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Lifestyle

Sunday Snap and Time For a Change

September 14, 2014

website upgrade

It’s time for a change. Apologies if you come across broken links or can’t find posts you’re looking for right now. The Greenside Up blog and website are currently undergoing a major update. Normal service will hopefully resume soon.

In the meantime, feel free to browse through any of the 400+ posts or contact me if you have a vegetable or community garden related question and can’t find what you’re looking for.

Lifestyle

Sunday Snap ~ Winner at Blog Awards Ireland 2013

October 13, 2013

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I was completely lost for words and unprepared when my blog received The Best Overall Blog Award at the 2013 Blog Awards Ireland ceremony held at The Osprey in Naas last night having already picked up Best Eco/Green, Best Lifestyle and Best Great Outdoors.

If I hadn’t have been I’d have asked everyone to give a round of applause to Amanda Web, Beatrice Hunt and Lorna Sixsmith for organising such a great night and for encouraging bloggers across Ireland to keep blogging. Those of us who attended last nights event had a very enjoyable time. The cabaret themed room was full of style and splendour, the entertainment greeted with appreciative smiles and laughter, and warmth surrounded us from the company of fellow finalists and friends.

So I just want to say now, a very heartfelt thank you for the support and encouragement you’ve offered me since I began writing here four years ago and I hope I can continue to share content that you’ll enjoy and perhaps sometimes, make you think and comment upon.

If you’d like to keep up to date with posts, perhaps you’d like to subscribe to the blog by entering your email into the subscribe box or adding the blog URL to your feeder.

Thank you from a still very surprised but most definitely smiley,

Dee xx

Lifestyle

Shortlisted for the 2013 Blog Awards Ireland!

September 18, 2013

Blog Awards Ireland 2013I was a busy bee last weekend – not only was it marked by a significant birthday but among all the early morning celebrations I was delighted to read that my blog has been shortlisted for four categories in the 2013 Blog Awards Ireland!

The competition is extremely tough in all the categories this year as standards improve year on year. I’m delighted to see that many of my favourite bloggers are shortlisted too and sad to see that some weren’t – it’s looking like it will be an exciting final whether I join them or not. Here’s my categories: Best Eco/Green Category sponsored by ESB ECars, Best Outdoor Category sponsored by Agriland, Best Lifestyle Blog sponsored by StenaLine Car-Cation and Best Mobile Compatible sponsored by GSM Solutions.

You might also have spotted that my “Could the American Dream Be Wrong” post has been nominated in the Best Blog post category, but it needs your weekly votes to keep it there! Please help to get it into the top ten by clicking the red highlighted link above and voting for it. Only once it’s among the top ten will it be judged by independent judges.

This year Agriland are sponsoring the Best Outdoors Category and I was pleased to have the opportunity to talk talk to them about my blog and Greenside Up in general. You can read the interview here. Their website is full of information so do take a look if you’re interested in agriculture in general.

In the meantime thank you all so much for reading and commenting on my blog posts and keeping me going, your support means a tremendous amount 🙂

Blog Awards Ireland 2013 Shortlist

Lifestyle

Top 10 Blog Posts During 2012

December 29, 2012

As we approach the end of the year many of us start thinking about goals for the future. A few of the obvious keep popping into my mind but I’m quite enjoying the Christmas cocoon and not quite ready to pin down any in particular for 2013 just yet. The time will come soon enough, perhaps when our children return to school and there’s some quiet time in our home once more. For now I’m enjoying every moment of the here and now and pondering over lessons learned during the past 12 months.

One aspect of my life that I’ve particularly enjoyed over the past few years has been blogging. Being chosen as a finalist in the 2012 Ireland Blog Awards in two categories was a particular highlight… In an order that’s impossible to choose between, I blog for me, I blog for my business and I blog for you. I enjoy blogging so much I started a new personal blog this year which you can find here.

In case you missed some of the Greenside Up posts, here are the top 10 blogs that you looked at in 2012 starting with the most popular:

Black SlugSlugs ~ How to get rid of them organically

A huge problem this year and fingers crossed we don’t see a repeat of the slug invasion during 2013! If we do, you’ll know what to do without automatically reaching for the slug pellets!

Srawberries

Strawberry Cheesecake

A lovely recipe when strawberries are in season but do use the best ingredients as the cheesecake might not set if you opt for cheap and cheerful.

