Sponser for the Holiday Gift Giveaway Hop

Announcing my sponsor for the Holiday Gift Giveaway Hop....
Tune in starting on December 1st. You will have until December 5th to enter my giveaway! These cupcakes at Sarkara Sweets are AMAZING! This giveaways would make an awesome Christmas gifts or if you win, just call it a gift for yourself! =) Who doesn't love cupcakes?

Holiday Gift Giveaway Hop: December 1st through 5th!!

This is going to be a huge event. There are already 237 blogs signed up to participate and will be each offering a giveaway of cash and/or gift certificates! This starts December 1st and and runs through December 5th. It will be super easy to enter in these giveaways!! Head on over to Simply Stacie if you are a blogger and interested in participating, or just to keep tabs on the participating blogs for this event!! These giveaways would make awesome Christmas gifts or if you win, just call it a gift for yourself! =) I am participating in this Holiday Gift Giveaway Hop, so be sure to tune in on December 1st!!! I will be announcing my sponser for this event in the next two weeks!!!


Revised Ireland Trip Itenerary!

Day 1: Arrive at Dublin Airport

Dublin is a lively cosmopolitan city brimming with culture. You could spend your time strolling the streets soaking up the atmosphere, relaxing in its cafes and bars, or you could check out its myriad historical, literary, and cultural delights. The 8th century illuminated manuscript, the Book of Kells, must be viewed. It is on display at the impressive Trinity College, Ireland’s first university (founded in 1592) in the heart of Dublin. For the rest of your time, it is up to how much you are willing to pack in. Phoenix Park, twice the size of New York City’s Central Park, Georgian Dublin around Stephen’s Green, the National Botanical Gardens, National Museum, Kilmainham Jail, and the Hugh Lane Municipal Art Gallery are all highly recommended stops on your tour. Then there is the Guinness Storehouse and Jamieson Distillery. A visit to Dublin’s Temple Bar to experience the lively Dublin pub culture is a muse, though many of Dublin’s best bars can be found outside this area in the streets and lanes around Grafton Street, the shopper’s street of choice.

The Temple Bar in Dublin

Day 1 through 3 of your vacation will be spent in Dublin. You will be residing at The Fitzwilliam Hotel. The Fitzwilliam Hotel is one of Dublin’s most luxurious and is located in the heart of the city. Experience the best of both worlds when staying at this chic haven, to one side the tranquility and calm of St. Stephen’s Green and to the other, Grafton Street, Dublin’s finest shopping avenue.

En-route from Dublin to Kinsale, we would recommend visiting:

Blarney: Only a few miles from Cork City, Blarney is a charming village, most renowned for its castle and stone. The impressive castle, perched on solid limestone, dates from 1446, and is situated on magnificent grounds. To acquire “the gift of gab” one must kiss the Blarney Stone, which is located under the battlements at the very top of Blarney Castle. This involves bending over backwards at quite a height!


Life has been taking over lately... very sorry I haven't blogged in quite some time. I will have something up and running by the end of October!! Hope everyone has a great Halloween!!

Baby Shower Cake for a VERY Special Little Boy!

I had the opportunity to make one of my life long friends, Stephanie, a cake for her baby shower this weekend. Although I was not able to attend, I heard the shower was a great success. I do not feel that this post would do justice without telling Stephanie and her family's story. The exert below is from the Gilchrist County Journal.

"Looking back over the course her life has taken in the last 9 months, Stephanie said the loss of one child, and the extended hospitalization of another is not what a mother expects when she finds out she is pregnant. As tears roll down her cheeks, Stephanie talks about her twin sons, born premature on June 17 via emergency c-section. She was just 24 and a half weeks along when her water broke while she was on bed rest at Shands Hospital causing her body to go into premature labor. Just before 9 a.m., Stephanie and her husband of three years, Jared Barron, welcomed Brody and Brayden into the world.

At birth, Brody weighed 1 pound, 9 ounces and measured 13 inches long. His brother Brayden weighed 1 pound, 13 ounces and measured 13 ½ inches long. “We were told when we went into the hospital the week before that there was only a 20 to 30 percent chance that either baby would make it,” Stephanie explained. “Our goal was to make it to 29 weeks, but when I went into the hospital I was already 2 ½ centimeters dilated and it just went from there.”

