Sunday, August 23, 2015

Viv Lawoz! Vive La Rose - Saint Lucia Flower Festival Hits Rodney Bay

The Queen is revived by the scent of the Rose

Last night I attended a first in history event - the Lawoz Seance - a part of a tradition that dates back to Colonial Times, came to Rodney Bay - right between the two malls - Baywalk and JQ Rodney Bay Mall.

I was working - taking photographs for the Cultural Development Foundation where I work. Well, that is the kind of work I really enjoy! The atmosphere, as you'll see in the photos, was just fantastic!

Young, Teen, Moms, Dads and Grandparents all enjoying the drama and fun.

This is the first time I've been at a Seance - which is basically an event that each Lawoz group holds in their own communities to raise funds and have  a lot of fun doing so!

The Lawoz and the Magewit (Marguerite) are what we call the Flower Festivals - they have their origin as a parody of the Colonials but also as friendly societies for 'ordinary' people of Saint Lucia. They traditionally 'war' with each other by competing with songs that make fun of and deride each other. Members of the groups take on various roles such as nurses, doctors, police, magistrates, army, princesses and princes and each year a Lawoz (La Rose) Queen and King are crowned - La Wa and La Wen

Many Saint Lucian's don't actually know much about these beautiful and fun traditions or about their more serious history, so the CDF through the creative persuasions of our Director of Events and Production Drenia Frederick, has now brought the celebration to Rodney Bay for 2 years. The reception by the public is nothing short of raptuous - crowds gather and stay transfixed by the merriment and dramatic occurrences, such as persons being arrested for stealing sweeties or wearing the wrong colours: Lawoz colours are pink, red and might get away with some other colours thrown in but don't wear blue or purple whatever you do! That's Magewit's colours and its sure to end you up before the Magistwa (Magistrate) paying a fine!

A few pictures here - please do take a look at the full album on flickr and feel free to repost with credit to the photographer and preferably a link back to flickr or here

Viv La Rose!
'Put a little something on it' Eager patron of the Lawoz Food Stalls
Members of Mamai la Caye
The Percussion section
Well known writer, poet, carnival band leader and artist Adrian Augier pays his fine for wearing the wrong colours

The Policewomand dances with a lovely Lawoz patron
Young Boy grins - not sure if he was arrested for wearing blue or stealing sweets...or both!
The Doctor is called in to revive a fallen reveller
One of the young Chantwelles
One of the older beauties
another of the young Chantwelles
Dennery King and Choiseul Queen celebrating

Viv Lawoz! the youngest patron dancing away!

Dance Class led by Calypsonian, Dancer, educator 'Batchelor'

Calypsonian and Traditional singer 'Ready'
Young and Young at Heart enjoy the evening
How to 'tief a sweetie right in front of the Police!
Please take a look at the full set of photos here: Lawoz Album

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Decadent Sweet Potato Mango – Carambola Chocolate Chip Upside Down Cake

So, I thought I'd see if I could do another variation of these cakes...then I realized I had no fruit - well, I had a Mammee Apple, but it's not ripe enough, I had about 7 windfall mangoes but only one was ripe enough and that wasn't enough fruit...dig, dig, dig in the fridge....currents and 2 small sweet Carambola...YaY! Baking time!

So for this one, this is how I did it:

Use 2 silicone loaf pans
Preheat oven to 350F

I pre-roasted some sweet potato in its skin – then sliced up the potato (removing skin) and roasted again so it was half dry – half moist. I put this through the blender so it was in smallish soft chunks. To this I added about a half cup of toasted dessicated coconut that had also been blended into a fairly fine crumb. Added about a ¼ cup brown rice flour, ½ tsp baking powder, ¼ tsp salt, 1Tablespoon cinnamon and ½ tsp nutmeg. Set that aside
Cream 3-4 oz Butter with a Tablespoon of Olive Oil and  2/3 cup brown sugar until light and fluffy. Dice 1 small medium-ripe mango (about 1/2 cup), mix with 2/3 cup currant and mix into creamed butter and sugar

Spread into bottom of pan and Sprinkle on about 1/3 cup chocolate chips (semi sweet dark is what I used)

Slice 2 small sweet Carambola and layer on top of all this

Chop about 1/3 cup roasted cashew nuts and sprinkle on top

Now chop up some unsweetened dark baking chocolate – about 3 squares and sprinkle on top 

Now I beat together 1 eggs, 1/3 cup oil and ½ cup brown sugar until well blended and fluffy
I added about a 1/3 cup plain yogurt to this and mixed it in. Then I mixed this with the sweet potato and flour mix -This is now spread on top of all the layers and sprinkled with a little left over toasted dessicated coconut

Pop in the oven and cook for about 30-40 mins
Let it cool on a rack for 10 minutes or so before turning out on to a plate.
 It tastes goooooooooood :)

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Decadent Upside Down Cake

Inspired by this recipe 

Sunday's are for baking something to get you through the 5 days of the work-week! I always try to mess around with someone's recipe...sometimes it isn't exactly a result that makes you drool but then there are days like today! Yummy!!!

