Tag Archives: Hallowe’en

An Idiot’s Guide To Growing Your Own Pumpkins At Home

“What the fuck am I supposed to do with those?” says I as my dad dropped three flower pots at my front door with what appeared to be a living thing growing inside.

“Pumpkins” says he. “They’ll be ready for Hallowe’en”.

We had literally just moved back into our house after building the extension and I was surrounded by a garden full of rubble, unpainted walls and layers of dust so thick we could all (and did) write our names in it.

In hindsight, the three little green pumpkin stalks sticking their heads above the flower pots were a welcome bit of greenery in an otherwise dull grey building site.

We let the stalks grow a little stronger for a few weeks before transplanting them into a veggie patch that Ass Monkey hastily threw together as I wailed, “The pumpkin babies! They’ll die if we don’t put them into the feckin’ ground!!”

And then we waited and observed…

Lo and behold, it’s Hallowe’en week and we just harvested FOUR mighty pumpkins from those brave little stalks.


Here’s what I’ve learned about being an unwitting pumpkin farmer:

  1. The growth rate is unreal. One day you have a small stalk, the next, they are trying to climb into your wheelie bins. I was calling the patch ‘The Little Shop Of Horrors’ at one point.
  2. The kids LOVE watching them grow. It was literally our go-to ‘job’ every morning and when anyone came to visit, bringing them to see The Pumpkin Patch was all they wanted to do. The pride!
  3. I know nothing about growing pumpkins: I watched a YouTube video for an hour about how to REALLY grow pumpkins – hay and mulch and greenhouses and all sorts of crazy stuff were required. Me? I chucked them in the ground on a wing and a prayer (and on my dad’s orders) – they seemed to do alright.
  4. Not every bulb turns into a pumpkin. At one point we thought we were going to have about 20 pumpkins because there were so many bulbs growing on the vines. What I’ve learned is that they often end up feeding the main pumpkins and so disappear after a while.
  5. They’re ready when they’re ready. I was worried there for a bit that I was leaving them in the ground for too long and wouldn’t cut them at the right time. As it happens, we cut them today and the biggest one had actually already removed itself from the vine so it was ready to rock and roll.
  6. There are so many pumpkin recipes to try out! From pies to soups and now butter! Great recipe over at Fraulein.Umlaut that you must check out.

Happy Hallowe’en!

Like talking food and stuff? Try this;

Recipe: chorizo, chicken & chickpea casserole

Can We Talk About The Housework?

We have a busy, messy house and white tiled floors to go with it. BRILLIANT COMBO. We have our dog, Pearl, who drags who-knows-what through the house on her paws, we have four year old Jacob, who loves the combination of muck and water probably more than anything else in this world, we have one year old Eva, who likes to fire porridge, peas, biscuits, spaghetti – you name it – from the height of her high chair onto whatever she can hit below. Then we have Daddy Alan, Mr. Engineer who comes home from work covered head to toe in dust and dirt from a busy day at Dynamic Cater Care. Part of the work uniform is a pair of humongous work boots that he likes to keep on him until he gets up the stairs to get changed…..don’t mention the war.

Then there’s me, I am a hoarder of bits of paper; bills, receipts, newspaper clippings, recipes on the backs of envelopes, things that I’m working on or things that I’m hoping to get a read of ‘later, when I get a sec’. On a whim, I’ll decide to sort out the attic and drag half of it’s contents onto the landing below, only to be called away by a crying child, a dash to the school, or a call at the door, and I might not get back to it for weeks…..don’t mention Alan’s war with me ;o)

Laundry has taken over our lives. It’s everywhere, it’s unruly; you think you have it under control until the day you open the hot press door and it physically attacks you, the bastard.

‘Have I any work t-shirts?!’ Alan will call from upstairs, just as I’m eyeing the damp pile of washed clothes that he has taken from the washing machine the night before, and casually dumped on the floor by the back door.

