Friday, April 23, 2010

A Fine Irish Pub in Ohio

This past weekend, my husband and I attended the Mad Anthony Writer's Conference in Hamilton, Ohio, and were delighted to be introduced to a truly Irish pub in the same town, Ryan's Tavern. Run by the husband of one of the conference organizers, whose family hails on both sides from the Emerald Isle, Ryan's Tavern has the distinction of being a fantastic restaurant as well as a genuine pub.  Ensconced in a renovated building crammed with history, Ryan's Tavern features a cherry-wood staircase that makes a grand entrance for any bridal party, extra-large booths (built and carved with Irish knotwork and ivy by Amish craftsmen) to accomodate many friendly dinner parties, and a vast variety of fine Irish beers and spirits.

Coming from an Italian background myself, a family joke was that the Irish can't cook: have you ever heard of an Irish restaurant? Well, after eating twice at Ryan's Tavern, I am happy to be proven wrong. The Shepherd's Pie was simply mouth-wateringly amazing. And their range of appetizers, entrees and desserts is comprehensive - everything from St. Patrick's Pasta (you knew he was of Italian descent, right?) to the Tipperary Portabella appetizer to the passionately delicious Confessional Chimichanga (a wafer of pastry wrapped around softened chocolate served with ice cream: we thought we were too full to try it but we ended up fighting for the right to finish it!). If you happen to have the good fortune to come to Hamilton, Ohio, be sure to stop for a bite and a drink at Ryan's Tavern. Good luck and God's blessings to you!

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Easter Vigil and Morning Centerpieces

Our usual routine on the Easter Vigil is to send our young children to be early, while the rest of us stay up to clean house, fill and hide Easter baskets, and set the table for breakfast after church in the morning.  This year, my eldest daughter created centerpieces that were so enchanting I had to share them. She cut flowering branches and planted them in soil-filled clay pots topped with moss, then hung them with tiny wooden ornaments (culled by me from a thrift-store table) and set them on flowered linens from the antique store bin. Taking a cue from my friend Clare, I had purchased wooden peg people which the girls and I painted, then glued on wool hair and gilded wooden wings to make a chorus of Easter angels to welcome our children in the morning.
My daughter again took creative license with my plans when it came to setting the table. A yellow sheet from a giveaway bag was our tablecloth and I bought 50-cent white dishes at thift stores to serve as chargers for my grandmother's Depression glass china, but it was my daughter who made Easter egg nests of pink shredded paper in her collection of tiny clay pots and nestled them in linen napkins, placing one of her very own special silver spoons on each plate to crack the shells with.

The result was pure enchantment for the young ones, an awe that rivaled that of Christmas morning.  Though their baskets were hidden away until after Mass and brunch, Easter joy was awaiting them on the table that morning, and even one of our adult guests declared that it was the loveliest table setting she'd ever seen.  Many thanks to my daughter's creativity!

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Sparkling Elegance from LuShae Jewelry

Recently I received a free sample from LuShae Jewelry ( in a splendid dark blue gift box, which brought my attention to this Australian-based company (but they ship from California).  I love this simply elegant iridescent pearl, and I highly recommend their jewelry.  They have everything from promise rings to beautiful cross pendants to earrings, and don't miss this adorable antique fleur de lis necklace.
If you're searching for Confirmation or graduation gifts this spring, give this site a browse!  Their customer service is quite wonderful, and bloggers might want to note that they run a yearly contest to give bloggers the chance to win $5000.