Decadent Upside Down Cake

Line a 10” pan with parchment paper or use a silicone baking dish
Preheat oven to 350F

Now get baking

Cream 6-8 oz Butter with 2/3 - 3/4 cup brown sugar until light and fluffy
Spread into bottom of pan

Dice 1 ripe mango (about a cup), mix with ½ cup raisins, ½ cup chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips, 1/3 cup chopped macadamia nuts and 1/3 cup chopped cashew nuts – mix together
Sprinkle on top of the creamed butter and sugar

Beat together 2 eggs, ¼ cup oil and 2/3-3/4 cup brown sugar until well blended and fluffy
Beat in ¾ cup each boiled mashed sweet potato and pumpkin (total 1 ½ cups)

Mix the following dry ingredients together then mix into the eggs, sweet potato and pumpkin mix
1 cup coconut flour or finely blended toasted coconut
½ cup rice flour
½ tsp nutmeg
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
Spread this on top of the first two layers

Pop in the oven and cook for about 30-40 mins
Let it cool on a rack for 10 minutes or so before turning out on to a plate. Let cool before eating (or not… ;)

Not a great photograph..but it tastes good!!!
 If you bake a version of this, why not share it here!?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Chikungunya - Viral Arthritis Update

So a few weeks on, I have been religiously putting on my Ajas Oil - and consequently smelling of very earthy patchouli..hmm... I am happy enough with the smell, and as I use body oil anyway, not lotion, I am happy with the oil on my skin. Whether it has helped much - that I can't tell to well.
glorious sky to sooth aches and pains :)
At first I was just doing that and having my 'spice tea' - full of anti-inflammatory spices - turmeric, ginger, west indian bayleaf (racemosa pimenta), cardammon, black pepper, cinnamon - made and put into the fridge to heat back up and drink as a tea, add to black tea, add to half a bottle of water and 1/4 of apple juice - 1/4 of spice tea to drink at work...but

I was ok - my pains and stiffness were bad enough but not so much that I would not be able to work and do whatever I needed - except if that involved putting weight on my wrists of crouching right down. But I was not sleeping well - the joints stiffen up as you sleep and then I'd be woken by the pains and then of course, next day I was tired and therefore more prone to being sicker.

So I decided to take meds at nights - 1 night-time paracetamol and 1 ibuprofen - and that helped as I felt more rested, but my joints still hurt in the morning and through the day.

So then I started putting on ibuprofen gel and voltaren gel where I know my muscles are very tight as it's all related - one sets off the other. I'd say that helped a bit - my wrists and knees and shoulders all eased a bit.

Then one of my achy friends said she took voltaren tablets one lunchtime and then again in the evening and she'd woken up the next day able to "feel my feet - and walk on them without wincing for the first time since getting it" and that was 7 weeks ago.

So, I dug up my diclofenac (generic voltaren) and took one that night. Well, I slept well (didn't take the other meds) and I woke up feeling better - less aches. I continued my daytime routine and took another diclofenac dose that night - same results - felt good.

So last night - I didn't take anything - well, I felt ok, so maybe I was in remission...this morning my wrists hurt again, fingers, knees...damn.

my variant of 'panadol' in my yard
I am really not a fan of taking meds long-term as I've been there and done that to the point I really feel my liver and kidneys would appreciate my not continuing - and whatever other long-term effects you get, I figure I am high on the list for (read here)...but that said, I have to say I am going to try the diclofenac again for a while and see - I also believe that sometimes we may need a bit of a boost - whether in order to be able to function at work or to allow us to sleep and heal in our sleep...

Of course there are the local herbal plants - 'panadol' - plecanthrus caninus a member of the mint family and with an oregano-like flavour which has been used to treat various things including colds (virus) rheumatism and here, for headaches, and I'm sure there is probably one that acts like diclofenac...if anyone knows, please do tell! (other than my spices of course)

So, hope that helps!

See original post here:

Sunday, October 12, 2014

That Damn Chikungunya!

So, me and 3 of my ‘liming partners’ got Chikungunya about the same time – we are all over 45, female, if that makes any difference, I don’t know…we are all suffering periodic bouts of joint pains 5 weeks on from the original symptoms. 

