What do you see when you close your eyes? 

I guess it is a product of watching lots of foreign films or films shot in foreign locations and some actual visits to certain places overseas.  Sometimes I can see a place as clear as day and I can imagine myself waking in the morning in the  bright sunlight, living in a concrete house with a gallery/porch/veranda.  I am usually just observing or tending to vegetables on my small patch of land and there are trellises everywhere.  There is never anyone else in view but I know people are around.
Did I also mention that it is always warm and  I usually end my vision with a look at the sea.
Happy Daydreaming!!!

Advertisements

Family Travel in Winter

What is the limit to a stay-cation? The definition says staying at home in ones country or staying at home and seeing what one’s environment has to offer.  I think staying in ones state counts.  That is what our family just did.  We (8) took a less than 3 hour trip up north to a not so remote place but when you look outside of the back window, all you can see is trees (well a forest ).  Sometimes you see deer and when you walk around you see foot prints that are not yours.  As long as they are not larger than yours, right.

 

Here are the notes on this stay-cation:

-long winding road, when the hec will we arrive

-we arrived before dark because no lights, few houses, hmmmmm (real fear)

-long driveway, already cars parked there, must be owners

-fresh powder on the ground, had to clear the walkway and add salt

-heating stove as soon as you walk in, hmmmm, must be some serious cold

-large windows to see all or nothing

-heat that comes and goes, never as hot as I would like it in my second floor room

-crazy bathroom apparatus, cold showers

-light switches everywhere, stuff I don’t even know I am turning on and off

-food everywhere, so much food we cancelled our eat out reservations (celebrate family with food when you want it)

-coffee, tea, sangria, red wine flowing

-scrabble battle between the generations

–uno for the virgins, but they give us a good run

-fibbage and drawful for the tech gamers in us, across the generations, hours of fun

-long range photographs, watch the idiots running in the snow, me included

-run over by the sled, wipe outs with sled, who’s turn to pull uphill, is the slide frozen

-mom and daughter on see-saw, got off before we brought it down (250lbs)

-frozen stream

-blankets on the bed, spooning to keep warm

-multiple layers, winter packing, way too much clothes

 

 

We all enjoyed our time together.  Now that we have reflected we look ahead to the next trip.

Food and Family!!!

 

Summers end in Portugal

Hmmm what can I say about this last trip–oh yes, so much.
Without getting into specific details, I spent time with 3 families, traveled 8 deep, dealt with a sick toddler and even got lost. GPS is only great if you can find service. (No hot spot, and public WiFi is shaky)

I must also say that I felt both more and less like a native. At times I was walking around like I knew the place. At other times I really needed gps. I had been around some places enough times to know the lay of the land. I even visited the library only to be led to another building so my toddler could use a kid toilet when what I needed was a bathroom with a changing table. Language Barrier!

A crazy experience was trying to find dinner out and realizing that the place selected, I had visited in Spain and it was a real live stand up, grab your cafe and tapas and then bounce place — with the extra loudness of a beer garden.

Along the water close to the intercity train station/Expo area my friend to a place with fun life size instruments like a bell tower, wind chimes or organ pipes, piano tiles, a xylophone albeit no sticks, and a stone that you could yell into.

While walking to San George Castle close to downtown, I took the road less traveled and then on the way back took another road, got lost and was actually starting to panic. Yes, for the first time in my adult /with kid life I felt a little panic as my phone was not set up for international calling (was but I would pay dearly), I guess as a super last resort. My toddler was sleepy, hungry and in hindsight, on her way to sickness. I could not believe that I could not get this. How could I not find a train station! I had my toddler and we needed food, water and rest. I mean we had food but water and rest was lacking. So what followed was three days of fever and tiredness. In the end I realized that I was exactly where I needed to be 1 hour before I started on my journey to find another route. At leat the castle had nice views of Lisbon. How is that for crazy experience number 2!