After the babies were born, Stephanie explained that she didn’t get to see them until 10 p.m. and by then they were in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit hooked up to countless monitors with wires running all over their fragile bodies. “The doctors told us that Brayden’s lungs were sick and that he had a bad brain bleed,” Stephanie said. Knowing that his time was growing shorter, the Barrons were on their way to see their son a short time later, Stephanie remembers, when they got a call while in the elevator telling them that Brayden had passed away.

“When I got to hold him, he was already gone,” Stephanie said, through tears. “It was four weeks later before I got to hold Brody. I am so thankful I got to hold Brayden; otherwise, I wouldn’t have known what it felt like to hold one of my babies.” According to Stephanie, after Brayden passed away, Brody’s condition immediately improved. June 20 was a bittersweet day for the family as Stephanie was released from the hospital and began making her daily trips back and forth to Shands to sit with Brody.

Ten days later, on what Stephanie thought was one of Brody’s best days because he was eating well, doctors diagnosed him with Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). A gastrointestinal disease affecting premature infants, NEC involves infection and inflammation that causes destruction of the bowel. NEC is reportedly the most serious gastrointestinal disorder among premature babies, affecting just one in 2,000 to 4,000 births. Brody underwent two surgeries in which Dr. David Kays, a world renowned pediatric surgeon, removed two thirds of his intestines. "They told me he wasn't going to make it," Stephanie said. Dr. Kays was able to create an ostomy, which connected Brody's intestine to the surface of his body allowing for his bowels to drain and essentially saving his life. Brody also went through another surgery to reconnect his intestines. According to Stephanie, Brody also suffers from a IVH Level 4 brain bleed and doctors fear that there could be damage to his eyes, but for now they are concentrating on his intestines. Every morning Stephanie has been arriving at Shands at 11 a.m. and sits with Brody until 4:30 or 5:00 in the afternoon. Though she has only gotten to dress her baby in clothes one time for pictures, Stephanie remains hopeful that Brody's condition will improve and that he will get to come home at some point in October.

Though it is an extreme challenge for premature babies, Stephanie said that Brody will have to suck, swallow, breathe and hold his temperature at the same time before he is released from the hospital. Stephanie said that right now she is focusing on how thankful she is that she gets to see her son every day. Through everything, she has learned not to take one single day for granted.

A fund has been set up at Drummond Community Bank for people who would like to donate to Jared and Stephanie Barron. The name of the account is: Barron Family Benefit Account.

Good luck to little Brody, Stephanie and Jared!! 

MyFitness Pal

A little contradictory to alot of what I post, I have recently embarked on getting on track with a healthier lifestyle.  If you haven't heard of it I highly suggest that you check out MyFitness Pal. I like to think of it as a social network for people who are searching to lose weight, eat healthy, exercise or just be more conscious of what they put in and do to their bodies. I have my "weight loss ticker" at the bottom of my blog to share my successes (and hopefully not too often, failures) with you all!! I have lost a total of 7 pounds in like 10 days or so. I would HIGHLY recommend you go check this out, even if you aren't a normal kind of person to worry about being and eating healthy, I will vouch personally that it has exceeded my expectations in such a short amount of time!!

Ok, I promise no more posts like that... but I just felt the need to share share share!!!!

Ireland, Ireland, Ireland... & Famous Restaurants (Part II)

So, if you've read my earlier blog or know me... you realize how long I have been planning to make a trip to Ireland. I realized it would be fitting to research some of Ireland's best restaurants and plan accordingly. Enjoy Part II of this series that covers Cork and Limerick. The food is the best part of ANY vacation in my opinion....
Let's start with Cork!!
Cork is the second largest city in Ireland and the third most populous. It is the principal city and administrative centre of County Cork and the largest city in the province of Munster. Cork has a reputation for rebelliousness dating back to the town's support of the English Pretender Perkin Warbeck in 1491 following the Wars of the Roses. As a result, County Cork has earned the nickname of "the Rebel County", while Corkonians often refer to the city as the "real capital of Ireland", and themselves as the "Rebels".
Cork has a large variety of different restaurants, but since I want to focus on the more traditional Irish foods, I am not going to list any who focus on international cuisine. Restaurants in Cork offer some of the finest places to eat in the country. Cork is often regarded as being the Gourmet Capital of Ireland and Europe's Gourmet Riviera. They offer the freshest of Atlantic fish, rivers full of Salmon & Trout, excellent quality beef, organic cheeses and vegetables, and homemade breads to name a few!!!

