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Our New Adventure Begins!

 

 

So this is it – my last post before I head off Stateside! At the moment I’m rushing around like a headless chicken trying to get everything done; say all my goodbyes; make sure I can find all the necessary documents; move out of the flat… I don’t think I’m going to get any sleep until I board that plane!

 

I am feeling a tad bit more optimistic now. I suppose I won’t be able to totally relax until I get out there and see what New England life is like. I’m sure I’ll be OK eventually but I expect it will take time to get used to living in a different country and adapting to a different way of life but hey, at least I don’t have to learn an entirely different language. Well OK, maybe I do – but just a little!

So here it is – the start of my new adventure. Cannot wait to fill you in on everything. Wish me luck!!!

 

 

Opposites Attract? We Think So!

 

On Saturday, Mr.D and I celebrated six years since we became a couple. So to mark the occasion we thought we’d go to the theatre (for me) followed by a meal at Mr.D’s favourite steak house (for him!) I quite enjoyed the theatre performance but Mr.D. wasn’t so impressed:

Me: I’m so glad that you came to the theatre with me today.

Mr. D: Hmmm.

Me: Usually I have to go on my own or with friends. But never with you.

Mr. D: Hmmm.

Me: Did you like it?

Mr. D: It was Ok, I guess.

Me: I thought it was very interesting.

Mr. D: I’m not really much of a theatre person. I much prefer going to the cinema.

Me: Well it’s not too dissimilar from the cinema. And the action is unfolding right in front of you.

Mr.D: The play wasn’t really my thing. It was all about feelings and stuff – not my cup of tea.

Me: Of course not. You prefer to watch movies where people are battering the crap out of each other!

Mr.D (laughing): Sure I do. It’s more interesting!

 

This interesting little exchange highlights just how different we are in many ways. It was very obvious that we were chalk and cheese when we got together but after a few years of marriage when you pretty much merge into one person you sometimes forget about how different you are. But it’s episodes like this that remind me of our unique personalities and interests.

A while ago I did a blog post on how similar my mother and I are although it would appear that on the surface we couldn’t be more different. Now I’m thinking about how Mr.D. and I seem to be total opposites. But is that such a bad thing…?

1. TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE

 

 

I think the biggest difference between me and Mr.D is the great geographical divide. I was born and raised in the city. It’s what I know and love: the hustle and bustle, the sounds, the lights, the sights, the excitement, the fact that there’s so much to see and do… whichever city you’re in, I don’t think it’s possible to feel bored. Admittedly city life has become a lot more congested than it used to be but having tried country living – something I’d wanted to do for a long time – I realise that life in the fast lane is the right place for me as I thrive on the energy and vibrancy of city life.

Mr. D. however is a country boy through and through. He cherishes fresh air, open spaces, green fields, and a quieter, slower pace of life – more so after a very long period of living in the city which in his opinion is akin to living in purgatory! Mr. D. has made no secret of his desire to up sticks and head back to the country but as we both work in the capital, that just isn’t possible right now. I know at some point we’ll have to move some where that has a bit of what we’re both looking for but right now, the city it is!

We do, however, both love the beach!

2. THE GREAT OUTDOORS VS. THE SNUG INDOORS

 

 

 

Give a man a fishing rod, and he’ll feed himself. Give a man a tent and he’ll live outdoors for the rest of his life and never come home!

One of the disadvantages of living in England for Mr.D. is that the often miserable weather means that he spends more time indoors than he would prefer. If the weather was glorious all the time, he’d never be indoors as he’d be out pursuing all kinds of sporty and leisurely pursuits: camping, archery, rowing, tennis, canoeing, football… being stuck indoors (or worse trailing around the shops after me) is most definitely not his idea of fun – but at least he has his video games to keep him quiet!

Now the only thing outdoorsy about me is shopping and al fresco dining! Admittedly I can be a bit lazy and on weekends, I can often be found snuggled under the duvet watching movies… or blogging! And I’m certainly not one for all the active stuff that Mr. D. is in to.

