Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Outdoor Wednesday: a Cuban Iguana

Photo by Tere Cornelio "A GiTMO Iguana"

I have been away from my blog(s) and all the fun networking we do around here far too long. I miss all of this and all the sharing. So I come back now with my first outdoor picture in a while during this, the last Wednesday of the year.

I could have chosen one of the many beach, rocks, seaglass, mountains, or cloud pictures but I kept coming back to this Iguana because I'm still in awe that they live or that we live among them. They do keep to themselves and in my neighborhood we don't see them often but we do see them at the beach (only if we break out the food) and we see them around the base and in other housing areas. We see them as often as people in the states see dogs and their masters walking around...really weird.

I hope to find the time of day when my internet connectivity is has a higher bandwidth than during the day time hours (maybe I need to go back to my early morning blogging) so that I can visit all others in my network and hopefully meet some new people (bloggers).

Please visit Susan at A Southern Daydreamer to see what other outdoors people are sharing today.

Visit my Life in Guantanamo Bay blog to read about our adventures and our everyday life here in GTMO, Cuba.

Have a beautiful day everyone and thanks for visiting!


Saturday, December 26, 2009

Life in GiTMO is live

Yes. We made it.  It was a long two weeks prior to flight time but we are finally here and what a great welcoming we've had.  You definitely can't beat the weather and the view from the back yard.  So much water, so close... it's pretty cool.

I'm writing about life in Guantanamo to keep friends and family updated and to help others moving here get a feel for what is like to live here.

Soon I hope to be back up to speed with everything. For now, we enjoy the holidays, eat, drink and be merry!

Remember to be safe during this holiday season but have all the fun you can with your friends and family -- make this a well-lived journey!

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Staying in the now


Photo by SpinDiva

"Surrender is the simple but profound wisdom of yielding to rather than opposing the flow of life. The only place where you can experience the flow of life is the Now, so to surrender is to accept the present moment unconditionally and without reservation... It is to relinquish inner resistance to what is." ~ Eckhart Tolle
~ ~ ~
Life. It has been somewhat complicated these past two weeks. We've been packed, the vehicle has shipped, we live in a hotel suite smaller than my old bathroom but the kids are happy. I was a little worried about their reaction to moving and leaving dear friends behind. I must have done a really good job somewhere along the way (yes, padding myself in the back right now) because I expected trouble all the way to the end. Instead they are excited, sad to leave friends, as am I, but excited for this new adventure to begin. A few more days of this craziness and we're on our way from 45 degrees and foggy to 85 degrees and clear. I can live with that! I can't wait to share our adventures and life in Guantanamo. I have a feeling we will have some interesting stories to tell. I do hear you saying "I don't know how you do it all." Well I have friends reminding me that I should forget about the statement "it is what it is" and remember that "it is...what you make of it." So I choose to make it a positive experience, even in the midst of stress and chaos. 
I admit there were a few moments I thought I'd loose my mind and the stress monster tried very hard to take me down (i.e. when I thought I lost my wallet one week prior to moving) but I resisted, talked myself out of an anxiety attack and guess what, I found my wallet exactly where I left it, under the bathroom sink.  
WHAT? Doesn't everyone use this space for their wallet? Surely you must have put the cereal in the fridge and the milk in the pantry at some point in your life!!
OK call me crazy. Well, then again, don't. That would just be mean.
I will continue to remind myself that right here, right now is really all that matters so I will continue to only focus on that which I can control, everything else will fall into place nicely.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Foodie Friday: When life gives you lemons....

....or whatever the ingredient, make something WITH it!

My house is now empty, except for the stuff they wont pack and move for me because it's flammable, open containers, perishables, etc... I can understand that, but did they have to pack my almost empty jar of all natural crunchy peanut butter and almond butter? They were opened! How about that pretty candle in the hallway, that's flammable, last time I checked.

