Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Eve Spiced Apple Rum Cake

1 cup sultanas or dried fruit
1/4 cup rum
Soak fruit in rum overnight before making recipe

1 1/3 cups vegetable oil
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
3 to 4 Granny Smith apples, cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (3 cups)
1 cup chopped assorted nuts, such as pecans and walnuts (optional)
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350F/175C degrees. Spray a 12-cup Bundt pan with cooking spray; set aside.
Working over a large sheet of parchment paper, sift together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt; gather sifted ingredients into center of sheet; set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine vegetable oil, sugar, and eggs; mix on high speed until lemon yellow.
Fold reserved parchment in half lengthwise; with mixer on medium speed, gradually shake in dry ingredients until just incorporated.
Add dried fruit, apples and, if desired, nuts and grated ginger, to batter; mix to combine. Add vanilla, mixing until incorporated.
Pour batter into prepared pan, and bake until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 75 to 90 minutes.
Remove from oven, and cool slightly on a wire rack.

1 cup light-brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup evaporated milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Combine ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until thickened to desired consistency.

1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons water

Make the Glaze: Whisk together confectioners' sugar and enough water to form a thick yet pourable glaze. Set rack with cake over a piece of wax paper (for easy cleanup); drizzle cake with glaze, and let set before serving

Thursday, December 3, 2015

End of the year goodbyes

I went to the closing assembly at school today, was literally stunned at the number of kids leaving this year. The ones sitting on the floor are the ones that are staying, they went up with their friends. The ones standing are all leaving.

I don't know if I went to this assembly last year. I don't know if the number was smaller last year. I don't know if I wasn't as affected last year because I was newly arrived. I do know that I am amazed at how impermanent life is in an international school.

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Week of AGMs!

The International Women's Association Annual General Meeting is on Monday November 16th at 10AM. This is the grande dame of Suva organizations, the year I arrived they raised over FJ$200,000 for charities. They can be reached at Their usual meeting is the first Monday of the month.

Tuesday is the Women Entrepreneurs in Business Council Meeting at 3:00 PM November 17th. Members range from market stall vendors to owners of large businesses. They will have a guest speaker from the USA this week. They can be reached at I believe they meet once every two months on the third Tuesday.

Wednesday November 18th is the Corona Fiji Annual General Meeting and Christmas Bazaar. Corona runs a weekly trolley at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital and coordinate the donation of medical equipment to the hospital. Their monthly meetings tend to highlight an aspect of Fijian culture through demonstrations and speakers and are a lot of fun. Email Corona Fiji <> to RSVP. Corona generally meets every month on the third Wednesday of the month.

Thursday is the American Women's Association Annual General Meeting and Thanksgiving potluck. This group is open to women of any nationality and focuses on settling into Fiji and developing friendships. AWA is providing the main dishes but attendees are asked to bring their favorite dish. It ties into Thanksgiving as a celebration of family and tradition. is the best way to reach the AWA leadership. AWA almost always meets on the last Thursday of the month, but as most Americans celebrate Thanksgiving on that day in November they moved the November meeting up a week so the Americans can celebrate with their families.

Friday is the Asian Ladies Group. The International School has an annual Fun Day with food stalls from all around the world. About five years ago a number of women from Asia commented on how much fun it was to share food from their homelands and sample the food of other countries so they started a monthly group for members of the Asian diaspora. This group meets monthly and is almost always a potluck because the focus is on homemade dishes and asian foods. I believe in 2015 they met at a restaurant twice. Asian Ladies Suva <> is used to coordinate RSVPs for their meetings. Their meeting moves some, but is generally the third week of the month.

They usually all meet on different weeks of the month, but November got all crowded together. I'm really thankful that they're not all on the same day!  

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

I love you Sam Jones

I'm just going to bawl for a minute. I may have to post just a pic for now and come back to it later.

November 2015

A Partial Listing of November 2015 Stuff

W - Alofa Yoga YMCA 10AM

W - Bootcamp with Dee @ANZ Stadium
W - SUAW - Cafe 30 @9, repeats weekly
Melbourne Cup @ Governor's Benefits Fiji Fashion Council
TW - Judo- Behind Nabua High School off Mead Road 6PM

PTFA Budget Meeting @5PM
Alliance Francaise Movie night

Friday 6
MYC Monologue Showcase @The Playhouse

IWA Arabian Nights Ball
Uprising Music Festival

Diwali Celebrations

Tuesday 10
M - Suva University Partners and Spouses monthly coffee

Saturday 14
ISS Garage Sale

Monday 16
IWA AGM (RSVP by 12 November)

Tuesday 17
Women Entrepreneur's Business Council Meets

Wednesday 18
Corona Fiji AGM

Thursday 19
American Women's Association AGM
Beaujoulais Nouveau Celebration @Bad Dog Damodar

Monday, September 14, 2015


I got fresh vegetables delivered, hooray!

