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!