Archive | October, 2014

GHOST POST

31 Oct

Happy Halloween again! This is the as promised scary story post.

Of course I usually post about entertaining and decor and even shopping but this is an exception to the rule. Of course I can tie it into my MO. Ghost stories are entertaining, everyone loves a ghost story whether or not they believe in that stuff. They are also a free form of entertainment… so looking to spice up your Halloween night? Invite a few friends, bring some snacks and sit around telling ghost stories.

I have a small compilation here today. I can’t scientifically prove that any of these hauntings were real but the experiences certainly are. So here we go…

1) HOSPITAL HAUNTING

WHERE? The Victoria Hospital, Castries St.Lucia WHEN? 1970’s Told to me by a nurse who worked there at the time.

One night while doing night duty 2 nurses headed to the sleeping quarters at the back of the hospital for their break. When nurse K arrived she saw that nurse M was already in the room resting in the rocking chair. K proceeded to get the blankets down all the while talking to M. Surprised that M was not responding she turned to the rocking chair and found that it wasn’t M at all but rather a black wispy substance in the loose form of a human which then proceeded to swirl and move underneath the nearby bed! K was frightened and as she turned to bolt through the door she saw the back of Nurse M running up the stairs. M had arrived in time to see the entire thing and corroberate K’s story.

2) OSCAR THE GHOST

WHERE? Oxford Plantation, St.Lucy , Barbados WHEN? 1960’S Told to me on different occasions by my mother and aunt

Oscar was the well known resident ghost with a penchant for smacking persons on their behinds partiularly in their sleep often leaving visible hand prints. This reportedly happened to numerous family members, friends, cousins who frequented the home. My mother is unsure who Oscar was in his lifetime, she assumes he used to live there previously. There was a window on the second floor with the name Oscar etched in a pane. This window was replaced. A few weeks later, the name Oscar was once again etched into the window pane….

3) GHOST ON THE MORNE

WHERE? The Morn, St. Lucia WHEN? Early 2000’s Told to me by a friend whose friend’s father was on of the witnesses

A group of about 6 adults (men and women) were driving home from a party late one night. As they drove they saw a woman standing on the side of the road up ahead. They all noticed she appeared very tall, about 7 feet! She was wearing a long old fashoined dress. Both she and the dress were sheet white and she didn’t appear to be solid. As the group slowly drove by they looked into her eyes and saw nothing but black hollow sockets! They  swiftly headed home and the men returned about 45 minutes afterwards but by then she was gone…………

BONUS

This year our gardener of many years suddenly passed away this year. He came to us as a gardener but was so much more. He painted our rooms, fed pur animals when we were away, he was a friend. Aprroximately a month or so after he died, my mother was in the backyard feeding our dogs when she came across his name etched in the cement. It had never been there before…..

So that’s it, have an amazing day!

Halloween on the Cheap

30 Oct

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Happy Halloween!
I love Halloween. I also love Christmas, my birthday and Easter. I like Valentine’s day and I have no feelings towards Thanksgiving. I also appreciate,respect and acknowledge Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Diwali and Eid even though I don’t personally celebrate them.

Now to the meat of the matter: Halloween!
Despite living away from home on and off for the past 4 years I have managed to be at home every year for the past 6 Halloweens. There I have a collection of Halloween props and decorations both handmade and store bought.

Here (where I am now) I have nothing. Zero, zilch! To add insult to injury Halloween season found me at a time when I had no money. NONE! So it isn’t like I could order a bunch of new stuff online or go on a shopping spree.

What is a poor party girl to do?

Well I soon discovered that my new hometown didn’t have much to offer in the way of Halloween shopping, in fact it doesn’t have much to offer in the way of shopping in any way…

Despite that I soon discovered a discount store had some Halloween stuff in stock. The basic stuff: witch hats and brooms, cat ears and tail kits, rubber creepy crawlies you get the drift.

Even though I prefer more inspired merchandise I could work with this. I have loads of “basic” Halloween decorations at home.