What to make?

Kale Salad to the rescue:

(1) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
(1) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
(2-3) cups packed green curly kale, minced
(1/3) cup kalamata olives, pitted & minced finely (about 20)
(1/2) cup cubed feta cheese
(1) clove garlic, minced
1/4) cup finely minced red onion
(4) tbsp olive oil
(2-3) tbsp balsamic vinegar
(1) tsp salt (or to taste)
black pepper to taste
(1) pint cherry tomatoes
fresh basil leaves (1 stalk or about 6-8 leaves)

Combine the drained and rinsed beans, chopped kale, olives, feta, garlic & red onion (if using) and toss gently together. Stir in the olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt & pepper and adjust to taste. Mix all gently to incorporate the dressing. Halve the cherry tomatoes and toss them in just at the end, reserving a few to leave on top for color. Just before serving, tear a generous amount of fresh basil leaves and scatter over the top.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Pastel de Tres Leches en Fiji

Tolu Sucu Keke or Pastel de Tres Leches Fiji Style

1 cup normal flour plus extra for flouring the baking dish
1/2 cup dessicated coconut
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter (about 115 grams), melted and cooled
1 cup Fiji sugar
5 eggs

Tres Leches milk mixture to pour over the cooled cake
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (12 fluid ounce) can coconut milk
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk
1/3 cup Fiji Rum Co. rum (optional)

Whipped Cream topping
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour one 9x13 inch (23 x 20 x 3 cm) baking pan.

Sift flour and baking powder together and set aside.

Beat egg whites in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on high until stiff peaks form; gradually beat in sugar until mixture is glossy. Beat in egg yolks, one at a time, combining each yolk before adding the next; beat in the melted butter and vanilla extract. Reduce mixer speed to medium and add the flour/baking powder mixture, about 1 tablespoon at a time, to the bowl, beating continuously. Pour batter into prepared baking dish.

Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Pierce cake several times with a fork.

Combine the coconut milk, condensed milk, and evaporated milk. Pour over the top of the cooled cake, refrigerate overnight or at least one hour to allow the tres leches to absorb into the cake.

Just before serving, whip the whipping cream, the remaining 1 cup of the sugar, and the remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla together until thick. Cut in squares and top each serving with a dollop of whipped cream and some sliced seasonal fruit.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Tonight's Dinner Plan. And get this: I found everything on my shopping list!

Greek Dinner
Starters: spanakopita, chicken kebabs with tzatziki sauce
Mains: Lamb Kofte, greek lemon potatoes, chickpea salad
Greek Lemon Potatoes
1 kg potatoes, peeled and quartered      1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil                 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel
12 garlic cloves, sliced     1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray a large rimmed baking sheets with nonstick spray; set aside.
In a large bowl, toss potatoes with 1/4 cup olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt and black pepper. Transfer potatoes in single layer onto baking sheet.Roast 30 minutes.
While potatoes are roasting, make the dressing by whisking extra-virgin olive oil, lemon juice, dill, and lemon peel in small bowl. Pour two tablespoons of the mixture into another small bowl and add garlic.
Divide garlic mixture between baking sheets with potatoes and toss to coat; reverse baking sheets and roast until potatoes are tender and brown around edges, about 15 minutes longer.
In a large bowl, toss roasted potatoes with enough of remaining dressing to coat and serve.
Spanakopita Triangles
Prep Time: 30 Minutes  Cook Time: 1 Hour 5 Minutes
Ready In: 1 Hour 35 Minutes       Servings: 12
55 ml vegetable oil                          1 large onion, chopped
1 Kg fresh spinach                            4 g chopped fresh dill
8 g all-purpose flour                        125 g feta cheese, crumbled
2 eggs, lightly beaten                     salt and pepper to taste
3/4 package phyllo dough            165 g butter, melted
1.            Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2.            Heat vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Slowly cook and stir onions until softened. Mix in spinach, once wilted, add dill and flour. Cook approximately 10 minutes, or until most of the moisture has been absorbed. Remove from heat. Mix in feta cheese, eggs, salt and pepper.
3.            Separate one sheet of phyllo from the stack and evenly brush with a light coating of butter. Place another sheet of phyllo over the butter and press the two sheets together. Cut the layered phyllo dough into long strips about 3 inches wide. Keep the remaining phyllo covered with plastic wrap to keep it from drying out.
4.            Lay out one strip of phyllo at a time on your work surface with one of the narrow ends close to you. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling 1 inch from the end closest to you. Fold the bottom right corner over the filling to the left edge to form a triangle. Fold the triangle up, bringing the point at the bottom left up to rest along the left edge. Turn the lower left corner over to touch the right edge. Continue turning the triangle over in this manner until you reach the end of the phyllo. Repeat with the remaining filling and phyllo dough.
5.            Place filled phyllo dough triangles on a large baking sheet and brush with the remaining butter. Bake in the preheated oven until golden brown, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Tzatziki Sauce

