Friday, October 31, 2008

Friday Fill Ins #5 and how to drink coconut water

Janet hosts Friday Fillins here, feel free to do one of your own!

1. My favorite food seasoning is Garlic.

2.Let me take the kids to school today babe is music to my ears.

3. Lucky is healthy kids.

4. Respect for all races is something I take very seriously.

5. Many people wonder where I find time to blog.

6. I cant remember what was the last thing I bought at the store.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to pre reading notes for school, tomorrow my plans include all day school, and Sunday, I want to get over school!

On a Friday Fillin I did some time ago, someone asked what was coconut water! So I used my cell phone and made a really poor quality video for you, if you can suffer through it you will get the idea!

Enjoy!


video

Sunday, October 26, 2008

All about carnival

Since my last blog about my disappointment with the costume offering of Brian Mac Farlane, I realized that some of my blogging friends had some questions about carnival and the whole mas thing, so since I love to write about carnival I thought I would post this today, not to mention I was over at the in-laws this weekend and I took my laptop and worked on it in my spare time.

Carnival is a season, just like Christmas is a season, the Carnival Season begins just at the end of Christmas. Carnival Monday and Tuesday is the culmination of the Carnival Season and is always the Monday and Tuesday just before Ash Wednesday (usually between Feb and March of the year)

Carnival is not only about prancing in the streets in your costume, there are many activities and competitions that are spaced out over the carnival season.

These activities and competitions are cultural in nature, there is the steel pan competition called ‘panorama’ (steel pan or drum is our national instrument and the only musical instrument invented in the last 100+ years) and the calypso competition which takes two forms, one for traditional calypsos and one for the more modern upbeat version called ‘soca’ (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xETyczXqVM or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFE2xIukL3Q.

This is a video of our steel pan being played:


video
Children also take part in carnival, in fact, the kids get to play mas on more days than the adults! They actually have 2 weekends to play mas, on both days of the weekend too! The children can play mas as part of their school band or they can play with a children’s carnival band that is open to children from all over the world! The children’s costumes are usually much more lovely and creative than the adults, and much more entertaining to view! Here are some samples of this year’s offering of children’s costumes for this year.

These three costumes are from a designer who decided to create an all white children's band this year! I wish him luck with a bunch of bratties in all white! lol!! I think they are beautiful though!

These four above are from a very popular children costume designer and this year her theme is National Pride, the names of all the costumes are actually words taken from our national anthem.


The biggest night in Carnival is the competition called ‘Dimanche Gras’ which when loosely translated means ‘Big Sunday’. Dimanche gras consists of the finals of many different competitions, like King and Queen of Carnival – These are huge costumes worn by individuals. These costumes are the leaders of different carnival bands and are very beautiful and creative.

Another competition that is judged on Dimanche Gras night is the Calypso competition, this is greatly anticipated because it is usually made up of either pro or anti government calypsos that are very witty.

Following Dimanche Gras is ‘Jouvert’ this is the start of the street party, this is where it is legal to take over the streets of our capital city of Port of Spain, follow music trucks and dance to your heart’s delight. Jouvert begins at 4:30 am. The costumes worn during Jouvert are usually very casual in nature , and very very funny. Some men wear shortie nighties, some wear chamber pots or ‘posies’ on their head, adults walk around with pacifiers in their mouths and baby bottles filled with alcohol. Some dress like our politicians with placards portraying the latest dumb thing they did or said in recent times. This type of mass is called ‘ole (old) mass’ some people just love it because you avoid the hot sun, and the costumes are of course not as formal and fussy, you can put on a cut off jeans and tee shirt, cover your self with mud, yes mud! And have a great time! Oh yes mud mas is a great part of jouvert and even made it’s way into the Monday mas as well. Mud can be mud colored or blue as seen below, the blue mud wearers are known as 'blue devils'.

The mas I play is called pretty mas and takes place on Carnival Monday and Tuesday. You go to the different mas camps or peruse them on line and choose a costume, pay for it and you collect it about a week before carnival Monday.



And as you may know, I am not impressed with Mac Farlane's offering this year, my views on that are expressed here for those of you who may have missed that post. Oh! And an important point! The prices seen for these costumes are quoted in Trinidad and Tobago dollars, so that all prices should be divided by six to get the US price.