I could do a whole witchy theme I thought :
I’d hang two brooms over the doorway, put a plastic cauldron on my dining table and have a ton of rubber worms and mice spilling out of it. Of course I’d buy a bunch of pumkins and arrange them on my counter then put witch hats on a couple of them…..yes I can see it now….
EXCEPT I didn’t have enough money for all that stuff.

Okay so forget the theme idea I would keep it simple: A Happy Halloween banner on the wall, fake cobwebs in each corner a plastic Jack-o-lantern bucket filled to the brim with candy. I could strategically place the rubber rats and centipedes on the floor wait wait….didn’t have enough for that either.  And the store didn’t have any fake cobwebs anyway.

So I went in with a budget of under $10 (that was my theme).For that I got the following:
1) Spiderweb bowl
2) Pack of rubber spiders
3) Pack of small bats
4) Witch’s hat
TOTAL $9(things are kind of expensive around here)

This wasn’t a whole lot to work with but it was enough. My apartment is small anyway.
I placed the bowl on my table and arranged the spiders in and around it.

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Made some look like they were crawling away.

I put the witch’s hat on my breakfast bar and placed a spider and bat on it. I also added a purple candle I had from before saying as my colour scheme is purple.

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The bats were a problem. I wanted to hang them or maybe stick them onto the wall for a flying effect.but my lease prohibits sticking stuff up and also I had neither string nor tape nor funds with which to buy them. So I grudgingly propped them onto the shelf just above the breakfast bar. Made it into a Halloween corner as such.

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I’m a hardcore Halloween-ist so I knew I had to do something even if it isn’t what I would have wanted. I’m already away from home and friends and family so I needed some semblance of normalcy. And you know what I like it. It’s simple. I can look over when I’m on my laptop or in the kitchen making lunch and see it and that’s cool.

This is the overall look

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My little Halloween corner.

Well that’s that. I’ll be at work on Halloween night but I hope everyone has a great Halloween.
Stay tuned for my Halloween Scary Story post.
Have an awesome day!

Supermarket Steal- porcini mushrooms

24 Oct

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That’s the price of this cannister of porcini mushrooms. $14.39!

Hello all, today’s post is about a great deal I got at the supermarket on an item I probably wouldn’t usually buy because of the price.

So I was in the supermarket a few weeks ago when I walked by a small lone shelf with an array of seemingly out of place items. It was at the end of the drink aisle but there were cans of soup and boxes of ziplock bags and dryer sheets and they all had little yellow and white stickers on them with hand written prices.

I was instantly drawn in! That warm fuzzy feeling I get as I approach a well stocked SALE section in the back of a favorite clothing store set in. I slowly crept over with quiet but palpable anticipation…. I confirmed what I had suspected. These items were on sale!

Let me digress for a moment. I recently moved ,so this supermarket is new to me and I am now getting to learn it. At home, (my real, original home )the supermarket chain my family shops at has a similar practice. The items are called Red Dot Specials. There is usually a couple shelves just by the entrance where they have most of the items displayed and a few scattered throughout the rest of the store. (usually refrigerated items)

These prices on these items are slashed! Almost everything is at least half price and often even more reduced than that.

But why?
Why would a place of business sell these random items for next to nothing? Well in the food business much of your merchandise is perishable. Even “non perishable” items have a recommended shelf life. As an item nears the end of its shelf life/sell by date the store has 2 options:
1) Let their products expire and discard them.
2) Sell them off as quickly as possible to salvage some money.

The easiest way to move products is by cutting the price and drawing your attention to that fact. This is what the red dots do. All these items have a huge red (deep orange) sticker on them with a reduced price scribbled on.

My dear frugal friends, this is how you obtain those fancy gourmet items you dream of having your kitchen filled with.

My sister and mother have made this into a sport, a science even. They know the day the red dots get put on and make an effort to go to the supermarket on said day. A significant portion of our shopping happens on the “red dot” shelf.