450 g greek yogurt
 2 cucumbers - peeled, seeded and finely diced
 30 ml olive oil
 1 Tbsp lemon juice
 salt and pepper to taste
 4 g finely chopped fresh dill
 3 cloves garlic, finely crushed

In a mixing bowl, combine the yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, dill and garlic. Blend thoroughly, chill for one hour before serving.

Lamb Kofte Kebabs

250 g lamb mince
250 g beef mince
¼ cup breadcrumbs
1 small onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 Tbsp dill, chopped
Salt & pepper to taste
In a large bowl, combine the ground lamb and beef mixture, breadcrumbs, half the shallot, a pinch of garlic (save the rest for the vegetables), the remaining dill and remaining mint; season with salt and pepper. Divide the mixture into 4 equal, oblong patties and insert a wooden skewer lengthwise into the center of each.

In a large pan (nonstick, if you have one), heat 2 teaspoons of oil on medium until hot. Add the kebabs and cook 3 to 5 minutes per side, or until browned and cooked through. (Loosely cover the pan with aluminum foil to help the kebabs cook faster.) Transfer the cooked kebabs to a plate, leaving any drippings in the pan. Set the cooked kebabs aside in a warm place.

Garnish with the cucumber-yogurt sauce and lemon wedges. Enjoy!

Chickpea Salad
2 (15 ounce) cans garbanzo beans, drained
2 cucumbers, halved lengthwise and sliced
4 roma tomatoes, diced
0.5 red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 cup black olives, drained and chopped
30 g crumbled feta cheese
60 ml extra virgin olive oil
60 ml balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Combine the beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion, garlic, olives, cheese, salad dressing, lemon juice, garlic salt and pepper. Toss together and refrigerate 2 hours before serving. Toss feta in before serving. Serve chilled.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Souvenirs from Fiji

What do you give to a centenarian? And what do you give to the extended family members who are coming to the celebration/family reunion? In this hyperconnected world where anything can be purchased online, how do you give something that is truly authentic and one of a kind? Ok, well, maybe I have that one covered ONE time, but how do I keep that sentiment and find enough gifts for my extended family without going broke?

Here are my people/categories of gift that I need to buy for:
  • Grandma
  • Mom
  • Dad
  • Sisters & almost sister-in-law
  • Brother & brothers in law
  • housewarming gifts
  • Aunts
  • Uncles
  • Cousins
  • People I'm related to, and could probably tell you how if I really thought about it
  • Friends I'm seeing on my layover, friends I'm staying with when I get there, friends I run into that I don't have any idea to expect. 

Here's what I got: 
  • Pure Fiji gift packs. I love these products. I wish they had an unscented version, but although the strong fragrances slow me down, they don't stop me. My feet get all kinds of beat up wearing flip flops all the time and the sugar scrub totally revitalizes and rehydrates them. The coconut oil, lotions, and body butter are just icing on that cake.  
  • Pure Fiji mosquito repellent. I'm going to an outdoor family reunion... in Texas .... in the summer. The repellent is Fiji patio tested and mom-approved, pretty sure it will hold up to a summer reunion.   
  • hand printed sulus in a variety of colors and weights and designs. Pics will have to get posted later. I chose these because they're 2 meters of beautiful fabric. They can be used for their traditional purpose as a loose skirt, but they also make great table cloths and scarves or can be sewn into dresses or pillows or all kinds of other neat things. It's a good thing I'm coming back to Fiji because some of these sulus are so beautiful that I don't want to let them go! 
  • Individual packets of kava and bilos - This sort of walks the line between keychains and a truly useful gift. I get small packets of kava made up at the market, they're all individually wrapped and I give them with a coconut cup or bilo. They cost me about $1.50 per gift, and are very much a part of Fijian life here. That said, I know that many of the people I give them to are probably never going to open their kava and try it. Isa! 
  • Nature Fiji Mareqete Viti calendars - I started by attending NFMV events, somehow or another I found myself volunteering at their events. I have truly taken a deep drink of the kool-aid. That said, the calendars that NFMV publishes are simply awesome. Click the link to see for yourself! 
  • Fijian Pearl necklace
  • Salusalu
  • Pacific Dialogue greeting cards