 

Hippy scarecrowHow to Make Mini Scarecrows

There was so much rain this year, perhaps you were all looking for indoor projects but this one is fun for young and old alike.

nettlesHow to Make Comfrey and Nettle Fertiliser

If you’re gardening organically making your own fertiliser is great for your vegetable garden and free!

 

homemade greenhousePolytunnels and Greenhouses – Is cheaper better?

From my own experience I can wholeheartedly say that vegetables grown under cover fare much better in the Irish climate than those grown outdoors. I’ve been asked many times over the past year for advice and with budgets smaller, many of you have been building your own polytunnels and greenhouses. This post came as a result of questions asked on twitter and facebook looking for your feedback.

Dandelion ClockHow to Make Dandelion Honey

Zwartbles posted the recipe for dandelion honey on twitter and Foxglove Lane provided this beautiful image for the recipe that was replicated on my blog. Did you try it? Once it was made correctly, I was surprised how tasty it was!

Recycled FlowersGardening with Kids – How to Make Recycled Flowers

I was delighted to see that many of you are looking for ways of reusing your rubbish and these flowers certainly brightened up our own dull garden at times.

Companion Flowers

 

Teenagers – Doing it For Themselves

2012 was the first year I worked with teenagers and children having spent my previous two years in business teaching adults. What a revelation! Teaching the Bridge Boys from Goresbridge about flowers and vegetables and seeing the end results was tremendously rewarding. Take a look at the post for pictures of a fantastic bench the boys built. Their achievements were mentioned in the Sunday Business Post as a result of this post.

Could the American Dream Be Wrong?

My personal favourite as this blog post was written whilst the children and I were spending some precious weeks with Mr G who was working in the U.S. for most of the year. This piece provoked some insightful and thoughtful comments.

Broad BeansHarvesting Broad Beans

An excellent crop for beginners, broad beans can be eaten in many ways. This post describes several of them.

 

Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to comment, it’s very much appreciated. I hope these and other posts have helped you in some way. I’ll be out of hibernation in the next week or two filling the pages with many more for a busy gardening year in 2013.

 

Travel

Celebrating the harvest in Waterford

September 15, 2012

A Waterford dawn during Harvest Festival Week

For centuries people around the world have been celebrating the annual  harvest having spent months toiling the land growing their crops. Though the meaning of it has skewed slightly over recent years for many of us with the arrival of convenience foods, the festival itself is thankfully alive and well, and no more so than in Waterford city where they are celebrating FOOD!

Between the 10th to 16th September the Waterford Harvest Festival has been offering anyone with a love of food and drink the opportunity to sample local produce and I was very lucky this week to have been given the opportunity to spend a couple of days getting a taster of what they have to offer.

There’s so much in the packed programme I’ll be covering (a fraction of it) in a couple of blog posts as the organisers of this annual event have put together an impressive range of activities. From Viking banquets to exhibitions, delicious dinners and a bronze age Fulacht Fia, the week culminates in a food village on the Sunday that spans the length of the quay. Not forgetting either that the GIY Gathering is also taking place and I’ll be back there for the community garden network workshop and talk which I’ll fill you in on too.  For now I’ll share a taster of what you might experience if you take a slow food tour. Each daily tour has been different and often combined with a food producing garden visit too.

First up, what’s a Slow Food Tour?

Throughout the week Dennis has been safely driving groups of 8 to 15 people around in a minibus to different food and drink producers and gardens around the city with the very knowledgeable Donal acting as guide. Over forty business were earmarked for these tours and many have now welcomed visitors into their premises for mini tours, demonstrations and tasters, with business owners sharing their stories and most importantly their passion for what they do.

The Coffee Warehouse

The Coffee Warehouse

The only coffee roasting house in the South East, Mark Bergin’s family business imports only green beans and roasts them on site. I’m not a massive coffee drinker and have never thought about how the beans turn from a seed to an aromatic drink but Mark expertly explained this fascinating process. The Coffee Warehouse supplies many local hotels and restaurants and I was particularly impressed to learn that they are able to talk to buyers about mixing blends tailored to suit them. We arrived at the warehouse to aromas I wish I could bottle and left with a kilo bag that we’d seen roasted, cooled and packed! What a great start to the day.

