Garden Living – Rooms Without Walls

February 21, 2023 Category :Generals Off

Spring awakens the senses and draws us outdoors. Embraced by the warmth of an May morning or draped under a canopy of evening stars, delight in your own outdoor space with the newest trends in patio living. Designs abound from super retailers like Target, who this year teamed with gardening giant Smith & Hawkins, to perennial favorites from Pottery Barn, look for furnishings that invite you and your guests to sit back, relax, surrender.

Creating a room without walls is a dream made easy with innovative materials and concepts. The lines are blurred between indoor and outdoor furnishings now, a welcome and indulgent new approach. Look for generously proportioned pieces. Deep cushions, graceful curves, and expanses of glass capture this season’s trend. Most noteworthy are materials that have the look and feel of fine furniture…all designed to elevate your outdoor space.

Capturing the charm of natural wicker, hand-woven resin combined with sold cast aluminum frames delivers exceptional resiliency and all-weather durability. These new “delicate” designs stand up to sun, water and fluctuating temperatures with virtually no cracking or fading. Pair a settee or softly sculpted arm chair with pillows bursting with fresh color and put your feet up. Finish the look with unexpected accessories, normally kept tucked indoors, like your favorite collection of vintage vases, and the timeless whisper of gracious southern summers is yours.

European style drives another trend in elegantly brushed black scaled metals with a decidedly contemporary sensibility. Bistro comes poolside in sleek yet substantial architecturally conceived tables partnered with café chairs softened with lime tufted cushions. Hang a candle lit chandler overhead and settle into the late night breeze.

Ecologically sound, Plantation grown teak is a sustainable timber crop that is a natural choice for long-lived beauty and durability. Smooth to the touch, outdoor teak furniture ages from a young honey blonde to a soft sliver gray…all without warping or splintering through the years. The newest designs feature deep square seats, generous scale, and richness once found only in indoor rooms. Look for top-quality mortise and tenon joinery for a lifetime of style.

Immigrants In The Irish Church

January 20, 2023 Category :Automobiles & Motorcycles| Electronics and Electrical Off

Whilst making a TV documentary on the effects immigrants are having on the Irish church, I interviewed Father Kevin Doran of Glendalough Parish. Kevin is also one of the Vocation directors of the Dublin diocese, and he has previously spoken on behalf of the Catholic Church in Ireland. During the interview, Kevin spoke about what people from other cultures can teach Irish Catholics and the influence of the late John Paul 11. The following takes the form of a Q and A session.

Q. Do people from other cultures have anything to teach us?

A. I think people of other cultures always have something to teach us. In particular what we find in Ireland is perhaps in the last 15-20 years our society has become much more materially focussed and sometimes people coming from other cultures where there is actually a lot less material wealth have a more spiritual focus and are more open to the message of the gospel and maybe they can help us to rediscover our sense of mystery and openness to the spirit.

Q. How should the Irish respond?

A. I think its very important for the Irish to respond generously and professionally to immigrants because our own tradition has been very much one of being an immigrant in other cultures. It’s interesting if we look at the old testament when God gave Moses the ten commandments one of the things we find in the discussion of the bible was the argument that the Jewish people should treat the immigrants very kindly and generously because they themselves had been immigrants in a foreign country in Egypt, and I suppose the same applies to us.

Q. The Polish community in Dublin have their own services. In St Michan’s church. Right?

A. I know Fr. Pyka, the parish priest of Sallynoggin looks after the faith of the Polish people. It’s obviously very important to them to pray and to celebrate in their own language. One of the difficulties always facing the church when we have large numbers of immigrants is whether to provide special services for them, which in some sense may cut them off from the larger population, or alternatively whether to try and to integrate them into the wider population of the diocese which may in some sense mean that they aren’t able to pray and celebrate the liturgy, but it is difficult to get that balance right.

Q. How influential was John Paul 11?

A. Pope John Paul 11 was pope for most of the time that about half of the population were alive and in that sense he had a significant influence. I think when you look at the number of young people who turned up at his funeral and the numbers who constantly turn up at World Youth days, you can see that even though they may not always understand his message, they were attracted by his integrity. One of his own papal letters, the Encyclical Verita Splendour, means the splendour is attractive, and I think the young people of today respond to this.

Q. He left a very rich legacy?

A. Absolutely! Yeah. His legacy to the future I suppose is somebody who was able to in one sense to be quite traditional and to respect and to preserve tradition and of the other sense he was well able to think and act outside the box. He was never short of a surprise.