Although he did on one occasion insist that I join him on one of his outdoorsy activities. I impressed him so much with my ability to just get on with it and not complain that by the end of the day he presented me with a little box with a ring inside…

3. THE CLUBS ARE ALIVE WITH THE SOUND OF MUSIC

Even though we don’t frequent nightclubs and bars as often as we used to, if it’s a special occasion then we’ll definitely go. The difference here is that while Mr.D. couldn’t care less if he never saw the inside of a bar or a club ever again, I really don’t mind it. True, I often feel like someone’s nanna when I set foot into one of these establishments but I love getting all glammed up and I do like the social aspect of it: having a drink and a laugh with your mates, and if it’s a club that’s playing my kind of music – wild horses couldn’t drag me off the dance floor (wheareas they wouldn’t be able to drag Mr. D. onto the dance floor in the first place!)

4. DRESS TO IMPRESS OR DRESS TO BENCH PRESS

 

Years ago we were on the tube when we saw this fifty-something year old couple. The lady was extremely glamorous, clearly took pride in her appearance and had a keen interest in fashion. Her fella was in t-shirt and shorts and looked as thought he was going to do a couple of laps around the park. Then it dawned on me and Mr.D. that the couple were a more mature version of us!

“Do you think that’s what we’re going to look like when we get to their age?” asked Mr.D

“Well considering we look like them already…” I replied.

Years later nothing much has changed. I’m not image-conscious or vain but I do like to make an effort with my appearance, and although Mr.D. is always smart and presentable for work, outside of work you’ll just have to take him as you find him in his mega casual and sometimes sporty gear.

5. WE’VE BEEN THERE ONCE SO WE’RE NEVER GOING THERE AGAIN!

 

If there’s a place I’ve been to that I really like, whether it’s a town, country, restaurant etc. It’s always my intention to revisit it again at some point. And why not? If it’s a particular region, I’d like to go back to do more exploring, and if it’s a restaurant, I’d like to go back to sample more dishes. And I love visiting Spain because it gives me a chance to use my language skills.

Mr.D. can’t see the point in revisiting places we’ve already been to. The way he sees it is that the worlds a big place with so much to discover that if you keep visiting the same old places, how will you be able to experience what the rest of the world has to offer?

He has a point but I see nothing wrong with making the odd trip back to a place that I really enjoyed.

The jury’s still out on this one!

6. HOW CAN YOU EAT THAT?

 

My mum was always keen to stretch our taste buds so we grew up eating all kinds of food and are still eager to try new things. As a result I’m not one of those people who can eat the same thing day in, day out and definitely need variety. Mr. D. on the other-hand is Italian-American to the core and is happiest when a plate of something Italian-American is put in front of him. Plus he’s a massive meat eater, while I struggle to finish a whole steak. In a nutshell, our tastes in food are very different!

Since meeting me and moving to London, he has since tried a variety of different cuisines and dishes – something that seriously impressed my father-in-law! However even though he can eat spicy food, he’s still getting used to a lot of the hotter stuff and he’s still a bit of a fussy eater and has his list of can’t eat/won’t eats!

7. WORDS AND NUMBERS

 

I’m an English teacher, language learner, blogger, writer and avid reader and once upon a time, I used to write songs. It goes without saying that words are very important to me. I love putting words together in an expressive way that gives meaning. I love bringing words to life. That doesn’t mean that I don’t suffer from an attack of writer’s block because sometimes I do, but words are very much my forté.

My husband however doesn’t feel that writing or public speaking are two of his strongest points (and often gets me to help out with these. But he  is very much a numbers man and is more geared towards maths and science. It’s what he works with every day and he has absolutely no problems with working out what is simple arithmetic for most normal people, but for what I would require a calculator, pen and paper, and use of my fingers and toes before seeking someone out for a second opinion!

8. HOW MUCH???

 

I wouldn’t say that either of us are big spenders (oh look – a similarity at last!) Despite the fact that I spent a fortune on a bespoke wedding gown (come on, it was for my wedding!) I couldn’t justify spending a grand on a coat or handbag knowing that I’d have to be buried with it just so that I could use it in the after life to get my money’s worth (that’s what my wedding gown will be for!)

However every now and again, I like to spend a little more than I normally would on little luxuries – especially if I feel it’s well-deserved. But I don’t go mad and it is just an occasional thing.

However it’s not something that Mr.D. would ever do (actually come to think of it, he did once pay something scandalous for a beef Wellington that wasn’t even that good!) but he knows I like to have my little splurges – although I prefer not to mention it because, even though he doesn’t mind, he would tease me merciliessly!

