Monday, November 18, 2013

Horse trek in Ireland (on the Wicklow Mountains Day Tour)

Timmy and I enjoyed our second day tour in Ireland (of the Wicklow Mountains) much better than the first. The Wicklow tour only had about 12 people which made the tour much more personal. The first part of the tour involved an activity; each member of the tour could choose from a guided walk, cycling, or a horse trek. About half our group, including Timmy and I, choose the horse trek.

The horse trek was at Killegar Stables. I had only rode once before in my adult life (in the United States), and it was quite different. When I rode previously, it was a lot easier (and therefore, less intimating) than it was at Killegar for several reasons:
  • Our Killegar horses were taller, and/or the block to get on the horses was shorter.
  • American saddles have horns to hold onto (which made it easier to get on/off, and made me feel more secure when I was on the horse).
  • In the US, we only had the horses walk but at Killegar, we had to have them trot.
  • We had to do posting trots, and I have no coordination.
  • In Ireland we were on steep blacktop roads most of the time, instead of a dirt trail.

I just came across this interesting article on Western riding; it says Western riding developed because of a cowboy's need to control a horse with only one hand; American horses are generally trained to need less rein control than European horses.

All that said, the people at Killegar were wonderfully helpful, patient, and friendly. Unfortunately we did not get any photos during the ride, because my camera strap malfunctioned, and we had to leave it at the stables.

The van ride up the mountain to the stables was a little scary.

Timmy on his horse.

Me awkwardly getting on my horse.

After our horse trek.

Gorgeous view from the stables.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Jalapeno chicken popper pizza recipe

About a week ago, Timmy and I decided to try this recipe for a "Jalapeno popper pizza." We changed several things, so, I am going to share what we did. Also, when we make homemade pizza, we always double the recipe and make two pizzas; it doesn't take much more time to make two pizzas at once, so, we wrap the second pizza (unbaked) in plastic wrap, and put it in the fridge to bake and eat within a couple days.

Here is what the pizza looked like assembled before being put in the oven (please forgive our dirty stove-top, I am a messy cook):

For two pizzas
2-3 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
2 tablespoons homemade taco seasoning from this recipe
8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 boxes Jiffy pizza crust
2-3 tablespoons corn meal or flour
5 ounces cream cheese
2 ounces sour cream
4 cups shredded cheese (we used a mixture of mild cheddar and reduced fat Mozzarella)
4 jalapenos, sliced
1 bunch green onions, sliced

1) Cook the chicken breasts in a pan with 2 tablespoons of homemade taco seasoning (add more or less to taste).

2) Cook and crumble eight strips of bacon. We used microwave bacon; I like that it takes less than a minute to cook, and usually has less gristle.

3) Prepare two boxes of Jiffy pizza crust. We always add spices to the dough mix before we add water; for this pizza, we just added some garlic powder since the chicken was so seasoned. We find the Jiffy dough is usually overly wet when we add the recommended amount of water, so, we add a little bit of corn meal to the dough to make it easier to work with (you could also use flour instead). I am sure the homemade dough listed on the original recipe tastes better (what homemade crust doesn't?), however, I like the ease of Jiffy.

4) Mix cream cheese with sour cream, and spread on prepared pizza crusts.

4) Top pizzas with cooked and shredded chicken, bacon, cheese, sliced jalapenos, and sliced green onions.

5) Cook according to Jiffy pizza crust instructions.

Our sour cream/cream cheese mixture for our two pizzas was about 4 ounces total (in keeping with the original recipe). When we ate the pizza, we could not taste it much, so, we ended up adding more sour cream to the top of the pizza. So, I changed the recipe above to say 7 ounces total of the mixture, and hopefully that will be enough to be able to taste it under the other toppings.

The pizzas were delicious, however, they didn't look as great as Rachel Schultz's version; she used less cheese overall, more white cheese than orange, and of course, is a good photographer. Here's one of ours out of the oven:

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Seven years with Timmy

Today is Timmy's and my seven year anniversary; so, I thought I'd overload you all with photos of us from our seven years. As many photos as I take, it was difficult to narrow it down to just these 35.






Monday, November 4, 2013

Audiences' debut album release show

Our favorite local band, Audiences, is having the release show for their debut album on Friday, November 15th. Pre-sale tickets are only $7 ($5 + $2 fee); you can buy them here.

Listen to the single "Home":

Northern Ireland tour stops (including Belfast)

On our vacation to the Republic of Ireland, we took a day tour to Northern Ireland (part of the United Kingdom); the tour had two major stops, Carrick-a-Rede island and the Giant's Causeway, which I previously posted photos of. The photos in this post are from some of the smaller stops the tour made, including an hour in Belfast's Donegall Square.

Our tour bus waiting to leave Carrick-a-Rede.

Photos taken from the bus.

Ruins of Dunseverick Castle.

Our lunch spot had a couple ponies next to the restaurant.

This one is such a rock star.

Ruins of Dunluce Castle.

This is the Mary McAleese Boyne Valley Bridge. It is the longest cable-stayed bridge in Northern Ireland; this area of the river is environmentally sensitive, so, the bridge was built with no support columns in the water.

The rest of the images are from our stop in Belfast. The stop was only an hour, so, we did not have time to explore further than Donegall Square.

City hall

Northern Ireland's main war memorial.

The temporary Warriors of Xi’an/Terracotta Army art exhibit.

Interior of city hall.

Standing in front of city hall.