Anyway, I am left the perishables in the fridge, my neighbors pyrex 1 quart pot and some plastic utensils.  Although I amtrying to live a more vegetarian lifestyle, I'm not one to throw away food. This morning I decided it was about time I did something with all this stuff.  You all know how much I love eggs by now because it seems most of my recipes call for eggs in some form or another.  So here it is...

4 Eggs
1/2 cup chopped Turkey Kielbasa
1/4 cup chopped bell peppers (red, yellow, orange, green)
1/4 cup shredded cheese (whatever you like)
Any other veggie left in the fridge? Sure -- mushrooms, tomatoes, zuccini, whatever you want.

Mix it up and cook in the microwave, first for 2 minutes on high but keep your eye on it.  Then stir and cook for a few more minutes on med/high until the eggs are cooked through.

It turned really good and such a comfort food for me. Even my toddler enjoyed a few bites. Yum!  By the way, the measurements are eye balled, I have no measuring cups either.

I now have the energy I need to clean this house all by myself -- it seems harder when it's empty- a larger area to vacuum and dust I guess.  And all those little holes on the walls...ugh, so much to do.

Soon I will begin my new blog titled "Family Life in Guantanamo Bay" where I will chronicle what is like to live on the Naval Base in Cuba where it seems most people think it's nothing but a prision camp.  I hope to change a few minds and help everyone share in our adventure in this new and somewhat secluded land.

My house did not sell this fall, but that's OK, now it's up for rent - maybe someone you know moving to the area-- who knows, I have to spread the word.  Here is a link to the virtual tour --

Many blessings to everyone, 'till next time!!


Shared on Foodie Friday, hosted by Designs by Gollum

Sunday, December 6, 2009

It must be love

Photo by In[a]heartbeat

You remember that feeling you got the first time your heart was broken by someone you loved?  It's a sinking, emptiness, feeling inefficient, unable to heal the pain.  That's the feeling I get when any one of my kids has his or her heart broken by someone they love.  I love my kids and I don't want them to ever feel this pain but it is part of life and part of growing up.  The only way to learn how to deal with a broken heart is to have your heart broken - I hate it but it is a fact of life and I understand it.

Both my teens have come to me in the last couple of days with what to them must feel like the biggest and most devastating  heart break.  Not from a girlfriend or boyfriend but from friends; friends they love and care for.  Friends that sometimes want to rule in matters of the heart and friends who choose when to call my kids and when to call someone else instead; friends who want to choose when and with whom you have fun.  Good kids, I presume, with a misguided view of what is like to be a real friend.

All I can do is listen, give a little advice and remind them that they are good kids, that they are loved, and that while a broken heart can bring on a lot of emotional pain, it will heal if they let it.  This too shall pass and in the future they will be able to recognize when someone is real and not so real.  I remind them that they should never let others taint their love for life because my kids... they love life, they love their life and for that I am thankful.

I will always be here for them and yes, my heart aches like it did with my first heart break, but I know how to deal with it, they need not know that I ache when they ache.  They only need to know that I love them with all my heart.  I will be here no matter what.  They are my life!!  It must be love!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanks-giving... just do it!

My favorite time of year is this... the leaves are falling, the colors are amazing, there's an air of gratitude in the crisp, cold air.

The best part of this holiday is that you can't mistake for anything more than what it really is... a time to give thanks, that's it.  No gifts, no questions about being good or bad, simply a time to be with family and reflect on the beautiful things life has to offer.

It's a time to be in the moment and enjoy natures bounty, alone or in the company of those we love.

If there was ever a doubt about what you should be thankful for, start by taking one deep breath and be thankful for that, and then, go from there.

I am thankful for the air we breath, the life we live, the freedom we have, my husband for being so supportive and for being a great dad, my kids, my much to be thankful for, the list is endless.

Thank you fellow bloggers for being a part of my community.  You are my internet neighbors :-)

Enjoy today!