So. That's my list. What would you give? 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Driving on the left side of the road, oh my!

This is one post that I wish I had actually written as I was learning to drive on the left hand side of the road.

For those who are joining us late I grew up in Texas. I think I was around 12 when on an occasional basis my dad started letting us drive down one block under his close supervision from the passenger seat. Then when I turned 15 I got a learner's permit and he started having me drive everywhere, again closely supervised from his spot in the passenger's seat. When I turned 16 I got my first driver's license.

And then I stopped driving. I lived in Europe and biked everywhere. I went to college and biked everywhere. I got a job and biked to work everyday.

Then I got a job that required me to drive about a thousand miles a week - that's about 1,600 km metric. Luckily - and I do say luckily with sincerity - I got a ticket a few months after I started that job. I chose to go to a defensive driving class. The instructor taught a class called "Grin and Take It" He was a professional stand up comedian that had been in a huge pileup years before. Think Jon Stewart for driver's school. He covered all the requisite topics with an incredible amount of humor - so much humor that 15+ years later I still remember tons of what he said.

"Time and Physics are working against you, so you always have to drive defensively."

But I digress.

Driving on the right side of the road is different from driving on the left side of the road, but it's not a mirror reverse. In some ways I think that would have been easier, but no, some things stay in the same spot.

And this is the spot that I really wish I'd written this portion as I was becoming accustomed to driving on the left hand side of the road. I don't have the muscle memory that I had back in October about what goes where. Now when I get in the car, it feels right to drive on the left.

And I'm headed back to the US soon!  

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Design Your Own Sulu Jaba

"You need a sulu jaba for next Friday"

That doesn't sound like it should be terrifying or stressful, but it was! We were recently arrived in Suva and my husband's office was welcoming him with a traditional ceremony. I love parties, but I didn't have the right clothes.... and didn't know how to get them.

One of my husband's coworkers took me to a couple of fabric stores and we chose a fabric that was neither too thick nor too thin. The print wasn't too dark or too light. And then the coworker had to go back to work. Before she left we tried to find a tailor, but none of them could finish my sulu jaba in time for the event.

*deep breath*

I had the name of a woman in the flea market and I found her stall only to find she couldn't finish within the week. She gave me the name of another seamstress who also was booked. I felt like Mary and Joseph going from one inn to another only to be turned away. Finally I came to the last aisle and the last stall and found a seamstress that could sew the sulu jaba in a week's time, just in time for my deadline.

And it was ok. The fabric was comfortable and I felt fine.



the sulu jabas that I saw on the women in town were so beautiful! In passing I would hear others comment on the Samoan print or how traditionally Fijian another sulu jaba was. Everything looked tropical to me, I wanted to know how they could tell the fabrics apart, I wanted a sulu jaba that felt designed, and not just sewn!

A few months went by and I started to meet people. I also started to put together activities, and one of them was a Sulu Jaba Design excursion. This is what I sent out:

Sulu Jaba Excursion. $30 + cost of material, price includes a custom made sulu jaba made from the material you choose (material is purchased separately). The April meeting of the American Women's Association is scheduled for Thursday, April 30 at noon in the US Embassy. What better way to welcome our new US Ambassador Judith Cefkin to her post in Fiji than with a friendly Bula Vinaka from the women of AWA in our festive bula wear? A Sulu Jaba is the traditional Fijian two piece outfit. It consists of a fitted tunic over an ankle length skirt in matching or coordinating fabric. The most traditional sulu jabas are made of 100% cotton and have a knee length top over the ankle length wrap skirt. Modern interpretations are limited only by your imagination and the skill of your tailor. This month's activity has two parts: first we'll visit a fabric shop guided by a local designer. At the fabric shop we'll learn about different natural and synthetic fibers and how they affect the weight and drape of a material. We'll also learn about Pacific Island design motifs and how the repeat of the pattern affects your buying decisions. Our guide will help you select a sulu jaba design that fits your personal sense of style and help you select a fabric that will work well with your chosen pattern. Your sulu jaba will be ready in 7 days, you'll arrange for a fitting and pickup date during your initial visit. Your fee of $30 includes your trip to the fabric store, design consultation, and the sewing of your sulu jaba. Material is purchased separately. You can also bring 4.5 meters of your own fabric to have your sulu sewn. Please note that the $30 cost does not include the cost of the fabric. If you're interested, please respond by email with your name and your cell phone number. If there is still space available you will receive a confirmation email with details about how to prepare for your visit and our meeting point. Space is very limited, so please RSVP quickly if you plan to join us for this outing.