Inline image 1How can we deal with these arthritis-like pains caused by Chikungunya? First of all, everyone – including doctors seem to be referring to it just as arthritis, but in all my googling, I see it referred to as ‘arthralgia’ and it seems it is not quite the same thing as what we normally call arthritis, even though it feels the same; it is a viral arthritis. 

“Patients with long-term arthralgia did not display biological markers typically found in autoimmune or rheumatoid diseases. These data helped define the features of CHIKV-associated chronic arthralgia and permitted an estimation of the economic burden associated with arthralgia.”

So, since it’s both viral and arthritis-like or maybe we can just say it’s viral-arthritis, seems we should approach it from both standpoints. I know I popped the NSAIDS when the pain was too bad, but I am wary of taking NSAIDS longerterm as I know more studies are showing they can worsen joint problems when used longterm. Paracetamol/acetaminophen well, it may not be so bad for your joints but it seems it is one of the most common poisoning causes – liver toxicity and if you are susceptible and OD on it, can be fatal. Ouch.

Yes, so, on to that economic burden – I have one friend – mid 30s, who got Chikungunya in June…she has had ‘relapses’ so bad she still has to rely on her boyfriend to carry her around some days. She makes jewelry as a side business…well, it ain’t easy to bend wire and hold jewelry tools when your hands can’t close even if you could get over the pain. I am glad to say I am nowhere near that bad, but my knees now won’t let me squat down…and I take a good few steps before the pain eases enough for me not to hobble. 

When this mosquito-borne scourge first came to our little paradise chain of islands in the Caribbean, we were told only – it is not fatal (except in rare immune-challenged cases) and it only lasts a few days to a week. Eh-heh. A friend of mine first broke that illusion with a post on Facebook asking why the authorities were not telling us the full story…well you know I went a-googling immediately…and yes, I started to find reference to this ‘arthralgia’ and even cognitive challenges in some patients. Well, of the people I know who have gotten this thing, I’d say nearly half are suffering longer-term arthralgia. That’s a lot of reduced quality of life and lost economic activity.

Back to that article quoted earlier

“Patients were submitted to clinical investigations 4, 6, 14 and 36 months after presentation with acute CHIKV infection. At 36 months, 22 patients with arthralgia and 20 patients without arthralgia were randomly selected from the cohort and consented for blood sampling. During the 3 years following acute infection, 60% of patients had experienced symptoms of arthralgia, with most reporting episodic relapse and recovery periods. Long-term arthralgias were typically polyarthralgia (70%), that were usually symmetrical (90%) and highly incapacitating (77%). They were often associated with local swelling (63%), asthenia (77%) or depression (56%). The age over 35 years and the presence of arthralgia 4 months after the disease onset are risk factors of long-term arthralgia.”

36 Months!!!!! That’s 3 years!!!!! Bloody Hell.

So my approach, based on researching both arthritis and virus recovery (aka – building your immune system) 

Make a ‘tea’ – see one of my recipe’s here for an evening one – lemongrass is a good sleep aid.

Get some sun – vitamin D helps. Early morning 30 minute doses so you don’t burn.

Eat lots of healthy fruits and veggies - and for Caribbean people - zepina / bhagee is great - it is actually a wild amaranth and is full of virus-fighting, immune building goodies. 

Use virgin coconut oil - as a base oil, with caster oil or alone and with anti-inflammatory oils added - cinnamon, eucalyptus, bay, ginger, nutmeg are a few or buy this Dominican product - Oil of Ojas. Eat VCO also and drink lots of coconut water.

Just be aware also if you are already on blood thinners, or you have low blood pressure or tend to diabetes - all these spices and supplements can affect your pre-existing conditions, so check with your doc.

Exercise – I know swimming is not weight bearing so not considered effective for bone health, but in the Caribbean, a good sea bath is healing, that massaging of the waves, the mineral salts, the temperature of the water, the sun…and you can gently (and intensely) exercise and improve flexibility by using the water as a resistance. So go take sea baths...

Weight bearing exercise – now, I was thinking this morning, there’s no way I could do a downward facing dog or a plank because my wrists scream at me if I lean on them too hard. But I guess I have to find some ways to gently get them to bear weight, same for my knees and ankles. Dancing has been recommended and considering it’s depressing to have this stupid arthralgia, I think that could work wonders!

And, for those of us in cocoa-growing islands….Make cocoa tea BUT sorry traditionalists! No Milk, no cornstrach – make it with some rice or almond milk and sweeten with honey – the bayleaf, ginger, nutrmeg – all good anti-inflammatories and the pure cocoa helps too – studies have found various anti-inflammatory effects and helps with your mind, so if you get the added cognitive issues from the Chiky…well, drink cocoa tea. (Mexican cocoa can be substituted) See recipe here - but adapt as advised above

See these links for more info on anti-inflammatory advice

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

What I'm Doing at Work - Summer of the Arts and More...

