Friday, 28 February 2014

Foodie Friday! Guest Blogger Chef Simeon Hall Jr.

Its Foodie Friday!!!!! Today our guest Blogger is Chef Simeon Hall Jr. Not only is his passion for food clearly noticeable once you have a conversation with him about a recipe or restaurant but he's a pretty cool dude and has become a good friend. He is taking us into one of his mornings as a busy Chef and it sounds delicious and like a whole day! Enjoy! 

Chef in the Garden

“The Life of a Chef - How my Mornings Begin”

It’s 4 a.m. and the rambunctious siren of my Blackberry’s alarm reminds me that my 

commitment to success this year far outweighs my need to rest. My second alarm, my 

just in case alarm, shakes off the last of the wooziness and it’s time to get it cracking. 

My days are long and my nights are short. My sisters, who often double as my life 

coaches, remind me of how demanding the road ahead will be. They also continue 

to stress that each day will be met with more blessings and more requests; more 

opportunities and more items to complete. Whether it is finalizing content for my 

website, perusing designs for my kitchen studio, preparing recipe after recipe, editing 

my cookbooks or simply updating my blog - my days are filled with hard work and 

preparation, all in advance of the abundance of rewards to come. 

Five a.m. rolls in and after my daily devotions, I am left feeling fueled for the next leg 

of the day – my Sean T 25 minute workout. This includes 25 minutes of jumping jacks, 

squatting and twisting 15 years of eating like most Chefs do. This is not the easiest or 

the prettiest task; but I get it done. 

Normally a shower would not be a significant activity, but for me even this early morning 

ritual reminds me of the culinary arts and what I live for. This is the time of the day that I 

test my coconut oil, brown sugar, thyme and rosemary bath wash that I am developing. 

The rising sun meets me in my laboratory – my kitchen – where I had planned to make 

a breakfast of callaloo and a one yolk-three egg white omelet, with mint compressed 

watermelon, sorrel, fresh squeezed orange juice and star apple punch. But, my email 

inbox forced me to adjust that spread to a power-packed strawberry, quinoa, chai and 

green tea smoothie. With drink in one hand and the mouse in the other, I stumble upon 

an email from my friend D’Vanya who’s obviously becoming a successful blogger. She 

informs that Vanzblogs Foodie Fridays is requesting a blog from me by tomorrow and I 

haven’t the slightest clue what to blog about. 

Hmmm….I can’t in good conscience speak on my culinary experiences in Grenada, 

where I am currently researching the food culture of the Eastern Caribbean as that story 

is slotted to be published in The Bahamas’ Nassau Guardian this weekend. Nor can 

I share insight regarding my cookbook chronicling my travels around the world. Nor 

do I have the time to speak on how over the last 8 weeks I have studied how to make 

yeast from the air alone, cured egg yolks or made my own anchovies. To me, my life 

is a kaleidoscope of interesting tidbits which I hope will someday interest and influence 

Mid-thought, my 6.30 alarm reminds me that it’s time review my lesson plan for my 

lecture today at a local Community College where I have been volunteering. Today, I 

have the second half of the first year students that I taught on Monday - a group that 

is the most impressionable, yet seemingly least committed to their craft. Today we are 

going to make the perfect chicken stock – 8 pounds of roasted chicken bones, 1 pound 

of carrots, celery and onion and 1 gallon of distilled water. Slow roasted in the oven then 

simmered on the stove. Strained and portion in ice trays for the perfect stock cube when 

they need it. Usually a simple process for me, but a challenge when there are 19 feisty 

Maybe, if all goes well, I will show them how to turn 3 cups of regular flour and 4 whole 

eggs into the most amazing fresh pasta and allow them to experiment with my beloved 

Italian pasta machine and keep my fingers crossed.

All things Local a True Garden Salad

Being reminded again of the time, I stop my revision to review and send some pictures 

of my favorite dishes to my Web Designer – a mammoth task for someone with an 

appreciation of foods and tons of pictures. 

Grenadian river crayfish! - split peas and crayfish bisque/ on ice/ crayfish scampi 

a study of all things "peasy"- ten different kinds of peas 

cooking pasta with the students- fettucine left to dry

Well its 7.30 and I guess I will get my day started!

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Finding a Babysitter

Time is winding down and its almost time for me to go back to work. I'm like ALREADY!?!?!? Nooooooo I'm not reeaadddyyyy! My older cousin came and took my little heart string the other day for only about 3 hours and I didn't know what to do with myself. How am I going to make an 8 hour day and how will I find someone that I actually trust to watch him? 

    How does this work? I'm finding it hard to fathom leaving my baby with a total stranger! UGH But what can I do; I don't really have a choice. I have heard so many stories about babysitters who didn't work out ... I don't want to go through trail and error I want to get it right the first time.

   In trying to find this babysitter I have a loonngg list of the type of person I want and what I expect them to do. I am worried that I wont think anyone is good enough and I'm left not having anyone to watch my baby. 

I have also found myself looking for surveillance systems that I can connect to the internet and be able to check in on him from work. Does that make me overprotective or crazy?

Anyway moms out there please leave a comment and let me know how you dealt with this or if you have any sitters you want to recommend. I would love to hear your experiences. 

Until Tomorrow
Much Love, 
D'Vanya (Vanz)


Monday, 24 February 2014

DIY: How to Plan Your Wedding on a Budget

This week on my facebook timeline it seemed as if everyone is either getting engaged or married. Love is definitely in the air. While we all would love to have that magical dream wedding where we can blow a ridiculous amount of money and just "pick and pay" you and I both know this is not a reality for most of us.

I learnt very quickly when planning my wedding that what you want more often than not does not agree with what you have in your bank account. 

My Husband and I REFUSED to borrow any money from the bank for our wedding. Why on earth would we start our marriage in debt for one day? The fact that we were committing ourselves to each other was more important to us then our guests having lobster and steak at the reception. 

With all of that being said here are some money saving tips to consider when planning your special day. 

Guest List  

So that list of 300 people you have written down; check it again. How many people are you actual in contact with on a regular basis? Hmmmm..... bet that took off at least 150 people. When putting together a guest list we tend to get carried away, we want our best friend Ashley from 5th grade who we haven't seen since our Primary school graduation there... OK that may be a slight exaggeration but you catch my drift. Try to keep your guest list confined to CLOSE family and friends. Hey if that means cousin Al who you only see at family reunions doesn't make the cut then so be it. I had Aunts and Uncles that didn't make the cut .. they are okay truthfully I haven't seen them since I got married anyway. Trust me if anyone gets upset they wont be upset for life and remember its your day not theirs. 

Time of Day 

When you are planning what time to have your special event keep in mind that Breakfast is the cheapest meal to pay for. My wedding ceremony started at 9am. I had to start getting ready at 5 but that was a sacrifice I was willing to make! 


Now this idea will require you to think out of the box. Instead of having a three course dinner where you are paying $50 and up PER PLATE ... how about doing an upscale cocktail reception/party? Here are the ways you will save. 
1. You will pay less for decor because you wont have a bunch of centrepieces 
2. You will save on food! Instead of paying $50 and up per plate you will be buying platters that will feed at least half of your guest each 
3. You can save some of that food budget for more cocktails and who doesn't love more cocktails? Your guest will probably even forget they didn't have a full dinner! 

The Gown 

There was no way I was spending more that $1,200 on a wedding gown to wear for ONE day NOPE wasn't gonna do it. I couldn't justify spending more than that on a dress that I would only wear once. There are many beautiful gowns out there that wont cost you a down payment on a house. My dress was a Maggie Sottero gown .. it cost me $1,000 and it was absolutely beautiful! 


Entertainment?? There are so many things that come with a wedding reception like toasts and throwing of the bouquet and garter and the first dance there really is no need for entertainment. Everyone may not be as lucky as we were but we had a pretty special group of groomsmen who decided they would do a little impromptu performance for everyone. Not only was it hilarious but our guests enjoyed it ... and guest what ... It didn't cost us a penny. 

I hope these few tips help you with your planning. Remember all that matters at the end of the day is you are marrying the Love of your life.


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