Tuesday, August 31, 2010

how does your garden grow....

Saturday at the market was notable because the price of onions went down by 75 cents a pound... but I'm sure that is important only to me.

but pineapples were only $1!  
The roses are from my brother-in-law's nursery, not my yard....

however, very excitingly my one and only rose plant that survived in my yard bloomed this week.  It's taken about 10 months for it to actually flower, because any time it produced buds before a goat ate it.

we went from pretty much nothing growing in our yard to things growing all over the place in about a month-- living in the tropics makes you look like a pro gardener.  We won't mention that most of these plants self- seeded from the compost pile.

something is eating our tomatoes though

we have harvested a couple of watermelons already

papaya.... not a fan 

we also are growing lettuce, cabbage, sweet peppers, beans, and corn!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

wedding fun part three. the end.

So, my dress.  I was following a very simple Burdastyle pattern and a tutorial at Grosgrain, and yet.... the first version came out looking like a choir robe.  Fortunately, I was using scrap material, so I just took everything apart and reworked the whole thing, basically making my own new pattern.  I ended up really liking the dress.  Not only was it very lightweight and cool, but it held up to my two-year-old nephew, which really is quite a feat.

We were so busy though that I didn't get any good pictures of the dress- hopefully I can get Daniel to take some later.  Ignore his expression in this picture.

I modified the pattern's neckline to be a drape neck, and I added sleeves which I then gathered.  I made a really cool necklace too out of fabric flowers, but that lasted about 20 seconds around the two-year-old and sadly no pictures exist of it. 

um, waitress?  I would like some chocolate cake please with extra frosting which I will then smear on my face, hair, and clothes, and anyone within reach....

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

an examination of what happens when you draft farm hands to help decorate for a wedding

The absolute best part?  They covered an entire wall like this, and no one said anything!  Meanwhile, I spent 1/2 an hour rearranging a curtain because I was told it "was not gathered properly".....

Monday, August 23, 2010

wedding fun part two

Some of my favorite pictures.....

(Because I forgot to ask permission to put people's pictures up on this site, I put the rest of the pictures up on facebook to ensure more privacy)

wedding fun part one

This last week has been crazy, but soooo much fun.  We had house guests all of last week, and then saturday was two- wedding craziness!  And, amazingly, I managed to finish all of the crafts I volunteered to do and still sew my dress!

flower- girl hair clip

On saturday, my schedule went like this:
8am- decorate reception site for wedding #1
10:30- decorate reception site for wedding #2
12:00- run home and get ready (and make last-minute corsages and some wedding cards!)
1:30- wedding #1
3:00- wedding #2
5:00- reception #1
7:00- reception #2

requerdos (wedding favors)- so Belizean!  the more flowers, bows, and plastic, the better :) My glue gun was my best friend all day friday, along with the Glee soundtrack (thanks Alison!)

My sister-in-law's wedding colors were gold, silver, and peach... I really wasn't sure about that combo, but I ended up liking how it came out- sort of fairy- tale-ish and sparkly.

...never mind that someone forgot to bring the boutonnieres to the wedding, so they didn't get worn...

My craziest project was making a faux- capiz-shell chandelier out of  waxed paper.  It sounds crazy, but I copied it from a design*sponge diy which looked really authentic.  Mine looked slightly less cool cause I ran out of ribbon and patience:)

Unfortunately, I didn't get a good picture of mine at the reception-
cause by the time I got to there, this was occurring:

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Where I get my food: eggs

I have a sister-in-law named Carla.  She is short and energetic, and has been known to kill snakes as thick as her arm using a fence post, a useful quality in a sister-in-law.  

Carla keeps a lot of chickens, which is good for me, because that means I do NOT have to keep chickens.  I hate chickens. When you enter their territory they slowly wander up to you, looking at you out of one yellow eye, until before you know it you are surrounded by creepy chickens making weird noises.  They don’t cluck, it’s more like baaaaawk bawk bawk.   And their feet are gross and rubbery.  Also, the reason why Carla has to kill snakes is because they come looking for eggs.  

So I go to Carla’s to get my eggs.  She lives right down the driveway from me.
Some of the eggs are brown, some are speckled, and some are the loveliest pale green. 
And there is no comparison with a fresh, fresh egg

A new breed of head less chicken they are developing here in Belize. Less noise, more meat.

Shortly after I took these pictures, I wiped out on a patch of mud and dislocated my shoulder (it’s fine now). Coincidence, or did a chicken give me the evil eye?