Well, hello there 'Sunrainors' .... it's been a long long time!!! I have ummed and ahhd about what to do with this blog - should I start posting again? Should I stick to my 'studio' blog? Well, I don't know, I have a little love affair with this old blog - it brought me through some amazing times of growth and though my following was never huge (except for a little while in the Hurricane Tomas times) you all were such good company along the way. So I've decided I'll start up SunRainOr again. And I'm going to start by telling you about what I'm doing at my Day-Job at the moment - and yes, let me be up-front...I am asking my old friends for a little help along the way...

My New Job
So, some of you may know that I left my self-employment of 18 years and now work at the Cultural Development Foundation in Saint Lucia: I am the Director of Business Development & Marketing. The CDF is Saint Lucia's Arts & Culture organization and I joined last year October - along with a few others - after the organization had gone through a whole reorganization and reorientation.

Since then, things have been madly hectic! I joke (half) that if I'd had any idea how much work this job would entail I would never even have applied!!! But in fact, although it is incredibly challenging; I am happy to be involved. Like most things in my life, I see the growth opportunity I am be privileged to have - if I am willing to rise to the challenge!

The Work of the Cultural Development Foundation
Assumption Knights Steelpan Group
We at CDF are attempting to do great things and Saint Lucia's culture needs the work we want to do. Saint Lucia needs the opportunities that the CDF is working hard to bring to the table - training and development programmes for all levels of need, in communities around the island (none of this North - South divide stuff!). You see, this organization (a statutory body) used to really spend most of it's time and money running our various cultural festivals - that in and of itself was a good thing and done pretty well, but the development aspect of the work it was supposed to be seemed always to have to take a back seat: limited funds, limited resources. Now we have solved one part of the challenge - the Human Resource has been expanded and reorganized...but, the limited funds and other resources remain challenging to us.

Like all countries, we are not at all immune to the economic crisis - Saint Lucia has had to breathe in and tighten our cummerbunds. But CDF, even in this time of hardship, recognized the immense role that Culture and Arts could play - creative expression, self-employment, alternative occupations, support product for the crucial Tourism Industry, voice for the disenfranchised and the youth, etc, etc. But it is a challenge.

Indiegogo - Crowd Funding

Part of my job - though the title doesn't say - is to raise funds for the organization - discretionary (ie tied to specific uses) and non-discretionary (for us to apply as and where needed). This we traditionally do by reaching out to our relatively small local corporate sector and they respond as best they can. But my department wants to take it further afield - and not just for cash donations - yes, those are crucial and pressing in the immediate term - but also for in-kind. For the cash though, we've launched our first crowd funding campaign...we have $20 so far!!! Here it is donations start from $5 if you'd like to bump up our total a bit!!!

And oh! we do have some pretty nice perks to thank you too - our photographers and writers, 27 at last count - pitched in and donated gorgeous photos and a wide variety of short stories, poems and opinion pieces for us to create digital wall papers, calendars and an ebook, so the perks are nice too!

Creating a Movement
We want to develop a movement across the globe - a gathering of people who for whatever reasons - have an interest in supporting the CDF's work in developing the arts and culture of Saint Lucia - from pure creative expression for enjoyment and personal growth, through to the business end for employment and income generation.

What would this 'movement' do? Well if it turns out to be a real movement, it will actually define it's own work! But we see possibilities for partnerships across the globe - exchanges; input of skills - training, workshops; mentoring - artists residencies, business and industry insights; promotion - word of mouth, tell-a-friend support for our activities and fundraising, sharing info on what's going on in the arts & culture world in Saint Lucia and so on.

Kickstarting it
Well aside from launching our Summer of the Arts Indiegogo campaign, which is off to a slow start, and I'm hoping you'll help with getting moving a little faster by popping over and dropping a little $$ in our till - we're also getting going with one of my favourite things...

Supporting Free Speech
We're gearing up to launch our website's blog! Again, we reached out to the community, to people we know are passionate about the arts and culture, and asked them to consider blogging for us on our website ; on any topic relating to arts and culture that inspires them.

We now have 6 persons on-board and I think you'll find that blog turns out to be quite interesting. We hope that a lot of very free discussion will happen there - we will not be doing much moderation (except profanity, overtly political or likely to put us in court stuff, and of course the annoying spam). So check that out - drop us a line if you'd like to contribute as a writer. Subscribe to the blog (we should have that in place by later today!)

So....I hope you'll pop over to our Indiegogo Campaign and see if it's something you'd like to support and spread the word about. And I hope you'll join us on our blog as we get going there too...and yes, I hope you'll be staying here with me too! It's good to 'see' you all again!