Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Goodbye 2014

“I grasped two things: I wasn't as happy as I could be, and my life wasn't going to change unless I made it change.” 
― Gretchen Rubin, The Happiness Project

As we head into 2015 I invite you to join me in our own Happiness Project. We're using the book by Gretchen Rubin as a guide, but really, this is our project, the happiness that you and I and the other members of the group create for ourselves. It's a closed group, but if you'd like an invite, let me know in the comments below.

In prepping for this, I updated my google calendar based menu. It's 20 days of meal prompts loosely based around the following themes:

  • meatless Monday 
  • Taco Tuesday aka international cuisine 
  • Wacky Wednesday aka new recipes 
  • Thrifty Thursday aka leftovers 
  • Friendly Fridays - invite people over or go out 
  • Saturday is Noodle Night (any ideas for something alliterative with Pasta? Yeah, me either) 
  • Sunday is Homemade Pizza Night
We do hot breakfasts most days of the school year around here, but at Oh Dark Thirty it can be hard for me to think of what to make. I've found it helps tremendously if I can prep a little the night before and then just fry the eggs or bake or present the muffins the next morning. 

BTW, there's a good read on meal planning strategies at

So, goodbye 2014. You were an interesting year, I said final goodbyes to too many people near and dear to my heart and "Until We Meet Again" to pretty much everyone else I knew in the world. On the plus side I spent October, November, and December meeting old friends for the very first time. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Variations... aka life as usual in Suva

A couple days back I posted a recipe for Fiji Rum PawPaw Cake. And then I somehow came home from the market with a kilo of fresh bananas only to see that my neighbor had dropped off another kilo of bananas from her tree.

What to do with 5 pounds of bananas?!

Well, things have been a little crazy here this last week, so I threw all the insanity in a mixing bowl and came up with (drum roll please)

Fijian Banana Bread with Cognac Raisins 
(made in a bundt cake pan so I don't stress about the middle not cooking)

Fruit topping
1 cup dried fruit (get the box of mixed fruit at New World. Every time I get one it's a different mix)
Mixed Fruit from New World Grocery in Damodar City
.5 cup cognac (find the glass that your husband poured and then forgot because we had to pick the kid up from a program but is too good to pour out)

Add directly to the prepared bundt cake pan:
4 tablespoons butter
.75 cup brown sugar

Cake Mix
2 cups mashed bananas
2 tablespoons lime juice (see lime is pretty much all I buy. You might have lemons, but lemons don't go as well with tequila, so I don't usually buy them)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
5 teaspoons baking powder
.75 cup butter, diced
4 eggs
.5 cup coconut cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lime zest (lemon, lime, orange, whatever you've got on hand)
1 cup dessicated coconut

I skip this next part, not sure why I keep leaving it on the recipe, but hey, here you go:
Boozy Glaze
.5 cup butter, melted
1 cup granulated sugar
.5 cup liquor


Two tanks, in case one runs out while you're baking a cake. All you do is turn the switch to the full tank What, they're both empty? You don't say! 
Preheat your oven to 325°F/165°C. Or, if your oven isn't warming up fast enough, check to see if you need to switch to the other Fiji Gas cylinder. If both cylinders are empty, go get a new Fiji gas cylinder. But before you leave, soak the mixed dried fruit in the cognac. It shoudl soak for at least half an hour... but overnight...or a week is still ok. You know what, you need liquor soaked fruit. Just get a cup of dried fruit and soak it in your favorite rum or vodka or brandy. Just do it. We'll find a use for it down the road.

Oven warming up? Good. Now spray a large 12 cup bundt pan with cooking spray and add 4 tbs melted butter and .75 cup brown sugar to the bottom of the prepared pan. Add your cognac/fruit mixture to the sugar mixture in the bottom of the cake pan.

In a bowl, mash the bananas with the lime juice.