9. LEISURE PURSUITS TO SUIT… OURSELVES!

 

Just check number two for Mr. D’s favourite hobbies and activities. But along with shopping, blogging, having coffee/cocktails and a natter with the girls, I also love cooking and anything crafty that allows me to release the artist in me.

With us pursuing different interests, you might wonder how we ever get to spend quality time together but we do!

10. THE CALM BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER THE STORM

     Everyone who knows Mr.D. knows how quiet he is. He’s also extremely good-natured, very calm and rarely gets worked up about anything. I, on the other hand, am the complete opposite and have been known to get very emotional, scream my head off over the most trivial of things, stomp up the stairs, slam doors and generally release my inner fifteen year old!

BUT IT’S NOT ALL BAD…

 

It’s not that we don’t have anything in common at all of course. The things that Mr.D. and I do actually have in common are things that matter. We both have old-fashioned morals and values; we believe in treating others the way we would like to be treated; we understand the importance of hard work and the value of money; our family and friends mean everything to us, and despite us coming from different cultural backgrounds, we’ve had similar upbringings and both come from big families.

 

Some people prefer to be in a relationship with the male/female version of themselves but I actually like being married to someone who’s very different to me.  That’s not to say that the differences haven’t frustrated us both at one time or another but I feel that on the whole we complement and balance each other out. The things that one of is lousy at, the other one is great at. True, Mr.D. and I have two distinct personalities and abilities, different interests and hobbies, and our own beliefs and opinions but I actually appreciate the differences between us  because it’s kept things interesting and enabled us to learn and experience new things from the other. One of our friends even remarked how wonderful it must be to be in a relationship where we are continually learning from each other. And for the most part it is – except for when the ‘learning from each other’ leads to a heated debate!

 

So I’m just going to leave you with a clip from How I Met Your Mother about the infamous ‘Olive Theory’. Incidentally How I Met Your Mother is Mr.D’s favourite show. I’m more of a ‘Lobster Theory’ Friends chick!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nici Wickes’s Trinidadian Chicken Curry And Caribbean Black Cakes

 

Travel and food are two things I love. And one of the things I love about travelling is sampling all the local delicacies. So it’s no wonder that I’m addicted to a TV cooking show that combines my two favourite things. It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of cooking shows but World Kitchen hosted by Nici Wickes is refreshingly different. Not only does Nici whip up interesting and exciting dishes from around the world – and make it look so easy – but she takes viewers on a culinary adventure as she heads off around the world, visiting fantastic places and learning about the local cuisine. Nici then heads home where she recreates many of the dishes that she’s learned to make from the comfort of her own kitchen. Each episode usually sees her rustling up one main and one dessert from the country she’s just visited.

 

The New Zealand-born chef is an absolute joy to watch with her sunny personality, mile wide smile, abundant energy, and her enthusiasm for cooking just shines through. But Nici is not just a pretty face, and neither is she just another TV chef. As well as being a seasoned traveller, Nici is also a cookery writer,  business woman, actress, motivational speaker, owner of a cooking school, business coach and runs workshops in leadership! Wow – does this lady ever sleep???

Nici has a multitude of fantastic recipes but I chose to include the dishes she made after her visit to Trinidad. I love the awesome flavours of Caribbean cooking, and I was famished just watching Nici cook these! But for more amazing recipes check them out here.  And tune into World Kitchen if you can.

TRINIDADIAN CHICKEN CURRY

 

A delicious fusion of Indian and Caribbean flavours, this curry is perfect for those who prefer a milder, yet flavoursome, curry.

Serves 4-6

GREEN SEASONING:

1 green capsicum, de-seeded and chopped roughly
1 stalk of celery, roughly chopped
3 spring onions, roughly chopped
1 bunch of fresh coriander (about 1 cup)
4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried)
¼ – ½ cup water
½ teaspoon salt

 Curry

3  Chicken Breasts – skin on, cubed
1 cup green sauce (recipe below)
2 tablespoons rice bran oil
1 onion, diced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon turmeric
1-2 teaspoons garam masala
½ cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon mustard (optional)
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 fresh mango, skinned and cut into 2cm cubes
Steamed rice and store bought roti

METHOD:

  1. Blend all ingredients for the green seasoning in a blender or food processor.
  2. In a bowl, marinate the chicken in the green seasoning.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a medium-sized, heavy based saucepan.
  4. Add the onion and sauté until soft then add the spices (cumin, turmeric, garam masala) and fry for 2-3 minutes until aromatic.
  5. Add the chicken and green seasoning and stir until coated in the spice mix and simmer for 7-10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
  6. Finally add the coconut milk, mustard (if using), salt and pepper.
  7. Gently stir in the mango and heat through.
  8. Serve with rice and roti.

