Monday, April 20, 2015

ipone snippets in Bermuda

Random shots.. good memories.

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The view from the outdoor seating at the Waterlot Inn, one of the oldest restaurants in Bermuda.

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Pretty signage.

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Just the two of us!

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My daily walking view with Oscar and Theo.  Fairylands dock.

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Me and Bean selfy-ing out to dinner at our fav - Portofino's.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Spring Holidays 2015

The kids are back in school after a two week Spring break, and here's our recap of the holidays.  We got in a good dose of Bermudian traditions as well as a few of our own for the perfect masala.

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Good Friday here in BDA is known for kite-flying.  The beach is the best spot as winds are up and power lines are nowhere to be seen.  This is the first year we did Kitefest at Horseshoe Beach.  Getting there early, we claimed our spot along the perfectly manicured sand.

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Armed with codfish cakes, hot-cross buns (two other quintessential Bermuda Easter items) and reject macaroons (more on that later,) we settled in to watch the kites soar in the blue sky.  Theo was suitably impressed.


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Of course, us being us, celebrating one holiday is never enough.  We were lucky to be invited to our friend's annual Passover Seder.  Desert is my thing, so I was happy to bring along a couple. 

Experimenting on my good friends is what I do, so when I saw this recipe for Tira-Matzah, I had to do it.  It's layers of matzo crackers soaked in espresso, coffee and rum, along with sweetened marscapone cheese and cocoa.  I adapted my version from the recipe at evilmadscientist!  It's good - not as soft as a traditional tiramisu (ladyfingers, zabaglione, etc.) but yummy and different.

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I also made coconut macaroons.  It took three attempts before I finally got this batch that had minimal puddling along the base.  I started with a recipe given to me by Jeff's cousin.  I recalled hers from many a Passover dinner in the US.  Hers come out perfectly!

Mine were a disaster.  This is one of those recipes that is deceptively simple - just a few ingredients, but be warned.  After consulting various sources, I finally got the proportions of coconut right and achieved some semblance of stick to it by using meringue powder.  All the rejects tasted good, but they didn't look right.  Which is fine.. my kids devoured them the beach.

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Dipped and drizzled with some chocolate ganache, and we were set to go.

Easter lillies from Amaral farms... such a great fragrance! Bought a bunch from the roadside stand en route to picking kids up.  The next day, the car stilled smelled like them.  (Big improvement.)

Simple Easter Dinner at home: Suvir Saran marinated lamb chops, roasted potatoes with olive oil and rosemary, and chocolate ganache covered pistachio cake.

By Sunday morning, you would think we would be taking a detox.  Oh no. 

Sunday was Easter morning, and my kids were ready for the hunt.  While they ran around the back yard with our neighbors' kids, the moms (and Jeff) sat down for a semi-civilized brunch on the back porch.  Some strata, chocolate croissants, hot cross buns, and mimosas on the rainy morning were a nice start to the day.  I think my kids ate chocolate Easter candy.  I don't know.

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That evening we had a quiet little family dinner at home - Suvir Saran marinated lamb, roasted new potatoes with rosemary and olive oil, and Pioneer Woman pistachio cake.  Shout out to Supermart on Front Street for the best butchers in town.  When I asked them to give me 2 pounds of rib chops, they delivered in style.  Great cut of meat, nice and thick and they handled the heavy Indian seasonings perfectly!

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Theo wanted some, but I told him to get back to me when he has some teeth.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Fast forward ten years.

A quick trip to Warwick Bay playground..

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I remember when I used to push him on the swings.

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And when he was scared of going down the slide by himself.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Scenes from St. George's, Bermuda

The last two weekends have found us out on the eastern end of the island. While there, we've revisited St. George's and wandered around the town on two quiet Sunday afternoons.

A few snippets:

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Flagstone in Town Hall. 

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The stockade - home to many a tourist and resident photo op.

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No one escapes it.

Of course St. George's is more than just a stockade in Kings Square. The town itself retains its historic charm, through its architecture and protected status as a UNESCO world heritage site. The cobblestone streets wind through narrow alleys, with beautifully preserved houses, designed in the Bermuda style. For pure walking purposes (ie with a stroller) Sundays are perfect as there is minimal road traffic (sidewalks are a rarity in BDA generally.)

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We've enjoyed several of the restaurants in the area over the years.  Jordan watches the waves ripple on the harbor at the Tavern by the Sea.  This is a  pretty place, and was apparently quite popular with the stroller set on a Sunday afternoon.  I tried Jordan's mac and cheese, and it was one of the better ones I've had on the island.  My spicy Bloody Mary wasn't too bad either.

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The White Horse Tavern is always popular with the tourists, but it's another nice spot on the water, and it is right in Kings Square.  It gets windy though!  And be sure to save some bread for the fish.  They put on a good show.

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Looking through old photos on Flickr, I remembered St. George's was one of the first places we explored upon moving to Bermuda.  Poor Admiral George.  First forced to crash his ship on the reefs of Bermuda, and now serving as a monkey bar for American rug rats four hundred years later.  The irony.

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There blow some mighty canons.

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It's a pretty town - and the former first capital of Bermuda.  These days, it's a source of endless discussion as far as reviving tourism and preserving a slice of historic Bermuda.  There's actually quite a bit to see, if you don't mind wandering around and exploring. 

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I noticed a few more stores and boutiques since I last visited, and there are still places I need to check out.  The Bermuda Perfumery is here, and is tucked down a little lane right by St. Peter's Church.  I mean to get there one of these days to try their high tea.

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Fort St. Catherine.

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Flashback stockade days, October 2010.

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Yep, no one leaves the island without a picture in it.  Hi Grandma H!

Happy to answer specific itinerary questions though my partners at Tipglo

You can reach me here


Friday, March 13, 2015

Life lately.

Just some snippets to end the week with.

Wow. These high chairs have come a long way since I needed them last.

Graduating to a high chair - 6 months.

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Trying to capture the elusive picture with all of them.

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Doing some art on a rainy day.

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A quick hose down in the sink.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Competition.

Jordan recently competed in a gymnastics meet held at the University of Maryland - the Mid Atlantic Invitational.  This is the second year he's been at this meet.  This is the first time he medaled in an event.

It's a tough meet - coming as it does near the end of the season.  Level 5 is usually well represented with boys who have been competing every weekend as part of sectional and regional meets.  Most of them are seasoned and used to how a meet works.  Most of the boys are used to having a good day or a bad one and being able to brush it off, knowing another meet will happen the next weekend.

It's a little different for our boys in Bermuda. 

They only had three meets this year - all overseas.  So when they compete, it involves travelling, overnight stays in hotels, missed school days,  a lot of attention (and some pressure) put on them to do well, represent not only their gym, but also Bermuda.  The boys were written up in the  paper, sometimes they are mentioned on the radio, and I also noticed that Jordan's school had his picture on its home page with a write up.  To Jordan's credit, he is very nonchalant about the attention.  It doesn't seem to affect him, which is good.  At the meets I have attended with him, he shows remarkable focus.

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Thankfully, this was a good meet for Jordan.  At his last one - the Tim Daggett Invitational, despite excellent scores, he did not make the cutoff for medals.  It hurt him.  He puts so much work into training every day - both at the gym and at home.  He chose to challenge himself by competing at a higher level for the first time, when he could have played it safe and dropped to a lower one.  But, he didn't. 

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On the rings - Jordan's best event.

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Look at this face.  He is so proud of himself.  As he should be.

The thing is though, as I was editing this picture, something caught my eye.

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This little guy down here. 
Maybe he's bored?  Maybe he's a little wistful?  Slightly jealous?  I don't know.  It just struck me that on any given day, that could be Jordan or any other boy out there competing.  They all want to win so badly.

This is a tough sport for these  guys.  The strength training and hours they put into it aren't always rewarded with bling around their necks.  Some days are good.  Some days aren't.  Wins are often measured in tenths of a point differentials. 

We've faced some long talks with Jordan, explaining good sportsmanship, and how every little misstep out there results in the difference between a win and a loss.  More important though is knowing you are improving on each event and doing your best.  Even without a medal, we try and reinforce setting personal goals for the season - getting a kip, perfecting the flairs, trying out the bonus moves.  We encourage him to cheer on his teammates and congratulate them for their wins too.

It's not easy. When a win is so easily measured by a medal, translating other success milestones is much harder.  I've been doing some reading lately on athletic mental coaching.  It's really fascinating to read about collegiate and professional athletes whose discipline is more than just physical training.  So much of it starts with what's in their head.  I suppose if we all had that inner strength, there would be no stopping us.

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Mina faces her own athletic challenges as well. Her recent running wins at sports day aside, she has spent the majority of the shool year complaining about gym class and "all that running!!"  Day in and day out, she would step into the car and immediately launch into how hard the day was because of gym.  It's particularly frustrating for her because she does so well academically.  There has never been a parent teacher meeting I have ever attended for her that did not begin with the teacher praising her for her work.  I don't mean to brag, although it does sound like it.  She deserves all the credit.  The worst complaint I ever got about her was one teacher suggesting she put too much pressure on herself when she scored only 19 out of 20 spelling words right.  Apparently Mina burst into tears and considered it a "failure."

"Where would she get an idea like that Mrs. Trimarchi?"

ugh...

It was nice to see her so happy with her ribbons for second place in two athletic events, and a third place in relay.  She has many talents that aren't always splashed out in the papers.  So it's heartening to see her so happy when it's her time to shine.

Of course, then there's Theo.

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All he needs to make him happy is some food.

 Life is good when you are just 6 months old.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Yes, we do love big, cheesy vacations - Vacationing at Atlantis Resort, Paradise Island.

Atlantis Resort really should be commended for its marketing campaign.  What other destination can I think of whose incessant commercials work their subliminal magic into my brain so well?  When we decided to mark Jordan's 10 year birthday with a big trip, it was my first choice.  How is that possible?

The kids also really wanted to go.  That's my story.

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The good news is that the resort lived up to the hype.  This is the view from our balcony in the Coral Beach Towers.  In the back is the Royal Towers, which houses a casino, shops, an underground aquatic museum, multiple restaurants, and the kids Aqua camp.  That corridor like structure that joins the two wings of the Royal Towers is informally known as the Michael Jackson suite.  It can be had for the price of $25,000 a night - with a four night minimum.  Alas, I read that it's fully booked for the next five years.

Tip - if staying at the Coral Beach Towers, make sure you ask for a higher floor on the even side.  The odd side rooms had a pretty dismal view.  We booked two rooms, side by side and the view from both was lovely.  Theo and I spent lots of time outside watching the breeze blow through the palm trees.

Atlantis itself is not a cheap destination no matter what your budget, but there are fun things to do for everyone.  It also helps that Marriott recently bought into the resort and is offering Marriott rewards members usage of their points for rooms.  We took advantage of that and it saved us some money as well as providing free Internet.  It doesn't sound like a big deal, but it's nice not to pay $21 a day to check your emails.  We were also greeted with a bottle of wine, a lovely cheese plate and four delicious cookies.  Yay Marriott!

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It seems strange that island dwellers like us would choose to go to another island during a school break, but it's here that I will point out that the Bahamas are not the same as Bermuda.  In February, it is cold in Bermuda.  It's warmer in the Bahamas, which are Caribbean islands located further south.

And I hate cold weather.

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Oh.. hello.

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Hands down, the highlight of this trip was vacationing with our friends, the Perkins.  They have been brave enough to join us on multiple family vacations over the years.  Their daughter, was also celebrating her tenth birthday as well. 

None of our kids knew we would meet up in Atlantis.  It was a fabulous surprise!

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The crew. 

You just have to love friends that are with you through every stage of your parenting moments.  Through good times and bad, they have put up with our kids' laughter and tears, tantrums and joys.  We had one major one during the trip coming from my oldest child, which was incredibly upsetting.  But suffice it to say, our friends handled it with grace as did the rest of the kids. 

Thanks Perkins!

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Atlantis is known for its water slides, and there are lots of options to choose from.  My older two started slow - with the lazy river and eventually worked their way up to the winding slides in the Mayan Temple.  This one pictured is called "The Leap of Faith."  I made it as far as witnessing a grown man hyperventilating as he sat at the top, muttering.. "No.. no.. I don't think I can."  I was on the slide called "The Challenger," which is across from the entrance, so I made a mental note to myself ... particularly when I heard one of the attendants say, "Oh just give him a push."

I can't tell you much more about the slide, other than it is a 60 foot drop that pitches you through a tunnel.  The tunnel is situated in one of the shark tanks, so you get to see the beasties if you manage to keep your eyes open long enough.

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Guess who decided he was brave enough to try it?  What you don't see here is Jeff and I on the bridge opposite the slide, clutching our hearts and praying as we watched our first born son head up the stairs by himself, out of sight, and plunge down the slide solo.

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His loyal fans greet him upon his safe return.  Nice gymnastics salute dude.

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I'm saving this one for their wedding. 

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The surprise hit for me was how chill Theo was during the whole escapade.  I had no idea what to expect, really.  Nor did I think there was much I could do as far as planning.  He was just so awesome.  We all headed out in the morning together to the pools or slides.  Theo hung back with one of us till after lunch, then he and I would head back to the hotel room for a nap.  (yay!)  He slept like a champ and was so easy going - happy to be held by anyone interested. 

No, he didn't go on any slides.  The hotel provided a crib and bedding, which they set up for us upon arrival.

Some details for you planning types:

1.  We opted not to purchase the meal plan, as we didn't think we could consume enough food to justify it.  It worked well for us, as we noticed that the meal plan limits your restaurant options, and often several restaurants are shut down for low occupancy.  We also just don't eat that much, despite our best efforts.  Breakfasts were usually quick affairs of grab and go food from the Dunkin Donuts nearby or the Starbucks, which is on the resort.  Lunch was usually poolside at one of the small outdoor cafes, and dinner would be a sit down at one of the restaurants on site.

My favorite was "Olives," with is a Todd English chain, and it was sublime.  The food was exceptional and perfectly prepared  Yes, it is pricey. 

2.  On the subject of price, I must point out a few things, as an "island girl" myself.  When you live on an island EVERYTHING is expensive.  It is expensive because everything is brought to the island via container ships or freighted in by plane.  Everything is subject to duties.  This is a daily fact of life for us in Bermuda, so I was prepared for what things cost in the Bahamas.

There are also added gratuities (TIPS) to just about everything meal related.  Again  another fact of life I am used to.  Maybe it's just that I am used to being hosed, but I wasn't as sticker shocked as the average tourist coming to Atlantis. 

All I can say, is just prepare yourself.  Accept that you are going to pay a lot of money and try and save where you can - there is a local strip mall within walking distance that you can purchase alcohol and breakfasts.  You can also ask  your cab driver to stop at a grocery store en route to the hotel and stock up on provisions.  We did - I got water and formula for the baby.

3.  We booked a car to drive us from the airport in Nassau to Paradise Island.  It worked out really well, and the system is incredibly organized.  Although we booked a car, one wasn't available when we arrived, so the company put us in a stretch limo!!!  Jeff and I looked at each other and just grinned.  Our kids were delirious at the whole thing, and I had to laugh.  How spoiled are these kids??  The last time I rode in a limo was at my wedding.  I'm fairly certain the next time will probably be at my funeral.

4.  Service - I'm really glad I wasn't put off by the negative reviews I kept reading on Trip Advisor.  Without exception, I didn't encounter any surly staff.  Everyone was lovely and helpful.  Even when Theo and I were walking around in the stroller, and lost, staff helped direct us to handicap accessible ramps.  Be prepared for this as there are a lot of steps - but there are ramps, sometimes you just have to ask as they aren't always immediately visible.

That's the long and the short of it.  Without a doubt, I would love to come back here, particularly when Theo is old enough to try some of the activities.  The kids loved it, and we did too. 

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Nice to see that the commercials weren't a big, fat lie after all.

Tipglo is how you can reach me for specific questions, and I will be happy to give you more details!  Cheers!

Sadaf
https://tipglo.com/@sadaf-trimarchi