Cream your sugar and butter together, add your eggs one at a time, the coconut cream, vanilla and mashed bananas/lime juice. Slowly add in the dry ingredients, lime zest, and coconut, occasionally scraping the bowl, until well mixed. Add in anything you forgot. What? You didn't forget anything? Wow, you're reading the wrong blog. It's ok, we can still be friends, but no banana bread for you.

Pour the batter into the bundt pan and bake in a preheated oven at 325°F/165°C for 1 hour. Check for doneness with a wooden pick after 60 minutes. Remove from oven and invert onto a serving dish. You might need to tap the bundt pan to loosen the sugar sauce and marinated fruit from the bottom now top of the pan. Or, if you're going to add the boozy glaze go to the next step.

Boozy Glaze: Let cake cool for at least 10 minutes. In a small pan on the stove, mix butter, brown sugar and cognac and bring just to a boil. Spoon the glaze onto the cake until it is completely absorbed. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit overnight. Before turning out the cake onto a serving platter, warm it in a 325°F/165°C oven for 10 minutes to loosen the sugar mixture at the bottom of the pan. The cake will be very delicate.

Hey look, I got a picture this time.
Amerika's Fijian Banana Cake with Cognac Soaked Raisins
So, all's well that ends well. And this is kind of my story so far in Suva. It's not quite what I expected, there are unexpected stops and detours, but it's pretty good, especially with an occasional cup of booze thrown in.

3 December Update: Hub took the cake to a friend's house after work last night  (I had Fijian class). It didn't come back. I guess I'll never know how it turned out  (but I bet it was awesome)

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Fiji Pawpaw Rum Cake aka Papaya Rum Cake

When I have too much ripe fruit I freeze it. Sometimes I then end up with too much frozen fruit. This recipe helps use up a lot of pawpaw aka papaya quickly.

Fiji Pawpaw Rum Cake

Fruit filling
1.5 cups pawpaw, diced (I defrost and drain the frozen pawpaw I've been accumulating, the pawpaw is softer and easier to mix after being frozen, the flavors also intensify with the liquid drained out)
1 cup dried fruit (raisins, sultanas, mixed fruit, whatever I have that day)
2 tablespoons citrus juice (lime, lemon, orange, whatever you've got handy)
.5 cup dark or flavored rum (in the interest of baking you should try a variety of rums, decide which flavors complement the pawpaw best. Or invite me over, I'll sample the options, give you my professional opinion)

Add directly to the prepared bundt cake pan:
4 tablespoons butter
.75 cup brown sugar

Cake Mix
2 cups all-purpose flour
1.5 cups granulated sugar <-- this is a lot of sugar, feel free to use less
1 teaspoon salt
5 teaspoons baking powder **hint: this is going to be a dense cake
.75 cup butter, diced
4 eggs
.5 cup yogurt or coconut cream or evaporated milk or a mixture of all of them
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (or more if you love vanilla the way I love vanilla)
1 tablespoon citrus zest (lemon, lime, orange, whatever you've got on hand)
1 cup dessicated coconut

Rum Glaze (I skip this step, it's already a very sweet very moist cake)
.5 cup butter, melted
1 cup granulated sugar
.5 cup rum

In a bowl, combine the diced pawpaw, dried fruit and lemon juice. Add .5 cup rum and allow to soak for half an hour... or overnight...or a week.

Spray a large 12 cup bundt pan with cooking spray and add 4 tbs melted butter and .75 cup brown sugar to the bottom of the prepared pan. With a tablespoon strain 5 heaping tbs of the fruit mixture and add to the sugar mixture in the bottom of the cake pan.

Cream your sugar and butter together, add your eggs one at a time, the yogurt (or coconut cream), vanilla and remaining fruit mixture. Slowly add in the dry ingredients, lemon zest, and coconut, occasionally scraping the bowl, until well mixed. Add in anything you forgot because, well, someone had to sample the rum.