First we met at a local fabric shop to choose a fabric:

Rosie Semisi, a local designer, met us at the store and taught us about the different prints. She also helped us visualize how these prints would look once made into a sulu jaba.

Then Rosie custom designed sulu jabas:

We met for fittings
Picked up the finished sulu jabas

And then we wore them to the US Embassy in April 

This definitely turned out better than my first sulu jaba design adventure.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Purple. Or when you love something that's all you see.

Soon after we moved to Tennessee I was standing in line at the campus snack bar. I realized the woman in front of me was dressed in purple from head to toe. She had on a purple top, purple pants, purple socks, purple shoes, and purple shoe laces.

I piped up and complimented her on her outfit. She responded that purple was her favorite color and she loved to wear it. I then asked, "Where did you find purple socks and shoelaces?"

The lady in purple smiled and said, "Honey, when you love something, that's all you see!"

That afternoon when I got home I looked in my closet and realized it was full of red clothing. Apparently I'd been unconsciously choosing red for years. At that point I gave up trying to squelch it and happily bought red purses, shoes, shirts, skirts, you name it. Funnily enough, it wasn't hard at all. Just as she'd told me, when you love something, that's all you see.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

A typical day

I posted this a few days ago on facebook:

What does a typical day in Fiji look like? I still can't tell you. Today I walked past the mangroves, shopped the first day of new stock at Value City, ate lunch at an open air food court, and saw some great art. We came home to a ginormous rhinoceros beetle crawling over our doorstep. Typical day? Maybe. Does it resemble any previous day of our life in New York? Definitely not.

Mangroves along the sea wall near My Suva Park

Harbor Court Open Air Food Court in Suva

Value City closes periodically to add new stock. It's a full house as shoppers look the secondhand merchandise over after.

Alice Hill of Hot Glass Fiji speaking at the British High Commission Residence

Side View of a female rhinoceros beetle. Bad pic, but I swear it was huge
Today during the chat portion of our Shut Up and Write group we were talking about what a "typical" day in Suva looks like. I really don't know. Some days it's not much different than my life in the states. Other days, like when I go to the store and can't find strawberry yogurt or fresh milk or spaghetti sauce, it feels incredibly frustrating and difficult. And still other days, like when I see a palm tree growing from a coconut, I'm amazed all over again that I live in Fiji. What's a typical day in Fiji like? I'll let you know when I get to one.

Exploring Suva

I'm pretty good at getting out and about on my own, but some things are just more fun with others. One of the things I've been doing this year is planning events for the American Women's Association here in Suva.

AWA was founded in the 1980's and is a non-profit volunteer-run organization. Among other things AWA provides social activities that enhance friendships and personal development. While AWA embraces the American culture, membership is open to anyone regardless of nationality. Members come from all over the world and bring with them a wealth of knowledge and interests.

Here's are the activities I've organized so far this year for AWA:

Suva Municipal Market Tour. 
Meet the AWA group at the Flower Stalls at the south east corner of the municipal market (closest to Tappoo City). The tour will go through the upstairs spice and yaqona stalls, outside through the vegetable and fruit vendors, around the seafood sellers and conclude at the back of the market near the tailors. Each attendee will receive a reusable shopping bag compliments of MH Flagstaff.

Scuba Dive. Certified Divers Only. 
Meet the AWA group at Suva Scuba on the Royal Yacht Club grounds. We'll gear up and leave at 10:00 for Navakavu Reef. This is a marine protected area and is home to numerous turtles. The reef itself is undercut by the prevailing SE swell. This, combined with an earthquake in 1953, dislodged the reef edge causing a tsunami to shoot across the bay and onwards to Kadavu island.  The remnants of this can still be seen as huge reef slabs sitting at the base of the wall in around 60-70' (20-25m). There are also several crevasses where the reef crest did not completely part company from the main reef body.

