Yesterday, I commented on Twitter as Brad and I were enjoying the last two scotcharoos of a batch I had made earlier in the day:

My twitter is connected to Facebook (because I am lazy), and I got several interesting comments, including one from my Irish friend, Jean:

Ate?? I assumed you were drinking scotch whiskey!!

I’m not sure what is worse:

A.) That people do not know what scotcharoos are, or
B.) My friends think I give pet names to my alcoholic beverages!

Scotcharoos are a peanut buttery rice krispie-type treat.  Admittedly, this recipe is hard to make here in Ireland because it is hard to find chocolate chips or butterscotch chips.  Sometimes, butterscotch chips are available at Fallon & Byrne, but I usually bring them over in my luggage.  The recipe is from Brad’s grandmother, Myrtle White, and has been a family favorite for years.  These have to be the tastiest, easiest homemade treat out there!

Recipe by Myrtle White

1 cup sugar
1 cup light corn syrup, or golden syrup
1 cup peanut butter
6 cups rice krispies cereal
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips/morsels

Cook sugar and corn syrup/golden syrup in saucepan until mixture boils.  Remove from heat.  Stir in peanut butter.  Stir in 6 cups rice krispies.  Press into greased 9×13 pan.

Melt chocolate chips and butterscotch chips. Spread over rice krispie mix, and chill.  Cut into bars when set.  That’s it!  The whole process takes about 15 minutes, 20 if you count 5 minutes of chilling in the refrigerator.

Pan of scotcharoos.  Someone took a really big slice!
Someone already took a chunk of the scotcharoos!

There ya go – I dare you not to eat the entire pan in one day!

First Day of School – Irish Style!

Last week, Isaac and Liesl each had their first day of school.  Liesl’s first day was Thursday.

Liesl's First Day of School
Liesl’s First Day of School

She is attending the same Montessori preschool that Isaac did.  We were so pleased with the experience, and it definitely helped Liesl’s transition because she was already familiar with the school.  The program is 9:30 – 12:30, and she will attend 3 days a week.  There are 10 children and 2 teachers, Mrs. Therese and Mrs. Tricia, in her class.  Liesl already knows several children in the class, including her friend Kelly.

Liesl and Kelly
Liesl and Kelly

Mrs. Therese says Liesl is very chatty and articulate, so I already see ‘talking’ citations in primary school in our future!   Liesl was so excited to finally go to school “like a big girl” and jumped in to everything straight away.

Very happy to be at ‘Big Girl’ school!

Isaac’s first day of Junior Infants was on Friday.  In Ireland, Kindergarten is split into two years, Junior Infants and Senior Infants.  Isaac attends the local National (public) primary school, St. Mochta’s.  We sit in the catchment area for 3 primary schools – 2 affiliated with the Catholic church, and one Community (non-affiliated) school.  We opted for a Catholic school because we had heard great things about the school, we are Catholic, and St. Mochta’s is on Brad’s route to work, making it easier for drop-off and pickup.

Big Day - First day of Junior Infants
Big Day – First day of Junior Infants
Isaac's First Day
Isaac’s First Day

Isaac is in Mrs. Schmidt’s class.  He doesn’t know anyone in his class yet, but his best friend, Seán,  is in another Junior Infant class at the school.  (Seán and Liesl’s friend, Kelly are siblings.  It is so great to have a family with kids the same ages as ours!  Seán and Kelly’s parents have been great helping us navigate the local school system.)

Isaac and Sean
Isaac and Sean in the schoolyard.
Getting lined up and ready to go
Getting lined up and ready to go.  The parents did not go inside for drop-off, but we did pick him up from the classroom afterwards.

The first day was a bit rocky because we just didn’t know what to expect.  Starting school is tough for both parents and kids, and it doesn’t get any easier in a foreign country.  Isaac was very nervous.  It didn’t help that we missed the “Junior Infant Days” in June because we were in the US.  Junior Infant Days are similar to “Meet the Teacher” nights in the US.  The kids come to school in the afternoon, do some activities with their future teachers, see the classrooms, etc.  The school doesn’t host Junior Infant Days in August because that is a month that is typically reserved for vacations.  Across Europe, many families are gone through the entire month, which makes it difficult to host a Meet the Teacher-type event.  No worries though, Isaac was all smiles when we picked him up!