A feeling of calm hit me while on vacation as I was hanging out the laundry. Picture it–it is about 9 am in the morning, summer, in a breezy 4th floor walkup with large palatial windows, obstructed view so only a few neighbors can see you, quiet, and its just you, the laundry and the clothes line. Your only goal at the moment is to make sure you do not drop any laundry 4 stories down — especially the swim suit that you want to use again tomorrow at the beach. Other than that, it is a nice, calming, solitary activity. On random days we would see clothes on the ac one floor down, or on the line two and three stories down.

Wild crazy experience number 3, is going shopping at the very last minute. You know when you go with no list, and come out with more bags than you can hold. Yeah, so that was us, and list minute also meant, 30 minutes before the store was closing. So when we were ready to go, we realized that we needed a shopping cart (all locked by know) and the main entrance doors were closed so we were like pacman in the basement trying to find our way to the car. Then we just dropped the bags by the door, and went to retrieve the car, around the corner. My friend said that it was fine and no one would bother it. We pulled up, retrieved the bags and left. When we got home, we got the cavalry to come out (remember we rolled 8 deep, 6 on this particular day) and help take bags. I felt like I was in college with my partner in crime.

My friend let me know of the guys she calls -Parking Pirates. I laughed when I heard it and still do to this day. Simply they are the homeless, poor or vagrants who try to pick up pocket change by directing you to a parking spot, that usually, you already know exists. They may hound you and make you feel uncomfortable and therefore force you to give up the change. Yes. They are everywhere.

Hmm, I only needed my own place to stay and I would have melted into the landscape.

Lovely Lisbon!

Home cooking..

What did I learn this holiday season!

Always have brownie ingredients in the kitchen.  Have a few different bottles of alcohol.  Cook easy dishes.  Make dishes you like and one or two to accommodate the different eaters and the rest s whatever makes

AND 

Thanksgiving is about to become rather interesting. My grandmother said that her cooking time had passed basically. It was a somber moment when I realized that she was a little less vibrant than she used to be.  Life goes on is all I could think.

So moving onto the nerve building moment – I was in slight agony realizing that I might have to contribute to next year’s cooking.  It’s not that I lack cooking skills.  Its that I would have to cook familiar dishes but not ones I cook at home. My cousin made the joke that I had a year to learn.

 

Hmm the holidays.

Food and Big Companies

So this interested me and also even though I like products from these companies I was a little upset that they are hooking the world on our (US) junk food. It was great with the growth of multinationals and globalization but there has been a marked trend and change in diets, weight and labor/jobs/livelihood.

So lets start at the very beginning (Julie Andrews-sound of music reference). I was reading the NY Times and the piece was about companies hooking Brazil (more countries as well). So in the past according to the article, these companies helped in a positive way combating the lack of food. Certain foods were developed to provide fast calories. Others claimed to be packed with nutrition. Some things were unsustainable as in the Nestle scandal a while back. (hooked on baby formula and could not afford it in the long run).

Now that we are beyond feeding for lack of food we are feeding now just for the profit of it-new customers and customers excited to experience what food rich countries experience.  In that these customers are getting all the cheap non nutritious foods.  I call it bodega food, all the while they are embedding it into the fabric of these places: franchising so the people have own small businesses.  I had a long hard think about this and thought that with the crazy obesity problems etc, these large multinationals should offer healthy snacks.  Responsibility…..

So feel free to chime in.

Here is the article.

Brazil Junk

Its just one of those things that make you think.

Until then! May the food be with you!!

Triple T 2 (Toddler Trials and Tribulations)

so to this weeks toddler trials and tribulations
So what do you say to innocence, except laugh hard on the inside. So I was watchin a program discussing the Rohingya from Myanmar and Bangladesh. The clip was of women and kids just hanging out. My daughter says–Halloween, we get the candy right? What can you say to that?