When I open the fridge and spot some fantastic cooking sauce we heard about on Food Network but never bought (cause it was too expensive!) I just know,I don’t have to see the red dot on the label. When we have gourmet cookies or crackers to snack on I don’t need to ask how this came to be… I already know. When there is suddenly a surplus of something we usually buy sparingly like almond milk I am not baffled….the answer lies on the little sticker that says red dot.

This is not a foreign concept. Lots of, if not most supermarkets do something similar although I’m sure they have their own names for it.

In this trip to the supermarket I bought the above mentioned item: porcini mushrooms.

I have heard of them before, being an avid foodie I’ve seen many a recipe call for them. I’ve watched a chef prepare some with pasta (a dish I intend to try). I’ve always wanted to try out these porcini mushrooms. But they are pricey and half the time not even in the supermarket. But that day I was in luck!

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$1.99! Approximately 1/7 of the original price!

This was my chance! I picked up the container, seriously considering buying two at once then deciding against it in case I didn’t actually like them.

I have tried them in only one recipe thus far, a makeshift meal of turkey sausage, tomatoes and porcini mushrooms.

To use them, the container recommends pouring boiling water on them and letting them sit to allow the flavor to seep out. They also soften.
They are useful in lots of sauces.

The aroma is enticing. It smells like some gourmet Italian kitchen making something really good. The taste is very umami. Salty,earthy ,slightly bitter and very complex.

I enjoyed my porcini mushrooms and I plan to try the pasta recipe soon.

This was possible all because these tasty morsels of fungus were on sale.

Interested in these supermarket steals?
I have a few pointers below to guide your purchases .

1) Ensure the item is really on sale: Too often we see signs saying “special” or see 3 of  the same item taped together and assume this means they are at a reduces price. Not always the case. Make sure you are really getting the bargin you’re looking for.

2) Check the expiration date. This is all relative as many items are still good for some time after their expiration or sell by date but use your judgement. Any milk containing product whose date has already passed , I pass on that. Same for things containing fruit as fruits can harbor lots of microorganisms when no longer good.

3) Inspect. Sometimes items which are damaged e.g dented cans or partly open packages are placed on sale. If you have no issue using a box of dryer sheets that might be missing a few or a bag of chips that have popped open and been exposed to the elements then that’s your call. Just make sure you know this before hand and get no unpleasant surprises.

So there you have it!

Happy (bargin) shopping and have an awesome day!

Last Splash(Watermelon Slush)

5 Oct

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“Ah been drankin’ wata mellun”
Hey…
So summer is officially over

ACTUALLY……..
For those in temperate climates (Northern hemisphere) summer is over. For those in temperate Southern climates its now coming and for those in the tropics well there are generally 2 seasons: rainy and dry but we do experience milder versions of weather patterns depending on which side of the equator we lie.

But I digress….

I’m really here to talk about the quintessential summer friut of 2014…..the watermelon!

I don’t know if to attribute it to the (?in)famous line in Beyoncé’s monster hit “Drunk in Love” or this just happened to be the year everyone jumped on the watermelon bandwagon but this fruit was large and in charge in 2014.

It made its way into everything from fresh fruit salads to salsas for grilled meats to alcoholic beverages.
It could be found in fashion too, I’ve seen watermelon bags (shaped like a semicircular slice of the fruit), tees with watermelon prints and of course featured in Mz Katy Perry’s “How we do” music vid (LOOOVE that song)

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Watermelon print tee

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m well aware that the watermelon has been a popular fruit and had an impact on fashion for a loooong time. However as far as popular culture goes every year a few food items get seriously hyped up and enjoys (or endures) its 15 minutes of fame.
Examples include:
1)Pomegranate circa 2009/2010 (and it’s still going,pomegranate flavoured stuff is always more expensive)

2) Kale circa 2012/2013

My prediction for 2014/2015 is coconut and more importantly coconut water! Mark my words you heard it first right here.