Playing around after school
Playing around after school

There are private, or ‘fee-paying’ schools in Ireland, but none are particularly convenient to where we live or work.  We have decided to try the public system first, and if we need to make changes in the future, we can.  Isaac will wear a uniform every day.  For Junior and Senior Infants, it consists of navy blue sweatpants and sweatshirt with school crest, and a polo shirt for warmer days.  Some of the girls preferred to wear the pinafore dress with shirt, tights, and dress shoes (Sooo cute!) Although he can wear the full uniform, he is not required to wear the full formal uniform until First Class (1st grade).  The Irish definitely take their time getting kids adjusted to school.  Isaac went to school for just 2 hours on Friday, 10-12, and the typical school day is 9:00 – 1:30, MUCH shorter than the US school day!

Since we are completely inexperienced in the Irish school system, we’ll post more details in a few weeks, once we get into the routine a bit more.  There will be plenty more to share about school lunches, Irish language, books, etc.

Until then – Slán!

Texas Summer Trip (Part 2 of 3) – Caneel Bay

Brad and I have been married ten years this summer.  (Yikes!  We must have been child-brides or something…we’re not old enough to be married 10 years!)  We decided to take a 10th Anniversary trip during our trip to the US, mainly so we could take advantage of FREE BABYSITTING.  Did I mention that we LOVE grandparents?!  After Kathleen’s wedding, we spent a week in the Caribbean while the kids enjoyed some quality time in Amarillo with the grandparents.  We have wanted to go to the US Virgin Islands for a long time, but work, kids, graduate school, more kids, and an international move seemed to get in the way of timing.
I loved the early morning beautiful
We decided to go to St. John. One of the reasons we wanted to go to St. John is that it is very undeveloped.  The island is almost entirely national park, deeded to the US government from the Rockefeller family.  We stayed at the Caneel Bay Resort in the National Park, and completely surrounded my rainforest and 7 pristine beaches. The island has no cruise ship docks, and no airport, so visitors arrive by ferry from St. Thomas.

The ferry arriving early in the morning, with staff that live on St. Thomas

The resort has a ‘Manager’s Tea’ several times a week, in this open-air Terrace House.  It was a great way to ‘people-watch’ and see who else was staying at the hotel.  We saw one multi-generation family that were die-hard UT fans.  Each morning, at least one of their group had on a UT shirt, hat, etc.

Manager's Tea at The Terrace House - like something out of a Pottery Barn catalog
Manager’s Tea at The Terrace House – like something out of a Pottery Barn catalog

Caneel Bay was amazing.  We had a wonderful time.  The grounds of the resort were  immaculate, but not over the top.  It is very ‘old school’, in fact, I got the impression that not a lot had changed in the 60 years it has been open.  The rooms did not have TVs or telephones, there is no vehicular traffic on the resort, aside from a few golf carts, and everyone has a low-key attitude.  The service was fantastic.  The manager even arranged for a pair of snorkel fins be brought in for Brad, when we discovered that his feet were too big for the fins at the resort. We snorkeled and swam with the sea turtles. We took a long hike through the national park into the main town, Cruz Bay, where we ate dinner at a local restaurant having ‘open mic’ night.

Honeymoon Beach
Honeymoon Beach (also – pasty white leg alert!)

Brad learned to sail, and I enjoyed standup paddle boarding. (Yes, the water is that blue.)

Out on his own!

We took a day tour to the British Virgin Islands, where we went hiking in the Baths on Virgin Gorda, which involved swimming ashore, hiking and climbing over boulders, and then swimming back out to the boat.  (Sadly, no pictures.) We also snorkeled in the out islands, had lunch at Cooper Island, and then ended the day at the Soggy Dollar Bar on Jost Van Dyke.

Soggy Dollar Bar
A rather interesting place, full of shady characters…

Next stop, snorkeling!

Caneel Bay Beach in the early morning sun
Caneel Bay Beach in the early morning sun

For dinner on our anniversary, we thought about having a candlelight meal on the beach (the hotel arranged this for several people during our stay).  Thankfully, we opted to dine at a restaurant on the hill overlooking the Bay.  It POURED buckets and buckets of rain that evening.

10th Anniversary Dinner
Celebrating our 10th Anniversary – right before the rain

Our last morning at Caneel Bay!  We will definitely return!You can see more of our pictures here. We can’t wait to return!

Click here for Part 1 of our trip.  Part 3 coming soon!