Glorious Sushi

Glorious Sushi

Here’s where I own up to never having eaten sushi – the thought of raw fish has always put me off. Until now that is. Tetyani welcomed us into her unit, explained how she started her business, how she learnt her trade, taught us how to cook the rice, prepare the fish and vegetables then roll and wrap the seaweed. The group then had a go… if anyone remembers Bruce Forsyth’s Generation Game back in the ’80s that was us! Afterwards we were able to taste the sushi we’d made, but more importantly the delicious offerings from Tetyani. If you’ve always been nervous about trying sushi, this is the way to try it. Seeing it prepared, listening to the traditions surrounding it certainly helps to dispel any fears. Oh and if you do eat it and pick up a hint of the very hot wasabi, bare in mind that 1kg of the hot green stuff costs a staggering €300!

The Metalman Brewery

The Metalman Brewing Company

I wont deny this was a tour we were all looking forward to and we weren’t disappointed. Grainne and Tim showed us around their small independent brewery, explained malts, tasted grains and talked about techniques. At present their ales can only be found in kegs at various festivals and pubs which was a big disappointment after we tasted the delicious Alternator (a golden wheat beer) and the stronger tasting Pale Ale! It’s early days for Metalman so first things first but they have plans to start bottling so keep an eye out!

Kite Design Studios

Kite Design Studio

Not a food tour but included in our trips was a visit to The Kite Design Centre which houses several Waterford based artists from glass to silver to print and fashion. It’s open six days a week and you can watch the artists work, chat to them, order pieces or commission work from them. These guys have been fully supported by the council and Enterprise Board and it’s great to see that although they are seperate businesses in themselves, they also collaborate. The silversmith and printer produce pieces that compliment each other and are sold together – a necklace with a fish pendent would be accompanied with a handmade and framed print of a fish for instance. The price ranges start low and head upwards making the artists products available to all. This is a studio well worth popping in to.

M & D Bakery

M & D Bakery

Waterford is home of the famous Blaa and our tour of a bakery that specialises in this particular type of bap or bun began at M & D Bakery where we were able to see Blaas being mixed, rolled, flattened and baked. Unlike our group at 8.30 in the morning, Michael and Dermot were wide awake, welcoming, friendly and enthusiastic. Their day starts much earlier as deliveries to local shops have to be out of the door by 5am each morning. Here the guys explained the whole bread making process then fried up some bacon and buttered some blaas so we could enjoy the total experience. We went away with a pack of buns and bread and a recipe so that we can attempt to make the delicious blaas ourselves!

The Tours

Costing just €14 a head for a three hour tour I can’t recommend this experience enough though sadly they are only currently available during the festival week (which is now almost over) so you’ll have to wait until next year unless someone picks up the gauntlet and starts them up sooner! However, if you wish to take a tour of the invididual businesses you can contact them directly as they will gladly oblige.

If you’re interested in food tours in general Bia Sasta organise several that can be tailored to suite as do Fabulous Food Trails in Dublin.

Many of the small business springing up and operating in Waterford have been actively supported and encouraged by the local Enterprise Board and many other agencies and organisations who are working hard to encourage employment back into the city. In 2006 Waterford was listed as having a population of 49,000 people – just three years later 12,000 men and women were told they would no longer have jobs when the Waterford Crystal factory closed its doors. I can only begin to imagine the impact that news would have had on the families and communities surrounding it. This city needs all the help it can get not only from the agencies but also from those of us who visit it.

Many aspects of my stay in this historic city inspired me with the people we met being top of the list. They’re not giving up or giving in, they’re coming back fighting for their communities and are so very full of passion for what they do – be it hoteliers, artists, food producers, historians or council employees, they are giving it their all.

Where to stay & what to do…

Dooley's Hotel

If the snippets have tempted you to visit Waterford and sample some of the food and drink that’s produced locally, I’d highly recommend Dooleys Hotel located on the Quays as a place to stay. They offer large, clean, comfortable rooms with a hot, well cooked breakfast.

I’d encourage you to take one of the new “Telling Tales” tours of the museum, Reginald’s Tower and the Bishops Palace where real life characters bring history to life and would almost have you believe you’ve entered a time machine and landed in the early 1800s! The tours run hourly and cost €5.00 for adults (€4 concessions) with accompanied children U-14 free – money well spent. Advance booking is not required but take a look at the website for more details.