CARIBBEAN BLACK CAKES

 

This is one of my favourite cakes. One of the things  I like about this cake is that the dried fruits are blended so you get the flavour but not the appearance. This is great for me because although  I love  which I’m not that keen on! This cake is usually served during special occasions in the Caribbean. Good reason to make every day a special occasion!

Ingredients: 

 2 cups mix of raisins & currants
1 cup pitted prunes
1/2 cup rum
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons aromatic bitters flavouring

Cake batter:

150g unsalted butter
¾ cup sugar
3 eggs
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon mixed spice
¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons golden syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 teaspoons lime or lemon zest

METHOD: 

Prepare the fruit: Place the raisins, currant and prunes in a large bowl, pour in rum, warm water and bitters.

  1. Leave for the fruit to soak up the liquor while you make the batter.
  2. Preheat oven to 150 C.
  3. Grease a 12 hole deep muffin tin.
  4. Make the cake batter: In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  5. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well to incorporate.
  6. Add the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, mixed spice and nutmeg), golden syrup, vanilla essence and lime zest.
  7. Mix gradually into the creamed mixture to form a batter.
  8. Set aside.
  9. In a food processor, pour the soaked fruit and juices and blend until thick and still a bit chunky.
  10. Now add the fruit puree to the batter and fold in until well mixed.
  11. Spoon batter into greased muffin tins.
  12. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean.
  13. Serve warm with sour cream sweetened with brown sugar.

 

When It’s The Students Who Inspire The Teacher…

 

 

I feel a little sad today.

I had to say goodbye to a student who had been in my class since April. He was a delightful student and an absolute pleasure to teach. I only wish all of my students could be like him.

I’m thankful that I work in an EFL college and not in a mainstream school as I really don’t think I’d have been able to handle the pressures that go along with that territory – mainly difficult pupils and their even more ridiculously difficult parents. I have family and friends who work in secondary schools so I hear the horror stories. But that doesn’t mean that I haven’t come across my fair share of awful behaviour. I’ve had students who are impolite, arrogant, ignorant and thoroughly unpleasant to be around. They’re apparently here to learn English so as to improve their chances of getting work, but who on earth would want to hire people with that attitude who are more than old enough to know better, I really don’t know. There have been times I’ve dreaded going into class – which is a ridiculous thing to say seeing as I’m the teacher – but that just goes to show how miserable the situation can sometimes be. All I can do is hope and pray for the day when the worst of the bunch leave – although I have no idea why it takes so long!

 

And then there’s the other end of the spectrum. There’s the kind of student who makes you want to go into class every day. They’re attentive, courteous, eager to learn, full of questions, respectful, and always have time for a laugh and a joke. Basically, they’re smiley, happy people – my kind of people. And you just know that, unlike the above, they have all the qualities that will see them go far in life and succeed. I certainly hope so because the world is in short supply of fantastic people like these and we could do with more of them.

 

So my brilliant student who has finished his course and is now heading home to continue with life as normal has inspired me to write this post. But my students actually inspire me in more ways than they know – even though it’s probably my job to inspire them. They’re the reason why I work hard at being a better teacher, and why I try to be more patient, understanding and encouraging. But they’ve inspired me in other ways too. I see what they do and I want to be more like them. No, I don’t mean getting legless at the school parties we have at clubs around the city – although I have no problem with that! But I see the effort they put into learning a language; the experiences they’re having; the countries they’re visiting; their love of travel; the way their eyes light up when they see something new… and it makes me want to experience some of that for myself. So much so I’ve decided to get back into studying languages again and would love to experience time away in another country.

It’s not just the students who are learning…

…teacher is too – and I have my amazing students to thank for that.

 

 

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