Thank You!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Foodie Friday: Very Veggie Salad

Today is Food Friday at Designs by Gullum where lots of people go to share their goodies on Fridays.  Go check them, there's something for everyone.

 I have not been eating enough veggies so I'm shooting for a mostly vegetarian (Lacto-Ovo-Vegetarian to be exact) menu in an effort to improve my health, energy, and life.  It's amazing how on day one of eating nothing but veggies, berries and drinking water all day I felt fantastic despite the fact that I was running on about 3 hours of sleep.  I'm on day 5 and still feel fantastic.

Anyway, here's my Very Veggie Salad -- enjoy!

Uncooked Ingredients--how much you use it's up to you:

baby carrots
mozzarella cheese
(I used 2 mozzarella cheese balls- that comes in small balls soaked in olive oil)

Cook the following Ingredients in  a bit of olive oil:

baby bella mushroom

Toss it all together (or Not!) --  enjoy!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Embrace life - seize the moment

Sometimes little things happen that we just completely miss because we're all too busy to take a moment to notice the beautiful things in life.  I often find myself too busy to eat healthy, too busy to play with my toddler, too busy to do homework (that's never a good thing), worst is when I'm too busy to just be and really enjoy every moment in life with and without the kids.

I visited Dayne at yesterday and here is what I first read:

"Everyday you are surrounded by sheer beauty.
The question is, are you feeling it, are you aware of it…or are you too busy in your mind?
The beauty could be in the form of a rising sun, the sound of your child’s laugh, the flowing steam off a fresh morning coffee, or that beautiful and coy smile from a stranger on your way to work."
His words made me think, a lot about the things I miss because I need to finish the dishes or vacuum the living room.  I realized that life is not in a clean room or in an empty sink (although it is good to clean those things).  I read on to learn that beauty is not something we see or feel, instead it is something we experience, it is invisible and undetectable, as Day explains.
I encourage you to visit his blog to read more about the 5 Most Beautiful Things in Life that are Invisible

As for seizing the moment, here's a photo of a fine example of something I would have missed.  Instead I ended up laughing my butt off...check it out.

My poor kitty, Tiger.  The toddler said he had to feed the cat so I didn't give it a second thought.  He came in and out of the kitchen several times, the last time he had a tissue in his hands, which he said was "to clean the kitty cat" and I though "oh no cat throw up...eewww."  So I came into the living room to find this..the cat wearing a bib and the toddler feeding her with a spoon.  It was hillarious!  I had to laugh.  The cat is looking at me as if to say "are you really going to allow this to go on? This is wrong, really wrong!"

Friday, November 13, 2009

Foodie Friday: Perfect Winter Beef Stew

Foodie Friday is a great day to share some delicious recipes.  This is hosted by Gullum at Designs by Gullum.  Visit her site to see so many other yummy recipes from other participants.  

But before you go, enjoy this Perfect Winter Beef Stew.  It is by far, my favorite and I found it in the KraftFoods website last year.  Since then, it has become a favorite in my house.


3/4 cup KRAFT Zesty Italian Dressing
2 lb.  beef for stew, such as beef chuck roast, cut into 1-inch chunks
6 slices OSCAR MAYER Bacon, chopped
3 cups  sliced fresh mushrooms (about 1/2 lb.)
1 large onion, chopped
6   carrots (about 1 lb.), sliced
1-1/2 lb. potatoes (about 3), peeled, cut into large chunks
1 can  (14-1/2 oz.) stewed tomatoes, undrained
1 can (14-1/2 oz.) beef broth
*Optional.... I sometimes add Celery or other veggies, depending on the mood.  One time I added sweet potatoes and it was just as yummy.

Prep Time:15 min  Total Time:  2 hr 15 min  Makes: 8 servings, 1-1/4 cups each

What You Need!