Q. His successor has a hard act to follow?

A. In one sense a pope is a pope, and Pope Benedict is following a long line of tradition. On the other hand he is certainly his own man and his way of being pope will gradually take shape…we have to wait and see. Even in World Youth day in Germany we would have seen some differences in the sense that at his presentation at the mass was…his style was a bit different.

Q. Any final thoughts?

A. Whether we’re talking about immigrants or people who have lived in Ireland all their lives, the one challenge facing the church is to make sure that we pass on something of real value to the generation that comes after us. Pope John Paul once said “every generation is a new continent to be won for Christ”, and I suppose the challenge for the church is to find ways of presenting the ancient truths in a way that the new generation can understand it, be inspired by it, live by it.

Q. And do you think they’ll succeed?

A. I think there’s plenty of signs…sometimes we can be a bit discouraged by the large numbers who are not there, and its often said that the big mistake preachers sometimes make is to give out to people who are there about the people who are not there, but for all the ones who are not there there a lot of younger people involved in prayer groups, praying with the scriptures, there are a lot of young people involved in studying theology and I think in the future when we get out of the period of negativity which we seem to have got stuck in of late, there will be a more mature and perhaps a more participatory church.

Grilling Vegetables – Easy Dinner Ideas

January 14, 2023 Category :Business Services| Technology Off

Grilled Corn

Wrap shucked ears in foil. Sprinkle them with water and dot with butter before rolling up individually in generous squares of foil. Grill on high heat for about 20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes or so. Corn will be blackened in places and delicious. You can also include a sprig of fresh herbs, a sprinkle of sea salt or a grind or two of fresh pepper.


Grilled peppers are awesome. Leave the pepper whole and grill over high heat, turning often, until blackened and all over. Place the peppers in a bag or wrap in foil to cool and loosen the skin. After about 10 to 15 minutes the skin should peel off easily, then peppers can be cored, seeded and sliced or chopped as desired. Grilled peppers are great on an antipasto tray, in panini or served plain.

Grilled vegetables can be the basis of a great vegetarian meal. For more great vegetarian recipes and easy dinner recipes, visit

Portabella Mushrooms

Wash the portabellas and remove the gills with a spoon. Brush lightly with oil. Grill over high heat cap side down until very brown. The cap will fill with moisture. Turn the mushrooms, pressing down to expel as much moisture as possible. When done about 10 to 15 minutes, salt and pepper to taste and serve.


Trim ends of the onion and slice into thick rounds. Secure the rings together by skewering the rounds with long metal skewers. Brush lightly with olive oil and season as desired. Grill onions over high heat about 15 minutes turning halfway through cooking time. Move the onions off to a cooler area of the grill for 10 more minutes or until tender.


Choose Tomatoes that are firm and not overripe. Slice them in half horizontally and remove seeds. Drain cut side down on paper towels. When ready to grill, season cut side generously with salt and pepper. Grill cut side down until softened and blistering. Turn tomatoes over and continue grilling a few minutes more. When tomatoes are done, drizzle them with vinaigrette or some pesto thinned with a bit of olive oil.

Dresses, Dresses Everywhere

December 3, 2022 Category :Mental Health| Telemarketing Off

The dress reigns supreme this season with hardly a Ready-To-Wear collection that has not cast it in a leading role (TULEH). Across the designers’ lines its versions are even more varied and versatile. From the iconic wrap styles to the staple sheath this strong trend in the return to the ‘must have’ dress will again render it the wardrobe staple as in generations past.

“Over the years I have learned that what is important in a dress is the woman who is wearing it.” Yves Saint Laurent

The moods of Spring encompass breezy sophisticates (BILL BLASS), smooth sexiness (GIORGIO ARMANI), and sheer openness (CALVIN KLEIN and BCBG). We see light, easy feminine versions; simple, delicate creations from designers who translate their ‘love’ of dresses (CAROLINA HERRERA) to dresses you’ll ‘love’ to wear.


The shirtdress is back with its “June Cleaver” sweetness. It’s neat and crisp with clean lines and smart details (RALPH LAUREN). Not heavy or cumbersome, worn with or without a belt or with a short or 3/4 sleeve cardigan, it is functional and feminine and will satisfy a multitude of scenarios for the work week as well as the weekend.

Volume is in. From the full skirted baby dolls and the bubble and gathered hems, to the tent, trapeze and muu muu styles you’ll find a lot of fabric to contend with this season. Be sure you wear your correct size so that the volume will be in proportion to your frame. Too small and you’ll look ‘stuffed’ into the parts that are designed to fit the body, too big… you can easily look ‘sloppy.’

