffin-sized portions (we call them “pesto pucks”) to use throughout the year.

One puck is enough for a pizza, 2 is nice for broccoli pasta, and 3 is perfect for a lasagna.

Garden-fresh pesto in the middle of winter is a real treat, and doesn’t have to break the bank. But you have to plan ahead… and spring is right around the corner!

What about you? Do you have a favorite garden treat or a pesto recipe of your own?