Tag Archives: summer

Fiddler’s Green 2010: Part 2

So now you know what the Festival is all about, I am sure you are wondering WHO was playing this year???

Oh man, it was a good year! From the first night to the last, I was in musical heaven. Not only are there great gigs but the pubs are packed from noon to midnight with musicians from everywhere having a session, playing together for enjoyment, telling a yarn and generally making merry between pints. I was honoured to witness my friend Kat sing a folk song she had written herself, her first song, in public, ever…so proud.

I got to have a first myself, and had my first ever bodhran lesson with Anne Sands. Enjoyed myself so much even when I’d lose the rhythm. I have it on good authority that I’m just not loose enough. Note to self – loosen up! :)

Amazing bands I saw this year include…

Venue i …Belfast-based Irish trad. band that just blew my socks off! I had heard of them one way or another, heard they were excellent, but after seeing them live I was in shock. Talk about energy, you can practically feel the force of their playing pinning you to your seat! Definitely check out their myspace page for upcoming shows and make a point of seeing them. Nothing like young people taking their cultural roots by the scruff of the neck and then shaking vigorously!

I was so proud later in the week to find I would be sharing billing with them at the Friday night ‘Melting Pot’ gig. To a packed out Glenside pub, they played even harder and all I can remember after my performance, was bouncing up and down to the beat of their music. It was a brilliant night!

Every year I look forward to my friend and fellow singer-songwriter Nathan Ball and his beautiful cellist Adrianne Wininsky landing up into town. They’ve become a bit of an institution now with me and my friends, always looking forward to their outdoor gigs in the Square, as well as the chance to hear them more intimately down the pub or by a campfire at dawn. Nathan’s lyrics are heartfelt and thought provoking, about love and living and being conscious in all we do. Yup, you need to hear him. Click right here for his lovely website and see the other festivals he’s playing at this summer. And the best part of them coming this year?! Adrianne’s newly arrived son, Henry, who we’ve made an honourary Rostrevor-ian (Rostrevor-ite? Rostrevor-ish?!)

Nathan & Adrianne on the outdoor stage

Lastly the big musical revelation to me this Festival arrived on the Monday evening, right at the start of the festival, and pretty much set the energy level for the rest of the week. L’Angelus are a Cajun Fiddle Swing band from Louisiana, made of brothers and sisters and generally creating good mood wherever they go. I swear that I am not exaggerating when I say they literally dance and jig through their entire set, instruments in hand, feet never stopping! I’ve swiped a video from their facebook page for you to see what I mean…

I’m so happy to now be able to call these amazing musicians friends. We had a great evening together sharing brownies, singing and chatting round the fire at the beach party. Oh and people are still breaking out into renditions of one of their most catchy tunes ‘Rice and Gravy’…worth a little search on YouTube!

To get a sense of all the different sounds and styles in this years Festival, head over to the BBC Ulster website and listen to Colum Sands’ ‘Folk Club’. Every year he records one show LIVE at the Festival, inviting as many performers as possible to come, have a wee chat and play to tune to a live audience. His Fiddler’s Green episode is currently playing on the iPlayer, just click this sentence to hear the GOODNESS! Included in it are Venue i, L’Angelus, Tom Paxton, Archie Fisher, David Muldrew, Ben Sands and Brendan Monaghan to name a few. There’s only TWO days left to hear it on the iPlayer so get listening now!

Fiddler’s Green 2010

Phew! July is speeding to a climactic finish and I am still trying to digest all that has happened since last we spoke. It is always a dangerous thing to take ‘a few days for myself’ away from the blog. I felt I deserved it after the wonderful chaos and community of ‘A Midsummer Day’s Dream’ but a few days became a week and suddenly the Festival was upon me. Chances of blogging during Festival – slim to none. Things to blog about during Festival – incalculable!

So let’s get started…

Fiddler’s Green Festival takes place every year in my boooootiful home town of Rostrevor. Since the beginning of my memories living here (we moved from Belfast when Lil Sis No.1 was born, so I was 4) the Festival has been the mark of mid-summer holidays. Always at the end of July, we knew that the Festival meant evening Ceili’s (Irish set dancing parties, usually to a live band) in the village square, ice cream, possibly a ramble up the ‘hills’ and wall to wall quality Irish folk and traditional music for 7 days running. Yup, the summer was good for an inquisitive little music lover like myself who had no problem pairing up with friendly old ladies for the ‘Walls of Limerick’! (Thanks to my Nana Moriarty for teaching me the steps in her living room)

Thanks to the Fiddler’s Green we’ve had such amazing acts pass through our wee dot on the map as Eddie Reader, Mary Black, Paddy Moloney (of The Cheiftains), Andy Irvine, The Dubliners, and Pete Seeger (WOW!) to name but a few. Even Seamus Heaney paid a visit in 2000! Seeing incredibly talented and dedicated musicians play live was a revelation to me. I had always really enjoyed trad. (traditional) music and folk but, sure, it wasn’t very cool. Kind of like admitting you like Country or something, so I kept it a bit quiet even though I learned the tinwhistle and played in the trad. group at school. But in Rostrevor, it was cool!  It was more than cool…these people were magical. Their fingers blurred as they segued into the next tune and my mind expanded at a rate of knots.

