How to Incorporate Flowers and Cake into your St. Patrick's Day Celebrations
A really ridiculously long time ago, back when I was a cute, sassy college co-ed (so a reeeaaallly long time ago :) I used to travel. You know, before marriage, kids, a car payment, work, and a mortgage made it a little less responsible to jet off to New York, Cancun, London, and Dublin *sigh. Good times. And this time of year always makes me a little nostalgic for my trip to Dublin, Ireland. It was one of my first international travel experiences and it was AMAZING! So today, I’m sharing a little bit about my trip with you and then showing you how to incorporate a little piece of the Emerald Isle into your home for St. Patrick’s Day.
I went to Ireland with my family over St. Patrick’s Day of 2004. My brother was competing in an Armed Forces Rugby Tournament and we tagged along. Perfect excuse to travel right?!
Pictured Here L to R: My sister Jenny, my sweet mum, my brother's then fiancee but now wife Amanda, and me!
We landed in Dublin, but took off for the Dingle Peninsula and took in the lovely Cliffs of Moher and the sleeping giant. Those cliffs are wild, untamed, and amazing! Also…terrifying, because I’m pretty much scared senseless when it comes to free-falling off of cliffs. I’m irrationally afraid of heights and can totally imagine plummeting to my death. You only live once though, so I have these embarrassing pictures of me crawling to look over the edge, but those won’t be posted here :)
The Cliffs of Moher
The day before St. Patrick’s Day, we got to watch the Armed Forces Rugby match. It was USMA (United States Military Academy or West Point) vs. Ireland’s Armed Forces and we got walloped. How embarrassing. But I learned which sport to play if I ever want a free nose job and GREAT quads! Seriously though, check out the legs on those guys.
USMA vs. Ireland's Armed Forces
St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland was…well there are no words :) We’re an alcohol-free family, so the rowdy pubs and bars weren’t really our scene (other than the fish and chips. I pretty much ate my weight in fish and chips and I would do it again). But every little town or village in Ireland managed to pull together an amazing parade made up of all the soccer clubs and Bananas in Pajamas…I don’t get why on that last one either. So instead of getting plastered, we visited the Waterford Crystal factory, the Guinness Factory, and St. Patrick’s cathedral. But honestly? The memory that stands out the most were the daffodils. Fields upon fields of glorious daffodils. That yellow against the emerald green??? It was spectacular! You’ve never seen a shade of green like that in nature until you visit Ireland. And all week people were buying and selling bouquets of daffodils to fund cancer research. I was in daffodil heaven.
So, when I scheme and dream about St. Patrick's Day, my thoughts inevitably turn to daffodils and they were the major inspiration behind this tablescape.
I wanted to incorporate all the wild branches and vines that grow unchecked over the island like this picturesque moss and vine-covered bridge we randomly stopped to admire, but also bring in those bright sunshiny daffodils. I used curly willow, seeded eucalyptus, and gunii eucalyptus for a garland, and then chopped the heads off of daffodils to intersperse throughout the garland. Bulbs are the perfect flower to do this with too, because you can plant them once, and if you feel like you want to cut them all down and bring them inside for decoration, they'll come back again next year!
Also, I found this free-spirited little dragonfly covered in angel vine at the wholesaler and had to buy it. The Irish have such a history of independent, fighting spirits and this wild little angel vine spoke to me. I also put together a small bud vase of daffodils and Bells of Ireland. Cliché on the name? Maybe. But just roll with me here.
And because we love butter…and sugar…and apples, we HAD to make this authentic Irish Apple Cake that the charmingly talented Kayley McCabe with The Kitchen McCabe posted about a few years ago. And guys? It was so delicious. It’s not a sweet, ultra-rich American cake. The flavors are more subtle and less overwhelming. Which is good. But also bad because it means I’m not in total sugar overload after three bites, so I can eat a large slice. I know kids want Lucky Charms and green and white sprinkled donuts on St. Patrick’s Day, but seriously, go to Kayley’s website and make this cake instead. My husband woke up this morning and asked me, “So does this count as a breakfast cake too?” The answer is yes, always yes.
Mmmmm a cake with tart apple chunks, subtle hints of nutmeg and cloves, and a slightly crusty sugary sprinkle top?! Sign me up! Kayley also has this amazing custard sauce to go over it and we were pretty tempted to just drink it. I'll definitely be having this as lunch cake :)
I hope you enjoy bringing a little bit of Ireland into your house this week! And who knows? Maybe someday the wind will take you there as well!
May love and laughter light your days,
and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours,
wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world
with joy that long endures.
May all life's passing seasons
bring the best to you and yours.
-An old Irish Blessing