Happy Easter and Passover for those who celebrate…We’re having guests for Easter dinner!…One week and counting…

Surfers took advantage of the favorable surf.
A long time ago, we decided that making a fuss over holidays wouldn’t make sense while living this nomadic lifestyle.  This made particular sense when many holidays revolve around food, most of which doesn’t fit our way of eating, especially during Easter.


As a result, there are no more long days spent baking and cooking in the kitchen.  We no longer decorate the house, make Easter baskets, decorate and hide Easter eggs or take the time to bake and decorate our former annual bunny rabbit cake.  All of that seems like a lifetime ago.

Sunbathers and swimmers enjoying a sunny day at Manly Beach.

Oddly, we don’t miss any of the work associated with holidays but of course, we miss the interaction with family, the playfulness, and the laughter.  Soon, we’ll be in the midst of all of that!

A day at the beach for school kids.

Over these years of world travel, I’ve lost interest in cooking other than coming up with tasty recipes Tom and I can enjoy in our daily lives.  Even so, I usually only cook two or three times a week when typically I’ll purchase enough of any item to last for three dinners, cooking a fresh batch each day. It works for us.

Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve. See details here for this wildlife protected area known for snorkeling and hiking.

Besides, most of our meals are appealing enough that we easily look forward to repeats.  We also have to consider that most holiday homes have tiny refrigerators and freezers leaving us with little space for storing much food or for freezing leftovers. 

With no rental cars in some locations, such as here in Fairlight for 40 nights, we’ve attempted to avoid returning to the market any more often than necessary.  Also, we’ve found that cooking for three days actually saves money in the long run.

The sun on the sea created a crystal-like appearance.

Groceries costs are not as low in Australia as in many other parts of the world but, they’re certainly less than we spent in the US five years ago.  It will be interesting and perhaps be shocking when we see food prices when we soon return to the US.

The sea is blue in this part of Australia.  When we lived in Trinity Beach in 2015, near Cairns (pronounced “cans”), the sea was brown and murky in most areas.

Tom and I realized that we won’t be cooking from April 22nd when we board the cruise to North America until sometime in July when we arrive in Nevada where we’ll stay at son Richard‘s home in Henderson. 

Staying with Richard for three weeks, I may cook a few meals each week since at that point it will have been months since I’d done any cooking.  During the six weeks in Minnesota, while staying in a hotel, we won’t have cooked at all with the free breakfast in the hotel and dinners out with family and friends.

Tall trees, many evergreens, line the boulevard along the beach providing plenty of shady areas for those who prefer to stay out of the sun.

On the nights when we don’t have dinner plans in Minnesota, most likely we’ll head to Costco which we hear carries a wide variety of low carb, precooked meals we’ll bring back to our hotel suite.  Once we arrive, we’ll see if the hotel can provide us with a small microwave during our extended stay.

As for tomorrow, which is Easter Sunday, we’ve invited landlord/friend Bob and his long time friend, Eddie.  We’re making a totally low carb, grain and sugar-free meal.  Tomorrow, we’ll take a few photos and post them the following day. 

Rocky shoreline in this area on our way to Shelly Beach.

We send love and best wishes for the health and well-being of all of our family, friends, and readers (whether you celebrate this holiday or not) during this time and always.  

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Photo from one year ago today, April 15, 2016:


As we wound down our time in New Zealand, we posted our favorite photos including me with Miss Jessica.  I was flattered that Trish and Neil named this sweet girl after me when Tom and I attended her birth while they were on holiday.  For more favorite NZ photos and also the final expenses for the three-month stay on the alpaca farm, please click here.

Thanksgiving holiday approaching for US citizens…Pumpkin pies…Do we miss it all?

Our condo in Scottsdale, Arizona in November, 2012 where we lived for a few months as we finished the final preparations for leaving the US.  We had the table set for company when two of Tom’s sisters and one brother-in-law were coming for dinner (not on Thanksgiving Day).

With tomorrow’s Thanksgiving holiday celebration, the second most celebrated holiday in the US, next to Christmas, in our past lives this would have been a busy day for me.  Tom always worked and at times, based on his schedule on the railroad, he may have had to work on the actual holiday, missing all or part of the meal.

With Thanksgiving always occurring on the last Thursday in November, Wednesday would always be my pie baking day…pumpkin pies to be exact, making no less than eight pies, often more, depending on how many were coming for the holiday dinner the next day.