Pour the batter into the bundt pan and bake in a preheated oven at 325°F/165°C for 1 hour. Check for doneness with a wooden pick. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes. If skipping the rum glaze you can serve immediately after cooling, otherwise go to the next step:

Rum Glaze: In a small pan on the stove, mix butter, brown sugar and rum and bring just to a boil. Spoon the glaze onto the cake until it is completely absorbed. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit overnight. Before turning out the cake onto a serving platter, warm it in a 325°F/165°C oven for 10 minutes to loosen the sugar mixture at the bottom of the pan. The cake will be very delicate.

Take a picture and send it to me. This cake goes so fast I can never get a picture first. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

It's Different This Time

I've been in Suva for a month now. It's different this time. I'm trying to pinpoint the exact reason why. In some ways, it's easier.

My first visit to Fiji was a hotel visit. Every morning my husband would get up and go to work, our son and I would head down to the lobby for breakfast. We swam in the pool, explored Suva, on the weekend we ventured out to a resort and watched spinner dolphins jump in the sunshine.

 By the time of my second visit and later visits we were in a house. That was much more of a cultural experience than staying in a hotel room. For one thing, because we had a kitchen I *had* to go to the store and the market for groceries. It also rained every day of my visit. Even so, I had coffee almost daily with neighbors and enjoyed my stay. Because all of our belongings either came with us in a suitcase or were provided with the home, the visit felt more like camping than being home.

 It's different now.

 Part of the difference is easy to see: we have our stuff with us. Everything is physically in close proximity to us. Unpacked? Well, that's a whole different story. But it's here. The biggest differences are more internal. Before when I couldn't find something, I laughed and chalked it up to the grand adventure. Now, if I can't find anything, I have to decide if I'm going to let it mess with my mind, or if it's still part of the grand adventure. One thing is for certain: If I can't find it, I don't have the option of just getting it back in New York. 

Speaking of which: where is home now? If I book a trip "home" what airport code do I enter?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Watching Your Money Go Up in Smoke

Diwali, the Festival of Lights, is a huge thing here in Fiji. It's an official Fijian Holiday and according to Wikipedia,
is also known as Deepavali. It's an ancient Hindu festival celebrated in autumn every year. The festival spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, and hope over despair. The festival preparations and rituals typically extend over a five day period, but the main festival night of Diwali coincides with the darkest, new moon night of the Hindu Lunisolar month Kartika. In the Gregorian calendar, Diwali night falls between mid-October and mid-November.
Before Diwali night, people clean, renovate and decorate their homes. On Diwali night, Hindus dress up in new clothes or their best outfit, light up diyas (lamps and candles) inside and outside their home, participate in family puja typically to Lakshmi – the goddess of wealth and prosperity. After puja (prayers), fireworks follow, then a family feast including mithai (sweets), and an exchange of gifts between family members and close friends. Diwali also marks a major shopping period in nations where it is celebrated.
The kids took the fireworks part of the whole thing very seriously. While half a dozen families were inside eating sweets and enjoying a family feast the kids were outside working their way through half of Rup's Big Bear's inventory of fireworks.

In the rain.

I have to say, I was impressed. I've lit more than my share of fuses, but I can't remember ever doing so in the rain. Of course, I also don't remember it ever raining on the 4th of July or New Year's Eve either.

Either way, I just watched our money go up in smoke one Roman candle and one fountain of flame and sparkler at a time. And you know what? It was pretty fun. 

Happy Diwali y'all. The victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, and hope over despair is definitely something to celebrate. Personally, I'm tickled pink that I don't have a long dark winter ahead of me here in the Southern Hemisphere. That's a triumph of light over dark if I ever saw one. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Pink Marshmallows

I made rice krispie marshmallow cookies for my son's lunches.

The recipe I've used for years to is to take a one pound bag of mini marshmallows, melt them with a couple of pats of butter and a splash of vanilla. Once the marshmallows are melted, stir in 5-6 cups of puffed rice, turn the styrofoamish mix into a greased pan and refrigerate. Let cool, cut into bars.

Well, it's not quite the same here.

The large marshmallows I've been able to find here come in colors, I have yet to see any all white ones or any mini marshmallows. To keep the cookies from being a brown mess I separate the pink/white marshmallows from the blue/yellow ones. I then make my cookies in batches. 