But I digress, so the package you get when you pay for your costume is your Carnival Monday usually consists of your Monday outfit, which can be anything from a Tee shirt and a hat, you can wear Jeans or tights or what ever you want with your tee shirt, or you may get a few yards of white sheer material (voile) that you can wrap in any way you want about your body. Apart from that you get some sample size toiletries and sunbloc. Of course the price includes two meals on Carnival Monday and Three meals on Carnival Tuesday as well as drinks and water for the entire day.


Carnival Monday is the really fun day, there is no worry of a fancy costume and head pieces, its just you the music, the road, the people, the drinks, the music and of course the music!!
My sisters and I in our Carnival Monday wear!

Your costume package of course will have your full costume as well, which you wear only on carnival Tuesday. However when Tuesday comes, you are exhausted from Monday! You wake up and your feet aches, your calves ache, and you may have a slight hangover, I always have to drive home after so I don’t drink any alcohol on the days, if I do, it is hours before I have to drive home. In spite of all the exhaustion, what gets you going is taking a look at your costume that you have hanging in your bedroom for more that a week! Oh! You jump out of bed, hit the shower, have a HUGE breakfast and brush your teeth and put on your make up.

Applying make up is sooooo much fun for carnival! You get to wear eye shadows in colors that would not usually be worn! You can choose colors that compliment your costume and just experiment and have great fun! Of course a few days before I experiment on my carnival make up and put on my head piece! So that by Carnival Tuesday I know what colors I want to wear!

I hope this gives an idea into Trinidad and Tobago’s carnival and how the whole thing works. Of course there is debate on whether or not the costumes are overpriced and in many cases they are, in many instances the band leaders are laughing all the way to the bank as they take advantage of persons wishing to take part in something that is part of their national heritage.

If your band wins the ‘band of the year’ title the money goes to the Band Leader and not a penny goes to the masquerader, however they contend that costumes are expensive to produce, the music trucks are expensive as well and there are other costs like security for the band, an ambulance that follows the band and other logistics. I still have not chosen my costume yet but I still have time, Carnival Monday and Tuesday will be on February 23 & 24th 2009.
My next carnival post will be about accessorizing your costume and more on Carnival Tuesday!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Calalloo - The Recepie

Every Sunday as a rule we cook calalloo as part of our Sunday meal, I blogged about this before I just thought I will share the recipe amongmy good friend Donna and the HORDES of okra lovers here in blogland lol!!

Calalloo

1 Bundle Calalloo Bush (12 stalks calalloo leaves) (Check your West Indian Markets)

1/4 lb salted beef or pork or smoked meat of your choice

10 Okras


1/2 lb pumpkin

1 med onion

3 sprigs chive

2 tbsp celery

5 heads garlic

1 tbsp crushed ginger

1/2 green bell pepper

2 cup coconut cream/milk

2 cups water

2tbsp cooking margarine/butter

salt

black pepper

1tsp sugar

1 tsp salt


Directions
Wash and cut leaves and the stalk too (cut of appox 3-4 inches off from the end and dump the ends)

Soak, boil and cut up salted or smoked meat of your choice

In a heavy saucepan, (not yet on the stove) place garlic and ginger, then add chopped calalloo bush, salted meat, add chopped okras and chopped pumpkin add 2 cups water and coconut cream, cover and set on stove to boil, then allow to simmer stirring occasionally for approx 20 - 25mins.

Add seasonings (chive celery, onions and green pepper), after a further 10 mins add dry seasonings including sugar. Cook for another 5 minutes, add cooking butter, all ingredients in calalloo should be soft and well cooked!

Allow to cool enough to blend or 'swizzle' (REMEMBER TO REMOVE MEATS FIRST)
After blending taste, again and add more salt if needed!
Enjoy!! (Smacking your mama optional!!!)


Friday, October 17, 2008

I FOUND SOMETHING REALLY COOL!

I found a chat box! It's on my blog now, so come on over let's chat!! (all chat's cost U.S. 75c per word) So walk with your c cards!! ok!

KIDDING!! It's free and fun! so come chat with me on my site! or even with each other just in case i'm not there!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

My Carnival Let Down!!!

Sigh!! Blogging friends what a big disapointment! My favorite carnival costume designer has launched finally!! I waited until now to make a final decision on which costume I should choose because i had to see what treasures he brought to the masquerading fans this year! But this offering just did not tickle my fancy at all!! I dont know maybe I expected too much, too much anticipation is not a good thing!


