Monday, July 29, 2013

market magic

I was due a bit of shopping luck, I’ve been looking for a pair of pants for months now with no results.  Pants are the thrifting prize, I think.  I can easily alter a shirt to fit, but pants need to fit around my waist and have the length I need, which tends to be a problem here.  I wandered into a tent at the Satuday market with a sign that said “all clothes $1,” not really expecting much.  But the first thing that caught my eye was a silk blouse-- Ann Taylor.  Then a JCrew skirt.  Then some Banana Republic pants.  I got a bit excited.  I must have spent about ½ an hour rooting through piles, and came away with 3 bags of clothes for $18 Bz total, which included 5 pairs of pants in my size!  I hope this doesn’t wipe out my shopping luck for the next few years.

When I find clothing at this price range, I tend to shop for fabric as well as  following my usual shopping guidelines.  I found this skirt, which is the most amazing silk/linen blend fabric with decorative stitching.  It is huge, but I can easily cut a skirt out for myself with plenty of leftover fabric.

I also found this… shirt thing? bathing suit cover up? nighty? with the original Macy’s price tag on it for $88 US (! you must be kidding me, Macy's....).  It is a beautiful coral cotton voile, and there is at least ½ a yard of material there which will make a nice summer dress for Miss M. 

By the way, this is Myrtle, my homemade sewing form.  I used a Pinterest tutorial (of course) which recommended using  duct tape to shape the form.  Poor Myrtle is slowly melting, sagging, and generally deforming in the tropical heat.  In case you were wondering, this is not a helpful quality in a sewing form, but she is made of like $30 worth of duct tape so I refuse to get rid of her.

Anyways, it does take a bit of who-cares attitude to root through piles of used clothing.  I am always the only gringa, and I get a lot of funny looks.  Most people probably are puzzled as to why a tourist is shopping for used clothes in Belize.  When I went to pay for my massive pile of clothes the girl in charge actually swore under her breath (in Spanish) in astonishment at me…. Believe me, I am willing to trade some funny looks  for  nice clothes.   

When I got home, I went through pockets before throwing everything into the wash, and found a tiny cheat sheet for a Spanish test.  I find it highly amusing that that particular pair of pants made it all the way to Central America...

Thursday, July 25, 2013

7 quick takes vol. 7

 New baby horse!  She was a bit of a surprise, as her mom accidentally got into the wrong field and crossed with a stud... we weren't sure who though.  Lucky us, it looks like this little filly's dad is an Arabian.  She is absolutely beautiful.  I love baby horses at this age, they sleep with total abandon.

I like the idea of meal planning, but I always fail to sit down once a week and plan.  So I've decided to make a monthly plan, with the hopes of eventually getting up to 3 months at a time.  I already have about 3 weeks worth, and I am attempting to plan meals that are strictly stovetop-only.  There is nothing worse on a 90 degree day then heating up the oven at 4pm.  Recipe suggestions would be welcome!

Along with the meal planning, I'm trying to be better at consistently making bread. Buying bread in the store is frustrating, cause unless I can get into Cayo for fresh bakery bread, I am taking a chance and getting bread that is probably already stale and most likely will mold within a few days. I have a bread machine (which I got at the market a few years ago for $30BZ!) and I have fiddled enough with the recipe that I have it down to 5 ingredients and about 4 minutes of active time on my part.  The only problem is that the loaves are small, and if my husband is in the mood he can finish off an entire loaf in one setting.  This wreaks havoc with my meal planning....sigh.

 So, laminating is high on my list of tropical living life hacks; it protects against mold and geckos and damp, etc.  Once upon my husbands' teaching training time, he had a laminating machine, which jammed after about 2 uses.  Since then I have to go into town and pay a lot every time I want something laminated.  The other day I decided to pull out the old laminating sleeves and try laminating with my iron.  I just put my item in the plastic laminating sleeve thingy, covered it with an old t-shirt, and ironed on the cotton setting.  It worked fabulously.  I've been wandering around my house since, looking for more things to laminate.

                                                       --- 5 ---

I've started a new method for organizing my craft stuff.  When I decide on a new project, I throw every supply that I think I might need for it in a plastic bag.  Then whenever I have a few minutes during naptime, I can grab a bag and work for a while.  Everything gets thrown back in if I don't finish.  This is a hot air balloon mobile that I've been working on for about, oh, 11 months or so...

The new-to-us storage container came this week.  It is 8X17 feet, and our downstairs is only 10X26 feet.  So I'm a bit excited about the huge increase in storage space.  I'm sure my husband will fill it up fast though.

The Babes, on the other hand, was absolutely thrilled with the backhoe that helped move the container.  So excited, in fact, that he literally peed his pants in excitement :)

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

7 quick takes vol. 6

     Last week my car bit the dust. We were about 40 minutes from our house when it happened, and of course there is no triple A to call to come get us.  So we called our mechanic, and he had his son drive ½ an hour to come and tow us.  During the hour or so we were sitting on the side of the road, 3 of Daniel’s current or former students saw us and dropped by to chat and of course diagnose the car (teenagers are good at this).  One guy even rode his bike home and came back with a few tools.   The only thing that was surprising is that more people didn’t stop by (I would have expected at least one cousin). 
Belize is really just a small town masquerading as a country.

I finally succumbed and started caffeinating myself.  I’ve always been a hold out against coffee, maybe because my dad drinks like 5 cups a day and is continuously wired.  But two babies have succeeded where even grad school failed.  Every morning around 10 I have my (classy) spaghetti jar of sweet tea.  I use a cold brew method, and put my jar in the refridge the night before so the tea steeps a while and it is icy cold.  I am rather shocked at how much more energy I have.  Now I’m actually voluntarily doing things at 4pm, instead of dragging myself off the couch while softly weeping.

   The energy burst let me rearrange a bunch of the Babe’s stuff to mesh more with a montessori philosophy.  Beyond a bit of internet research and having attended a montessori-ish kindergarden myself, I don’t know what I am doing.  However, I like the ideas of order and self-sufficiency that montessori promotes, so I set up some stations for the Babes.  In the bathroom he has a little tray with his toothbrush, some soap, and some small hand towels.  He does not get toothpaste on his tray cause he would eat the whole thing.  In the kitchen, he has a little tupperware filled with his utensils, cups, and plates so he can set those up for himself when he eats, and I've also put single servings of snacks in easy-to-reach containers so he can serve himself.  So far it has cut down a lot on whining and messes cause he stopped going through my other cabinets looking for his things.

His toy shelf has also been overhauled and now includes a sensory basket and some other learning type activities.  I'm working with what I have, so no fancy matching baskets and trays yet.  He is playing so much better now that he sees his toys, and also because he has less to choose from I think.  The house is much easier to keep looking neat, which is a nice bonus.

This is in my front yard.  I FINALLY got my husband the chicken collector down to 2 chickens, but he is unable to help himself and let this hen get broody so more chicks I guess in about 2 weeks.  ARGH.

I found a bumbo for Miss M, but it is proving to be a popular spot for others.  The Babes is a big fan too.

And this.  The best part of my days.  Miss M has started smiling at us, and she puts her whole heart in it.  Really it doesn't get any better.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Cayo update

A few new things in down town San Ignacio:

The new Cayo bus stop is at the Cayo Welcome Center, on the side by the public bathrooms.  All buses stop here.

And Western Dairies just opened a new ice cream store!! Air conditioning and all.  This is right across the street from the bus stop.  So exciting!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

craftiness: a quiet book

A few months ago I had the bright idea of making a quiet book for the Babes, to keep him occupied at Mass and doctors appointments and other places that frown at a toddler running around shrieking.

Then I fell down the rabbit hole that is the internet, and Pinterest.  Let's just say that there are some crazy complex work of art quiet book pages out there.

Anyways, since the Babes has a talent for destruction, and I am working with limited craft supplies, I just kept it as simple as I could.  It still took me 2 months to make 6 pages though :)

This book caters to the Babe's obsessions.  He loves bunnies, and for a while we brought a box of  our baby bunnies inside each night to keep them warm.  Every morning we were roused to the call of BUNNY?  BUNNY?!!  These are bunny finger puppets, I used the tutorial from here.  They live in their little box.

Next is the counting page, which is too complex for the Babes at this point.  He likes to try and destroy this page though, so there is that.

Matching shapes and tying bows.....

and to make it Belizean, here are wee-wee ants (or leaf cutter ants, as the rest of the world knows them).  The leaves velcro on the tree, and are stored in the ant hill :) 

Finally, to fuel the Babes' obsession with pockets, this is a pocket off one of Daniel's old work shirts.  There are ribbons inside so I can change the contents around to fit  his current interests.

I really love how it turned out.  The Babes?  Sooooo not interested.  This fits the pattern we have established-- when I put some beans in a can and tape it closed with duct tape, he plays with the thing for months.  When I spend hours on something, he turns his little tiny nose up at it.  The joys of 2 year olds :)
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