For me, this is kind of like my time in Fiji so far.  Everything I need is here, just not exactly the same as I was used to...and it takes longer.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Goal: Blog Daily

Excuse: I'm almost out of battery

Excuse: it's almost tomorrow

Excuse: I have nothing to write about

Excuse: I'd rather research bagel recipes

Excuse: there are major creepy crawlies in Fiji and I should use my battery life to find out what is out there. But I'm not sure if I really want to know. 

Oh look, this is enough for a post. Goodnight! 

Monday, October 20, 2014

When life gives you lemons.... make cheese!

How do I love cheese?  Let me count the ways...

I once organized a wine and cheese tasting just so I could try different cheeses.

I have been known to make special trips to stores based solely on the strength of their cheese counter. 

One of my earliest memories is of my dad slicing cheese off a cheddar round and giving each of us kids crowded around the butcher block a slice, repeating the process around and around the butcher block until the cheese was gone.

My go to after school snack growing up was a quesadilla.

Nachos were invented practically in my backyard. 

Did I mention I eat and buy a lot of cheese? 

Well, cheese is ridiculously expensive in Fiji.  Mind bogglingly pricey. I used to pay US $4.99 for a 1 pound block of mozzarella at home.  In Fiji a smaller block of the stuff starts at about US $10. And that's just mozzarella. If you're hankering for Haverti or craving Camembert it'll set you back US $20-40/lb.

What's a cheese loving girl to do? 

Well, few years back I watched some friends make cheese in the common kitchen of our annual retreat. Even though I didn't get hands on, I knew it was totally something I could do.  So I did.  A fellow expat had some extra rennet, a neighbor gets fresh milk delivered for US $1.25/liter, and there's a lime tree on my walk in that supplied my citric acid.

I gotta say, in all the twists I've ever heard on "when life gives you lemons" this is probably my favorite.  Although technically life gave me limes.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Things I want to learn

Things I want to learn: Everything. I'm not kidding. Let me chunk it a little more finely though:
  • What blooms when in Suva. What smells good, what tastes good, what looks pretty. 
  • What foods are in season when in the market
  • Where to get stuff. Like oh, m/f connections for my water hose. That's right, I bought a water hose and it was exactly that. A water hose. No more, no less.  

Monday, October 6, 2014

I'm Glowing!

Or, if you prefer...


Whatever, I'm sweating. And everyone keeps telling me it's going to get worse. 


The good news is that I don't think I need any fancy facial moisturizers here. And I have a washing machine so everything gets laundered at the end of the day. 

I grew up with the heat, I keep telling myself I should be ok with this, but the humidity is throwing me for a loop. When the humidity is at 30% your perspiration  - SWEAT - evaporates almost immediately, you don't feel the heat (just wait 'til I go home, you can remind me that I said that). In Suva, even when the temps are in the 70s the humidity ensures that you are glowing - SWEATING - at all times.

So, here's to drinking lots of Fiji (tap) Water and keeping the laundry soap magnates in business. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Things I can't live without

Um, I actually don't know what to put on this list.  I've been adding things to my Amazon Wish List, but mostly as a prompt so I remember to get things next time I'm in the US.

I think my list is more a "services I miss" list.  For example: everything delivery #notashopper

Thursday, October 2, 2014

New Jet Lag Survival Plan

It seems every year I have more trouble with jet lag.  Here's my new plan:
  • Avoid clocks, especially ones that tell me what time it is where I left. 
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Avoid heavy meals

Daytime hours: 
  • Sleep when tired, but only for 30 minutes at a time
  • Drink lots and lots of water, I track it by moving the rubber bands up the bottle each time I refill
  • Exercise at least 30 minutes daily, preferably early in the morning

Nighttime hours:
  • Avoid lighted screens after dark.  TV, phone,  Kindle
  • Sleep when tired, but if an hour of tossing and turning, get up, drink water,  read, write.  Continue to avoid lighted screens