Next busy exercise was when I asked my toddler to finish the last 2 spoons of sweet potato and meat. So she was taking a while and I turned off the TV so she knew I meant business. Well she splashed the wall with sweet potato, not sure how and then she had it gathered in her mouth. She kept threatening to spit it out. Also she had her two hands in her mouth. (such fun)

Another busy exercise that made me just beyond surprised. So my toddler, bypassed the stool for the toilet and climbed into the tub. She pooped in her kiddie potty and then added some toys for good measure. She was in the nude and when I opened the curtain she was attempting to soap herself with a soap piece and no water. At least she was already in the tub, right.

 

On to the happy news–happy exercises

We took a trip to the Museum of Natural History recently.  A friend of ours was kind enough to secure tickets that included one free show or special exhibition.  We were lucky and they gave us two (maybe one was just normal) but it was the butterfly exhibit and the dark universe.  Both required a certain amount of restraint and offered big action.  Wowing the young brain is great.  The rest of the visit was like an obstacle course.  Everyone was tall and there were smatterings of crowds.  My daughter was part of the sea.

This last entry is like the crowning moment.  So I was so tired this morning and after doing my exercises (academic)  with toddler, I was wiped out.  I had my toddler sit next to me and attempt to read me a book.  I made her take about 9 of them so I would be guaranteed at least 5 minutes of silence.  Next, I awoke to a splash of water on my face.  What the hec!! So I look over and my toddler is sitting about 6 inches away and clapping her hand on the floor right in the what appears to be water.  But I quickly wised up and was like–OMG pee.  She is sitting in her pee on top of a book and splashing the water around.  Then she reaches out to wipe her hands on my pants. The nerve of this child.  Well you know the rest, a date with the cleaning police, an appointment with the bathroom and now I am completely awake, where has the tiredness gone.

Until next time,

Blissful Toddler Minder!!  Is it time for the brownies yet!

 

Joloff restaurant – Senegalese Mealing

Restaurant Review

So we had a family gathering at a place my dad had been speaking of since last year.  It took a little lighting of the fire under everyone’s a… to get all together.  (I do not believe in choices.  Just give a few dates, pick a place and challenge everyone to be there.)

So the place was deep in Brooklyn.  I am rarely in Brooklyn but this was deep in there and GPS was the only guide we needed.  Upon parking we found a long skinny, African-ized place that had maybe one other customer that evening. 

How would I describe Joloff. It is not at all fancy, but it has this return to the roots look in side. It is not pretentious. It is a long room with a nook towards the back left and to the right is a raised portion used for poetry reading and performances. I guess it is cozy.

So it was 7 of us and we sat in the nook…..For appetizers we had some pastry puffs-some with fish and others with meat. There were some dips for each. Then we moved onto the main meal. We had fish (National Dish of Senegal-Baked fish with vegetables and Joloff rice), Lamb (Lamb Stew in peanut butter) and Chicken (Chicken Briased in onion and lemon sauce.)  The lamb was great. The chicken was familiar and that was lovely. The fish was good as well. I guess my favorite was the lamb. The sauce was good enough to be put on rice, without the meat. Dessert could have been left out. There was nothing special-just some fried donus (a.k.a Beignets, ) and ice cream. They did not offer the tradition dessert of couscous with yogurt, sour cream and raisins–what a small shame.) We did have some funky drinks–We had lemon ginger drinks and ginger tea. It was definitely interesting. But for my dad offering to take us there, I would probably have never visited. It is deep in the heart of Brooklyn. Now was it memorable enough for me to visit again, not sure. The people were nice however.

 

Until our next dark continent food adventure!

 Capri Pizza Pasta, Tarrytown NY

Restaurant review

So one night after meeting some friends for a free jazz concert, we (my family and I) found the only food game in town-Capri Pizza.  It was well lit, had a huge staff and some added character, considering it was in a strip mall with a small grocery and CVS.

The place had two sections, one for fast eating and the other for maybe the knife and fork set and lingering.  They had a very healthy business.  People were in and out and the delivery guys were working up a sweat.  I was taken aback how lit the place was.  It was like an examination room in an older hospital where mood lighting had not been invented. It was not off putting however.