Again, I digress….

imageThe Watermelon

A WORD ON WATERMELON
According to Wikipedia(everyone’s ultimate reference source whether or not we admit it) watermelon is the name given to both the plant and it’s fruit(which is what we are actually talking about here). It is believed to have originated in Southern Africa. They contain little sugar, lots of water and lycopene which is associated with cardiovascular health… blah blah blah take home message: it’s good for you!

MY THOUGHTS ON WATERMELON
As a young child I was given watermelon as well as many other fruits to eat (my mother tried, I have only myself to blame for any bad eating habits I now foster). I hated it.

As a teeneager, while trying to develop healthy eating habits I tried watermelon. I hated it.

As an adult, on numerous occasions, while trying to be healthy and frugal I tried watermelon. I.HATED. IT

I’m not sure I left any clues to suggest this but don’t like watermelon. At all.
It’s watery as the name implies and tastes like Styrofoam (what I imagine it must taste like). It has too many seeds and even though its so watery, when the juice dries it gets über sticky. Bleh!

However, not wanting to be left out of this watermelon craze I decided to give this fruit another chance.

The thing about watermelon that really does appeal to me is bang for your buck. Watermelon is cheap. I can get an entire cannonball sized one for what 3 apples or 1 nectarine costs. And I will get a lot more servings of a fruit that is pretty much as healthy as they come.

So I gave the wretched fruit another try. I was inspired by the thousands of pins and posts and magazine articles glorifying this fruit. What I did realize is that hardly anyone was eating it plain. They were adding it to stuff, adding stuff to it etc (you get the idea)
That was the key. Sure I couldn’t tolerate the thought of putting a chunk of the pink fleshy fruit to my lips by itself but what if…. what if I jazzed it up a little… and that I did.

So here is the actual post(lol)

WATERMELON STRAWBERRY SLUSH

WHAT YOU NEED:
1) A watermelon(whole or sliced)- the amount you use depends on how much of this you make.

2) Strawberries(frozen)either use actual frozen strawberries (I did, they’re cheaper) or get fresh ones and pop them in the freezer.

3)Lemon/Lime juicefrom a bottle or fresh

WHAT TO DO

1) Cut the watermelon into small cubes (the exact size is entirely up to you)

2) Slice the frozen strawberries up

3) Place both fruits in a bowl or jar or glass and pour a dash or 2 of lemon juice over it (again this depends on how much you make and how acid you like things)

4) Stir the ingredients together allowing the watermelon to get partially crushed. It’s okay if the strawberries get a bit crushed too.

5) Serve with a spoon

PEARLS (a-hem ..seeds)
i)You can add strawberry flavored beverage mix e.g tang,Kool aid to amp up the strawberry factor.

ii) Add Sprite/7-Up or plain soda water(only a couple dashes) to give some fizz.

iii) Blend with said sprite etc to make it into a drink.

This is a great little snack on a hot day or alternative to ice cream for dessert. It’s affordable, simple, versatile and easy. Oh and I actually liked it! Cheers to that!

ADDENDUM

Other food Trends(these are my personal observations, no scientific evidence was used)

Red Velvet anything –2011-present.

Key Lime flavored anything– this is currently becoming a trend.

Bacon- circa 2012. This is when everyone’s favourite breakfast item meandered into pop culture and is now commonly seen on shirts, in jewelry, internet memes….etc.

Quinoa-circa 2013 to present. This one makes me chuckle.My sister did NOT get on this gravy train. She is so anti this gluten free wonder(she thinks it’s obnoxious). I personally like it, a healthy alternative to cous cous but I cannot even mutter the wprd in my sister’s presence.

Pops- circa 2011 to present. Cake pops, applepie pops, marshmallow pops…. basically any dessert or food item in general on a stick (except corndogs). We have Bakerella ( the talented, brilliant inventor of cake pops) to thank for this.

Now I’m done. Have an awesome day!

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