3/4 cup KRAFT Zesty Italian Dressing
2 lb.  beef for stew, such as beef chuck roast, cut into 1-inch chunks
6 slices OSCAR MAYER Bacon, chopped
3 cups  sliced fresh mushrooms (about 1/2 lb.)
1 large onion, chopped
6   carrots (about 1 lb.), sliced
1-1/2 lb. potatoes (about 3), peeled, cut into large chunks
1 can  (14-1/2 oz.) stewed tomatoes, undrained
1 can (14-1/2 oz.) beef broth

Make It!

POUR dressing over beef in resealable plastic bag. Seal bag; turn to evenly coat beef with dressing. Refrigerate 30 min. to marinate.
COOK bacon in large saucepan on medium heat 5 min. or until crisp, stirring occasionally. Remove bacon from saucepan; drain.
ADD mushrooms and onions to saucepan; cook on medium-high heat 10 min. or until tender, stirring occasionally. Remove meat from marinade; discard marinade. Add meat, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, broth and bacon to saucepan; stir.
BRING to boil, stirring occasionally; cover. Simmer on low heat 1 hour 15 min. Uncover; simmer 15 min. or until meat is done and sauce is thickened, stirring occasionally.

KraftKitchen Tips
Special Extra
For extra flavor, add 1/2 tsp. dried thyme leaves with the broth.
Prepare using KRAFT Light Italian Dressing.
How to Prepare Stew in Slow Cooker
Marinate beef and cook bacon, onions and mushrooms as directed. Remove beef from marinade; discard marinade. Add beef, onions, mushrooms and remaining ingredients to slow cooker. Cook 10 to 12 hours on LOW (or on HIGH 5 to 6 hours). Stir in 2 Tbsp. flour mixed with 2 Tbsp. water. Cook 15 min. or until sauce is thickened.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Blue Monday - a walk in the park

Oh how glorious it is to walk in the park and see the gifts given to us each and everyday with such little demands.   

Sometimes we have to just stop, be still, and see the beauty in nature. Turn your face to the sun and feel it caressing your skin.  Understanding how or why is not important, just be in the moment.

Blue Monday is hosted by Smiling Sally.  Visit her blog to see what other participants have to offer. It's fun!

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Blog-4-Cause is an amazing e-book compiled by Joanna Sutter from Fitness & Spice and Lance Ekum from Jungle of Life.  It consists of a collection of more than 150 bloggers from around the world writing and racing for a the cure.

Lance explains:
 "Every one of these writers has contributed a favorite article to this e-book, creating a wonderful collection of stories.  Stories of inspiration, personal growth, fitness, food, humor, and more. 

Please visit the Susan G. Komen Blog-4-Cause website to learn how you can support the mission to end breast cancer.  In addition, you'll find information on how to recieve this Blog-4-Cause E-book, our gift to you.  A bonus e-book, from author and life coach Tim Brownson, is included as well."

I am excited to have been one of the bloggers to participate in this great cause (check out page 176), I hope you too will join me and many others in the race for a cure, because there is strength in numbers!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

It's Halloween!

He does not like wearing costumes so we resort to face painting.  He is Rintoo from Kai Lan, a tiger.

I remember when I was growing up in New Jersey how the streets would become flooded with kids on Halloween.  It was such an amazing night for us kids.  We usually had to rely on our imagination for our costumes.  I remember once I was a gypsy woman.  We found an old, long skirt in someone's closet, I had a bandana around my head and really red lipstick.  That is probably my most memorable Holloween because it snowed about a foot of snow that night and I got separated from my group which was really scary for me at the time.  I was no more than two blocks from my house, but I did not speak English, this celebration was new to me and it was dark outside.  We were reunited and all was well.

I sit here writing because things are really slow in my neighborhood.  Part of the fun is decorating the house and the yard, carving pumpkins with neat patterns, seeing all the creative costumes on the happy little children and giving away all the candy and toys in my basket. We used to sit outside and just wait for the crowds to come from the neighboring communities.