The Bishops Palace

So would you be tempted by a food tour and can you see the benefit of them?

If more local people took them and not just the tourists I can’t help but think how much more proud they would be of the people they share their communities with and would perhaps be more likely to shop and buy locally and support them. They might also feel inspired to give a business idea that’s been nagging away at the back of their minds a go too…

 

Lifestyle

Grafton Media Blog Awards Ireland 2012

August 13, 2012

Irish Bog Awards 2012 Nomination BadgeWell the Grafton Media Blog Awards Ireland 2012 long list nominations are out and I was delighted to find I’ve been nominated for four categories this year, namely Best Health/Wellbeing Blog, Best Lifestyle, Best Eco/Green and Best Blog of an SME.

It was a great disappointment for many of us when we heard that the 2011 awards would be the last, and then three business women thankfully took it on and have revived the awards this year.

Having seen the long list of over 1,000 entries there’s an enormous amount  of work involved in putting this event together. The organisers already deserve praise for the professional manner in which they’ve approached it, particularly as it’s their first year (of hopefully many) of organising it – they and their volunteer helpers are doing a fabulous job.

The Blog Awards give us bloggers something to strive towards. As an unpaid hobby for many of us there’s no denying it’s nice to get a bit of recognition for our work, even if it’s just seeing our name on that nomination list or making it through to the shortlist so we can add a new badge to our pages. Knowing the awards is in the distant horizon can help to keep us on track when we’re feeling unmotivated or stuck for ideas. More importantly however, the awards give us an opportunity to see who else is blogging in Ireland, help us to make connections and find and read more great posts. I’ve already added several to my Google Reader and am sure will be adding more over the coming weeks.

None of us know who’ll make it through to the shortlist (due to be announced on the 8th September); the panels of judges now have the unenviable task of  looking at our posts, categories and sites and making their decisions. No matter how long, regularly or committed we are to blogging we can never take anything for granted – there are some excellent bloggers in all the categories so we’ll all just have to wait and see!

So best of luck to everyone and fingers crossed!

Lifestyle

Reaching a Milestone…

March 24, 2012

When I first started blogging back in June 2009 I was busy posting away to what I thought were just two followers. I didn’t mind, I was new to it, tentatively learning about this new blogging world and enjoying  being able to write about my own gardening experiences.

Initially the idea was to share with my customers my own gardening experiences to help to give my fledgling business some credibility. As time went by I started to include tips and advice, recipes and anything else that popped into my head.

It was a few months before I found my stats page and delightedly discovered that more than two people were actually reading my posts. Whoopee – what a lovely surprise!

In 2010 I joined the KLCK Bloggers Network Group and my approach to social media took a new turn. The speakers at the group shared their vast experience and knowledge with us all, made us think differently about our content, encouraged us to plan our posts and have goals. Goals? Strategy? Yikes! All I wanted to do was write. Something must have been sinking in though as my page views steadily grew. As I realised that people were actually looking at my blog, my confidence in writing it began to grow too.

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve watched the page views get closer to that magic milestone number of 50,000, helped along considerably by the unashamed pimping for the latest competition (thanks to everyone who’s helped there too). I found myself asking why I blog and where is it heading, what would you like to see, do stats matter, are they important? I was happy to write when I thought there was nobody looking, is it any different now that I’ve had 50,000 + page views? The answer is yes and no. No in that I still write because I enjoy it but the fact that you are reading the blog makes me think a lot more about what I’d like to include in it. The stats help me to see what interests you, where my writing came be of more help.

So for any newbie bloggers who are reading this now, or for anyone else who’s interested, as I pass my magic milestone I’m sharing the top five reasons why I blog…

1. Top of the list is because I enjoy writing. I find it therapeutic and like to lose myself  here (for too long my husband might say…)

2. It’s a source of information for ‘my’ gardeners as well as for anyone else who likes to grow or eat vegetables or cares about the environment. It enhances my aftercare service as customers aren’t just left alone once the workshops or advice has finished.

3. I can share recipe ideas that we’ve tried and tested at home. Lots of people new to growing their own haven’t eaten or cooked many of the vegetables they’re growing.