Movie Night at Damodar Event Cinemas 50 Shades of Gray.

Are you all tied up in knots about Tuesday's night's showing of 50 Shades of Gray? Don't be! Here's the plan:

Check in at Damodar Event Cinema anytime before 8:00 PM. Choose your seat from one of the groupings held for the American Women's Association. Then come into the Premium Lounge and join the rest of our movie night group.

At 8:00 our Guest Speaker Roshika Deo will facilitate a fun and interactive Q&A session about the book 50 Shades of Gray and the BDSM lifestyle. Ms. Deo is an Attorney and Consultant at the International Center for Advocates Against Discrimination (ICAAD) Her review of the 50 Shades of Gray books was quoted in the Fiji Times "(T)here however also needs to be spaces and avenues for open and frank discussions on the subject of BDSM, sexuality, intimate relationships and domestic violence, which she believes is lacking in Fiji." Don't worry that the discussions might stray into your red zones, there will be plenty of discreet ways to interact without crossing your boundaries. In addition, the more questions you ask, the more chances you'll have to win a door prize. If things get too intense, use your safe word.

Spoken English Practice & Coffee. 
Join us and meet Native English speakers and learners in a friendly, casual atmosphere.  We will have formal and informal introductions and everybody gets a chance to talk. The conversations are fun, relaxed, and are organized by a native English speaker. Your facilitator will make sure everybody is talking and learning English conversation skills.

Waterfall Hike Colo-i-Suva Park 
This hike ended up not happening as scheduled because of TC Pam.
If Colo-i-Suva Forest National Park were anywhere else in the world, it would be overrun with visitors. As it is, it's relatively unknown, even to us locals. This lush rainforest park is an oasis teeming with vivid and melodic birdlife and tropical flora. Among the wildlife are 14 different bird species, including scarlet robins, spotted fantails, Fiji goshawks, sulphur-breasted musk parrots, Fiji warblers, golden doves and barking pigeons. Our group will take a mountainside trail that leads to the lower natural pool. Once there, we'll be able to relax and swim in a cool, clear mountain pool before hiking back to our cars at the lodge.

Easter Eggstravaganza 
We’ll have a crazy-fun egg hunt and Easter crafts for the kids. Sponsored by US Embassy CLO & AWA

Spoken English Practice & Coffee. 

Sulu Jaba Excursion. $30 + cost of material, price includes a custom made sulu jaba made from the material you choose (material is purchased separately).

The April meeting of the American Women's Association is scheduled for Thursday, April 30 at noon in the US Embassy. What better way to welcome our new US Ambassador Judith Cefkin to her post in Fiji than with a friendly Bula Vinaka from the women of AWA in our festive bula wear?

A Sulu Jaba is the traditional Fijian two piece outfit. It consists of a fitted tunic over an ankle length skirt in matching or coordinating fabric. The most traditional sulu jabas are made of 100% cotton and have a knee length top over the ankle length wrap skirt. Modern interpretations are limited only by your imagination and the skill of your tailor.

This month's activity has two parts: first we'll visit a fabric shop guided by a local designer. At the fabric shop we'll learn about different natural and synthetic fibers and how they affect the weight and drape of a material. We'll also learn about Pacific Island design motifs and how the repeat of the pattern affects your buying decisions. Our guide will help you select a sulu jaba design that fits your personal sense of style and help you select a fabric that will work well with your chosen pattern.

Your sulu jaba will be ready in 7 days, you'll arrange for a fitting and pickup date during your initial visit.

Your fee of $30 includes your trip to the fabric store, design consultation, and the sewing of your sulu jaba. Material is purchased separately. You can also bring 4.5 meters of your own fabric to have your sulu sewn. Please note that the $30 cost does not include the cost of the fabric.

If you're interested, please respond by email with your name and your cell phone number. If there is still space available you will receive a confirmation email with details about how to prepare for your visit and our meeting point. Space is very limited, so please RSVP quickly if you plan to join us for this outing.

Fiji Rum Co. Tasting
Have you seen the lineup of Fiji Rum Co. Rums?

Banana Rum - Coconut Rum - Coffee Rum - Golden Honey Rum - Rum Liqueur - White Chocolate Rum - 2 year old White Rum - 8 year old Rum

Have you tried them all?

