Friday, January 31, 2014

And I Thought I was the Cool Mom!!!

Hey all,

I love reading the Huffington Post.  Especially the weird news section.  You never know what you're going to read about.  LOL

But this one really made me blink.  I can't decide whether this Mom is really cool or a little bit over the top.  Check out this note that was written by a mama concerned about her son's masturbating habits.

I have to say, this might be something I'd THINK about doing, but I don't know if I'd be brave enough to actually write it.  Yet thinking about my son's faces if I HAD written the note, makes me giggle like crazy, so I guess this article made my day.  I wonder if that was there intention.

What about you?  Could you write something like this?  Or is it way over the top?  Let me know in the comments below!

Hugs to all and I'll see you next Friday!!!!

CJ England
Follow Your Dreams

Friday, January 24, 2014

A Yummy Breakfast or Dessert? Or Both?

Hey all,

I thought I'd share a recipe I fell in love with when we tried it.  Down here in Brazil, it's the traditional meal to eat on Christmas morning.  I'd tried it once when I was a teenager, not even knowing what I was eating and I'd remembered it for years.

Finding out that it was one of Brazil's Christmas treats, usually eaten either on Christmas morning or Christmas Eve night, I was jazzed.  Finally, I could find a proper recipe and not rely on my memory of so many years ago.

Rabanada or Brazilian French Toast is without a doubt one of the best meals I've ever had.  It IS high in calories and FULL of sugar, so you can't have it very often, but it is totally worth every fat-filled bite.  

The secret is the soaking of the bread overnight, so make sure you do that.  Seriously, it's the reason this dish is so custard-like and delightfully delicious.

Give it a try and then let me know if you agree that it's one of the bestest breakfast in the world.

Rabanada (Brazilian-Style French Toast)

1 medium sweet baguette or 1 medium sourdough baguette (very important to use this kind of bread)
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
6 tablespoons whole milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 - 4 cups vegetable oil (for deep frying--less if you are doing traditional frying )
1.  Cut bread into 1-inch thick slices. You should get about 16 pieces. If you have more, adjust other ingredients to compensate.
2.  Whisk together the eggs, condensed milk, whole milk, vanilla extract, and salt until well mixed.
3.  Coat bread slices on both sides in the egg mixture, and place coated bread in a shallow pan or pie plate, add any remaining egg mixture to it. Cover with transparent wrap or foil and place in the refrigerator to soften overnight.
4.  Mix together sugar, cocoa and cinnamon in a small shallow bowl big enough to hold one slice bread.
Cooking Method 1
5.  Heat oil in a deep skillet to about 2-inches until it reaches 330F (use a candy thermometer to check).
6.  Lift the bread from the egg mixture until it stops dripping, and pan fry the pieces in the skillet on both sides until golden and crispy. Keep the oil hot while frying (check temp), raising the heat if needed.
7.  As the pieces are removed from the skillet, drain on paper towels then dredge in the spicy sugar mixture.
Cooking Method 2 (Healthier Way)
5.  Put about 1/4 inch of oil in skillet.  Heat till water droplets bounce on pan bottom.
6.  Lift the bread from the egg mixture until it stops dripping, and pan fry the pieces in the skillet on both sides until golden and crispy. Add new oil and heat as needed.
7.  As the pieces are removed from the skillet, drain on paper towels then dredge in the spicy sugar mixture.
Serve very hot.
Remember to tell me how you liked it in the comments below.  And enjoy!!!!

Hugs to all and I'll see you next Friday!!!!

CJ England
Follow Your Dreams

Friday, January 17, 2014

I'm Holding My Breath Until I Get What I Want

Hey all,

Have you ever discovered something that makes you want to try it out?  No, people, I'm not talking about sex toys (though thinking about it...)  Never mind.  Back on track.  *grin*

I saw this on Facebook and thought it was an amazing idea.  Not only do you get something to help you cook, but you help others while doing it.  It is kinda expensive, but the whole idea is so cool.  And it might be something I can use on tour.  I've got to do a little more research, but check out this article and tell me what you think.

I love the idea that you don't have to have something plugged in when you leave the house, yet still come back to a freshly cooked meal.  As I travel, I'm always paranoid I could set my room on fire, so I'm always checking my appliances half a dozen times.  And I STILL worry.  This new cooker could be the answer to my worries.

So what do you all think?  About the Wonderbag?  About the fact that for each one we buy here in the USA, a family in Africa will also receive one?  Is it too good to be true or a really neat charity that we should all support?

Tell me what you think in the comments below!

Hugs to all and I'll see you next Friday!!!!

CJ England
Follow Your Dreams

Friday, January 10, 2014

Sunset is Still My Favorite Color

Hey all,

Sorry this is late.  Internet was down, yet again.  It just came up and is faster than I've ever seen it, so maybe they did some work on it.  That would be the best news I've heard all year.

Anyway, today's blog is about beauty.  I know it's been said it's in the eye of the beholder, but I can't imagine anyone seeing some of the things I've seen and NOT saying it was beautiful.

Case in point...Sunrises and sunsets.  I've seen them literally all over the world, and I've yet to see one that can't be considered beautiful.  Even ones in the city are gorgeous.  I know they say they are prettier because of all the pollution, but I swear to you, no one sees the garbage in the air when they are looking at the last rays of the sun.

For me, sunsets are my favorite.  Mostly because I'm not a morning person.  In fact I believe sunrises should happen much later in the day.  Then I could appreciate them fully.  *grin*

But I thought I'd share a few of my favorite sunrises and sunsets.  Then you can judge for yourself which you think is the most beautiful.


 I don't see many of them, but this sunrise in the Amazon was totally worth it.  The colors were right off an artist's palette.