She is a Gothic Princess.

Tonight is very quiet.  My oldest is away at college and he was the one who used to sit by and scare the older kids by making believe he was a statue.  My teen girl is at a concert with friends - she's all dressed up and having a great time I'm sure.  My 7 year old is out having fun with a few of the teens from the neighborhood and the toddler is here trying to eat the candy and blow out the candles from the jack-o-lantern.  Since I sat here, about an hour ago, we've seen a total of 5 families.

Needless to say, that leaves me staring at the weary moon and listening to spooky music so I decided to share this time with everyone out there.

Most of the houses are very dark around here tonight but we will continue to have a great time until the last child has come by.  I hope everyone out there has a great time tonight.  Stay safe!!

This is my teen daughters intricate creation, which is a little hard to see but on the back side she carved out the words Trick or Treat with a pumpkin and on the front side there are two hearts.  If you put it against a wall you see the reflection of the back side on the wall.  Very detailed.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The beauty of the day

Sometimes we all just get caught up in the stresses of everyday life.  We run errands, we work, we take care of the kids and the house, etc.  In the process, we could potentially miss entire seasons during a time when we should just be thankful.

Lately I've been taking time to stop and smell the firewood burning.  It's not as cold as I am used to for a fall season but still some people are lighting up fires indoors and out.  I love the smell of firewood in the fall.  This changing season offers not just the smoke coming out of the chimneys but also the colors, a brisk cool air, the beauty of the day.  It is just amazing that we could even let ourselves miss all this.

I decided I would go for a walk in the evenings with a my neighbor Maria.  So just before sunset and after dinner, baby in the stroller and the girls on their bikes, we set off on a 2.5 mile walk around the neighborhood, or a 5 mile walk through the park.  It has been absolutely amazing, relaxing, and spiritual to take in nothing but the sounds of the birds and the sounds of children laughing.

Sometimes we just have to say Thanks because we have the ability to experience such beauty in our lives.

Enjoy the beauty of the day, everyday!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

SkyWatch Friday - A Full Moon

"Life is wonderful..." ~ Jason Mraz

Go visit SkyWatch Friday for more skies from around the world!!

 A full moon in October. 
I love the sky, in particular, when there are objects I can recognize.  This is one of my favorite night time skies of the full moon.  I'm amazed my little camera could actually capture that.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Outdoor Wednesday - Autumn

"Life is wonderful..." ~ Jason Mraz

Outdoor Wednesday hosted by Susan from a Southern Daydreamer.  Visit Susan to experience outdoors from a different perspective.

I look forward to the beauty of the season, but mostly to the delicious recipes we can make in a crockpot, Yum!!

I took the kids to the harvest fair and although it was a lot of fun and they had a great time, I was a little sad because growing up, I did not have to wait to be taken to a fair to experience harvest or to see farm animals live.  I think I'm going to take my kids to local farms more often throughout the year.  I loved the look on their faces when they see and touch a real cow or chicken or a donkey.  It was fun, enjoy!

I love this picture :-)

Saturday, October 3, 2009

About Wine - Wine Storage and a new favorite white wine

Check out this awesome article about wine storage from Neil from ON THE GRAPEVINE.  He is so knowledgeable about wine and the care of wine that I think you will all enjoy this article.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
By far most wine is purchased and consumed within 48 hours. Some people of course like to cellar wine they think has a good potential to age. This is fraught with “danger” mainly because some wine has no chance at all of improving with age, some can be left too long and goes “over the hill” and some spoils because of bad storage conditions. (I usually end up with red or white wine vinegar not even good for cooking!)

Aging wine increases its complexity. Chemical reactions take place on storage which can add new aromas, flavours and texture to the wine. And of course there is the inevitable colour change. However, if left too long, all these changes can be indistinguishable.  Briefly as discussed before, white wines change to deeper colours, some to deep yellow or gold and eventually brown.  (This was a learning experience, wish I had know this a few months ago.)