I rolled the dough for each of the pies but typical for pumpkin pies, a doughy top crust isn’t included, just ample room for gobs of whipped cream for those who prefer to indulge.

Whether we had a houseful or not, which some years we did not, I made the pies.  We’d eat a few and share the remainder with our family and friends.  Never once did a single pie go to waste.

With the change in my way of eating in 2011, I still made all of the traditional foods on that last Thanksgiving before we left, making a few extra side dishes befitting my diet.  Nothing was lacking in tradition or taste. 

We left Minnesota on Halloween, 2012 (October 31st) and I haven’t made a Thanksgiving dinner since.  Many countries don’t offer turkeys for sale in the markets, although resorts and some restaurants may order them from their suppliers to fill the needs of tourists from the US on this special holiday.

Before the storms of the past few days, a blue sky inspired this photo of the cotton tree.

The last time Tom had a Thanksgiving meal was when we dined outdoors (the first time either of us dined outdoors on Thanksgiving) while we spent the last few months in Scottsdale, Arizona completing our “paperwork” and digital needs before leaving on our journey. 

There was much to do in the final preparations and we’d decided to spend it in a warm climate, close to Tom’s sisters in Apache Junction, Arizona and no more than a five hour drive from eldest son Richard in Henderson, Nevada, eldest sister Susan in Las Vegas and younger sister Julie in Los Angeles, California.

We stayed in a lovely condo in Old Town area of Scottsdale.  With Tom’s car still in our possession which son Richard took off our hands at the pier in San Diego, the day we left the US, we were easily able to get around Scottsdale. 

When Thanksgiving approached, we decided to try a popular buffet known for extraordinarily great food at a local casino in Scottsdale, the Talking Stick.  They didn’t take reservations so we decided an early meal might be advantageous.  Once we arrived at the casino, the line for the buffet was at least 200 deep.  It would take hours in line. 

We left the casino, heading to a popular eatery in quaint Old Town and somehow managed to snag a cozy table for two on the patio.  It was a sunny warm day. 

These red flowers continue to thrive in the rainy weather.

Tom ordered the Thanksgiving meal while I ordered a meal prepared befitting my diet.  Apparently, in looking back at old posts for that period of time, I didn’t write anything about that day, at that point not as committed to our daily ramblings and photos as we are now. 

The Thanksgiving years from there on; 2013 was spent in Kenya, 2014 in Maui, Hawaii and now here in Fiji.  Last year in Maui, we opted out of making the meal although all of the ingredients for making the big dinner were available in the markets.  

Last year, making a Thanksgiving dinner in Maui wasn’t worth the trouble when Tom was also following my way of eating.  Plus, it wouldn’t be the same without the pumpkin pies which was equally meaningful as the turkey itself.

Do we miss it? We’ll always miss big family celebrations.  But, not with tears in our eyes.  We chose this life and have accepted the reality that we’ll only see family (in person as opposed to “face time”) every few years. 

With the holiday actually occurring tomorrow where it will be Thursday in the US (it will be Friday here) we hope to speak to everyone at some point.  The huge time difference makes it challenging but we’ll figure it out. 

To all of our family and friends in the US, have a wonderful Thanksgiving tomorrow, enjoy every last morsel of the scrumptious meal while we’ll be thinking of you with love in our hearts and smiles on our faces.

Today, our usual shopping day, we’ve postponed it to tomorrow.  There a huge tropical storm (not necessarily dangerous). Neither of us see any reason to go out in the high winds and pouring rain when tomorrow will be just as fine.  We have plenty of food for dinner and with only 10 days until departure, we don’t mind using what we have on hand.

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Photo from one year ago today, November 26, 2015:



One year ago today, we visited Whalers Village in Kaanapali Beach, Maui, a favorite tourist attraction. We had a fabulous day, enjoying every moment. For more photos, please click here.

Today is a holiday in Fiji and around the world..Diwali…Festival of Lights…

Suddenly, these petit orange flowers appear in these white blooms.

Today is a special day in Fiji for many Fijians, Diwali, the Festival of Lights, celebrated by those of the Hindu religion.  Forty percent of the population throughout all of Fiji is Hindu and many of the locals with whom we interact are of the Hindu faith.

This tree has changed over these past few weeks as this drooping greenery has grown.