Please join the American Women’s Association for an introduction to the Fiji Rum Co. and their flavorful lineup on Tuesday, May 19 at 1:00 PM. Paradise Beverage’s Rum Development Manager Liam Costello will give us a history of spirits in Fiji and some background on the distillation and bottling process. We’ll hear about the Fiji Rum Co story and finish with a tasting flight of the distinctive Fiji Rum Co. rums.

Meet the Family
Thank you for your involvement in the American Women’s Association this year. By now you’ve seen how AWA helps you meet others here in Suva and get connected, now is your chance to introduce your family to the friends you’ve made in AWA.

You’re invited to a “Meet the Family” potluck. This will be on Sunday, May 17, starting at 2:PM with the meal beginning at 3PM. The pool is open and we’ll have some traditional yard games like cornhole, bocce, and yard yahtzee available as well as a movie room for the tweens and a playroom for younger children.


Q: Can I come even if my family isn't in Fiji?
A: Of course!

Q: Can I bring a guest?
A: Yes, we do ask that you each bring a dish for the potluck if you are coming with a guest. There's a spot in the signup for you to indicate how many people are coming in your group. This is a family home, so attendance will be capped once we hit capacity.  

Q: Will there be alcohol at this event?
A: This will be a BYOB event. Coolers are available onsite.

Q: Oh no, I hate to cook! Can I come without bringing a dish?
A: Please come as we want your company most of all. If you are in a rush before the potluck or just don't enjoy cooking, never fear. Perhaps you could stop by the market and pick up some seasonal fruits that you bring home, rinse, and maybe chop and serve with a little bit of lime juice? Another good idea may be to pick up hummus and a whole grained bread. Or what about a liter or two of a delicious ice cream?

Q: What's the dress code?
A: Casual!

Q: I'm on your mailing list but I'm not (yet) a member - can I come?
A: We would love to meet you! Feel free to come to a few events, but please consider joining the group.

Q: Is parking available?
A: Our host family live in the Domain area. The homes on their street have 24 hour security and there is ample parking in the cul-de-sac leading to their home.

Q: Is there a rain plan?
A: Our host family's home includes a large covered porch, well fenced pool, a sloping front lawn and an ample back garden, all of which lend themselves easily to indoor and outdoor activities.

Q: I have yard darts, can I bring them?
A: Please feel free to bring SAFE pool and outdoor games and toys. You may want to label them to make sure they go home at the end of the afternoon. And please, leave the yard darts at home.

Q: My dog is my family, can I add Rover to my RSVP?
A: Please leave the pets home this time.

Sustainable Seafood. An Ethical Fish Buying Guide
Patricia of Pacific Dialogue Ltd (a local NGO) is a fisheries scientist. She will lead a guided tour through the Suva Fish market the morning of Friday, June 12 and answer questions such as What is 'sustainable' seafood?; Where do we find these fish?; Why have they have this colour; this shape?; which ones are safer to buy?

There is no charge for this event, but Patricia does ask for donations to the NGO she supports (Pacific Dialogue). The NGO's  mission is to promote dialogue and education on human rights and good governance issues in Fiji and the Pacific as a means to resolve conflict, develop understanding and uphold basic human rights.

We're almost at the halfway point in the year. I'm looking forward to what the rest of 2015 will bring.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Goodbye (but no gifts)

People disappear so quickly here. Most of the people I've met are on short 3 year contracts, which means just as you start to get to know them they're on their way out.

Goodbyes are turning out to be pretty low key as a result. No gifts, because their shipment already left. It's very strange, but apparently it's the way it is around here. One long term resident told me soon after I arrived that she wasn't in the habit of friending expats because their contracts were so short that it was like having pets - they passed on so quickly that it was too painful to have them in your life.

I haven't yet wrapped my head around this yet.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Fiji Fashion Week 2015

Ever have an experience that turns out to be so much more than you ever expected it could be? That was Fiji Fashion Week for me.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Remember the last times

The first times are easy to record and remember, but when is the last time you'll see someone? When is the last time you'll have coffee together?

Soon after I became I mom I read an article talking about firsts... and lasts. We notice those first words, those first steps, those firsts so quickly, but in the end, it's the lasts that pull at our heartstrings. When is the last time you're going to walk down the front steps of the house you just bought? When is the last time that your child will be small enough for you to swing him up onto your shoulders? When is the last time that you will talk to your parents? 

I try really hard to stay in the moment and to be aware of what is happening in the now. Even so, some of these last moments have snuck up on me. I'm trying not to have too many more of those happen, but I think it's part of life. 