I knew he was going afrocentric this year and I am all for it, but let's not forget this is carnival and we like to look PRETTY not just portray the vision and message of the designer who granted wants to win competitions but HELLO? I am the one paying you thousands of dollars so that you can win, so you know what? You need to make me look good!! I mean his past creations were outstaning!! and now I dont know, maybe they have to grow on me, but the previous times I played mas with him, my favorite costume jumped out at me and I was sold immediately, I mean you have to pay so much money for your costume you need to at least love it!


So have a look and tell me what you think, I may very well choose a costume from this guy although they are kind of expensive. At the moment my carnival vibe is melting and melting fast. I have to search the net and costume camps for a costume that really speaks to me, I really thought my search would be over by the time Mac Farlane launched. But alas I have to continue.
Dont forget to tell me what you think of Macfarlane's costumes!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

One of my adventures

Shelia's tablescape had me in stitches today! Her beautifully laid out tablescape complete with ferns and flowers reminded me of an adventure I had while still in the military, I thought I would share: (I actually wrote this as part of a job application where they needed info on an 'obstacle I overcame', so my language may seem a bit more formal that usual, or maybe not, who cares because I did not send the application through!)

In 1998, while I was still a serving member of the Trinidad and Tobago Regiment, the the then Second In Command of the First Battalion, Camp Ogden St James, the Battalion to which I was attached ordered that all members of the Battalion were required to undertake a field training exercise that would comprise of journeying from Platanal to Matelot on foot, guided only by a map.

This was during my fourth year of service and by this time I had heard of tales by senior soldiers of how treacherous and trying this journey was to men, and that as a woman I would find the going considerably difficult. I was to be part of a group of approximately 15 men and one other female. As the day grew nearer the my female companion fell ill (conveniently) and eventually I had to make the journey as the only female.

The morning of our journey came, I drew my weapon from the armorer and took up my pack that contained one extra camouflage suit, underwear, socks, packs of dried soup and packs of dried juices. It was important to keep your pack light as you had to carry it all the way to Matelot. At approximately 3:30 am we boarded the truck and set off to Platanal. We were let off at the side of a hill, and the truck left, I looked around for a track or trace that would take us through the forest, there was none, the only way to begin our journey was to climb this unpleasant looking hill that stood menacingly tall and unfriendly before me.

The Commander of the group, a Captain gathered the group and informed us that other groups have made the journey in three days, sometimes five, he is hoping to make it in three. He then mentioned that it may take us a bit longer as there is a female among us and that may 'slow us down a bit' considering as he put it 'her small stature'. It is at that time my perspective changed, I was determined to be at the front leading, and not be a hindrance to my group.

The journey was and still is the most difficult time of my entire life, the mountain we faced from the beginning set the tone for the entire journey, in the northern range there are no flat, meadow-like terrain there are only densely vegetated mountains of varying heights, the jury is still out on whether they are easier going up or coming down. An average day comprised of walking up and down mountains from 7 am to 12 pm then resuming from 1230 to 6pm. It got dark fast and you had to make a camp area each evening by clearing an area, finding trees to hang your hammock and making fires to prepare your MREs (meals in a pack) or your soup.

I rallied on with my fellow soldiers, we made jokes, we sang, we picked wild seasonings and we even fished on the way and made fish broth with tiny river fish during the night. On mornings I drank coffee which I was not in the habit of doing particularly without milk, but when you are in the middle of nowhere a milk-less sugarless cup of coffee tastes like heaven!

By the third day we were no where near Matelot and stocks were running low, i was down to my last pack of soup and dried juice, my feet were aching and after 2 nights sleeping in a hammock slung between trees in a night so black you cannot see your own hand directly in front of your face, you begin to miss your bed. On this third day, as all days we had been walking from 7 am to 1200hrs, and we finally sat down to rest, by a river, I filled my bottle with river water and added my powdered juice, and took a sip, it is then I reminded myself this is what I signed on for, not just to work at the Headquarters in a nice office, I am still a soldier and this is soldiering, I looked around at my fellow soldiers and they looked just as tired as I was, and I felt proud to be on of the few females to have ever done this walk.

It took 2 more days for us to finally reach the main road of Matelot!! I was never so happy to see a paved road, my rations were finished, that morning I drank the last of my 'river juice' and was down to drinking the pure river water which tasted great! But nonetheless I was happy to be back in civilization. My Captain informed me that he was never so proud of a soldier as he was of me, he did not hear me complain once, and I 'kept the pace' as they say in the Army. I believe that it is all about keeping the proper mindset, by simply reminding myself what my goal was and keeping my eye on the prize, made it out of the forest with my pride intact, not so much my toes.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Friday Fill-Ins # 4

Janet hosts Friday Fill-ins here feel free to join in the fun!