‘Oh you have’, I’ll call back. ‘But the magic laundry fairy didn’t intercept their neglect and get them up onto the clothes horse to dry so it’s another topless day for you, darling. I shall inform the neighbour to get their camera phones out when you’re ready to leave the house.’

There has been great chats this week online about how much housework we all do, and how we keep on top of it. I know I could spend every single minute of the day on housework and laundry if I so chose to, and I still wouldn’t want anyone to drop in ‘just yet’. There would always be one more thing that would make it better, isn’t there? If I could just get to wash down those seat covers…if I could just quickly wipe down the kitchen windows…if I could just Fabreeze the smell of stale milk out of this room…..

And the thing is, it’s so BORING, isn’t it? I know it has to be done, and no one wants to look like they’re living in squalor, but we’ve got to sort of get a grip. I mean, who are we really doing it for? I know I’m not cleaning the house for Alan’s benefit, because he never notices (although he does like to tip the cleaning staff in hotels ‘for doing such a great job’ – *coughs*. He could easily owe me 74 thousand euros in back payments at this point).

I definitely keep the floors clean for Eva’s sake – she is walking and everything now, but she still lands on her bum quite a bit and still plays with her toys not he floor, so that gets done every day for her. But the rest? The dressing the beds first thing and the scrubbing stains off walls and door handles and rearranging shit that does not need to be rearranged and the power hosing of the fooking high chair??? Ok, the high chair is completely manky, not even the power hose is sorting that shit out…. but who is it for? For myself? To prove my worth as a woman and a mother and a home owner? But who really cares?

The answer is: nobody. Nobody cares. Sure, someone will notice if you’ve got a pile of dirty nappies sitting in the corner of the living room, or if the contents of your jacks should carry a health warning so let’s not go there. But let’s try this: why not cut your time spent sorting out your house every day IN HALF this month. Just do it. And spend the other half making Witches Hats with ice cream cones and melted chocolate instead.

Which you will then have to clean up after. Oh I see your point.


Nuts For Hallowe’en

We went on holidays a few weeks ago. Am I still banging on about that, about it being the first holiday we had in three years, how we blew WAY too much money on it but we were desperate? Yes I am! (review for Kelly’s Hotel, Wexford, to follow!)

Anyway, on our last day, we met a lovely couple and their son who was just a little bit younger than Jacob by a few months. The boys got on great so naturally we got chatting to the parents while supervising them on the super-cool Viking ship playground in the back garden.

The mum told us a VERY harrowing story about recently discovering that their son is allergic to nuts – and they found out the hard way. He ate a tiny bit of granola that had traces – TRACES – of nuts in it, and immediately suffered a major allergic reaction.

The ambulance couldn’t get to Crumlin Childrens Hospital quickly enough from Clonskeagh on the busy motorway as this little man swelled up, broke out in massive hives all over his body and his windpipe closed in. They diverted to St. Vincent’s hospital to get some steroids to tide him over until they got to Crumlin, and the entire time, his mum kept thinking ‘My baby’s going to die. My baby’s going to die’.

Naturally enough, I was BAWLING listening to her story, and couldn’t NOT give her a big hug for going through it. We also discussed my pal whose daughter is allergic to eggs and that poor girl from Drimnagh who died on O’Connell street last year after being denied an EpiPen by the chemist. I still can’t fucking believe that happened, by the way.

This mum and her husband at least had a happy outcome – their son was alive and well and having a great time on holidays with his parents and new pal (for a day!), Jacob.

As today is Hallowe’en, I am reminded of this family as my son is about to call to neighborhood houses in his dinosaur costume and other kids will call to our house, all looking for Hallowe’en loot and goodies in their precious bags. And we have NO IDEA sometimes who these kids are, or if they could be allergic to anything.

So I’ll do a deal with you – you don’t give my kid monkey nuts today and I won’t give any to yours. Just in case. Cool?

Jacob the Dinosaur