Friday, April 10, 2015

Family Memberships - April 2015 NFMV Event - A Frog Night with Nunia

So much to do, so little time!

When I moved to New York I remember having an awful sense that I was missing things. There were simply too many things going on and I was too new and I couldn't parse the info quickly enough to find activities that our family wanted to participate in. One thing that I'd learned when we moved to Tennessee was that if something AMAZING was missed to talk to the organizers and ask when they planned to hold it next year and add that to my calendar with enough advance notice to be sure to RSVP. 

Got it. 

But how to handle a huge number of activities coming at you from every direction?

One of my coworkers gave me some advice for which I will forever be grateful. She suggested that we join one institution each year and for that one year make that institution our priority in planning our outings. We didn't need to be monogamous, we could of course go to different places and do different things, but for one year we should try to do as many events as that institution offered and we could fit in our schedule. 

So we did. We joined the zoo one year and stopped in on Wednesday afternoons and Saturdays and Sundays. We were members, so it didn't matter if we were only going for an hour or for hours, We would go and only look at one exhibit. We would go, leave, get some lunch, and come back. Instead of feeling tied to one place, we had this incredible sense of freedom. It was awesome. 

Another year we joined the Museum of Modern Art. (My turn! Can you tell?) I LOVED it and dragged my son along more times that he would like to admit. One time in the middle of the year I met a friend there to see the Diego Rivera exhibit. We were spending ages with each painting and our son was bored to tears. He politely asked if he could go down to the gift shop and I said yes. My friend and I came to the end of the exhibit and decided to meet up with my preteen in the gift shop.

Except... there was no pre-teen in the gift shop. At first I was bemused, I figured he was sitting on the floor reading a book or perhaps listening to music while he waited. I checked all the corners, walked all the aisles. No son. I was one minute away from talking to security when I remembered he had a cell phone (bear with me, you don't always think straight when you're anxious) 

He promptly answered

"I'm in the Design Exhibit. I wanted to look at some things we saw last time."

This is the kid I had to cajole and bribe to go with me choosing of his own volition to look at an exhibit. That one line made that year's membership fee worth it. 

So, long story short, after six months here it's getting to be time for us to choose our cultural institution. This one looks pretty good, what do you think? 


NatureFiji-MareqetiViti is Fiji's only domestic NGO working solely for the conservation and sustainable management of Fiji's unique natural heritage

Learn from the Scientists

Frog Night with Nunia

Join Nunia for a night walk at Colo-I-Suva and discover her fascination for frogs

25th April 2015


Saturday night 6.30pm - 8.30pm

Colo I Suva Forest Park

Hate frogs? Scared of frogs?
Join Nunia for a night walk at Colo I Suva and discover her fascination for frogs. They come in many colours, not just green as most people think.

Nunia used to be terrified of frogs, lizards and snakes. On her first frog survey, she could not stand handling a frog and would chase it so that the next person could catch it. She now thinks Fiji's frogs are the cutest frogs in the whole world.

Meet: at the car park of Colo I Suva Forest Park at 6.30pm.

Minimum Age: 10 years.

Cost: $10 for NatureFiji member. $15 for non-member.

Estimated walk is 1.5 hours. Wear long pants and suitable shoes for walking.

Bring a torch and mosquito repellent.

Buses from Suva bus station (aprox.$2, 30 minutes) or a faster taxi ride for $15-$20. 

Become an NFMV member today!

Become a member and enjoy the discounted rate. Limited places available so book and make payment early. Contact :
Anna Billings t - 310 0598
Swee Kok t - 8338608

Nunia Thomas

Nunia Thomas, is the Director of NatureFiji, Fiji's only local NGO for the conservation and sustainable use of Fiji's biodiversity.

She is a passionate herpetologist and is often called upon for her expertise in biodiversity expeditions.

Nunia is the Fiji NGO focal point of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, technical advisor on the government led American Iguana Eradication Campaign, National Protected Areas Committee and NBSAP Species working group.

Prior to NatureFiji, Nunia was involved in planning and establishing long-term monitoring plots for invasive plants in two of Fiji's protected areas; and conducted ecological studies on some of Fiji's endangered species.

Copyright © 2015 NatureFiji-MareqetiViti, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because of a subscription we had received under your contact information, requesting updates via our newsletters.

Our mailing address is:
14 Hamilton-Beattie Street (Off Service Street)