Greenes Restaurant
Located in the heart of the City, Greenes Restaurant is one of the top restaurants in Cork and is located in a unique setting, underneath a stone archway, overlooking a beautiful floodlit waterfall.

Using only the finest and freshest local produce, they serve up modern and tasty food that has earned excellent reviews from both customers and critics. Although totally dependant on the fickle Irish weather, customers have the option of dining al fresco beside the unique waterfall, which has, along with the food, become a signature of the restaurant.

Some of their entree options sound delish!!

Baked Cod with Parsley Crust served on Fresh Tagliatelle, Frank Hederman smoked Mussels, Cream & Lemon Sauce

Wild Mushroom & Shallot Risotto topped with Ricotto Salad, shaved Parmesan drizzled with Truffle Oil

Desserts are my favorite!!
Millefeuille of Filo Pastry, Lemon Curd, Strawberries topped
with Chantilly Cream, Watermelon Shake Shot Glass

Fresh Raspberry Crème Brulee with Vanilla Biscuits

La Chateau

Established in 1793 and a landmark in Cork city ever since, is the only bar on the main promenade. You can enjoy Irish Coffees as you watch the world of Cork parade by the from the terrazze area. Inside you can choose upstairs or down for comfort or seclusion.
Lunchtime specialties include Traditional Irish Stew & Seafood Chowder. Although they don't have a website, it's rated one of the best pubs in the area and is located at 93 St. Patrick Street! How fitting! =) 

Farmgate Cafe

 Farmgate was established when Maróg O'Brien opened her restaurant and country store in Midleton, County Cork in 1984. Ten years later, in 1994, Maróg's sister Kay joined her, and so the café in the English Market was established. Located in the heart of Ireland's oldest and most historic food market, with an industrious exciting view overlooking stalls and fellow traders, Farmgate Café embraces much of what is unique and traditional to Cork along with new influences in this dynamic multicultural food market and port city.

Centuries old traditional, seasonal, regional, even 'forgotten' foods are at the core of the Farmgate ethos, and also form a visible link between the menu and the wonderful array of produce downstairs. This allows Farmgate Café to provide a uniquely Irish eating experience both reflecting and playing a small role in a vibrant Irish food culture truly embracing how good indigenous ingredients and food products are.

In this way, Farmgate, which draws on the best food producers in the region - many of whom are Good Food Ireland members, along with the market and market traders, work together, collectively, locating Cork and the island of Ireland as a 'food capital' on the culinary map of Europe.

Their menu varies from day to day according to what is available at market. They list a sample menu on their website that includes:

Special 40th Birthday Cake

There rarely comes along a successful surprise birthday party.... much less one involving over a handfull of people and for someone's 40th Birthday!! I had the pleasure of making this cake per the request of a wonderful husband, Frank, for his lovely wife, Diane. He planned her a wonderful surprise party at Harry's Seafood, Bar & Grill in beautiful, downtown Gainesville. It took everything I had to remember on a daily basis not to post anything on-line about this cake, and am glad everyone was able to keep it a surprise for her! I'll share some of the photographs when they are shared by Frank & Diane, but until then all I have is a few of the cake, pre-party and delivery.

Diane's 40th Birthday Cake

Although it took a little work to discuss details about this cake, I finally learned that lavender is Diane's favorite color and that she loves daisies!! I wanted to keep it clean and simple (especially since the last cake I did for this bunch was full of surprises and details)! The top layer is a chocolate fudge cake with chocolate ganache and the bottom layer is plain jane vanilla with almond buttercream.

It was pleasant to finally get my hands on decorating a cake again. Before this cake it has been a loooong month since my last one! No complaints though since things have been busy with school, but its nice to have several more coming up soon!

Anyways, Happy Birthday Mrs. Diane and congrats are in order for Mr. Frank in pulling this party off!! I hear the look on her face was priceless!!