Many a gig seen here has changed my musical outlook, encouraged me to practice harder and inspired me to song-write/sing/play with passion. In fact, I do believe my first ever gig with a band was at the Fiddler’s Green, under the name ‘Alchemy’ and a few mates from school.

As Tommy Sands so rightly said this year at ‘The Music of Healing’ concert,

“In Ireland, family always comes home for Christmas. In Rostrevor, family always comes home for the Festival!”

So as you can probably gather from all my waxing lyrical about it, I love the Festival and I had a brilliant time this year! I gigged for the first time in TWO years. I heard great music, saw old friends and made loads of new ones. I then promptly got sick on the last weekend. I battled through with the help of vitamin C, baths, tea and essential oils but I was shattered by the time it all wound to a close on Sunday night. I have been hibernating since then but am now ready to Face the World (cyberly) and spill the beans over the next few days on this years Festival! Stay tuned…(heehee, literally…)

You an learn more about the Festival, its history, the Hall of Fame Award, who has graced it stages before and how you could come next year if you want (oh, yes please, do come!!) at its official website -> HERE <- and you can get in on the Fiddler’s Facebook action right -> HERE <-

Day 10 – How to make Cold Brewed Coffee Concentrate!

Today I am so happy to share an interview with you from the blogger/crafter/force-to-be-reckoned-with Lee Meredith a.k.a Leethal! Click here for the interview! I’m particularly excited because it was Lee’s blog and go-getter attitude that inspired me to start this blog and hold my first blogfest – 12 Days of Craftmas. Not only has Lee given us a really generous look into her creative life and inspiration but she has also contributed an amazing tutorial on cold brew coffee, perfect for making a refreshing summer treat. I’m making mine a latte! My poor battered conscious and weary purse will be so happy that I won’t be relying on St*rb&cks for my fix anymore :)

How to make Cold Brewed Coffee Concentrate!

by Leethal!

Cold brewed coffee is by far the best way to stay caffeinated in the summertime – I first read about it a few years ago when a blog linked to this New York Times article and I’ve been making it every summer since.  My way is super simple, and there are methods out there that might be a wee bit better, but I’ve been doing it this easy way for years and my coffee tastes oh so delicious!  None of the bitterness that you taste in regular drip-brewed coffee that’s been cooled; be sure to taste it before adding any sugar, because you probably won’t need any!

You’ll need:

  • ground coffee beans
  • a container in which to brew – either something with measurements on it, or an additional measuring cup, and either with a lid or with plastic wrap to cover it
  • a spoon to stir
  • a second container to store the final concentrate – a small pitcher is good
  • a reusable coffee filter or some kind of strainer fine enough for coffee grounds, or a strainer with cheesecloth to strain the grounds

The concentrate gets combined with water (or milk) for drinkable iced coffee, so however much you make will be about half the amount of total coffee you’ll have to drink.  I usually make enough for a few days, just for myself, but if I were making it to share with guests I would use a larger container than I did here and make more concentrate.

Step 1:  Measure grounds into brewing container (as much as you want this measurement will be about one fifth the total brewing mixture that will go into this container).

Step 2:  Add water – about four times as much as the amount of coffee grounds.  So if you’re adding it into the same measuring cup, your total measurement now should be approximately five times as much as the coffee grounds measurement.  Stir mixture well, then cover and place in refrigerator.

Step 3:  Let sit in refrigerator for at least 3-4 hours, or up to overnight – I usually leave it overnight.  I’ve never experienced it being too brewed, and I’ve left it over 24 hours, though it’s probably better to keep it under 12 hours.

Step 4:  Pour brew mixture through strainer or filter into the concentrate container.  You may need to move the filter around to strain all the concentrate through, depending on your filter/strainer.

That’s it, all the steps, now you have your coffee concentrate!  Keep it in the fridge as is, or you could mix the whole batch into drinkable iced coffee and store it that way.  To make iced coffee, mix equal parts concentrate and water, plus as much ice as you like (try out varying mixture ratios, as maybe you’ll like it stronger or weaker).  To make a cold brewed milky iced coffee, similar to an iced latte, combine equal parts concentrate and milk (or soy milk, my favorite!).  Try adding some chocolate syrup for a drink similar to an iced mocha, or a flavor syrup (like vanilla or hazelnut, etc) for a sweet cold coffee drink!

—–>Click here for the interview with Lee Meredith<——

Day 6 – ‘Sweetie’ Lace Beanie

I see a pattern emerging in the knitting and crochet projects that are part of this AMDD. They seem to have picked up on fashion’s current love for the light and airy. Lace is hugely fashionable right now, and perfect for the summer and today’s knitting pattern ticks all the right boxes.

‘Sweetie’ by Melissa J. Leavitt is a light, summery hat, perfect for chilly evenings after the sun has disappeared…or maybe all the time in Ireland when the sun hardly appears! I am particularly excited to try this hat in the nude and pastel shades which are so fashionable at the moment, and try it both slouchy and more fitted.

Also on show today are the two ‘Pilgrimage’ cuffs I have completed so far. I am so happy with how they turned out, especially the ‘beachy’ looking one with the shell beads. Looking at it reminds me of the amazing feeling as the sand squidges between your toes! I’ll be started a Flickr group for people to upload photos of projects from and inspired by AMDD and I can’t wait to see what people have made…

I love the contrast between the rustic, textured Noro Taiyo yarn that I used (a scrap of it I just couldn’t bear to throw away) and the clean, crisp satin ribbon threaded through it. I threaded the ribbon through the eyelets made on the cast-on and -off edge to frame the cuff and then laced the ends together at the back to make the lace-up closure.

The flecks of yellow in the yarn remind me of the specks of sand floating in the water as the tide rolls off the beach. The shell beads are from an old necklace I have cherished and when it snapped I dutifully kept the beads to use on something special.

I still don’t have a ‘centrepiece’ item for the fronts of the cuff but I think the ‘beachy’ one might not need it. Simplicity seems to suit it. The lace-up cuff might want for a bit of bling however to really dress it up. I’m keeping my eyes peeled…

Sweetie
by Melissa J. Leavitt

This lace summer hat has been provided for us as a beautifully laid-out PDF document and can be downloaded by clicking here —>‘Sweetie’Pattern PDF <— Below are the materials required and the gauge.

Check out Melissa’s website www.melissajleavittdesigns.com for other great original patterns, tutorials and her blog.

Materials:

  • 1 skein (3.52 oz Or 100g each) Araucania “Ruca Solid.” This is a DK / 8 ply (11 wpi) yarn which is 100% sugar cane. Color: 106
  • 4mm (6US) set of 5 double pointed needles or circular set in same size with appropriate cord length.
  • Tapestry needle
  • Optional: stitch markers
  • Optional: 4mm (6US) straight needles for casting on.

Gauge:

22 stitches and 30 rows = 4” in stocking stitch pattern on 4mm (6US) needles or whatever size needles to obtain correct tension.

Melissa J. Leavitt B.A., B.F.A., is a knitwear designer living in the beautiful East Coast province of New Brunswick, Canada. Melissa started knitting as a small child and the thrill of creating with sticks and string still has the power to make her forget laundry and such chores. When not in her studio, you can find her petting skeins at her local yarn shop.

Day 5 – Mango Muffins with Lime Icing

I’ve got that Friday feeling! Not in the mood to craft but totally in the mood to bake something tasty and devour in front of a DVD tonight.

This recipe is based on a delicious Pumpkin muffin recipe my friend Kelly gave me. Unfortunately I couldn’t find tinned pumpkin anywhere in Ireland (I order it on the internet now) but did come across tinned mango. Intrigued, I bought it and with the help of my baking-guru friend Michelle, whipped up this tasty little number.

The lime icing adds zest to the fruity muffin and makes a pleasant change from lemon icing. I like them as a summery alternative to banana and walnut or chocolate muffins. If anyone has any adjustments, tips or comments after making these please feel free to comment, especially if you made them using fresh mango. I would love to hear how they turned out for you!

And as something to amuse you while you munch on your fresh muffins, click here for my interview with best-selling author Helena Close on the hows, whys and wherefores of writing, what her inspiration is and who she likes best…Clooney or Depp! (We ask all the most important questions here at AMDD!)

Mango Muffins with Lime Icing

To make 12  muffins you will need…

Ingredients:

  • 225g flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 100g white sugar
  • 100g brown sugar
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Mulled Wine Spice…or whatever mix of spices you like to taste, these are just what I had in the cupboard!
  • 125ml oil (I used sunflower oil)
  • 2 eggs
  • 200ml (250g approx.) sweet alphonso mango pulp, or if you can’t find this, puree fresh mango with a little water and a dash of lemon juice (For those living in the UK, I found the mango pulp in Tescos).
  • 1 tblsp cream cheese
  • 100g icing sugar (powdered sugar)
  • 1 tsp lime juice (fresh or bottled)

Method:

Preheat oven at 180C (350F) and line or grease a muffin tray.

Mix all the dry ingredients together (flour, sugar, baking powder and spices). Then add the oil, eggs and finally, the mango.

If the mixture is a little too stiff, add extra water until you have a batter that is dropping consistancy. Place in the muffin tin and bake for roughly 25 mins (skewer check them near the end to make sure the batter in the middle has been cooked).

For the icing, mix the cream cheese and lime juice together to make a paste. Then sift the icing sugar into the paste until you have a nice icing consistency (I’m not exactly sure how much icing sugar I used. I just kept going until I had a nice white, spreadable icing) .Wait until your muffins have cooled before icing them.

 

Enjoy! x x

——>Click here for the interview with novelist Helena Close<——-