I'll let you know how it goes. 
In case you're curious, here's what I've always done before:
  • Stay awake during daylight hours, even when it's really really hard to do so
  • Go to bed at a "decent hour," usually around 10 or so
  • Stay in bed even when tossing and turning
Bad habits I know I should avoid right after these long plane trips: 
  • Checking time "back home" incessantly
  • Updating everyone via social media about my travels. Those lighted screens really wake you up! 
  • Celebrating my arrival or return home with adult beverages
  • Nomnomming on everything new or everything I missed
Wish me luck! 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014


I love labyrinths. The term labyrinth is often used interchangeably with maze, but unlike a maze there is only one path through a labyrinth. That can sometimes be hard to believe as you walk a labyrinth with all its twists and turns, but there really is only one way through.

This weekend we had a labyrinth at our mountain retreat. It was beautiful. The fairy lights were mesmerizing. What really struck me how our path remained the next day after the lights were packed away. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

To buy or not to buy aka I have one, but it's in the container

We packed up our worldly possessions and moved halfway around the world. We had to break things into three sets:
One set to go in the container
One set to go in the suitcases we were taking to Fiji in August
One set to stay in New York for when my son and I came back in September.

It's said that man plans and God laughs. We got here ok but one of my suitcases didn't. Luckily things like my shoes, my bras & undies and a pair of pants, a pair of shorts and a skirt were in the suitcase that did get here. Unfortunately I only had the one shirt I was wearing and another that was in our dirty laundry. Oh and we had dinner with hub's new boss planned for the second night we got here. Yikes! A quick shopping trip to Jacks of Fiji covered me, but put me in an odd position for my first week. Should I buy ___ or wait for the suitcase. That was especially tough the first couple of days when Fiji Airways hadn't even located my suitcase yet.

Breathe. As a friend of mine sent me a quote from Fight Club: “It's only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything.” ― Chuck Palahniuk

Thankfully Thursday night I got word that my suitcase was on the way to Suva.

In the meantime I'd been taking full advantage of my favorite part of our new place:
Starting my morning with a cup of coffee and a cool breeze off the patio
No, not the view,
the Washer and Dryer!

Did I mention that I didn't have a washer in New York? I'm kind of picky about my laundry, it was not fun to send it out, but it was even less fun to schlep it to the laundromat. 
So now we're settling in, we've gone to the grocery store and picked up the essentials, like cooking oil and onions and garlic and ginger, but there's a few more things that we need.

See, we made dinner with fresh fish we got at the market, and we invited over the neighbors.
Those skewers? Not ours

Those skewers? We had to borrow them.

That cutting  board? Also not ours, but that came with the house. The wineglasses didn't. 
Those wine glasses? Also borrowed.

We have all kinds of stuff... 
I don't think I'll be wearing the black boots in Fiji, I just couldn't bear to give them away. Do you know how hard it is for a woman my size to find knee high leather boots that fit my calves? 
We just don't have it here. It's all in a container that's on a slow boat to China, er, Fiji.
See all that stuff? It's ours. We miss it. Well, not all of it, but I want my corkscrew. 
So the question is now: should we buy wine glasses and a corkscrew or just keep inviting over the neighbors? 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The case of the missing sock

Is it in the container? 

Is it in one of the suitcases? 

Is it in the bags we left in New York? 

Did the dryer eat it? 

Where in the world is the other sock?!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Vampire bats

First, my apologies for the clickbait. These creatures are not Vampires, they don't suck blood. In fact, these bats don't even use echo-location! Whoa. This is messing with everything I thought I knew about bats! There are some interesting reads online - you really should check this one out:

  • "perhaps one should think again before eating one. The bats were a great delicacy featured at Guam fiestas and feasts. You could even find them packaged in shrinkwrap alongside the other meats such as chicken, rabbit, duck, pork, beef at the local food markets. Then, some scientists doing research on a type neural disease that was more common on Guam than any other place in the world discovered a relationship to the fact that most of the sufferers of this disease ate tortillas made with the flour of Cycad palms. This might have been the end of the story. But then, the researchers found that these same folks also ate fruitbats… and then they connected with the fact that the bats also eat the fruits of the cycad palms. When the researchers analyzed the bat’s meat, they found high concentrations of cyanide and other toxins in its meat. Since this discovery, folks on Guam do not eat the tortillas made from cycad-fruit flour or fruitbats–even if these have been a long-standing cultural custom for centuries."
I'm looking forward to my time here in Fiji. Now that I've learned a little bit about megabats I can't wait to find a biologist to tell me more about these incredible creatures! 


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Early morning market visit

This morning we took advantage of the jetlag that wakes us up ridiculously early. We went to the market! It's located just outside the King's Wharf.
I was warned that the best stuff goes fast. Sure enough, but the time we'd done a circuit and come back around the lobsters were gone.
We bought some red snapper for dinner. They were cleaned right in front of us
No shopping carts here! We were limited to what we could carry. Luckily some items came with their own handles...
So many colors!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Whoa, I took that pic!

I've been taking a lot of pics this last week, some of them just make me go weak in the knees. Here they are:

I grew up  in the desert, so I tend to oooh and aaaaah over water. This pic turned out exceptionally well! 
A few years back I got an amazing pic of a Turkish coffee at a small restaurant in Virginia. I didn't think anything would top it... then this one happened along. 
My Suva Picnic Park & Seabreeze Park along the seawall are beautiful! This pic happened at dusk and was just magical 
Temporary quarters, but still pretty awesome
The day we got here. Wowza. 

Friday, August 8, 2014

I'm not in Kansas anymore

I walked to work (OK,  hub's work) through a rain forest,  had to look RIGHT before crossing the street,  and watched some awesome cultural performances at the Open Day. The staff wrapped up with a awesome bbq and Kava.
I'm definitely not in Kansas anymore. 

This is the walk to my husband's office. It's so cool! 
I HAVE to get used to looking RIGHT before I cross the road. RIGHT. 
The student groups all had a great time. The Vanuatu student group was especially enthusiastic
At the end of the night we had kava at the staff barbecue

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Grocery store trip aka buy local

I had some sticker shock at the grocery store. This store seems to cater to expats but still had some stuff I wasn't used to. 
I want to do some consumer reports style experiments to see if Tide Pods are really worth the price. A bag of laundry detergent is about $5FJ. 
$19FJ vs $3FJ. Yup, definitely buying locally produced toilet paper
I have never ever in my life seen in store coconut grating
I probably would have taken a pic of this anywhere. It was just funny that it happened to be in Fiji

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Too stressed to focus

otherwise known as Attack of the Monkey Mind. What, never heard of a Monkey Mind? It's a Buddhist term meaning "unsettled; restless; capricious; whimsical; fanciful; inconstant; confused; indecisive; uncontrollable"

Yup, that's me. We are SO close to being done, and yet still so far away. Instead of focusing on one thing at a time my head is ALL over the place. Result: I'm getting nothing done.

So here goes a brain dump. Hopefully a little word therapy will help me settle my thoughts. And if doesn't, expect to see another post today.


Friday, July 25, 2014

Signs this move is making me crazy

I look at a Franzia box and think, "Good box, wonder what I can put in it"
I order items from amazon on two different days so two more boxes will come in the mail
I have a favorite brand of packing tape
I have a favorite tape gun
I call going on errands with friends "girls night out" because I don't have any time between now and when I actually leave to have a girls night out. 

To be continued.... 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

I ♥ twitter

Tweeting in 2009
Ok, so this post isn't really move related, but it kinda sorta is. I ♥ twitter and I have since I moved to Lawrence, Kansas in 2008. We rented a place for 3 months about 10 miles out of town. Since it was a short term rental we didn't want to put money down for a permanent internet solution. I figured I'd just drive into town whenever I needed internet access. After all, I had an IPHONE (cue the ooh, ahh), why did I need internet access at home?