4. Blogging helps to keep me focussed and continue with my own education. Some of the articles I’ve written I’ve had to seriously research, for instance the GM post. If I wasn’t blogging I’m not sure I’d be keeping quite so up-to-date about current and topical issues.

5. Because my blog’s a mixture of personal and business, it shows there’s a real person behind the business name who has as many successes, failures, angst and elation as the rest of you.

And to share the top five most popular blog posts  since I began writing it….

1    Yummy Courgette Cake
2     World Naked Gardening Day
3      Mealy Cabbage Aphids on my Brussels Sprouts
4      Pesticides & Fungicides Using Kitchen Ingredients
5      Potatoes – all you need to know

So a massive thanks to everyone who’s dropped by – I hope you’ll be visiting again. There’s still lots of posts bubbling around in my head that I hope to spill out over the coming weeks and months. In the meantime, if there’s any topic you’d like me to write about, please leave a comment here or on any of the other social media sites I frequent (and for anyone who knows me, that’s most of them by now) and I’ll try and include them.

Dee x
Lifestyle

Dee gets a Stylish Blog Award

February 13, 2011

Ahh shucks, how lovely. Thanks Susan ….. I’ve just been given a Stylish Blogger from Joyous Flowers.

It’s a bit of craic, and to accept the award and share it with others, this is what you do:

To Accept The Award Requirements: Thank and Link Back to the Blogger Who Awarded You With The Award and Share 7 Things About Yourself. Award 5 Recently Discovered Great Bloggers and contact the bloggers, inform them of the award.

Two of the little horrors!

1.  I’m mum to three primary aged kids who love their activities so I spend a lot of time taking them from place to place, leaving my hardworking hubby at home to……

Knock holes in the wall???

2.  We’ve been renovating our old farmhouse for the past eight years, doing all the work ourselves.  The five of us lived in a one bedroomed mobile home for 18 months (we thought we’d have it all finished within six months). We’re nearly finished …. only another year or so to go (and then we’ll be re-decorating it again! Ha ha!)

3.  Our ‘dream’ was to live by the sea, be mortgage free and totally self sufficient….. hmmm had to re-think all of those, but we do have five chickens, dogs, cats and fish.

The children would love more hamsters/guinea pigs/rabbits but we’ve kindof gone off caging animals.  It’s sad enough watching the fish swimming around and around (and guess who has to clean them out all the time, actually not me but poor old hardworking Mr G!!).

4.  I too am in the Bloggers Book Club along with Susan and Lorna  having joined it in January.  I’ve read nothing but gardening books for the past two years so felt it was time for a change!

I love to read and have no particular preference on whether it’s fantasy, sci-fi, autobiographical or historical. Have to say I’m not that keen on horror books though. I remember reading Bram Stoker’s Draculla years ago and could only pick it up lunch times at work as I was too scared to read it at night! Funny now as I love reading/watching vampires, especially True Blood!

5. I’m Group Leader with Leighlinbridge Scout Group .  I started as a youth leader six years ago when the group had around 50 children.  We now have over 100 six to 12 year olds and 21 adults.

Scouting’s great for kids, getting them away from the tv and video screens as well as giving them an alternative to sports if they’re not into that kind of thing. It’s also a good way of meeting other adults who love an outdoor life and it teaches us all some basic life skills, that brings me to……

6.  In case you hadn’t figured it out from my blog I’m mad about veg! I love growing it and cooking it (although we’re not vegetarian). I also love helping other people grow it as for some odd reason I worry that we’ve all become too dependant on others and have lost the ability to fend for ourselves.

7.  Lastly, I’m quite a simple creature really. I love nature, wildlife and our environment and do all I can to help it.  I worry about how our race is destroying it and how we can protect it.

It’s hard being ‘green’ though when our governments increase our taxes so we can’t afford to do everything we can to preserve our planet. I’d love to live in a solar powered, straw baled, zero rated house and not rely on oil or driving a car everywhere because there’s no other alternative. Having said that I’m grateful we have a home at all.

So here are my fav five blogs at the moment

Ena is plant mad over at horti’curious and Nessa cooks delicious meals in her kitchen. Mr H is an inspiration in his self sufficient paradise and Marie  whom I started following on Twitter, now touches me with her beautifully written work. Lastly, Lorna at Garrendenny Lane encouraged me to start blogging…. little did she know what she’d unleashed!