Category Archives: Fiji

Fijian Feast

I have some pretty amazing, creative friends. During Austria week I mentioned my friend Kathleen and her fabulous ideas. This week, she also helped inspire our Fijian Final Dinner. Over a decade ago (crazy!) several friends and I celebrated her 21st birthday with her at her parents wonderful ranch-style home in the valley. There, we rotated to different meal stations, each representing a different country, with tastings from each nation including different alcoholic beverages. One particular station was set up in their family’s tree house where entrées were served out of large oyster/clam shells. I remember absolutely LOVING this party and kept the idea of serving out of shells tucked into my brain for future use.

Brian and I even purchased some shells in Fiji hoping to have our friends over for a Fijian style celebration where we would show our honeymoon videos, pictures, etc. But, we just weren’t that organized at the time. Fortunately for us, I have a hard time throwing things away, and those shells also go perfectly with our guest bath beach theme. After a thorough rinsing, they were ready to make their table debut and we had an outdoor dinner Fijian style. While I so wish we had a phenomenal tree house to do this in, we settled with our patio table and kid-sized folding table and chairs.

Tallinn and Addie once again displayed their Fijian costumes despite the frigid air and we set up some coconut candles, a beach bucket with shells, and a sand pail filled with rice. We had a lot of fun and our freshly purchased fish was absolutely delicious!

Swordfish with onions, bananas and coconut milk

Sweet Potato and Pineapple Bake

Our flimsy tree isn't quite ready for a treehouse 😦

For dessert, I came up with a fun creation using mangoes, vanilla ice cream and a homemade coconut caramel sauce that I adapted from a standard caramel sauce recipe. We even served it out of our broken coconut shells.

Vanilla Ice Cream with Mangoes and Coconut Caramel Sauce

Here’s the recipe for the caramel sauce:

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup water

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces

1/2 cup whipping cream

1/2 cup coconut milk.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, dissolve sugar into water, stirring occasionally. Once dissolved, increase heat and bring to a boil, brushing down the sides with a pastry brush and water (don’t stir). Continue boiling until caramel is a deep amber color-about 12 minutes. Remove from heat, add butter and stir until mixed. Slowly add whipping cream, then coconut milk, whisking until caramel is smooth. Serve over ice cream!

 

Tallinn told me yesterday that he really wants us to take him to Fiji soon. Goodness I hope so! What a vacation that would be. Thank you Fiji for bringing us on a stroll down memory lane and for a fun week learning about the beauty of God’s creation.

Verse:

And God said, ‘Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky’.

Genesis 1:20

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Erupting Volcanoes and Coconut Huts

While the islands of Fiji do not have any active volcanoes, years and years ago this country was formed by volcanoes coming out of the sea. Regardless, I think I was looking for any excuse to make a fun volcano with my kids and this seemed like the perfect time.

Using some Crayola model magic, we formed a volcano and then painted it with some paint squeeze brushes. After letting everything dry, we placed the volcano on a paper plate covered with aluminum foil and then added sand and rocks for the full effect.

Our friends Cadence and Camdyn helped us add our special explosion ingredients…baking soda, beet-colored water, and vinegar, and then we stood back and watched it erupt.

Earlier, the kids and I broke open some coconuts we had purchased at the store. Tallinn opened his first with a hammer, but it worked just as easily to drop them, so the last two were thrown to the ground where they broke into several pieces.

We then brought the pieces inside to clean them off and taste our product.

I’m honestly not a big fan of coconut and neither were Cardiff or Addie, but Tallinn, after spitting it out the first time, decided he actually liked it and proceeded to eat quite a bit more. We still have TONS of coconut left though and I’m debating on making some kind of skin cream or something (in my spare time). However, I was already planning on having the kids make Fijian-style huts and got some inspiration for the roofs after breaking open the coconuts.

We just cut a toilet paper roll in half, cut out a cute little door and placed the cleaned out coconut shell on top. Super fun and actually quite like the little huts we saw years ago in Fiji. On one of the islands we stayed in we even got to spend a few nights in a little hut much like this one, only significantly larger.

Fishy Field Trip

My friend Nichole recently told me about a place near the beach that sells fresh fish. Today, along with my dear friend, we ventured to this shop-actually a boat itself-and experienced purchasing fresh fish for ourselves right on the water!

It seemed very appropriate for our study of Fiji as so much of the food they eat comes from the ocean and the kids really enjoyed looking at all the different crabs and things, many still alive, in their tanks. The whole experience was super fun and I’m sure we’ll be back. And, while I do know how to filet a fish,  the lovely people at this fish boat-shop already did it for us. Yay!

Nichole's sweet daughter, Olivia

This tugboat passed by as we were leaving.

A Sailing We Will Go

Addie's boat didn't stand a chance

Today was a perfect day for sailing….for egg cartons that is. As Fiji is composed of many islands, I thought it would be appropriate to make some little boats.

Using styrofoam egg cartons and cups the kids decorated the styrofoam, secured a straw in the center for the flag, then hoisted the flags and set the boats to sail in our front yard pond (a bit grimy after some serious neglect).

The cups proved to be topsy-turvy little sailors, but the egg cartons were great! I think the best part of this whole experience was Tallinn’s immediate fear upon returning inside that someone would come and steal his boat. After attempting to hide it in the bushes and even trying to bury his sister’s, I convinced him that the garden snails would be worse than just leaving it in the pond. Still struggling, he excitedly came up with the idea to write “Don’t Touch” on his boat. So, he left the boat outside, we had a snack, took a bike ride…and to his pleasant surprise, his “Eggland’s Best” boat was still in the pond when we returned.

Bula

In what seems like ages ago, my sweet love and I spent our honeymoon in Fiji. We had a wonderful time, taking a small cruise around some islands, enjoying the scenery, kayaking, snorkeling, just breathing really. It almost was a lifetime ago in a sense, or at least a different life at that time…life before children.

Bula, in Fijian, means “hello” and everyone we met in Fiji greeted us with big smiles and this fun word. We liked it so much, we decided to name our first pet after it, a beautiful African leopard tortoise that only made it a few years and sadly I can’t find any pictures of her.

This morning, we left the horn of Africa and journeyed to the tropical paradise of Fiji, but before we really left Africa, we did a bit of review just to make sure we’re remembering the countries we’ve learned. Then, we did our typical flag and map pages and looked at some pictures of our special trip.

As I showed Tallinn some pictures from our honeymoon, he said “Who watched us when you were gone?” Like I said, that was a different time.

 Tonight, before we went backward and had our Ethiopian dinner, the kids got dressed in some Fijian (Hawaiian) clothes, we put on some Fijian music and did a bit of dancing. It was priceless. They are priceless, and as much as life has changed, I wouldn’t change one thing about having them in my life.