Sunday, 28 November 2010

All conch-ed out!

Be ready for a picture overload because let's be honest when will I ever attend another conch festival in my lifetime! We had been looking forward to this event for quite some time, in fact I had even read up about it before we left the U.K and since I discovered I actually like conch I was pretty excited about the day's events!

There was a lot of conch tasting to be done! There were over 30 different chefs and restaurants from the Island showcasing their best and most creative conch dishes! Here is a sneak peek at some of the most original/tasty offerings we came across:

This was By's first taste of conch salad...I gave that one a miss.  Cooked conch I can manage, but raw? no thank you! 

Conch Taco's! from Seaside Cafe - this is what we voted for as the best conch in show! By was beyond impressed! 

More conch salad all lined up and ready to be tasted...

Hmm, these were coconut conch taco's and very tasty...

These little conch burgers were the cutest! and surprisingly good! 

By loved this conch crepe from Bay Bistro, he likened it to the kind of dish you would get at The Waffle House (in the U.K).  It had some mushroom sauce which I wasn't too keen on, but it was fun to watch the little crepes get cooked in front of you! 

Of course no Caribbean feast would be complete without patties! So here are the conch patties from The Pelican, I thought these were really good! 

and to satisfy the mexican lover in me - Mango conch quesadilla's! 

These got the thumbs up from me for sure! 

The fest was great for coconut lovers like myself! 

I especially enjoyed the way everything was so creatively displayed! A palm tree calved out of a watermelon - how awesome! 

Of course there were plenty of these around! 

More watermelon carving! 

This was the name of the Hotel that they carved in....

A stall selling everything made out of conch! I had my eye on those tall glasses with built in straw...perfect for milkshake drinking! but at $40 per glass it was a little steep!

I feel like this picture sums up the vibe of the festival! and of the Island really, it's a very friendly place!

So friendly that when you get invited to dance, it wouldn't be polite to decline! So here I am busting a few Caribbean moves with my new found friend! 

He loved posing for pictures with fact it was hard to get him to leave! 

Watching our first 'Ripsaw' band since we've been here.  Ripsaw is the national music of the Turks and Caicos Islands.

He is using a screwdriver and 'Ripping the Saw' which basically means he is scraping it over the teeth of the saw to make a unique percussion sound.  

The goatskin drum is also another feature of a Ripsaw band.  How fun it was to chill out by listening to some good native music with the sea in the background just soaking up the sun! whilst back home they were having snow and temperatures of -13! 

You've got to love American tourists! 

Later in the day, there was even a conch blowing contest! but we left before that happened.  Here the host of the day was giving everyone a little tutorial about how to blow a conch shell - it was very informative! and he could blow that shell so well! 

We had the most awesome day, and it was definitely an event not to be missed! 

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Sunny days...Talking about Sunny days!

This is what is making Byron super happy today....

Our new puppy Sunny! We generated lots of names between suggestions were all denied immediately - what's wrong with corn dog?! I thought it was pretty cute! By has actually always liked the name Sunny for when we have kids, I decided it was in our future child's best interest to give that name to the dog so it wouldn't have to grow up with a name like that! 

Most people who know me well may be taken by surprise that I got a puppy...I am not an animal lover in any way, shape or form - especially not a dog lover! but when we went to check out these puppies last week they were too cute to say no to! An acquaintance of ours had them at their house and they were being kept outside and really weren't being looked after so yesterday when we went to bring one home I felt good that we could be making it's life a little better! 

Sunny was born in a litter of 7 puppies so yesterday we had a hard time picking which one we wanted! They were all pretty cute, but some looked a little less healthy than others! Sunny looked like the best of the bunch and so it was his lucky day, we took him to get the shots he needed to protect against alot of the different viruses dogs can get here and then we gave him a much needed bath!

Afterwards as I dried him off, he fell asleep! So cute! and then we gave him some dinner which he devoured, I'm not sure he was being fed too well before! You can see how tiny he is here, he is about 8 weeks old but very underweight and so his food dish is nearly as big as he is! 

Now although Byron can be very persuasive, I didn't just give in to his wants for a puppy with nothing in it for me.  No, there were conditions set! A puppy is alot of work and I know it will make our house pretty chaotic from now on so the deal was Byron gets a puppy...I get a trip to New York! I'd say it's a pretty good deal...especially 'cause I'm secretly enjoying the puppy more than I thought I would! 

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Happy thanksgiving!

So no holiday is complete without cupcakes! and no thanksgiving is complete without pumpkin combine the two and you have pumpkin pie cupcakes! which is what graced our thanksgiving table tonight...

along with a yummy feast which By prepared so brilliantly! It was a bit of a mash up of U.S thanksgiving dinner and U.K Christmas day dinner! The American side was the pumpkin and cornbread stuffing and the English side was roasties and brussel sprouts! and turkey transcends both holidays! 

Our original plans to celebrate with American friends of ours fell through...and we couldn't not do anything on thanksgiving so we decided to have a little dinner on our own and we invited the missionaries too.  So it was a Brit (me), a South African (Byron), a Jamaican (Elder Johnson)....and Elder Hoffman was our token American that made it legit to be celebrating Thanksgiving in the first place! It was Elder Johnson's first thanksgiving...and you can see from the look of pure delight on his face it turned out to be a pretty good one! He also got the wishbone from the turkey so it was a good night all round for him...and his first time trying brussel sprouts! He was impressed.  We had tried to buy some 'snazzy' drink at the supermarket along the lines of Schloer/Appletiser but they didn't seem to have anything in that way of drinks so we settled on some root beer by the bottle! Classy I know...but tasty - definitely! 

Here I am showcasing my little pumpkin cupcake along with the turkey topper! and you can also see my thanksgiving belly in this pic! Since I had to work we couldn't eat our thanksgiving meal in the afternoon like most Americans do...and so I haven't had enough hours to lay around and let it go down yet! 

On my last day of blogging my thanks, I want to give thanks to my Heavenly father and Saviour Jesus Christ for the blessings which they pour down upon me! I am so blessed to know that God lives and that he hears and answers my prayers and that he watches over us in all we do.  I'm so enormously grateful to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, it brings me immense happiness to live the gospel righteously.  I was listening to a song the other day and these two lines really stood out to me:

The peace I feel, my joy in sacred things
surpasses all the world could ever bring

How true it is that worldly happiness we experience is so fleeting but happiness from obeying God's commandments lasts forever.  I'm grateful that I can worship with other Latter Day Saints here on Provo in our little branch and grateful for the calling I have where I get to teach and learn from these little cuties:

This little girl in the bottom right of the picture is Wilchana, she is 6 years old and she walks to church each Sunday by herself.  What diligence and dedication to the Lord! It makes my week when I get to spend time with these choice little children of God, and feel of their sweet spirits.  

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

I love you more today than yesterday but not as much as tomorrow!

Five and a half years ago I met parents had moved us to this random village called Olney and Mel and I were working in a call centre for the summer in nearby Milton Keynes. The department opposite where we sat at work had just started hiring a new team of people, so naturally we checked out the talent as they filed by each morning for training. One particular long haired guy with baggy trousers caught my eye! Later that day we were in the staff room and Mel 'who can always eat' was at the vending machine trying to get a chocolate bar...apart from she typed in the wrong selection and nothing came out! She started making a fuss and the guy I had spotted that morning came over to see what the problem was! That guy was Byron and as it turned out he lived in Olney too so he said we should come hang out with his friends sometime, and a few days later he invited us to the pub. Here we are getting acquainted in The Two Brewers!

Needless to say I was smitten...he wore the right trainers (which was a deal breaker for me at 19!) he had the right hair, he listened to the right music (most of the time) and finding out he was South African was a big bonus for me! A summer romance ensued of frisbee playing days spent at the park, and shooting star spotting at night and when it came time for me to go back to Uni I wasn't ready to say goodbye just yet. A year and a half later we got engaged, and 8 months later we were married to be together for time an all eternity.

I am so thankful fantastic husband! He makes me so happy, and I'm so blessed to be his wife. He cooks me the tastiest meals and caters to my picky palate without complaining, whilst at the same time expanding my taste buds! He may roll his eyes when he finds me researching where to go on holiday based on how many cupcakeries are there but I know when it comes down to it he'll be there cupcaking it up with me! He is very patient with me, like when I was making all the photo collages in my previous posts on Photoshop. He tolerated the zillions of questions I had and didn't mind showing me how to do it...even though sometimes I need to be told things more than once! He lives with my obsessions like everything in our house having to be polka dot or cupcake related! And he listens to my latest cupcake news with interest and helps me photograph for my cupcake blog! He has learnt to put up with having his picture taken far more than he would like or want! But most of all I love him for the way he loves me unconditionally...can't wait to see what the next 5 and a half years bring!

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

A happy family is but an earlier heaven - John Bowring

Today I am super thankful wonderful family! 
Man, do I love these people! I know everyone thinks they have the best family in the world but I really do! There is no one I'd rather spend my time with than the people in the photo above! We have crazy amounts of fun together, and everything is better when they are around! I felt it best to pay a little individual tribute to each one. 

This is my dad! My facebook shy dad! This was a little farewell fish and chips meal we shared the weekend before I left the U.K, when the camera came out my dad's classic quote was 'I don't want my picture to be on facebook...I've got a rep to protect'! So just to humour him I'm protecting his rep and just showcasing his super cool checked shirt instead (a Dad staple!) Dad is a very knowledgeable person, he knows the answers to everything...literally, in fact I'm pretty sure he was my personal google before it came along! He's the most well travelled person I know but just don't get him started about the time he worked in Mozambique...or ask about his rock collection - because after all he's Irish and you may be there a while! He taught me how to sand a bumper when I was 7 and dressed me in boys clothes until I was old enough to know any better so I was sort of like the little boy he never had! He always helped me build the best school projects and helped me understand neuroscience when I was at Uni! He was always pretty good at taking the 5 women in our family shopping in different parts of the country every weekend when we were growing up, and not complaining about it...but I think his 2 son in laws have finally filled the void in our family and they can go play at scrapyards or cut down trees whilst we have our girly weekends! 

The quote above sums up my mom perfectly! She is the most selfless person I know and always ready to go without dinner or extra roast potatoes to benefit the rest of us! She writes more letters than anyone I know and when I was at Uni there was never a week that went by that I wouldn't receive an awesome letter or fun filled package! I know if the postal service was better here the packages would only be continuing! but for now she sends me numerous emails and I look forward to our weekly skypes! Growing up, every school assembly I ever took part in or church talk I ever gave would always be met with a congratulations card and little gift to say well done...I have boxes and boxes filled with those cards and notes that I will never be able to throw away because they show just how much my mom loves me.  I miss our late night chats and midnight runs to the shop for chocolate and magazines...but most of all I miss the hugs! 

My sister Alli is next, she's not too fond of the camera so this is the only picture I could find that had the two of us together in it!! She's super generous and even paid and took me to New York City on holiday one time, she also buys every magazine out there and always saves them up for when I come to visit so I can get my celebrity fix that I'm too poor to get when I'm back in Reading! She buys the best presents and always looks out for Gwen pictures/news from her magazines especially for me! 

Mara and I have a special bond over our love of food! In fact growing up Mara would always fix me things to eat or bake me things whenever I wanted...I'm even excited about her coming to visit us in JUST OVER 2 WEEKS!! because I'm dreaming of the tasty meals she will make for us :) Generosity must run in the family because Mar is super generous! Over the past year whilst she has lived in London I have spent many cupcake and mexican filled weekends staying with her and she never lets me spend a penny, she pays for everything and fattens me up something ridiculous! 

Last but by no means least is Mel...we used to be joined at the hip! until we both got husbands and she moved to the dirty north! We may see each other less than we would like but we have enough memories to last us a lifetime! She doesn't have the nickname outrageous Mel for nothing! and everything is crazier when Mel's around! She's been on the end of a teary eyed phone call many a time, and is never too hesistant to tell me to get over it! Yes she brings the news you may not want to hear but in a way that only Mel can! She is the best at accents and brings every story she tells you to life...there's never a dull moment when she comes to visit! We've danced our socks off together to some of the best bands and if you're ever in need of an awesome mix tape Mel's the one who can put it together, and she's also a pretty awesome stylist/beautician! She never got fed up on my 10 changes a day when I first started dating Byron and was always on hand to help me get ready for our dates! 

So this is a big thank you to my family for being so awesome and a reminder to them they all need to come visit very soon so I can get my Jones fix! 

Monday, 22 November 2010

Sleep 'til you're hungry, eat 'til you're sleepy...

Today I am grateful for...Good Food!
For as long as I can remember I've been a Foodie! I don't mean that in the fine dining connoisseur sort of way, I definitely don't have an incredible and adventurous palate and I don't know my veal from my beef...but I do LOVE food! 

In fact some of my earliest memories revolve around food! When I was 4 my grandparents from South Africa came to visit was the first time I was 'meeting' them, along with a trip across the channel to France I'm sure we shared some amazing memories with them during their stay but the only thing I remember about the whole trip is the cookies with red and green jelly's on top that they brought to us when they arrived!!  When I was 5 we holidayed in the Swiss Alps, I don't remember the husky dog rides but I do remember whilst on a mountain train being given a giant tube of chocolate smarties by a Chinese tourist.  In my eagerness to eat them I opened the tube upside down and watched in dismay as they tumbled down the carriage of the mountain train as we ascended on a slant! 

It's not surprising then to hear how good food can brighten my spirits! When in Thailand last summer, my picky palate was suffering with some of the Thai cusine I was experiencing so when I stumbled upon a can of A&W root beer in the middle of the Chiang Mai jungle I declared it the best day of the trip so far! When I'm cycling home from work on a Monday and I suddenly remember it's Mexican Monday it's amazing how fast I can speed up my peddling! and today when I was struggling through my day at work and Byron arrived with a pick me up treat in the form of a Peanut Butter Oreo Cakester my day was transformed! We don't get Oreo Cakesters back in England, but being the huge Oreo fan I am I actually ordered some last year from America to try them out...I tried them in vanilla and chocolate variety but had no idea a peanut butter variety even existed! I'm grateful for a thoughtful husband who knows just how to cheer me up! and grateful to be living on this Island amongst so many yummy American treats! 

No doubt that in years to come I won't look back and remember the potcake attacks in Provo, but will remember my time here with fondness because of the freely available American delicacies we are able to enjoy! 

Sunday, 21 November 2010

A week of thanksgiving...

This coming thursday is Thanksgiving.  Whilst it's not a celebrated holiday here in Turks and Caicos, we will be celebrating it with some of our American friends.  So in the spirit of thanksgiving, I decided I'm going to post every day leading up to Thanksgiving something I'm grateful for.

This evening, we went for a walk along the beach and sat down to watch the waves for a while and it wasn't hard to work out what I'm grateful for today...
...The Ocean
We also got a new missionary this week from Washington state who had only seen open ocean for the first time in his life when he arrived in Jamaica 7 months ago.  I've been thinking about that for the past few days, and I can't believe how you could go so many years without ever experiencing the ocean! This evening Byron and I were reflecting on how fortunate we have been to experience the ocean in so many different places and so often in our lives! 

I'm thankful for the beauty of the world that God has created for us.  I'm thankful for the variation of the sea throughout the world - from the icy cold waters of the Scottish Coast to the super warm waters of Zakynthos, Greece...from the high crashing waves of Durban, South Africa to the calm still waters of Thailand...from the murky Belgian sea to the turquoise blue hue in Mauritius - I am thankful for them all!! and thankful that I can continue to experience the joys of the ocean whilst here in Provo! 

Saturday, 20 November 2010

What's been keeping us busy this week...

Today I am recovering from a hectic bake sale I did this morning! With the help of By and our friend Milah we sold close to 60 cupcakes which was pretty good going and I think I made some good contacts too so the hours of baking and frosting were worth it! If you want to read more about it and see the fun little video we made of the cupcake baking action you can see it here

Byron finally caught the big one this week! There's been a few weeks now of coming home empty handed from his little fishing jaunts, or coming home with fish that had been given to him! so he was pretty proud when he walked through the door with this beast! He couldn't wait to BBQ it up and we had the missionaries round for dinner last night to help him eat it! Let's hope this is the start of many more catches...

As promised, By made a new stop motion video this week....far superior than the one of me and my tube last week! and it's a pretty fun little clip to show you what our daily journey to the beach is like! and to see the randomness of the eyed horses just roaming the beach - it's a little strange! 

So even though today, and the past few days, have been crazy hectic...I finished off this evening nicely with a little trip to IGA (our local supermarket).  I had gone last week and been excited to discover they had started a little aisle of Christmas candy.  I had been searching online and seeing all these amazing goodies you can get in America like mint m n m's, peppermint bark, candy cane kisses and I was looking at how much it would cost to ship them down to us (it was a bit of a joke!) so I hoped maybe the supermarket might be getting some of them in, but I was disappointed to discover the Christmas candy section consisted of imitation peppermint Oreos (that didn't look tasty at all), Ferrero Rocher's and Terry's chocolate orange - not very original really! So tonight we just popped in quick to grab something whilst on our way to get Jerk Chicken at Chinson's, one of our favourite little hang outs, and I told Byron I was just going to check the Christmas Candy aisle in the hopes there may have been some new additions!! Imagine my excitement when as I got there I discovered all the treats I had been looking at online in the States were now suddenly there before my eyes on the was a Christmas miracle! so these are the things making me happy right now:

I'm thinking Christmas might not be too bad on this Island after all!

Lastly, tomorrow is our brother in law Arne's birthday so we want to give a little shout out to him and say Happy Birthday! We wish we could be there to celebrate it with you, but we will be sure to eat some cupcakes and think of you :) and hope you get vast amounts of enjoyment out of the present!

We miss the good times!! like bowling in our charity shop finds at All Star Lanes, London!