Aromas and flavours lose their varietal character and become similar to toast, honey figs, nuts and caramel.  Red wines change colour too as they age from purple through brick red to red brown and finally brown.  Again with reds, flavours change taking on the impressions of earthiness, fungi, coffee and even cigars. Red wine tannins increase in size on ageing and become softer and less astringent allowing other subtle flavour changes to shine through.

For most of us who store wine, it is kept in racks or boxes in the cellar, under the house, in a cupboard or even under the bed. Very few of us have proper temperature controlled rooms or expensive cabinets.  Ideal conditions for storage of wine are darkness, good ventilation, odour free, lack of vibration, minimal temperature variation of 12°-15°C (55°-60°F) and humidity of 70-80%. 

Obviously not many of us can comply with all these conditions so if we were to single any major one out to be aware of I would say it would be temperature fluctuation. Darkness can easily be created by leaving the wine in its original boxes.

In the past, table wines needed to be stored lying down. This kept the cork wet and the bottle well sealed. With the advent of the screw cap bottles with this closure can be stored standing up, one of its many advantages. For bottles with cork closures it is important to keep an eye on possible leakage and the ullage level. This means if the level of the wine falls below the shoulder of the bottle it needs to be topped up and recorked (if still ok) or better drunk as soon as possible.

Arranging bottles so those for early drinking are easily accessible prevents ‘long termers’ from being continually moved and disturbed.

Buying wine for long term storage is a complex issue. (and this is why I buy, I drink, done!) It is sometimes best to take the advice of wine merchants, winemakers and wine reviews when deciding what to ‘lay down’. Of course it is more rewarding to assess a young wine as to its ageing potential yourself and being able to enjoy it 10, 20 or maybe 30 years down the track.

It is also preferable to be able to buy a case of the selected wine and assess its progress regularly over time eg. for a red, five years after purchase then every year or two.

This all can be an expensive exercise so there is nothing wrong with splurging on an aged wine from a retailer or winery when the occasion calls. At least you can be almost assured that the bottle has been stored under ultimate conditions and if indeed there is anything wrong with it you can usually get a replacement. ...( and that's what I do... buy already aged wine - lazy or practical, call it what you want!)

So tonight I was enjoying some fun time with my friend from Chesapeake and we decided to take a quick trip to Trader Joe's and found, yet another delicious Australian Wine.  It is a "classic Muscat  with fragrant aromas of apricots, mangoes and lilacs and sweet, luscious flavors balanced by a crisp, refreshing finish."

A white wine from South Easter Australia called Alice White.  It's like a dessert wine, goes well with any sweets or by itself.  We loved it and we paid ...ahem... $5.00.  Now that's what I'm talking about. 

Enjoy the tips on wine storage and enjoy Alice White!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Past about wine  articles:

Friday, October 2, 2009

Foodie Friday - Cheesy Nachos

Today I bring an easy special treat for our Foodie Friday recipe show off day.  This fun event is hosted by Michael from Designs by Gollum.  You have to go there and see all the cool recipes everyone posted. 

These nachos we love because they are easy to make and so much fun to eat.  If you keep the ingredients handy you can make a nice treat for unexpected company or hey, how about Monday night football!


Tostitos scoop chips - they are perfect for holding in all cheese and salsa!
Tostitos restaurant style salsa - how hot you say?  Your choice, we always do mild.
Shredded Mexican cheese or any mix of cheese you like.

Place the scoop chips on a microwave safe plate.
Fill each little scoop with salsa.
Top with cheese.

Microwave on high for 1 to 1.5 minutes - until cheese is melted.

Top each scoop with a dab of sour cream and diced avocado (optional).

Note:  you can also broil this using an oven safe plate or cookie sheet, put it in the middle rack, set the over to broil and watch it until cheese is melted; only takes about 5 minutes.


No really..... Enjoy!!