Sunday, December 30, 2007

New Year Fun!

The wonderful Kelli at "There's is no place like home" is doing this really cute feature. Here's what she said:

With the New Year right around the corner, this is the perfect time for a peek through the past year of blogging. I would love for you to join in with me!

Post the first sentence of your first blog post of each month. You can also add a favorite picture from each month.

Ok now I know for the next few weeks I'll still be writing 2006 on everything, and crossing it out and then rewriting 2007.

Jasmine and Nicholas

Welcome to my weekly Crockpot Recipes Exchange.

Machu Picchu, image taken from my "Greatest Places on Earth" post.

Welcome to my Weekly Crockpot Recipes Exchange (I'm starting to see a pattern here LOL)

Silver City Ghost Town in Idaho - It was just 20 miles from the base we were stationed at and we loved visiting it

FINALLY turning a corner!

Fun at the Boise Zoo

Boy was I busy yesterday!

Kids having fun on the trampoline back in Idaho

Leaving on a Jet Plane!!!!

Curt and Jasmine at my mother in law's wedding

Good Morning from HOT Arizona!!! We've been here since July 2nd but only got our internet connected today.
Palm tree in our front yard

Thank you to all the ladies who participate every week, I can't tell you how much I enjoy your recipes.
Jasmine's first day of third grade

It's been a crazy few days, lots to do and places to go etc


October here we come!!!

Casting Crowns - Who I am...absolute favorite song

Good morning everyone, come on in and have some coffee with me, I'll try to get you up to date with what's going on here.
Halloween Pirate and Enchantress

Hate, HATE shopping on the holidays!

Fresh out of the oven bread

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Things that make me go ooohhh and ahhhhh

I spent the day working on my menus for the next two weeks, which found me sitting at the computer desk, on the couch and in the kitchen scrolling through my cookbooks and racking my brain for the comfort food that I grew up eating.

While doing this though I was transported back in time, back to my childhood, back to when we lived in Portugal and South Africa, to the times when we went on vacation to the beach or to the Kruger National Park, the restaurants we stopped at, the meals we ate and the sights we saw.

So I went searching for photos that would show you all a little more about who I am, where I've been and what I may want to grab a cup of coffee and tell everyone to leave you alone for a while, I do have quite a bit to say and lots of photos to share.

I have to start with where I was born, which was in the beautiful city of Maputo formerly known as Lourenco Marques, Mozambique. Gosh do I miss that country, on my few trips back home when I still lived in South Africa, I remember walking through these beaches or driving by the main road lined with palm trees and merchants selling their freshly caught fish.

All you need to do is take a walk along the beach and browse the amazing seafood readily available and just brought off the sea. There is nothing like fresh crab or prawns, clams, mussels etc.

I also vividly remember taking a trip to Catembe (if you click on the link it will take you to a YouTube video of Catembe and Maputo) , hopping the ferry and then once on the other side, you are surrounded by the ocean on one side and a river on the other. You can sit at the restaurant right in the middle of both and whatever you order off the menu, you can see the men go out in the boats to the river to fish. I can almost smell the fresh air and the ocean and feel the smooth beach sand in my toes.

That's Catembe above!

So now that I've shown you a little of my birth country, I want to take you for a quick trip to another place....Zimbabwe also formerly known as Rhodesia. We lived there for a little right after the whole Mozambique independence war broke out, just like many other families who fled, we also had to leave our beautiful home behind.

For me as a young 2 year old girl, the ONE thing I can never forget were the Jacaranda trees that used to abound in the city of Harare, again formerly known as Salisbury.......boy do I feel old when everything starts changing names LOL

The trees were breathtaking when in bloom, it took everything out of you not to just stop and admire them everywhere you went.

I thought this picture would better show you the Jacaranda lined roads....

After our short stay in Zimbabwe we left for Portugal and THIS was really my second home. I have been pretty lucky I must say, there's a lot of countries I have called my home but I think South Africa is definitely the one I would call that closely followed by Portugal, maybe because that is where I grew up, where I first went to school and had friends and really became aware of everything around me.

Portugal will always hold a special place in my heart, I love it dearly and I miss it almost as much as I miss South Africa. You know as the years go by we tend to loose loved ones along the way, it's just the natural course of life, but Portugal was the one place where I truly remember EVERYONE still being alive and together, both my grandfathers and my greatgrandmother and my dear Uncle Carlos. Wonderful memories.

We lived in Povoa de Santa Iria for quite a few years, this is where my brothers and I made good friends, got into tons of trouble and had the best time ever. The buildings above are just like the ones we used to live in, we actually lived in a cul de sac which was perfect as a kid, we had the run of the neighborhood and did whatever we wanted to. In the summer I remember it being 10:30pm and we would all still be outside playing Hide and Seek and Tag....I miss those days.

That was my school, I LOVED that school and the teachers, as a matter of fact after we left for South Africa I still kept in touch with one of my teachers through letters.

We didn't always stay in Povoa, right before we moved to Johannesburg, we also lived in Forte Da Casa, though I can't seem to find any good photos from it. But what I mostly remember is that we lived in these apartment buildings right by a railroad track and just beneath the apartments were little greatgrandmother used to send me there to buy wine for her "vinho branco sem agulhas" hahahahahah
I still remember, and to this day I have no idea what she meant by that, but it was like I was programmed to say it LOL

While in Portugal we did go on vacation to different of the most visited by us was Odeceixe. We would rent a house and go for a week or so, I still don't know how the heck we all managed to fit in a small car LOL

Meet the Mini Metro....and really the name does it justice it really was MINI. But we managed to fit my dad and my stepmom, 4 kids and my greatgrandmother and even my mother at one point. Though the whole way there my poor Bio was complaining that there was a bag hitting her on the back of the head LOL
Oh and we did take the dog one time too........hahahahahahahahahah How the heck did we fit everyone in there???? Dad???? Nela????? Care to try and explain this one???? LOL

Praia de Odeceixe was the beach we went to, it was gorgeous and the huge rocks you see created small caverns alongside the beach, perfect for kids to play in LOL Now don't worry, they weren't big or long caves, just small indentations in the rocks but they provided cool shade which in the summer heat was very welcomed.

*sigh* how I miss those little roads and look at the stunning colors hanging above.

We also vacationed in Algarve with some friends, I remember that we stayed at this beautiful house, it was 2 or 3 families, I am not completely sure right now, I was after all quite young.,algarve.jpg

Vila Moura, isn't it beautiful? I only wish my husband and kids had gotten to see these places, who knows maybe one day??

And then one day we went to Sagres and that place became engraved in my memory and in my heart. There was just something magical about it, maybe because it's the most southern point of Portugal. The views are breathtaking and the food.....oh the food. I still remember the BEST Caldeirada de Peixe (Fish Stew) I have ever had. OH.MY.GOODNESS the freshest seafood and fish and eating it at this quaint restaurant overlooking the ocean.

Look at those beaches????

Typical portuguese streets.....there were times that we would be in a taxi in Lisbon and the streets we traveled through were only big enough for ONE car at a time, and it was a close fit too I tell you LOL
There's places where neighbors can just open their windows and shake hands across the neat is that???

This picture above makes me happy, everything about it, the small street, the clothes hanging, the pretty yellow of the buildings and then the way the photographer caught the ship in the center. Beautiful!

So now that you've seen a bit of Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Portugal, I think it's only fair that I take you to my other home, South Africa.

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I kid you not when I tell you that from my house in Johannesburg, this was the view from the front porch. No, really, I'm not joking, at night it was amazing with all the lights on in the city.

South Africa, wow, what can I say that I haven't already said in the past almost 2 years of having this blog. This country is one of the most beautiful in the world and also one of the least understood and KNOWN. It boggles my mind when people ask me where I'm from and I tell them, only to be met with "did you live in a hut?" or "were there wild animals running around?". LOL

It's a country, a well developed country, I promise you, I did not live in a hut and I did not have to cross the veld (bush) to get home from school nor was I ever attacked by lions or elephants roaming the streets. Everything in it's place and a place for everything!

We lived in Johannesburg and my family still one of the Southern Suburbs that were prominently portuguese. Some areas were even named Little Portugal because the stores, the restaurants and the neighborhoods were all Portuguese people.

The first place we lived was called Regent's Park and the house kinda looked like this one, I can't find one of the actual house, it's something I'm going to make sure I get when I visit South Africa in May. Believe me, you will then get to see everything, the houses I lived in, the places I went to, the schools the food the name it, I'll have it to show you :)

We also lived in Turffontein in a very haunted house, though my father will tell you over and over that he LOVED the house and it was not haunted. I beg to differ, I saw and heard things that still make my skin crawl. So did my grandmother and my stepmom AND my poor Uncle Carlos who was house sitting for us when we went to the beach and after one day he was ready to never return LOL

I also remember a HUGE house in Towerby, we lived there with my grandparents and my greatgrandmother.....AND my Uncle too at one time. We still laugh about the morning that he was fast asleep in his bed and a cockatiel flew in through the window and landed on his head hahahahaha
It became our bird, Amadeus, named after that crazy 80's song "Rock me Amadeus" remember that????

But all this led to our home in The Hill, where my oldest brother Paul still lives today. My dad and stepmom moved to a new house a few months ago after 20 plus years of living in our home and my brother feeling much like we did "this is HOME" decided to move in with his family.

Again no photos.....dagnabit! LOL

But I can tell you this much, it was just up the road from our High School and just a bus or car trip away from Rosettenville........the little shopping mall I worked at, the offices for the radio stations we owned and worked at too, and the restaurants we owned (come to think of it, we did quite a lot LOL)

So what do I most miss about it other than my family of course???? Well I miss buying fresh portuguese bread daily at the Four Seasons Shop, going next door to the Rio Douro Peixaria (fish market) and buying fresh fish........I miss the breakfast or the lunch that my grandmother and I used to enjoy at Wimpy's or Steers.......the portuguese food at Piri Piri Portuguese restaurant, they had the BEST barbecue chickens ever, well, other than Nando's Chicken which was amazing too.

Do you want to read a little more about Rosettenville and why I love it so much??? Read this article, the writer describes perfectly what this suburb is all about.

I know this has been a long post but I like sharing my favorite things with you and I think this way you also learn a bit more about me......if anything my family will enjoy this trip down memory lane and I'm sure they'll have plenty of stories to add to this.

I can't leave without showing you my favorite food can I? Be prepared, you may just want to go eat lunch now OR use these next photos as motivation for your meal?

Here are some Koeksisters, which I'll be making probably next week and I'll be sure to have the recipe and the photos for you on my food blog.

Chourico assado....grilled chourico, I'm actually making this for a snack this coming week and I'll show you how we do it in Portugal, it's SO good.
Bifes a cavalo........oh the many times I had this steak at a portuguese restaurant. A yummy steak with a fried egg on top, served with the little mound of rice and a salad, I always had mine with fries too :)

Boerewors on the grill.......YUMMY! One of the things I most miss about South Africa and the Braais (BBQ's). This delicious

How about a Catembe to drink? This popular drink from Mozambique is one of my favorites....all it is, is red wine and coke together. Or you could do a Penalty, which is white wine and sprite. Both Yummy!

And to finish off, here's a huge platter of seafood, straight from Mozambique to you. Now just close your eyes and imagine you're sitting at a beach front restaurant, hearing the waves crash on the sand and savoring an ice cold beer while eating this gorgeous platter. Yeah, you KNOW you want to go there :)

NOTE: These are NOT my photos, so full credit goes to the wonderful people who took them.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Slow Cooking Thursday - December 27, 2007

All my slow cooking recipes are now online and starting today, I will add all the recipes shared weekly to my online site too. So if you're wanting to find ALL the slow cooked recipes that have been shared since the first SLOW COOKING THURSDAY, here is the link for you.

Don't forget to add your name to Mr Linky and a link back to your SCT post so others can come by and see your recipe too.

For Christmas I got Sandra Lee's Slow Cooking cookbook so today's recipe is one from the book and one I'll be trying this coming week.

Slow Simmered Chipotle Rib Sandwiches
Credit: Sandra Lee's Slow Cooker Recipes

1 onion
3 1/2 pounds beef short ribs
1 envelope beef onion soup mix, Lipton
1 jar (16-ounce) chipotle Salsa, Pace
1/2 cup ale-style beer
Kaiser Rolls, split and roasted

Place onion in a 4-to 5- quart slow cooker. Add ribs to slow cooker, meaty sides up. Sprinkle with onion soup mix. Add salsa and beer.

Cover and cook on LOW heat setting for 10 to 12 hours.

Transfer ribs from slow cooker to a cutting board. Tent with aluminum foil until cool enough to handle. Using tongs, transfer onions from cooking juices to a serving bowl. Remove meat from bones (it should fall off); shred. Serve on kaiser rolls. Serve with onions and cooking juices.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

So what do you think????

New look to get us ready for the new year.........I thought I wouldn't have this done for a while but I sat down in the front of the computer this morning and before I knew it this was the result. A little color here, some paper and buttons there and I'm really happy with's girly and pink and as Curt said after he saw it "I think it's definitely YOU". :)

I'm about to go get the kids in the bathtub and ready for bed, it's back to work for Curt tomorrow and we're all needing a good night's know how it is during the days off, everyone is up until late, the house is a mess and I'm still finding wrapping paper and those annoying little black plastic thingies from the toys.

So goodnight to you all, I'll be back in the morning with my Slow Cooking Thursday, I'll be sharing a recipe from my new Sandra Lee Slow Cooker Recipes!

Night Night,

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas has come and gone..........

Time really does fly by, one minute you're anxiously awaiting Christmas and rushing to make sure you have all the presents and the last minute details..........then in less than 30 minutes, that's it, it's gone. Wow!

We had a good Christmas, I got to speak to all my family which is somewhat of a tradition since I left home, the phone rings on Christmas Eve or New Year's Eve and I get to sit down and say hi and catch up with all 12 of them. hahahahah
You think I'm kidding??? It's a long phone call but so worth it!

I spent the rest of the day in the kitchen cooking, I have the recipes for you including pictures and all, I'll be updating the food blog tonight so those will be available soon :)

We got to track Santa as he made his way across the world delivering presents, the kids sprinkled reindeer food in the front yard and even think they spotted Santa due to the big bright red light in the sky, slowly moving across from one side to the other while leaving a smoke trail behind. You should have seen the looks on their faces, there's absolutely NOTHING like seeing Christmas through the eyes of a child....pure heaven.

We opened presents at midnight and ate and laughed and played with the new goodies and just had a great time.......Curt did really well with my gifts this year, this man knows me and what I like. I got a new griddle, Sandra Lee's Slow Cooker Recipes (YAY), a cute cute black Tinkerbell top which he knows I love, some wonderful new suede gloves and then oh does this man know YES, Irish Cream and French Roast coffee plus a new grinder to boot. I'm thrilled, I've let my fingers page through the cookbook, I've had a wonderful cup of Irish Cream coffee, I'm wearing my new top and I plan on using that griddle tomorrow morning. Life is good!

Here's a short slideshow:

Click to play Christmas+2007
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Make a slideshow - it's easy!

Now we're heading towards New Year's Eve and quite frankly I could take it or leave it, it's not a date we particularly like or make a point of celebrating, as a matter of fact the past 8 years or so we just go about our day and head to bed at night only to wake up to a new year. Works fine for us!

We don't like going out and getting in the middle of the crowds, the drinking, the fights and the craziness out there.

So we'll be at home, doing the usual, I actually can't wait until it's all over and done with, I am dying to get back to a normal routine, the holidays are wonderful but they're tiring aren't they?

One thing I've been thoroughly enjoying is the christmas movies on tv. I don't think I've ever watched the Lifetime Channel this much....there's just one great movie after another, I'm going to miss those.

Don't be surprised to see a new template around here soon, I'm over Christmas and that includes the current look, I know I know, I change it a lot but I guess I like my blog to match my mood. Not sure what I'm doing yet though so it may be that I don't mess with it anything for a couple weeks. Who knows!

I think I need to head to my food blog and post a couple of great recipes for you, get the kids bathed and in bed and then slip into a hot bath with a good book in hand. "A Painted House" by John Grisham is calling my name :)

Have yourselves a wonderful evening, I hope you are all full from the wonderful Christmas meals and happy to be surrounded by family.

God Bless,

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Christmas from our home to yours.....

Here we sit anxiously awaiting tomorrow. You see being portuguese means that the big day, the exciting get together with the whole family, eat tons of food and laugh and joke while waiting to open the presents Christmas Eve.

As Curt said to the kiddos earlier today "You're lucky your mother is portuguese, otherwise you would be waiting until Christmas morning to open your presents" to which they replied "Oh yeah...." *snicker*

The presents are wrapped, the homemade gifts are done and delivered, the last minute shopping is NO MORE and the preparations for tomorrow's meal have already begun.

The menu is simple, I'm not fixing dinner just setting a couple of goodies on the table and we'll be grabbing whatever we want, playing some board games, watching some christmas movies, reading the story of the Birth of Christ and even tracking Santa through Norad.....or you can do it through Santa Speaking, Nasa, or Santa

But going back to my menu.....

Rissois de Camarao (Portuguese Shrimp Turnovers)

Pasteis de Massa Tenra (Meat Pies)

Buffalo Chicken Wings

Torta de Laranja (Orange Jelly Roll)

Delicious Dessert (Sobremesa Deliciosa) - which is ready, I made it this afternoon and even got the recipe up for you all.


So 2 desserts and 3 non sweet some chips and dip, egg nog, Christmas cookies etc.

We'll be hanging out until midnight and then we'll get to the presents.....there will be pictures to follow but I don't think I need to tell you that LOL

We will also be reading Twas the Night Before Christmas and online The Nativity Story. My kids love reading and up until now we haven't really read stories on Christmas Eve but it's a tradition we want to start this year and continue from this moment on.

I leave you with some Christmas Links as I head to bed with the kids....we have an exciting day ahead of us. You won't see much of me until after Christmas Day so as I leave, I wish for you all the best of everything, a wonderful Blessed Christmas day with family and friends and may the Lord bring a new year with blessings abound and happiness like you've never seen.


The History of Christmas

World Christmas Traditions

Santa's North Pole

Santa Claus

Friday, December 21, 2007

Anyone want a cold??? No???


Seriously, I just can't take it anymore, it feels like everytime I get over a cold, another is lurking in the shadows ready to pounce  and tackle poor unsuspecting me to the ground.  (talk about feeling sorry for myself lol)

I was finally over the other cold....or was I?  Sometimes I wonder if I really do get over one or if it's the same one that just doesn't want to leave because I'm OH.SO.SWEET!  UGH! 

Anyway, I woke up yesterday morning feeling cranky and with a sore throat.  By mid afternoon I had a raging headache, congested nose and a fever, I just wanted to go to bed and stay in there forever........well maybe not forever but it certainly made me wish I was back home BEFORE marriage and kids....where I could climb into bed and have my grandma and my stepmom nurse me back to health.  Oh those were the days!  LOL

You'll be happy to know though that I didn't succumb to it, I still cleaned and did laundry, picked up Jasmine from school, fixed dinner and did the dishes AND then sat up and wrapped 25 little tiny fudge presents for Jasmine's class.  She wanted to take some fudge for the kids and I had to figure out how to give 2 pieces of fudge for this is what I came up with. 

Hey for being really sick I think I did a great job, didn't I? 