Um, yeah. This was 2008 and there weren't many mobile-optimized sites back then. But there was this really cool really awesome way to keep in touch with people and make new friends in my new home and I could do it totally via text message. Voila, it's Twitter!

What? Twitter has SMS commands? Why yes, it does ☺Here's a handy dandy list. You're welcome.

So, follow me on twitter. When I get Suva it's probably the only social media I'll be engaging with until I get settled in. It'll probably be light on the photos but high on entries, because I tweet. A lot. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


This is Cilantro. It's awesome stuff. (If you don't think it is, it's probably 'cause of your genes. But I digress.)

This is Cilantro
This is flat leaf parsley:
Flat Leaf Parsley
Except for a year as an exchange student (I'll link to those stories once I write them) I lived in Texas from birth until 2003. In 2003 I ended up in North East Tennessee and suddenly couldn't find any of the groceries I was looking for. I was fairly adept at hunting down Indian groceries (another story I'll link to once I get it told) and all those skills came into play in Johnson City, TN when I needed to find the ingredients for the wonderful Tex Mex I was raised on.

I knew it was going to be an interesting place to live when I walked into the Ingles grocery store,
now that's "Een-gulls," not "Een-GLESS" and tried to find cilantro in the produce section. The stocker gave me the most confused look, said he'd never heard of it. I showed him the label on the bin in the produce section and he dutifully went into the back.... and came back with flat leaf parsley.

We eventually did find our places to get Indian groceries and cilantro and make-your-belly-happy menudo (the soup, not the boy band) but along the way we discovered some yummy foods and sometimes interesting foods like Bojangles bo-berry biscuits and Dr. Enuf. I'm wondering what foods will be a challenge to find after this move and what gastronomic adventures lie ahead.

Oh, and I'm looking for a good recipe for dalo aka taro. I figure any dish that's a food staple in African, Oceanic and South Indian cultures and is believed to have been one of the earliest cultivated plants has got to be delicious in some form. I just haven't found it yet.
Update Saturday, August 9, 2014

Cilantro is $1FJ/bunch at the market here. At today's rate that's about 54 US cents. I think I'm going to like it here. 


Tuesday, July 22, 2014


Taking a boob tube break from packing, we came across a show about the islands of the South Pacific. The narrator mentioned that Solomon Islands were the site of intense fighting during WWII and hub casually mentions that one of the big tasks with the new campus is that they have to have unexploded ordnance aka UXO cleared from the site of the campus.

Australian Clearance Divers clean up unexploded ordnance in the Solomon Islands
Australian Clearance Divers clean up unexploded ordnance in the Solomon Islands

I'm gobsmacked. Here's one quote that I just can't get over:

“Many of the UXOs had to be destroyed in situ as they were too dangerous to move. In one case a village had to be evacuated while a naval shell was rendered safe with a carefully placed shaped charge. The fuse of the shell in question was in such an unstable state that the slightest nudge could still have set it off."

72 years later and this is still live ordnance. Wow.

It looks like this move and this job isn't going to be anything like the others. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Oops. That awkward moment experienced while packing

In Tennessee I stepped in a bucket of blue paint. Superman blue to be exact.  Turns out paint cans are not good substitutes for step stools.

Today I balanced a cup of coffee on top of a stack of boxes. That didn't work out so well :/

But it makes for a funny story.  And blessed are we who can laugh at ourselves for we shall never cease to be amused.

Saturday, July 19, 2014


After every move one of my guys will ask me where an item is. I can see ever so clearly where it is.... In the old place.  Occasionally I'll need an item at the store and I'll remember which aisle it's in, but that store is in a different state. Lately I've been seeing my dog out of the corner of my eye or I'll go into rooms wondering where he is even though he made his last visit to the vet weeks ago. 

As we pack up everything we own in preparation for this move I keep wondering what ghosts will follow me on this next trip.  New York is so different from Suva.

You should write a blog

People keep telling me I should write a blog.

So I started a blog.

 Here's me before I ever went online: