About Me

Living in the Caribbean is probably like living anywhere else, with the same ups and downs. But it does have its own vibe and flavour and gives me a unique perspective on most things. I'm often sarcastic, mostly funny, always looking for a new adventure. I have not boxed myself into any one category of life. I love a lot of things and dislike a lot more. I write about them all.

Christmas Down, New Year to Come

Had a lot of vino over the holidays. Too much!!
Well, Christmas has come and gone in a flurry of activities and it was a good time. I have family visiting from various locations around the world and it was nice to spend some time with them. My nephew was a cranky one on the day, having attempted to be a grown up on Christmas Eve - staying up late - and then being sleepy and super cranky, almost Chucky-like on the day. But by night time, he was my sweet, lovable little boy once more. That surely made up for any bad behaviour earlier in the day.

The Christmas excess for everyone was very real, and so I made a conscious decision that while everyone was hungover, unable to wake up or doubled over a toilet on Boxing Day, I would rise with the chickens and go to the gym. I was surprised at how many other people were there at 6 am that day, and at 5am yesterday, though I was the lone roadrunner at 5.30 this morning. Still, it's good to have a posse when facing the perils of too much food and drink.

So what now? Now comes 2014, and as always, I am always a bit excited for a new year. I don't do resolutions but I do prioritise a few things and try to get them done.

And 2013? There is an old wives' practice here in Trinidad - when you have guests you really want to get rid of, or who have overstayed their welcome, you turn up a broom. Well, I know a lot of friends who are turning up a broom for 2013 but I can honestly say it was not that bad. The last quarter was not the best, I admit, with a medical dilemma which plagued me and baffled 4 different doctors for a minute, and made me believe that concept where they tell you your life flashes before your eyes - it really does. Still, the year was pretty okay. Work-wise it was typical - I simply worked too much, too long. On the life side, I got a new niece whom everyone says looks like me - talk about a narcissist's dream! lol. I continue to bond with my precocious nephew. Family life was pretty good this year.

I got out more, so there was a better balance between work and life. Still not the best, and that is because I am always tired, but I did leverage the rare moments of physical energy to make new friends, try new things, like this, and also like this, try new places and have a life!! Go me.

And of course, travel I did. No year is complete without at least 1-2 stamps in the passport, and my mid-year escape from work, from the island was magical. I had tapas in Madrid while reuniting with my uni friends and connecting with the gay male population in the process (lol); met up with my childhood penpal for the very first time ever in the beautiful and larger than life city of Rome; and had mini-reunions with friends and family in London and Reading. Throw in a birthday staycation at the end of the year and I really cannot complain. Still trying to decide where to go in 2014, but whatever the destination, fun and adventure are the main objectives.

All in all, I was not plagued by any major crises, my friends and family were all safe and blessed, and that is all I can ask for and want. So 2014 - there will hopefully be more of the 2013 highlights, and new experiences and memorable moments as well. Some new and exciting travel, hopefully some great new people, new adventures. It is also a very important year for people like me - the clinically obsessed football fans. It's a World Cup year and for one month, life will stand still. I can hardly stand it!!!

World Cup 2014!!! Brasilia!!

What was your 2013 like? Upturned broom or warm memories? Happy 2014 to you all.

The Thing about Christmas...

The thing about Christmas is that it really is for kids. I have found myself being less grouchy now that my nephew is at an age where he is aware of the holiday and can be fully engaged in it. He is such a bubbly, energetic child and he defrosts aunty's chilly heart with his cuteness.

So yes, I was in the mall this weekend, doing Christmas shopping. We had a nice aunty/nephew day yesterday and I will actually be wrapping gifts tonight. Do you know how long it has been since I wrapped a present? I would normally just buy a gift bag and stuff whatever the object of desire was in that. Or just take the victims to choose their gift and let them take it once paid for. Yes. I have come a long way! Lol

The thing about Christmas is that a lot of my fellow marketers like to pigeonhole it as a time for couples, and this works, so the singles usually feel like junk - grumpy in other cases. I am over that now that I am cuter and wiser, but it is a very real malaise for many.

The thing about Christmas is that we have made it a retail monster when it should be about the people. I don't expect presents and hardly ever ask for or get any. I like that it coaxes my relatives from around the world to come home so I can get excited about seeing them and spending time with them. That is the part that negates all the hard work of my fellow marketers. The warm love and rambunction of family is priceless. 

The thing about Christmas is that it is a 5-day weekend for me. Well, 5.5 day weekend. That is the best gift of them all.

Merry Christmas to my 2.5 readers and your loved ones. Give thanks and be happy. That is what it is all about.

Book Porn - Coming Clean

Part of my vacation/staycation of nothing involved catching up on my reading. I had long wanted to read this book - Coming Clean by Kimberly Rae Miller - about a girl who literally grew up in garbage. Her dad was a hoarder, and her mother a compulsive shopper, who bought things and then had them pile up in the house, adding to the father's hoarding.

I sat near the pool and read this book in one sitting. I have watched the show, Hoarders, and always feel a bit sad and sick to see how some people live, and have no control over their hoarding. But it was reading about the impact the hoarding has on loved ones. This was a real and raw account of that. I felt every bit of the resentment, shame and helplessness, mixed in with her deep love for her parents. She grew up being ashamed of where she lived which ultimately meant she was ashamed of who she was. It haunts her so much so that she very early on, tried to kill herself, and then later in life, suffered nightmares after years of having fleas and rats living in her room, in her house, because the house was filthy and covered in muck.

I simply cannot fathom living like that, but as she says in a media interview:

Hoarding isn’t rational, it’s compulsive and doesn’t just go away because you want it to.

Great and moving story of a young woman whose entire life was a struggle against the compulsions of her parents.

I also just finished Things We Set on Fire by Deborah Reed, which is a story of a family haunted by secrets, which over the years have torn them apart and which eventually bring them back together. It was a bit of a slow read, but it was a good story about a family that was fractured by love of all things.

Next up, and one I am not sure I want to read over the Christmas holidays as I know it may take me to a deeply emotional place - Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala. It's the story of a woman who in December 2004 lost her parents, her children and her husband in a tsunami. Yeah...I have already been told this one is a killer - horrifying and heartbreaking - so will have to pace myself, but it's on the Kindle, ready to be read.

What are you currently reading?

Staycation Success at the Magdalena Grand Beach Resort, Tobago

- the state of being free from tension and anxiety; recreation or rest, especially after a period of work.

The crush of work and the crush of life can often become so overwhelming that you cease to function as a normal human being. Time away from the daily routine is essential as far as I am concerned, and while I am good at taking vacations, I hardly ever take a vacation where I do nothing. But I wanted this and aimed to do it. I am happy to report that I passed the test, with a short tropical getaway to Tobago for my birthday, where I did nothing but relax relax relax. The stuff on my list, for the most part - done.

The relaxation spot of choice - Magdalena Grand Beach Resort.
The tools of choice - Kindle, mp3 player, sunscreen, wine/cocktails, sunglasses, camera.

In a resort where all the rooms face the ocean, you are guaranteed to wake up to sights like this at least one morning, depending on the weather. Believe me, you thank God for your life when this is the first thing you see when you open your eyes.

Awesome view from the room's balcony

I got what I now believe is typical birthday weather for me, with grey skies, cold breeze and rain for a good part of the trip, but when the sun came out, boy, was it stunning. Yes. I love my life.

The view from my pool chair at the Magdalena Grand Beach Resort in Tobago

My little corner in paradise for the duration of my staycation

The swim up bar at the Magdalena Grand Beach Resort - just behind my chair.

Of course, after a morning workout, or even the afternoon sweat, one needed to eat as well, and there was always a full spread at both breakfast and dinner, which came with the special package deal which the hotel was offering. There was a lot to choose from, and for big breakfast eaters, you have so much choice. But in the end, once there are pancakes, a chef doing an omelette, coffee and watermelon, I will probably be right there. No need for lunch after this. Unless it's a liquid lunch - liquid pressed from a few million grapes.

Some people tried every single thing on offer - two pancakes and an omelette - just right.

Dinner time again, offered a variety of food, including a live pasta station on one evening, and of course, where there is pasta, there I am. One had a choice on this evening of roast beef, chicken or seafood for either a cream or marinara based creation.

Fresh veggies in a bit of EVOO

Scallops, mahi mahi, shrimp in the mix. She had me at scallops.

Simmering nicely, in a bit of marinara sauce

Presto!! Pasta!!

During the day I met some really nice people, who joined in my birthday celebrations and made it special in their own way  - mostly through free drinks - but also with laughter from sharing of experiences, and running from the rain. lol. It made for a really fun and memorable trip.

Of course when it comes to service, I am the original service Nazi and I also love to shout out the stars - those who just bring something warm and genuine to your total experience. So, to Nyron, Andrew - my great bellmen, and Nikisha, my pasta queen - thanks for being awesome. The girls at the spa were lovely as well.

This was a good sign that I can do this more often without losing my mind. However, all good things must come to an end, and regular life beckons. Thanks Magdalena, thanks Tobago. It's been awesome.

Magdalena Grand Beach Resort - night time

My Birthday Staycation

So I am on a very, very short vacation - something I do every year for my birthday - since the mere thought of waking up at 3am and slaving over a hot laptop on my special day is just ghastly. With my birthday being in December, my list of travel spots becomes very limited as I am averse to that white stuff called snow. It would take a real act of God to get me to travel to a temperate country for my birthday!

I am also not a great fan of island vacations and not even my Honolulu birthday trip could redeem itself from the island vacation curse. Wow. Honolulu - the stories! But, I do have a plan, with Tobago, despite it being an island, being selected as the destination of choice this year. It's home after all. So this is really more of a staycation than a vacation isn't it? I also have...

...a confession. It's shameful. I shudder just thinking of your reaction to this burden being lifted off my heart. But...

I had not been to Tobago in over 2 years!! Yep. The last time I was on the island was in May 2011 when I came home for vacation.  I know. Shameful. It's funny. I go all over the place, fighting up with surly Europeans for a visa, being interrogated by surly Americans as I try to enter the country, biting my tongue when the rude Pakistani immigration dude at London Gatwick asks me which man is paying for my trip (true story, and my tongue took a good, hard biting, cause I fraid jail and deportation). Yep - all this drama to get off the rock and Tobago was just sitting there - stress free, beautiful and welcoming.

Sadly, Tobago only became a birthday option after unforeseen and exceptionally critical December expenses put my Plan A out of the running. The truth is, I really get bored with the sun, sea and sand type vacations, and when single, these can be angst-ridden, especially if it is one of those spots that are sold to the lovebirds as the place to be. One day is fine. I will frolic in the sun and sea without complaint. Daysss stretching before me - agony. I am not good at lazy vacations, minus the frantic schedule of activities. But I did plan on a vacation of nothing, and  did say I needed to completely disconnect from my everyday life for a week or so, so let's see who survives this. It's just me, the sea and my flip flops.

I have a full schedule of 'nothing' events, including

  • Morning workouts - been slacking on the fitness front so yes, I am packing my running shoes
  • Leisurely breakfasts - no hurried breakfasts over company emails and before morning meetings
  • French lessons by the pool - my MP3 player and my French books have been dusted off
  • Reading - reading fun stuff, and not work stuff. My Kindle is fully charged
  • Massage and facial love - get some pampering while I am at it
  • Blogging - maybe...maybe
  • Sunbathing - Dear God, please stop the rain for the rest of the week
  • Wine drinking - kinda defeats the purpose of the morning workout but one needs wine when one celebrates getting older - to numb the pain
  • Sleeping - have to fit this in into my busy "nothing" schedule
  • Evening workout - yes, you read that right. lol
  • Dinner with some more wine - screams in the face of that evening workout doesn't it?
  • Chilling and counting my blessings - Amen

And so it begins. When all else fails, it is pretty easy to get an earlier flight back to Trinidad!

Flatbreads + Aioli Restaurant = Lunchtime Awesomeness

There are a few things that separate a good restaurant, from a great restaurant. Spectacular service. Fantastic food. Ambiance. Parking (lol - having had someone hit my car which was parked on the street, while I was inside eating, makes this very critical for me these days).

But seriously, one other thing that keeps me going back to any restaurant is when the establishment 'keeps it fresh' and by this I mean, you are not eating the same pasta dish for a year because the menu is in a chronic state of paralysis.

And this brings me to Aioli, located in Ellerslie Plaza in Maraval, which is still my fave restaurant. With the lunch menu being revitalised earlier this year, Aioli is keeping it fresh once again. Every time I go, there is something new, and something different for me to try, and I appreciate this, and I bet the Aioli-ites appreciate this as well. It is also a great way to entice new and emerging Aioli-ites and entice they did, when I was invited to join a great gang of foodie types, to try out Chef Johnny's brand new flatbread menu. 

The menu was created for the lunch time crowd, those busy corporate types like myself who want a great lunch experience but in half the time; and really, it's perfect for just about anyone who likes great food and anyone who loves a bit of adventure with their food.

The flatbread menu we tried yesterday, which is reasonably priced in my opinion,  consisted of:

Margherita - homemade marinara sauce, buffalo mozzarella, fresh purple and green basil. For those who may still be a bit hesitant, and need a little nudge, a margherita flatbread is a good introduction, until...

Garden Flatbread - zucchini, eggplant, yellow squash, cherry tomatoes, Humboldt Fog Cheese, homemade marinara sauce, Villa Manadori Balsamic. I loved this, primarily because the balsamic gave it that something special. For the meat lover like myself, this 'something special' made this veggie option a winner!!

Sardinia - Mozzarella cheese, buffalo mozzarella, micro basil, thinly sliced garlic, homemade marinara sauce, marinated white anchovies. Not much of an anchovy lover, but this was a great little flatbread. For me, the garlic...the garlic...the garlic. This was a wonderful blend of flavours - anchovy meets garlic. Amazing.

Chorizo di Funghi - Baby bella mushrooms, spicy Spanish chorizo, mozzarella cheese, homemade marinara sauce. I love chorizo, so this was bound to be good. Add the baby bella mushrooms and I was a happy flatbreader.

Shrimp and Manchego - Grilled shrimp, mozzarella cheese, Manchego cheese, fresh cilantro, meyer lemon. - Wonderful flatbread for the non-meat eaters, with that lemon zing giving the taste buds a real sucker punch.

Blue Steak Flatbread - Grilled sirloin steak, blue cheese, roasted garlic, caramelised onions. No wonder it's listed last on the menu. This is the king of the flatbreads - a real OMG moment. Seared ever so delicately with a blowtorch, the steak, combined with the blue cheese, with the caramelised onions and the roasted garlic - the highlight of the afternoon. Words cannot describe this epic creation and I loved it, and will hopefully be loving it some more, and then some more again.

And when we thought it could not get better, a special treat, and when I say special, I mean special. As a notorious pork lover, the introduction of the Carolina styled pulled pork on hops, served with a Cajun aioli, cole slaw and breaded and fried ochroes sent the table into a bit of a frenzy. This dish is trininista-certified for awesomeness - a platinum standard for anything pork! While it is actually NOT a menu item, I hope the response will get it on the lunch menu in the very immediate future.

The only bad thing about yesterday is that once again, I had to go back to work after the last morsel was consumed. 

Keeping it fresh - that is what it's about. Keeping the experience new every single time. I appreciate that and Aioli continues to do it extremely well. Cheers.

All Italian Fine Wine and Foods - All Italian, All Good

While I did go to Italy earlier this year, I did not need to fight up with getting a visa, nor did I need to get on a plane to experience a little taste of Italy earlier this week. Instead, through the graciousness of our hostesses, TriniChow and Learning Patience, I took a second trip to Italy with just a quick drive around the corner to All Italian Fine Wine and Foods, for a wonderful evening with some amazing local bloggers at a T&T Bloggers' Lime.

Nestled neatly on Rust Street, Port of Spain, just next to Paprika, All Italian is run by the warm and accomodating Francesca and Ossie and is a wine lover's paradise, with a wonderful assortment of Italian wines. But while it may indeed seem that way, man (and woman) cannot live on wine alone and this gourmet shop also offers an assortment of cheeses, pastas, sauces, coffee (hubba hubba) olive oil and treats. A visit to this cute little shop is just what Santa recommends for the holiday season, especially if one has friends who are foodies. If you have a taste for a specific type of wine, Francesca and Ossie are well placed to recommend some amazing choices for you - the assortment is vast and you have your pick of your whites, reds and Prosecco. You have your picks of just about everything actually - everything needed to create an evening indoors for yourself and friends, or to make a friend or relative very very happy.

It was a great combo of great wine, great bites, and great convo with some awesome bloggers.

All Italian Fine Wine and Foods is located at 15A Rust Street, Port of Spain. Tel: 683-4162.

Biscotti!  Biscotti!

Wonderful assortment of pastas

Pasta pasta pasta at All Italian Fine Wine and Foods, 15 Rust Street, Port of Spain

Wines and the perfect bits and bites

Prosecco at All Italian Fine Wine and Foods

I do accept gifts. December is birthday and Christmas month.  Lovely gift idea!
Wine, coffee, sauces, pasta. This is amazing!

A delectable assortment of desserts available at All Italian Fine Wine and Foods

Effortless Beauty, My A...

I hate going to the salon. I like what I get out of the visit - cute hair, cute nails, cute eyebrows, cute skin - but I hate the actual process.

With the Christmas season in full effect and all the ridiculous awesome events that become necessary in my world, I often take advantage and get myself in some kinda order. I cannot tell you the last time I had a manicure for example but bet your last dollar, the season is a catalyst for my nails being rescued from myself.

Had I tried to do this myself on that day, it would have been a mess. I just have NO TIME!

With one party on Friday, I called ahead of time and booked my appointment with my hairdresser.

My hairdresser - nice lady, super talented with a pair of scissors, a jar of hair dye and the like - but so chatty. I don't mind chatty, and salon banter is among the best kind of ole talk any woman can find. But I do not appreciate it when it compromises my time. She chats and when she chats, she stops whatever she is doing to get her chat on. I prepared myself for maybe an extra half hour for the most. How naive of me.

So I get there for my 9am appointment and one woman is on the chair, with a relaxer being applied, and another is waiting. No assistant in sight. Bad mood begins...now. I mean, I had volunteered to come earlier to avoid all this, and was assured that Friday was a slow day and I would be in and out. I had a FULL day ahead and having already not slept well on Thursday, was loathe to spend all morning smelling relaxers and hair colour.

But sit I did, and sit I had to. After applying first relaxer, she hustled me into the chair and started in earnest on my coif, but then lady in the back says the relaxer is burning and she hustles to rescue her and then hustles me out of the chair again to start on relaxer #2. Still no assistant. Bad mood grows.

Still, in trying to avoid being a bitch, I decided to use second relaxer application time to get a simple polish - since a full manicure was going to be impossible with my time now being wasted here. But chattiness is clearly the M.O. in here cause my simple polish became a funeral procession, with nail polish wand in mid-air on many an occasion while nail polish girl made a point with her hands. Multitasking - one can argue one's point and still get the nail polish job done in quick time. Every time she took that brush off my nail, and waved it around while arguing, I cut my eye at her so hard she should have exploded. I mean, WTF!!!

In the meantime, I am glancing over my shoulder to see where relaxer #2 is at and she is almost done. But then, relaxer #1 needs to blow dry and style. Flabber-effin-gasted. But then it works since nail polish wand is still everywhere else but on my finger nails. By this time, I am so vex I could burst.

After hairstyle is completed, I see another woman, who came in a good hour after I did, hustling her rotund ass to the chair....MY chair...trying to get her hair 'did'. Well, it was at this point, I just could not hold it in any longer!

Me: Excuse me. You just got here. You have to wait cause I am next.
Her: But you are polishing
Me: I will be done in 5 seconds
(cut eye at nail girl, who took the hint) and my 9am appointment is already long overdue so unless your appointment was at 8.30, I am next. (and in my mind, I say "yuh better haul yuh ass back to your seat, lady")
The cut eye she gave me, could not begin to rival the cut eye I gave her. Hairdresser also took the hint and burnt time making herself a cup of coffee so she could resist any temptation of doing Fat Mama's hair and avoid a cussout. I was now Scary Client.

Finally, I was in the chair again, and finally, she was working on me sans interruption until they started talking about the news, specifically the news about the little girl who was found dead in her home in Maloney, and in her deep emotional investment in this conversation, she snipped not the ends, but a wad of hair as in her mind, she had already consulted me on this style she wanted to give me, when in reality there was to be no new style - just a cute colour. I was too vex to react. Paralysis by vexation!!! I found the strength to mutter to myself and to my God - Sweet Jesus - cover this lady in your blood and with your mercy, or in other words, don't let me physically harm this woman! Needless to say, whether I wanted it or not, I was GETTING a new style, and I left that salon, at 1pm, with hair I hated, and with no time to do the 99 other things I needed to do that day. Just enough time to hustle back to my car, grab some toiletries and rush home.

I got home so hungry and so vex, I cleared the house (lol). But ever the optimist, I willed myself to make it right, saying cute accessories and a wicked green smokey eye would rescue me from total catastrophe.

My awesome necklace against the matching wrap in case I got cold in my
solid green strapless dress. Gotta love fashion recycling.

And it did. And actually, the hair was very, very pretty. Maybe it was my mega annoyance at the point in time, but I got home and I loved the hair. And I looked hot. I was tired and had a headache from eating nothing at all all day, but the night was a blast, and by the time my head hit the super comfy pillows at the hotel, I was exhausted but with a smile on my face. Still, it was a helluva day!

Finding Balance

I took this photo this morning to prove the point that I clearly spend way too much time at the office. Yet, I can say,"Thank God, I have a job". Sure, I probably work too much, and I know I complain about working too much but I am still pretty grateful. Yesterday I actually "celebrated" my 2-year work anniversary. On the one hand, it seems like I have been at this job for 200 years and not just 2. But on the other hand, it seemed like it was just yesterday, I packed my winter jackets, boots and scarves and moved back to Trinidad, after a mostly awesome 14 months in London. I had not even unpacked my bags before I headed to interviews and was in a position to consider not one, but a few job offers. Some wait months and months before they even get called for an interview. I had not even had time to really wait, as in a matter of days, before bags were even unpacked, I was signing jobby job documents. So I try not to complain too much, too often.

However, I decided to try to map how my various roles match up to each other right now, and it was pretty pathetic. As an employee, I am probably pretty awesome in terms of the amount of time I invest in that role. This indirectly correlates to my role as super diva which I try to maintain since one must always be fabulous, even if that means, dragging one's self off the bed after only 3 hours' sleep (damn you, "Scandal") and taking the dressing table to the office to ensure you don't look like roadkill, cause lemme tell you, my reflection in the office bathroom mirror pre-prep was less than outstanding.

Beauty in a bag. Saving the world from the shock of my nashy appearance, one flat iron stroke at a time.

As an aunt, for example, while love-wise I am top of the charts, in terms of the time I am investing in that role, I am right now, Bad Aunty/Absent Aunty. Same goes for daughter (though I am not that bad here), sister (really bad sister), friend (meh). The employee time drains the energy from me, and this impacts the other time. I get home after work and go straight to bed, hardly ever making time for the other folks.

In doing this little exercise I realise that while the roles are all important and go hand-in-hand, the attention investment is unbalanced. These are the reminders I need to remember to scale it back. I do it today and then two weeks later, I fall back into the same pattern. After my little health scare, I was scaling it back pretty consistently. For a while. However, I have left the office not just late, but very late every single day this week, and worked at home last weekend. Sometimes it cannot be helped, but sometimes, you can just make the conscious decision to just pick up the bag and stick to the plan. I now just don't consider my health, but also the people around me, who need a little "me" time with ME.

This is how happiness grows.

"There is just too much sexiness in 'Thor 2'" and other Randoms

The title of this post = the exact words running through my mind while sitting in IMAX watching "Thor - The Dark World" today. I mean, it was too much for me, with Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston and Idris Elba just heating up the galaxy. I remember when the purists were up in arms for the first movie that they cast chocolate goodness, Idris in a movie about Nordic gods. Well, Asgard clearly did not suffer from having a bit of chocolate up in the place!!

Thor, Loki and Heimdall - Thor 2 - The Dark World. More like the "Sexy" World

The movie was awesome, though there was just not enough Loki. Tom Hiddleston is a brilliant actor and does Loki so well, that I felt immensely cheated. Still, I enjoyed the few moments they gave us of him, and loved the twist ending. Would love an explanation for that! Man, I am ever so glad I left the work laptop in the corner and decided to get out of the house to 'lime' with great friends. We also did brunch at Chaud Cafe and Wine Bar, and ate a lot, laughed a lot, which was just what the doctor ordered. I am so glad I left the house today. Life needs balance - I constantly have to remind myself of this.

Chicken Bruschetta Flatbread at Chaud Cafe and Wine Bar

Speaking of doctors, I have what I hope is my last doctor's visit for a long, long time on Monday. This is now my 6th doctor's visit in as many weeks, following many prescriptions, IV fluids, blood tests and an MRI. I always thought MRIs were a quick thing. But lying in this little tunnel for 40 minutes while this machine groaned and moaned while zapping my overworked brain was both annoying and terrifying. So much has been happening recently, but with a great deal of faith, and positive vibes from within and from the awesome people in my life, I am still as fab as ever. I am fine, I assure you.

And the malls are busting out with Christmasness, which typically would annoy me tremendously, but after the scare of the past few weeks, Christmas decorations, parang music and store clerks ridiculously dressed as elves and reindeer seem trifling. I will just deal with it, with a smile. Being accosted yesterday by grumpy reindeer reminded me that I have it pretty good - I could have been working as a reindeer in a supermarket. I felt it for the poor girl, dressed as this reindeer yesterday, trying to be cheery but clearly upset, embarrassed and unimpressed by her life and this outfit. She was the grouchiest reindeer EVER! I gave her a smile and counted my blessings. My biggest worry today is starving myself enough so I can look less like an oompa loompa and more like Athena by the time holiday parties and birthday festivities roll around.

Christmas at Gulf City Mall, La Romain

Besides, celebrating Christmas in November also means that all these tiring corporate events have pastelles, which I can kidnap in generous doggy bags and have at my leisure while sitting at home, watching Lifetime.

Pastelles are a local treat at Christmas here in Trinidad and Tobago. I love them!!

I am content.

Come Dine With Me: Reality TV at its best

While living and studying in London, one of my fave tv shows was Come Dine With Me. It was also one of the few tv shows that my cousin and I could watch together - when he was not riveted to the English Premier League. The show is a reality show that takes 4-5 strangers from a particular town or region and have them host a three-course dinner at their homes, where afterwards they would be scored on their evening. The person with the highest score at the end of the week would win 1000 quid.

As you know, I love food, I love dining out, I love cooking. So I love this show. But this is often the "dark" side of dining, the funny side - not the Instagram-ready glamour shots of haute cuisine. The reason this show is so amazing is because these people are Average Joes and Janes. They are NOT chefs by any stretch of the imagination. They are often kitchen novices and there are very often kitchen and hosting disasters. They are often bonkers, nutters, loons, a bit too eccentric to be real. The narrator of the show, Dave Lamb, surely adds to the comedy with his snarky commentary.

I think most people watching this show can catch a glimpse of themselves here. In my own quest for kitchen greatness, I have burnt dishes, had cakes fall or be like gunk, forgot to add eggs in a cake and then tried to add them when it was way too late, forgot to put the lid on the blender. Don't lie - you know you have done it too. Even the best cooks have their little slip-ups, but still, I love seeing the foodie train wrecks - the unabashed walking disasters. I keep thinking of my own friends and how a local version of this show might look and I laugh just thinking about it.

The show is great fun and when I discovered they had a US site on YouTube which would allow me to get my jones all weekend, well, that was all she wrote. I have missed this show, and with the rainstorm plaguing my neighbourhood all weekend, I almost feel like I am back in the den in London, watching my fave show after class in the afternoon. Except, this is much better. I have added an episode here, so you can grab a glass of wine and see for yourself.

Be Fair. Please don't Share. - The Social Media Privacy Question

Photo credit: The Daily Mail
A very contentious issue came up this week. I already had a bit of a rant about how much we share at the risk of being socially anti-social. The question this week was what do we share, particularly as it relates to privacy, and drilling down even more, other people's privacy.

In this social media age where it seems to be open season for sharing, you have people sharing the most intimate details of life via Facebook updates, and photos on Facebook and Instagram. The problem is, it's sometimes not details about their life, but about yours.

New baby? Oh, let's post about your new baby - from when it was born, to the first photos.
Just got married? Let me share your photos, your vows, your buffet table.

I mean, is there a limit to how far we go with the sharing? I have no problem with those who wish to share their breakfast, lunch, dinner and midnight snack with their 600-strong network. I do have a problem with those who feel sharing my special moments with that same 600-strong network is cool.

Now it's different folks for different strokes. There are those who have no problem with you taking photos of their wedding or children and sharing them everywhere, and that's fine. There are also those who feel like these are private moments that they wish to keep within the confines of cherished personal memories in a closed network of friends and family - whether they choose to keep that network offline, or online. There are some who will argue that you cannot stop persons from taking photos and sharing them on Facebook. My counter argument is, if I invite you to share in a special moment that I would like to keep private and bound to those closest to me, and I ask you politely to not share those moments with your online network, and you do, then I would have to strongly re-evaluate my relationship with you.

A super cute way of being very firm with
your guests about what they do at your wedding
A couple invites you to a wedding because in the most ideal of situations, they consider you a friend and someone special enough to share in their special day. They invited YOU - not you and your 600-strong Facebook network. Children I feel are particularly off limits because people guard them so closely. I have not even shared my niece's photos with friends since my brother has not done so with his friends. I am not "bes'" aunty and I respect the parents' decision to keep their little girl from the interwebs. I have shared her cuteness with friends one-on-one via email or instant messaging but that's aunty pride, and not a desire to overshare.

People need to respect other people's privacy especially if it is explicity requested. If your own life is so sad that you have to share everything from other people's lives to get "likes" and "comments", well...

What's worse and as I indicated in that other post, you lose the special moments when you are glued to the screen of the phone, trying to get the best angles etc. Just live life. Just enjoy the moments for what they are worth.

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