Sunday, September 27, 2009

Pop-overs, a Bag and a Mushroom

Mmmm, pop-overs ...Ever since I saw the Good Eats about these bready delights, I've wanted to make some, but was intimidated. Their failure is so drastic - very souffle like and droopy. But I was perusing PBS yesterday morning, and loving all the great Saturday cooking shows, when Cooks Country presented roast beef and pop-over. I love this show, as well as America's Test Kitchen. You know you can count on their recipes to be delicious, and not be overwhelmed by the instructions.

That was true for the pop-overs. Really, the hardest part was greasing and flouring my muffin pan (because I don't want to buy a pop-over pan). While they were probably not completely perfect, I was pleasantly surprised at how well they did turn out. Airy, crispy in parts, and chewy, spongy in others. I keep thinking they'd be great with a slightly salty cheese.

I finished this bag last weekend, out of the Charlotte's Web reminiscent fabric T got me at Sew to Speak a while ago. Some of the pigs have a spider web on them - so cute. I found the pattern here, wanting to reproduce the massive carrying capability of an Envirosax fold up bag. The pattern is pretty darn easy, and I'm pleased with the result. I did leave out the snap closure, since the fabric is a bit too thick to fold up like the original. Still, I have a great big cute bag for carrying all my library returns in!

There's finally some sunshine today, but the past week has been nothing but rain. I noticed a couple of tiny white mushroom sprouting up in the front yard, only to find them knocked over and tasted by a squirrel. I grabbed this one to get a few pictures of it before something else decided to sample it.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Our Wedding

It rained in the morning, for luck, but was clear in the afternoon when we needed it to be, so we didn't mind that it was a humid day. After 2 days of incredibly hard work with friends and family, it all came together, and T and I made our promises surrounded by the ones we love.

At the time, it all felt like a few seconds passing by, but looking back I can remember exactly how wonderful the night was. At the close of the evening, T lit fire works for the perfect, sparkly ending. I'm so glad it happened just the way it did.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Last of the Honeymoon Hooha!

Okay, I admit it. I'm a little bored with writing about all the honeymoon stuff. And if I'm bored of it, you probably, are too! I'm ready to totally return to normal life. So I'll close it up with just a bunch of pictures and captions, quick and dirty style.

This is riding out to the Mayan ruins. The roads in Belize are pretty bad....

...and this was after improvements!

Mayan ruin, Labanntun, where the famous Crystal Skull was found. Apparently the first excavation was done in the 20's...with dynamite. Now they're trying to reassemble.

After the ruins, we drove further inland to Blue Creek for our cave swimming adventure. This is a lodge for academic types to study the rain forest.

And here it is, mere seconds later in that famous rainy season rain.

This is how chocolate is born! Cocoa pods growing wild.

Here is the cave we swam into...after a downpour, in they rain season, with shoes on, no life jacket and into pitch darkness with only a weak caving light for illumination. Needless to say, this is the cave of doom, where I practically drowned.

And looking at how strong the river is, you can see why I should have listened to those warning bells going off in my tummy!

Maya people often still live in these thatched houses. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, I guess.

The Mayan Mountains.

One last sit out on our cabana porch.

Our teeny plane back out to Belize City. This flight was packed. After our first stop, after five minutes of flying, we dropped what appeared to be the pilot's buddy off in Savannah, and took on more passengers. In order to do so, another passenger had to go sit next in the co-pilot's seat!

What I miss the most is the sound of the water, and rustle of the coconut palm fronds, tapping together in the wind. There was always the gentle sound of tapping rain drops, even when the skies were clear.

Friday, September 4, 2009

You'd Better Belize it, Part Deux!

On to Monkey River! Our 3rd day in Placencia took us to a tour of Monkey River, and Monkey River Town. To get there, we boarded a teeny tiny boat with four other people, and sped across the (thankfully) very still ocean waters. Seriously, that morning, the water was so still it felt like a Stephen Kind book. After some time we came to the mangroves, which were maze like and so unlike any other vegetation I've ever seen. How many trees actually live in salt water? We wound our way through, the boat driver telling us how this was actually a quick, safe way for people to keep between Placencia and Monkey River, since its waters are more calm and protected, and the roads are so incredibly bad in Belize.