So that's the batch of fudge I whipped up last night, I'm so glad it takes but only a few minutes otherwise I would have told Jasmine that "No can do kiddo" LOL


I grabbed some aluminum foil and some leftover ribbon from wrapping presents.


Aren't they just the sweetest little things??  There's two squares of fudge in there and it looks just like little christmas presents.  I hope the kids enjoy it :)


And here's the 25 little presents ready to head to school.  Jasmine was SO excited.  She took off this morning with a gift bag for her teacher which included a big jar of Chocolate and Cranberries Scones Mix, 2 small jars of Vanilla Caramel Hot Chocolate Mix, a block of Fudge which I wrapped in plastic wrap and then some vintage fabric that I had laying around and added a little bow.....and a jar of Homemade Caramels.  I truly hope the teacher enjoys it :)

Now one of my sweet readers, Lori, asked me to please post the recipe for the Scones Mix and the Hot Chocolate, so here goes.


1 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup white chocolate chips

Layer ingredients in 1-quart food storage jar with tight-fitting lid in following order: combine flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg; whole wheat flour; and sugar. Place cranberries and chocolate chips in plastic bag; seal bag. Add bag to jar.
Seal jar. Cover lid with fabric circle, if desired. Attach gift tag and fabric to jar with raffia or ribbon.


And here's the Vanilla Caramel Hot Chocolate Mix:



Flavors: Amaretto, Hazelnut, Vanilla, Irish Creme
Ingredients for Jar

Mix the following 3 ingredients in a small bowl:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons flavored powdered coffee creamer
1/2 cup dry milk
1/2 cup chocolate flavored drink mix (like Quik)
(flavored coffee creamer is available in several flavors including the ones listed above)

Place Ingredients in Jar in This Order:

Place half the milk mixture into jar.
Place half the chocolate drink mix into the jar next.
Add the remaining milk mixture.
Add the remaining chocolate drink mix.
Decorate the jar.
Attach recipe below to jar. Name cocoa by the flavor you chose.

______ Cocoa

  1. Empty cocoa mix into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Blend very well with a whisk.
  3. Place mix back into jar or a container of your choice.
  4. Place 2 tablespoons mix into a cup. Add 1 cup boiling water and stir until completely dissolved.
  5. Top with whipped cream if desired.

I used Vanilla Caramel powdered coffee creamer, hence the Vanilla Caramel Hot Chocolate Mix :)


One thing we do in my house every night, is read with the kids.  I love it, they love it and it's one of those moments where we get to wind down from the crazy day and just hang out on my bed, under the covers with a great book in hand.

20071220_49 20071220_53 20071220_59 20071220_54

20071220_62 20071220_63 20071220_65I just LOVE his face in this one LOL

 20071220_67 20071220_68


The school lets our early today for the Christmas break, I can't wait....sleeping in, staying up late, reading stories, watching movies and anxiously awaiting Christmas.

Of course my kids love the fact that we celebrate Christmas on the 24th, we have the big meal and the opening of the presents at midnight, then on actual Christmas day they get whatever Santa left under the tree and their stocking stuffers.

My menu for the 24th is really simple, we don't have an actual dinner but a bunch of things on the table.  I'm making Rabanadas (Cris also has a great recipe up for them), Rissois de Camarao - Shrimp Cakes, Chicken Wings, Sandra's Dessert (it's so YUMMY), Pasteis de Massa Tenra - Little meat pies and Orange Jelly Roll.  I'll have all the recipes up probably on Christmas day because I'll be getting the photos etc as I cook on the 24th. 

Anyway, I feel awful and I need to go lay down for a bit.  I still have some last minute gift shopping to do tomorrow so I'm hoping I feel a little better to brave the crowds.

I don't know if I'll be back on the blog before Christmas rolls around, so if I'm not, I wish you all, my family, my friends, my blog readers and everyone else out there, a very Merry Christmas and wonderful New year.  May the Lord bless you all and may you get everything that you've ever wished for.