Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Rainbow's End (Palau)

No internet or cell phones.  T.V. and radio, nope.  Shoot -- for several days we didn't even have a watch with us.  What time is it?  Well, the sun is up, guess it is day time...

That's how we spent the past ten days.  Well, that and swimming with stinger-less jellyfish.

Yeah, I'm kinda obsessed with the jellies.

I am also kinda obsessed with Palau in general.

This little island nation captured my heart for the first time in 2002 when I went on a mission trip during college.  We laid a waterline for an outer island village, population 300 or so.  It was hot and sticky and I thought surely Hell could not even compare with the heat, but that did not keep me from falling in love -- with the beauty and more so, with the people.

So a year and a half later I packed my suitcases and moved out there to teach 4th grade.  And it was the most amazing experience.

I have had the chance to go back to visit a couple of times since then, but this time was different.  This time I was taking my man with me.

Palau could no longer be "my" place, but it was time to become "our" place.

Days were filled with trekking to waterfalls in the jungle, surfing, snorkeling...

... and eating fish.

Lots and lots of fish.

And then we kept eating fish.  For breakfast, for lunch, for dinner.  Cooked fish, raw fish, fish eyeballs.

Yes, you read that correctly.

What can I say?  When in Rome...

The scenery was beautiful.  There is a reason Palau is called 'The Rainbow's End', right?

But you know what is better than these serene blue waters and vibrant rock islands?  The people.

They may live a simple life by our standards, but their lives are FULL.  Full of love, full of joy, full of compassion.  They share like no other people group I have encountered, even though they do not have much.  It is a rare to find a place where there are no orphanages, nobody living on the streets, no old-age homes.  Like I said, rare.  But it exists.  I have seen the proof.

Really, I have nothing more that I can say about Palau.  Not because there is nothing more to share, but because there is nothing more that mere words typed on a screen can do justice.

All I can say is this: my heart is full.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Playing with the Big Boys (My All-time Top 10)

When I started this blog I had no idea what I was doing.  Shoot, I didn't even know about the whole blog world out there...  I just learned a couple of new recipes and wanted a way to share with my friends and family.  There were no desires of 'making it big', no plans to 'be a blogger', none of that.  Just a desire to learn to cook and share that experience with those near and dear to me.

And then my eyes were opened.  Comments started coming in and friendships were formed and photography skills were grown.  From where I started with my first post to all the way to today, a lot has changed.  Now I know how to cook (more or less), can take pretty good pictures (most of the time), and am quite aware that a community exists in Blogland.  And this week I hit my mark of what would define me as "a real blogger".  I hit 100,000 pageviews!  WOW!  I said a long time ago that THAT would be my moment of realization that I am a part of this blogging world, and now I am here.

Really, though, things have remained the same -- my goal is not to be a famous blogger or even get the most pageviews/etc., but to have a place to share my cooking and life experiences with friends and family.  It's just today that circle has widened, because now it includes YOU!

To celebrate, I went back and found my personal Top 10.  If I could direct you to just 10 recipes on my blog, these would be it, but of course, I hope you check out more :)  Enjoy!

(Click on any picture to be taken to the recipe.)

1.  Strawberry Chocolate French Toast

2. Carrot and Sweet Potato Bisque

3. Avocado Pineapple Salsa

4. Tortellini with Butternut Squash, Sage, and Mushrooms

5. Tomato and Ricotta Pizza

6. Goat Cheese and Asparagus Pasta

7. Mushroom Risotto

8. Turtle Candy Tart

9. Pineapple Mint Granitas

10. Avocado Pizza

Sunday, November 11, 2012

These three men...

... represent the brave, the few, and the finest.  From my family to all of those out there who have served, THANK YOU.  Whether old or young, male or female, WWII all the way to Afghanistan, we salute you.

(Grandpa on the left, dad on the top, brother on the bottom right.  I am proud of all veterans, but especially so of these three.)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Disappearing with Mashed Sweet Potatoes


I know, I know.  I have really disappeared recently.  And I can't say I am coming back soon.  I will be back, I promise, but for now the posts will be few and far in between.  Life is busy, good, but busy, and so cooking has been cut down to a minimum, and Trader Joe's frozen food has been cranked up to a maximum.  It happens. I hope you will wait patiently for me to come back because, well, I like you.  A lot.  And I think (since you are reading this post) that you like me, too. So, give me a few weeks, and then we can resume our regularly scheduled life :)

But first, some very important things to share with you.

1. October Unprocessed was a success.  Except for that candy-corn dish at work.  Darn candy-corn.

(Year two?  SO much easier than the first time around.  SO MUCH EASIER.  It sure does help that we eat that way a lot of the time after last year's super growth in October...)

2. Mashed Sweet Potatoes.  They're a thing.  An awesome thing.  No pictures to share with you, but close your eyes and taste this: boiled sweet potatoes mixed with butter, a little bit of cream cheese, and a dash of nutmeg.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  PERFECT.

3. Rice has taken up a prominent place in my life recently.  And I used to hate the stuff... goodness gracious, what I was missing out on!

4. I miss cooking.  I really truly do.  And I miss sharing what I am cooking.  I am counting down the days of busyness to be able to do that again...

In the meantime, if you would like to follow along with while I am running to and fro, catch me on twitter -- @tiffanytastes  You follow me, I follow you.  Win-win.

(Found this flower on the ground, outside of the mall, almost getting stepped on.
It was too beautiful to ignore, even in the midst of a hectic life...)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always...

Ten years have come and gone since I got the phone call that rattled my world.  Being 19 and finding out your mother passed in the night is not something that anyone can prepare for, nor know how to navigate.  But I was supported by friends and family, and some people I didn't even know... Really, I suffered loss, but I gained love.

My brother and I took time this year to celebrate on anniversary of that day.  I remember singing a song in high school that said, "There'll be joy in the morning on that day.."  I know of the day that song spoke of, but I also know this:  TODAY there is joy.  My morning has come.

Do you see it?  Smiles can be found anywhere.

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