From this website, the following regarding Diwali:

“Diwali (or Deepawali, the “festival of lights”) is an ancient Hindu festival celebrated in autumn (northern hemisphere) or spring (southern hemisphere) every year. Diwali is one of the largest and brightest festivals in India. The festival spiritually signifies the victory of good over evil. The 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 falls between mid-October and mid-November.

Before Diwali night, people clean, renovate, and decorate their homes and offices. 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 (prayers) typically to Lakshmi – the goddess of wealth and prosperity. After puja, fireworks follow,  then a family feast including mithai (sweets), and an exchange of gifts between family members and close friends. Deepavali also marks a major shopping period in nations where it is celebrated.


Pretty purple flowers on the grounds of the resort.

Diwali is an important festival for Hindus. The name of festive days as well as the rituals of Diwali vary significantly among Hindus, based on the region of India. In many parts of India, the festivities start with Dhanteras (in Northern & Western part of India), followed by Naraka Chaturdasi on second day, Deepavali on the third day, Diwali Padva dedicated to wife–husband relationship on the fourth day, and festivities end with Bhau-beej dedicated to sister–brother bond on the fifth day. Dhanteras usually falls eighteen days after Dussehra.

On the same night that Hindus celebrate Diwali, Jains celebrate a festival of lights to mark the attainment of moksha by Mahavira , Sikhs celebrate Bandi Chhor Divas and some Buddhists also celebrate Diwali remembering Ashoka’s conversion to Buddhism.  Diwali is an official holiday in Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname, Malaysia, Singapore and Fiji.”

The Rangoli of Lights.jpg
Rangoli decorations, made using coloured powder, are popular during Diwali. (Not our photo).

Diwali is a big day of celebration in Fiji.  As we’ve wandered through the village these past months we’ve noticed numerous signs posted about Diwali and special attire in window displays that the local women and men of the Hindu faith may purchase to celebrate this special holiday.

These flowers grow prolifically throughout Fiji.

All the shops in the village are closed today.  Most of tonight’s celebrations will occur in private homes with family and friends throughout the islands (and throughout the world), with massive fireworks displays an integral aspect of this special time of observance.

Unfortunately, its raining heavily today.  Fireworks may be hard to see throughout the island tonight but we shall see.  We’ve been told that homemade sweets are the highlight of the celebration. 

This morning’s view of Savusavu Bay when the clouds had cleared for a short period.

Rasnesh was heading out to a family celebration on the opposite end of the island and won’t be available to take us to the fireworks festival in the village after dark.  Hopefully, depending on the weather we’ll be able to see a few from our veranda after dark.

As we sit here writing now at 8:20 am, we can hear fireworks every few minutes.  Surely, it will be much more lively after dark which at this point is around 7:30 pm.

The special clothing in this shop’s window is often purchased for Diwali celebrations.

Last night at midnight, just about the time I began to dose off, a round of fireworks lit the night sky with loud booms filling the air.  Tom never heard a thing, while deep in sleep.

Speaking of Tom…he’s doing well so far.  Part of the swelling in his mouth has receded and we’re hopeful that by Monday when we return to the dentist, he’ll be told he can wait two months until he has this area treated by a periodontist in New Zealand.

Special clothing for men is offered for “Mystical Diwali.”

Rain or shine, we’ll be heading out tomorrow to grocery shop and to possibly go sightseeing, weather providing.  For today, we’re hanging out, hoping that by dark we’ll be able to see the fireworks.

Best wishes to all of our Fijian readers, their families and friends during this special time of celebration!  And a happy day to everyone else!

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Photo from one year ago today, November 11, 2014:

Maalaea Marina near our temporary home in Mauai.  We’d planned an outing that day but important family matters took precedence.  For details, please click here.


Sunshine, lollipops and rainbows, kind of days…Is time our friend? Amazing one year ago photo!!!

 

These are Noni fruit growing on our street.

Finally, the sun is shining today and with two, soon to be six grandkids in tow, cloudy days aren’t much fun in Hawai’i when water activities are foremost in their minds. The cloudy rainy days have momentarily passed as have the accompanying rainbows we often spot in the horizon.

Nik and Jayden in the yard checking out the waves.

Here’s the link to this song, “Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows,” by Leslie Gore from 1965. 

Today, if the nice weather holds up, we’ll head to the Kaholo Tide Pools. With some sun and warmth, it will be an enjoyable outing. Although it hasn’t been “cold” its been cool and damp these past several days.

This is the Cook Pine.  Beautiful, soft to the touch.