The tables were exposed wood and there was a barn door separating the two sections.     (Can we say borrow that idea for future DIY home)).) I was hungry so I hoped that the pizza was good.  (you know when you are hungry and shovel the food, and you cannot even remember what you ate)  It came out quick and hot.  We knife and forked it as well, because we are civilized.  So I can safely say that I will return when in that area.  It is about one block away from the entrance to 287 and across from a hotel.  Great placement!!

Famous words–I shall return.  I give it a 7.  Next time we will explore the menu.

Capri Pizza Pasta

 

 Ginger & Lemon Grass Restaurant (Queens ny)

So our day started out with music class for my toddler and then we were supposed to go to the Japanese Festival at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens.  Well we got through the music class, then my husband decided to do some detours.  After that and an hour plus time passage, we decided to head to Brooklyn.  Yeah, because we can and well right before we crossed the bridge, we started to examine our plan.  There was already traffic, it was warm outside (oh late April weather), we were starting to get hungry and also, we knew that it would be at least an hours drive from that point.

What to do, what to do!!  So we racked our brains and decided that going to the festival at that late time would not be that great as all the cool stuff always happens early on as well as we would only get to enjoy a few hours.  Also, it was 30 dollars per person.  That would be 90 dollars just to enter and then if we wanted to buy food, who knows, plus parking if we could not immediately find a spot.  It was looking like an expensive day.

So because of the traffic, we had a few moments to think. We turned to Yelp and Trip Advisor.  We found ourselves in Whitestone, NY.  It is in Queens, off the Whitestone Bridge.

When we arrived we were excited, as there were people waiting outside, which was a good sign.

We sat close to the corner and just smelled all the wonderful odors. We wasted no time in ordering. The taste of the curry dish we ordered reminded me of the ones I had while travelling. The chicken curry included bamboo shoots as well as sweet potato–that was great on day 2. I had a stuffy nose so only randomly did I taste the food but the following day, post stuffy head, the food was better. We also had one of the spicy short rib sandwiches, which was large and had a strong 5 spice taste. That we liked. Lastly, we had the seafood and chicken pancake as well as spring rolls.

I noticed the cool herb garden on the wall. It actually inspired my husband. The restaurant also makes this refreshing drink that includes water, cucumber, ginger and possibly one other ingredient I forgot. (nice differentiating feature)

What everyone seemed to be eating was the broth with a large bone in it. Not my thing but I am sure it was great as that many people cannot be wrong.

The service was decent and the place was nice in terms of decoration. It is a small place, so not much wiggle room and large groups need not apply. Parking can be a challenge but that just means a longer walk from your transportation. The bus does pass by it though. It is in a partly residential area so only if you search (internet) for it or drive by it accidentally, will you see it. Its not on a main street.

The small menu works well. When I am hungry I am easily frustrated if I have to turn through a book.

I would return.  I give it a 7.  Small place, good food.
HAPPY EATING!!

Slum Tourism

Yes it sounds sounds a little off right.  I heard it on the radio this past week (last week of July 2017).  My husband and I did a double take and we immediately turned to youtube and google to investigate.  We watched one documentary where the people were in Brazil touring one of the “slums/favelas.”  I have mixed feelings on this.  People smiling and gawking might be weird.  On the other side, people are venturing into the unseen/unpopular/untouched which means , as the program we watched put it, there is the recognition that these places and problems exist.  There is so much to say about this.   There is one concern and real at that, that with these tours, people do not give any money to the community.  So essentially they visit, take some selfies, peer into some doorways (not even sure if they shop) and then they bounce.

My husband, who always presents the other view said that it is the same as driving/touring in beverly hills, etc and taking pictures.  I pointed out that, we are gawking but no one is dealing with starvation, malnutrition, disease or being disadvantaged with no/lack of education or opportunity.  Also they do not need our patronage.

So this is happening all over the globe.  For me, I think this is the backpackers way.  I mean they mesh into the area and stay where they can, slum, or not and usually see the real deal. I jumped around here a bit while writing but you get the gist.

If you have any thoughts or comments,  please feel free to share.  
Till then, safe travels!