We finally made it to the mouth of the Monkey River, and there it was - Monkey River Town! I think the current population is maybe 80 (don't quote me on that), but it used to be even more populous than Placencia. A banana blight destroyed the plantations, and forced everyone to move away to Placencia.

It was here we picked up our guide, Percy, aka. Rambo, made out lunch order at Alice's restaurant, and headed back up the river. Rambo was a great guide, friendly and incredibly knowledgeable, and told us about a million plants in the jungle that could either kill you, save your life or help you out with that nasty bed wetting problem.

After seeing iguanas, alligators, bats, and numerous birds we found Howler Monkeys. Percy got them riled up by walking around under their tree and making a ruckus. The dominate male put on quite a poo and pee show to let us know who was boss around here.

We traveled a little further up the river, then landed the boat, and took a walk through the jungle. Covered in bug spray saw more amazing plants, ate a delicious fruit, drank from the water vine and ate real live termites! They tasted grassy and minty, and were so small you didn't really notice you were eating live bugs. We also came across the giant blue crab who makes holes all over the place, and would probably be happy to eat your toes.

After the trip through the jungle, we headed back down the river, stopping to eat some sugar cane, getting rained on in the rain forest. Back at Monkey River Town, we had lunch. Let me tell you people, Belizean stew chicken with rice and beans is ridiculously good. I'm planning on ordering the spice they use, Recado or Recardo, to try it out myself. After lunch, Rambo took us on a tour of the village - which is going to get electricity soon, showing us where everyone sheltered in a 2002 hurricane, the school and the structures they built to curtail the shore erosion.

On the way back to Placencia, we stopped to spot manatees, which we did. Mostly it was their snouts popping up for air, and their tails flipping back under the water, but cool nonetheless.

Next up, we hike to a waterfall, tube down a river, visit a ruin and I almost drown! Just regular honeymoon, really. Now, for your viewing pleasure, a real, live jungle chicken...or iguana.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

You'd Better Belize It!

It's starting to feel like a long time ago, but T and I got back from out honeymoon in Belize a few short weeks ago. And we actually saw that delightfully cheesy phrase on quite a few pamphlets and t-shirts!

We were crazy and flew the morning after the wedding (I was weeping occasionally from fatigue and emotions), and after one heck of a long day of travel we arrived in Belize City. Attentive travelers might have noticed the sign that said "Human trafficking is illegal," but blissful honeymooners that we were, we chose not to.

We cleared the customs people (and there was of course the officious guy who took his job waaaay to seriously. This, apparently, is universal.) We paid the tax for entering the country, and got checked in for our flight out to Placencia, our final destination. When they handed us laminated boarding passes that were to be returned upon boarding, I finally felt like I was in a different country. Did I mention how small the plane was?

Yes, the entire plane could easily have heard our pilot from anywhere on board, but he still used the PA to welcome us to the flight, and cursorily give us saftey info. It was only a 30 minute flight, but it was a little nerve wracking. We'd never been in a single engine plane before, and let me tell you, it doesn't even feel like a bus in the's like a Chevie Astro in the sky.

Needless to say, everything went fine, we got there, took the 5 minute cab ride into town (down the one road on the whole peninsula) and finally got checked in to our cabana, right on the beach. The word "aaaaahhhhhh" doesn't really cut it for the sense of relief we felt to actually be done doing and moving and scrambling and worrying about wedding stuff.

We could finally sit still. The next day we actually able to take in our surroundings, and man were they gorgeous.

Our little piece of beach.

The land in the distance is actually a quay.

The walk out to the beach and to our cabana

There were flowers everywhere.

The point at the very end of the peninsula.

The Placencia sidewalk. It goes nearly the entire length of the village.

A Traveler Palm

Coming soon, a trip to Monkey River, Cockscomb Nature Preserve, ruins and ...the cave of doom!