This morning after our showers, we put on our swimsuits ready to tackle a perfect day. Tom’s already sprayed the salt off the windows facing the sea and our views are unimpeded by salt while I sit here inside preparing today’s post and Tom checks out his FB. The windows are wide open allowing the ocean breezes to waft inside making the air refreshing. We love it.

Tall evergreens frequently seen in Hawaii.

We now realize why AC is not necessary on the Big Island of Hawai’i. It never really gets hot enough to warrant it, except for perhaps a few days in the summer. Then again, most tourists don’t visit the islands in the summer in their attempt to get away from cold and inclement weather in the winter months.

Dewey flowers, a type of Lily, in our yard after the rain.

Our other family members, a total of eight, will arrive at varying times next Sunday. We’ll be prepared for their arrival with plenty of food on hand, including snacks, Kona coffee, macadamia nuts and a hot dinner waiting. 

After looking through hundreds of photos, I can’t find the names of this unusual fruit. Come on, Hawaiian, help me out here!

Their rooms will be cleaned and prepared for their arrival (no cleaning people here, except us) and we’ll anxiously wait by the door as they drive themselves from the Kona airport to our house in Pahao. 

Shoreline from a walk in our neighborhood.

There are two major airports on this island, Kona (the largest international) and Hilo, a smaller regional airport.  When we booked their flights long ago to and from Kona there were less layovers and more options, as opposed to the Hilo airport. 

We spotted this “package” floating hundreds of yards out to sea.  What could it be? Please comment, if you know.

The stumbling block was the two hour drive. At that point, we assumed we’d be picking everyone up at the Kona airport.  We figured they’d prefer to spend less time waiting at an airport somewhere for the extra 90 minutes drive time through the beautiful countryside of Hawaii. We opted for the later. Hopefully, they’ll all agree once they arrive.

The two families arriving next Sunday have rented their own vehicles and will transport themselves both ways.  Plus, it enables all of us to go out together or in groups at our leisure. This works out well and we appreciate their doing so. 

When the sun peeked out, we took more photos of the sea.

Unfortunately, and to our disappointment our son Richard from Las Vegas is unable to come at this time due to a recent biking accident and major shoulder injury. 

Also, my younger sister Julie, is also staying behind due to an upcoming serious surgery. We’ll be there for her in our hearts and prayers and by Skype on a daily basis. Yes, it’s worrisome, especially being so far away, especially when there is nothing I can do for her except call, with the family here during that difficult period

Often, plants without flowers are colorful in Hawai’i.

We’re hoping they will both come to visit us in Kauai during the four months we’ll be living on the garden island beginning on January 15, 2015, a little over a month away.  How quickly the time flies.

The clouds and raging sea over the past few days.

Ah, time, it’s our friend and our enemy. When we have it, we try to remain grateful, using it well. When it is taken from us, we scramble to make the most of what we have. In neither case, admonishing its existence is pointless and frustrating, especially when we see as we age that it whisks past us like a runaway train. All we can do, is “get out of the way” and make the most of it!

That’s what Tom and I attempt to do each day. Are we always successful? No. Ms. Overly Cheerful and Mr. Overly Grumpy may differ from time to time, as do circumstances over which we have no control. 

Interest cement house and old automobile while on one of our drives.

But, we continue on, full of love and full of hope for living life to the maximum, in the moment and ultimately, for time to come.

                                           Photo from one year ago today, December 14, 2013:

This has got to be one of my most favorite things to have ever witnessed when stepping outdoors one morning from our house in Marloth Park, South Africa, looking through the carport, one year ago today. Long legs. Very long legs. Gingerly, I walked back to the kitchen door and whispered to Tom, ‘Stop pouring the coffee, honey. Quickly and quietly, step outside.” The look on his face when he saw these legs through the carport will be a look I’ll always remember of sheer joy and wonder. But, the fun had just begun when 12 giraffes came into our yard, staying over an hour while we took videos and photos.  To see more, please click here.

 

 

Last 4th of July!

Flag cake is easy to make: white or chocolate cake mix,  Cool Whip or whipped cream, sliced strawberries and blueberries.  My small hand skills are limited, but the grand kids don’t notice the imperfections.

How odd it is. Our last 4th of July. It dawned on me today that many holidays we celebrate here in the US, won’t be celebrated abroad. Duh! No 4th of July. No Labor Day. No Thanksgiving. No President’s Day. No Memorial Day. 