 The view from our apartment in Belo Horizonte.  I love country scenes better, but sometimes even a city sunset can be absolutely gorgeous. 

 The view outside our hotel room in Naples, Italy.  The marina was lovely to look at both in daytime and nighttime.

 This sunset was one of the prettiest ones I'd ever seen.   Another one taken over the upper Amazon region.  This cloud formation with the sun setting behind it was delightful to watch.

Another beautiful sunrise...again in the Amazon.  Sometimes a picture is just perfect and this sunrise with our boat in the background is one I'm framing to put on my wall.  I like it that much.

Mountains and beach at the same time?  Outstanding.  Our view from our balcony in Rio de Janeiro is probably my favorite so far.

Sometimes beauty can be subtle as is this sunrise picture taken over Lake Como in Italy.  It is so calm and serene, it's wonderfully peaceful.

Some of the best pictures I've taken have been on lonely roads.  It doesn't seem to matter what country we travel in, there is always a beautiful sunset.

And finally, this photo taken over Copacabana Beach in Rio.  We sat with our drinks at a seaside pub and people watched as the sun slowly set.  I must have taken dozens of pics, each one of them better than the one before.  And when it was all done and the sun had set, every broke into spontaneous applause.  It was an amazing way to end the day.

And I hope it is a good way to end the blog.  Then next few weeks will be short blogs and repeats as my daughter is visiting.  Since I never know how the internet is going to act, I'm doing as many as I can today while I've got it running well.

Hugs to all and I'll see you next Friday!!!!

CJ England
Follow Your Dreams

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Feliz Ano Novo!!!!

Hey all,

Feliz Ano Novo!!!!  That means Happy New Year to all my readers!!!!  I hope your 2014 is even better than your 2013 was!!!

As promised, this blog will share a little about what we did on New Years Eve.  Brazil is all about the New Year celebrations and millions come to the famous Copacobana Beach to participate in a night of music, fireworks and partying.

The day of New Years Eve starts off just about as crazy as it ends.  It's busy here.  I mean REALLY busy.  I honestly think all the tourists in South America come to Rio to celebrate Reveillon. (New Years Eve)  There are so many umbrellas on the beach, you can't even see the sand! 

Thousands and thousands are on the beach.  Chairs, umbrellas and sarongs that you use instead of towels to lay on.  Coconuts filled with yummy juice and beers are the most asked for beverages.  They play volleyball here, but not the kind you may expect.  They play it like they play their football. (soccer to all of you Americans)  They don't touch it with their hands, but use their feet and bodies to play the game.  It's pretty awesome to watch.  Go here to Youtube to see a game.

As the day wanes and night approaches, the beach goers slip away to put on their New Years costumes.  Here in Brazil, you meet the New Year dressed in white to bring peace and good luck into your life throughout the following year.  It's pretty cool to look out and see everyone in their finery.  Thousands dressed in pure white, in anything from white shorts and tanks to fancy white sequined dresses.  It's quite a spectacle.  

Most of us Cirque people dressed up as well.  And I have to admit, Jonathon in his whites was almost as sexy as when he wore a kilt!!!!  We took a picture of us in front of the hotel Christmas Tree.  Do we look festive or what?  *grin*

And then you head out to party.  There are literally hundreds of places to go and things to do.  Fancy club parties, beach parties, street parties and of course, the biggest and most spectacular of them all...

Reveillon on Copacabana Beach 2013!!!!

Wow!  Talk about a party.  There are millions (that's right, I said millions) of people on the beach.  There is music from top named stars and fireworks to rival anything I've seen in Asia.  Drinking, dancing and merrymaking goes on all night long.  Jonathon and I headed to bed about 2:00AM, but when Jonathon was going to work the next morning, there were still people dragging in from the night before.  Crazy, right?

This picture of the crowd I found online, but it gives you an indication of just how many people  come to the beach to listen to the music.  Way too many for my liking!

While the idea of this fantastic celebration on the beach seems magical, it can be a real pain.  The reason is on New Years Eve, the city shuts down all the roads into Copacabana beach at 6:00PM.  That means no taxis as well, so the few that are still around can only drop their passengers off many blocks from the beach and you have to walk the rest of the way.

And after the celebration?  Same problem, magnified.  Few taxis, miles from the beach and millions of people who need them.  So you can see why it takes so long for so many to get home after the party.  It's also why after much thought we didn't stay out as long as we'd thought we might.  And we were so glad we didn't.  

But the energy of the parties all around you is amazing.  Most of it is good, and we didn't see the violence or crime many told us about.  Though some of our friends had trouble--several got mugged and we heard of a horrible hit and run with a bus.  But in a crowd of two million, I guess you have to expect some ugliness.

Where we decided to go, it was a little more low key.  And a lot more comfortable.  There were still a lot of people, but it wasn't nearly as crowded.  And we still saw the fireworks and was able to ring in the New Year with some more fun.

There are two traditions we decided to participate in.  One beautiful tradition is to stand in the waves and ask blessings from Iemaga.  She is a sea goddess / saint and you toss white flowers into the waves to pray and ask her to grant your wishes.  A beautiful and vain goddess, she also likes you to bring champagne, mirrors and other gifts.  

A tradition that is even more fun is just after midnight you stand in the sea and leap over seven waves.  As you leap, you make a wish and it's said that those too will be granted.  Good luck and fortune, playing in the surf, and giving my sweet baboo a kiss to bring in the new year?  What more could you want.

The whole night is something we won't soon forget.  We love doing new things in different countries and Christmas and New Years in Brazil was definitely something special. No matter where we go, we'll remember New Years 2014 and the beautiful city we celebrated it in.

See you next week!  Have an awesome start to your new year!

Hugs to all of you!

CJ England
Follow Your Dreams