(people here have a very strong belief in the evil eye.  Babies wear red bracelets to protect them. I have heard people seriously blame illnesses, livestock deaths, even curdled milk on the evil eye. You can get the evil eye if a drunk man looks at you, so why not a glare from a chicken?)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

farm life

Daniel plowing our garden

So the mad rush to finish all our projects before Daniel goes back to school is ongoing.  Daniel put in some beans and corn, but it looks like the blackbirds got a lot of it.  We are considering making a scarecrow, believe it or not.  We also are working on some building projects, which I will post pictures of soon, and cleaning like crazy cause some good friends will be here in a few days.  On top of that, my sister in law just announced she is getting married-- in a week and a half!!!  I volunteered to make corsages, boutonnieres, and flower-girl hairclips.... and decided to make myself a new dress.  I've never sewn a dress before, but I'm following the tutorial at grosgrain's web site, so hopefully it will all work out!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

random dilemmas from the third world

one of our nosy horses

-every morning at about 5am blackbirds land on our roof.  We have a zinc roof, which makes it loud and, apparently, slippery.  So every morning we are woken up by loud thuds, followed by scrabble scrabble sccrreeeeeeeech as the blackbirds desperately try not to fall off the roof.  It sounds like 50 people running their nails down the blackboard at the same time.  You would think the birds would learn, but no.  I want to install spikes, or an electric wire.
-we have fruit bats in our house.  Who the heck gets a fruit bat infestation???? And furthermore, how do you get rid of them?  They only come in at night, so it’s not like we can grab them while they are sleeping.  I wouldn’t care, except they make a mess scattering seeds all over…

-we don’t have a full length mirror. They are expensive here—the last one I saw in a store was $110.   When I lived here as a volunteer, we also did not have a big mirror, but I lived with a bunch of girls who would tell me  if something looked off.  A few days ago we walked by a store that has mirrored glass on the front, and I realized that part of my skirt had been stretched out and was flapping 4 inches or so below the hem like a tail.  I’m pretty sure the puppy pulled on it… anyways, this is my favorite skirt.  I wear it at least 2 times a week. I don’t even want to think about how long I’ve been walking around with a tail because I can’t see below my waist in our mirror.  I asked Daniel if he hadn’t noticed, or just didn’t think it was important to mention?  He changed the subject.  I am now on the hunt for a full length mirror. 

-our cat has taken to beating up a roll of toilet paper every night.  We come down stairs in the morning to find a shredded roll (always a new one!) lying on the floor.  Does she feel threatened by the toilet paper?  Is she taking out her feelings of aggression towards us on the toilet paper?  I’m thinking I’m going to have to relocate the toilet paper to a secure location. 

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

how to make Belizean stewed beans

Two staples of Belizean diet are rice and beans and beans and rice.  The difference between the two is the essay question on the Belize nationality test. 

Just kidding.
Anyways, beans are a big part of our diet here.  They are one of the first things I learned to cook here, and we go through about a pound of beans a week.  They’re cheap, easy, and taste really good.  You should make some.

ingredients:  dried beans, onion, garlic powder, vegetable oil, salt

1. sort the beans
            this is very important.  The one time I made a bad pot of beans was when I was in a hurry and thought the beans looked fine without sorting.  Take out anything that looks funny: mold, discolorations, broken, anything. It really does affect the taste of the beans.

(some bad beans)

2.  Rinse the beans a few times under running water.
            I don’t presoak the beans.  I tried that once and ended up with a pot of bubbly fermented beans.  But it might work if you live in a colder climate.

3.  You can cook in a pot on the stove (faster) or a crock pot (which I like to use but is slower).  The cooking time will vary depending on the type of bean.  Smaller beans tend to need longer cook times- once I bought some small red beans that needed 9 hours in the crock pot on high.  I know better now and like larger red beans, which take about 4 hours in the crock pot and 3 on the stove. They make a better sauce too.

4.  Cover the beans with drinking water.  For about a pound of beans in a crock pot, add water until it is about ½ way up the pot.  On the stovetop, you are going to have to keep adding water in as they cook so just put as much as possible in to begin with.

5. Add about a handful of chopped onions, a couple of tablespoons of garlic powder, and about 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. 
This is also where you could get creative.  Coconut oil or coconut powder added here gives a distinctive flavor.  My father in law prefers that the onions and garlic be sautéed before they are added to the beans  (I don’t notice a difference in taste but he is quite adamant about it  :)


6.  Monitor the water level as the beans cook.  I usually never add water to the crock pot, but you have to be careful not to let the beans dry out and burn on the stove.

7. When the beans are very soft (almost mushy) they are done.  You should be able to smoosh a bean easily with a fork.  This is when you add salt- and you need a lot of salt.  Start out with a teaspoon and keep adding until they are no longer bland.  Stir and let cook a little longer to blend the salt.  I find if you add salt earlier it adds to the cooking time

Done! Here are some ways we like beans: with scrambled eggs, on quesadillas, with toasted cheese sandwiches, on burritos, in chili, in soup, in rice and beans (cook rice with the already cooked beans, using the bean sauce instead of water), refried, or just as a side dish to any meal. 

Monday, August 2, 2010

summer's end

Daniel is going back to teaching in a few weeks, so we are scrambling to do all the projects we said we would get done this summer.... painting the house, building a porch, putting in a garden.... the weather is beautiful here though so instead we have been horseback riding and taking the dogs for long walks.  ah well.
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