With our intent of blending in while learning the culture, we’ll make every effort to embrace those national holidays that are befitting our personal beliefs and respecting those that are not.  

Thanksgiving cooking was tough last year. I prepared an entirely gluten free meal including GF Coconut Flour Biscuits, GF Homemade Croutons to make GF Turkey Dressing, GF Almond Flour Gravy and GF Nut Crust for the sugar free GF pumpkin pies. (We had to ditch the traditional green bean casserole.  There’s no good substitute for those canned onion rings!)  

Before Thanksgiving, I’ll post some of these recipes for anyone who may be interested.  Tom didn’t love everything.  He has picky taste buds..  I can eat my shoe, enjoy the taste and digest it with nary a belch. Not picky. I ate all the leftover GF items for days while Tom nibbled on the turkey and the GF broccoli salad.  After the fourth pumpkin pie, I was done. We won’t miss the Thanksgiving meal so much.

Now, as the 4th of July approaches, the plans and menu are in place.  Here’s the menu.  Recipes follow for the starred items. 

Fresh Summer Fruit Salad
Homemade  Salsa* & Corn Chips
Crunchy Broccoli Salad with Raisins & Toasted Almonds
Barbeque Baby Back Ribs
Oven Fried (GF) Chicken
Roasted Root Vegetables on the Grill
Mom’s Secret Cornbread Recipe* (No secret now! See below.)
Flag Cake 


Luckily for both Tom and I, most of these recipes are gluten free, except for the cake and cornbread.  Also, we gave up corn and all its products last August after reading the book, Wheat Belly by Dr, William Davis to discover the way corn has been genetically manipulated to increase production, stripped of nutrients and loaded with chemicals.  That was a tough one to leave behind.  

Our friends and family still eat corn, except for daughter Tammy and her family. (The rest of them have grown bored with my endless food warnings soapbox so I finally stepped down, preaching only to dear Tom who acts like he’s listening).The salsa recipe is easy to make and often a crowd favorite.  Here it is:

Jess’s Salsa
2 – 28 oz. cans of  Italian style whole tomatoes, save juice, chop tomatoes (I used to use fresh tomatoes, but unless they are home grown, generally those at the grocery store are relatively tasteless) 

1 large bunch cilantro, cleaned, chopped 

1 large onion (Vidalia is available now)

2 jalapeño peppers or a small can of diced hot jalapenos

3 cloves fresh garlic 

4 T red wine vinegar
Add juice from cans
Add salt and pepper
Add juice from one large lime or two small. Refrigerate overnight for best flavor. Keep chilled in jars for one week in the refrigerator.

My mother, Sylvia (may she rest in peace) was a quirky woman but, a fabulous cook.  Much to the surprise of other good cooks, she didn’t like to share certain recipes.  This cornbread was always a huge hit among those fortunate enough to try it; moist, sweet and flavorful.  

She didn’t give me the recipe until I was 30 years old, old enough to keep the “family secret recipe.”  She made me promise not to give anyone the recipe in “her lifetime.”  
When she passed away in 2003, my friends were chomping at the bit for the recipe which I gladly shared.  Here it is! If you take the five minutes it takes to dump these ingredients into a bowl, stir well and keep an eye out with a toothpick while it bakes, you and your guests will experience the best tasting cornbread on the planet! 
Jess’s Mother Sylvia’s Secret
Cornbread Recipe
2 cups Bisquick½ cup yellow cornmeal

1 cup sugar

Mix well

Add:

2 eggs

1 cup milk

1 stick melted butter (1/2 cup)

Pour into a 9” baking pan
Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until done when a toothpick is inserted.

Enjoy!

 
Tom and I don’t eat this due to the cornmeal, sugar and Bisquick.  The smell while baking in itself is quite intoxicating, reminiscent of another time.
Tomorrow, Tom will place our traditional 200 small flags along both sides of the peninsula.  

We’ll take out our red, white and blue hats, leis, tee shirts and serving pieces. We’ll celebrate the 4th of July with the same fervor we have each year, watching the boat parade at 7 PM, tossing water balloons, making giant bubbles and sitting at the end of our dock at dark to watch the head turning five fireworks displays all at once.   Bittersweet!  
Next summer on June 2nd, while living in Tuscany, we’ll celebrate the Anniversary of the Republic or on August 15th, Ferragosto.Bye, bye, 4th of July!