Designers are offering a great selection of body skimming sheaths and standout chemise styles (KARL LAGERFELD) truly a joy to wear especially if your silhouette has some figure challenges (slight tummy, thick waist, etc.). Also to enhance your proportions the ‘floating’ waistlines are presented in so many collections. The empire/high waist (VIVIENNE TAM), the natural waistline (CAROLINA HERRERA), the belted waist (BILL BLASS), the drop waist (OSCAR de la RENTA, ANNA SUI, 3.1 PHILIP LIM), these elements when executed in various fabrics (cottons, linens, silks) and patterns (florals geometrics, abstracts or plaids) as well as in wovens or knits offer limitless combinations for you to enjoy.

High waist a-lines with knee skimming skirts worn with cropped jackets (CHLOE) afford a great opportunity to engineer your proportion and soft, flowing sleeves can give a youthful look to your outfit.

BEHNAZ SARAFPOUR shows the easy going chemise shift with piping details, contrast black and white and worn over skinny crop pants for a very upscale casual look.

Caution: With so many choices selecting the style for you can be daunting. First rule: know your shape then select a style that flatters rather that frustrates.


Soft jerseys, matte jerseys, lots of silks, chiffons, organzas, georgettes, crepes and crepe de chine, luxurious charmeuse and silk blended with rayon and cotton all show up in the fabrics of Spring. Cottons also show up in a strong way in voiles, piques, boucles, jacquards and blended with silks. Linen, the perennial spring fabrication, makes its appearance in stand-alone tissue versions as well as blended with cotton and silk leading to a perfect weight supporting the season’s cast of flattering body beautiful contributors.

DEREK LAM’S collection includes cotton poplin presented in the soft, clean, comfortable ‘elegant but humble’ spirit of American design. 3.1 PHILIP LIM shows a T-shirt dress with a generous sprinkling of rosettes all in white.

The miracle of stretch has been added across the board mixing its magic in everything from the sheerest silk georgette to the dense stretch wool crepe. This is by far the winner in the category of “best supporting comfort”.


Necklines are varied offering something for everyone. Choose your most flattering from among the candidates: boat neck, strapless, scoop neck (CYNTHIA STEFFE), rounded square, halter (DONNA KARAN) ruffled (BETSEY JOHNSON), off-the-shoulder, squared-off deep v’s (AKRIS) or the soft drape (DKNY). A good variety can be seen at TULEH.


Sleeve lengths also abound in variety from the sleeveless to the kimono with collections featuring all the in between versions: the cap sleeve (3.1 PHILIP LIM, ZAC POSEN), the short puff sleeve (RALPH LAUREN), the short bubble (STELLA MCCARTNEY), the lantern sleeve (BURBERRY PRORSUM), the 3/4 sleeve (cuffed and plain), the poet (CHLOE), and the bell (MATTHEW WILLIAMSON).


Skirts and hemlines are equally generous in choices ranging from short and shorter to shortest (BLUMARINE). We’re seeing draped (DONNA KARAN), wrapped and bias cut (DKNY); trumpets, tents and trapeze (OSCAR de la RENTA); balloons, bubbles (MALANDRINO) and baby dolls; ruffled (VALENTINO), ruched and rolled; gathered and straight, pleats and pencils, flapper and flirty, asymmetrical (MICHAEL KORS) and tiered and the classic straight hems. Details go from dainty to daring; from the sweetness of eyelet and lady-like lace to the drama of beaded and belted, and double bubbled balloons.

YVES SAINT LAURENT showcases plaids, big and bold and beautiful. NICOLE MILLER offers wonderful prints. DIANE VON FURSTENBERG has florals in full bloom. ISSEY MIYAKE shows bold abstracts and we see beautiful tribals at GIVENCHY. The combinations at MISSONI come alive as the colors harmonize with each other. At VALENTINO the stark white and vivid primaries speak to the clean crisp feel of Spring.

All this awaits the eager buyer this season. So this season, why not celebrate the dress and all that it represents… after all what is important is “…the woman who is wearing it.”

Karen Hodge, speaker, author, fashion editor, designer, and style coach, is the owner of KEH & ASSOCIATES – A Wardrobe Consultancy. She conducts workshops and seminars for corporate and private clients on perfecting personal style-developing wardrobes for individual lifestyles.