1. One of the best concerts/plays/movies I ever saw that I really didn't think I'd like was The Other Boelyn Girl.



2. Split Pea Dahl is a recipe I recently made that was delicious!



3. It's time for me to be in bed, instead I am blogging.



4. Coconut Water is quite refreshing.



5. If I never hear the word re-enactment again, it'll be too soon.



6. To one side of the curving road was a beautiful beach and on the other was a beach house I own.



7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to reading notes , tomorrow my plans include school all day and Sunday, I want to relax!

Monday, October 6, 2008

carnival music of carnivals past and skinny raquel of carnivals past

I remember promising pics of me in early mas, well this is me at 18, I scanned this photo on, I may take a digital of it later on, lordy this is 22 years ago!!! Where did the time go?



This pic is of my sis and me, I wore braces at the time but still thought I was the coolest! We are pictured here with a 'soca star' who came off the truck to take a pic with us!! I was about 22 here.



This is the same costume and me being miss sexy!!

I know it's late for musical Mondays but these are two songs I love from past carnivals.









video

video

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Me, Rambling

Hi there everyone!



Is anyone out there??????



I've been on the computer all afternoon, those two interviews had me all fired up, I actually had one interivew in the morning but because I was getting all dressed up I decided to drop off some more resumes at other businesses that I saw had vacancies, and one of them decided to interview me right away! That was Friday last, it went well and I hope to hear something soon, I have a few more that I did today to drop off and mail tomorrow.


How was your weekend?, my hubby is still in the training program for his upcoming promotion, so he is away this weekend, it's just me and the kids and my 13 year old niece on Keith's side, she is keeping the kiddies busy for me while I scour the Sunday newspaper for vacancies and print resumes and cover letters. I was really beginning to think that after 40 the job prospects are a bit slower, I was hoping to be employed before Christmas but it may or may not happen.



It sucks when Keith is away for days at a time, but I cant imagine how other Army wives feel when their husband goes off to war, I can identify because we have our share of security issues here but it is definitley not the same, my heart really go out to them and their kids, so many of them are born while their daddies are at war. I made a freind at RMS, she is an army wife and they are currently posted in Germany, her name is Sherre, she had the post with the many dolls all over her living room. Her family is making such a sacrifice.



Anyway I hope you guys had a good weekend, class yesterday was trying, notes, notes, notes! But I do want to do really well, so I would use the time I am home to study, and of course blog!



Isnt it great that Shelia is back with us!



See you guys later!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Friday Fill-Ins #3, an Update and Awards!!

The love and appreciation is in the air in blogland!! So many awards being shared!! I picked up two this week and I would like to thank Donna/Squamama and Buffie for the gold card award, they saw that I wanted to go shopping viola!! So I'll just print this card and charge away!!

I would like to give this card to a wonderful person ALLLL the way in jolly old England, I love her blog, she is funny, sweet and 'a tad ower heavy' lol!! She is also a wonderful (super organised) mom, and a tech junkie in the worst way! You guys will know her as Justine's friend as well, and the exciting 'bloggers meet' in Miami. Gail, shop away girl! what next 'crack-berry'?

As many of you are aware I am job hunting, well today I had two interviews and I hope one of them turns out to be a job, (one I want more than the other), I hope to hear from them soon, in the meantime I will keep my applications going out, also I may not have mentioned this, I am in my second year of a three year degree in Human Resources, I have classes all day on Saturdays.

I am enjoying this year because all the yucky foundation courses are over, now it's on to HR specific courses which I find very interesting.

I decided to throw in a Friday Fill in found over at Janet's if you are interested in playing along today or next Friday.

Happy Weekend!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


1. October is when I start to think about Christmas.

2. Frogs scare me!

3. Leaves are falling all around, it's a really, really, windy day! (We dont really have fall!)

4. My favorite horror movie is 'the exorcist; because it's the last horror movie I watched before realising they scare me for weeks!

5.Happy, contented kiddies on a long drive = good memories.

6. It was a dark and stormy night, that always means cozy and warm in the budoir!.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to sharing soup with hubby while the kids sleep, tomorrow my plans include full day of school and Sunday, I want to spend the day with my mom!