Sunday, June 12, 2011

And As Fast As Weeds Is How They Grew ! !

You know when you read on the back of a seed packet - it usually says germination will take 7 -10 days or sometimes more.  WELL - that is very wrong here in the Caribbean - how about 3.  I really should have video taped the seed pots - they were growing before our eyes.  One evening we looked at the been seeds - you could see them just beginning to push through their seed shell and through the dirt - you could not even see the plant out of the dirt yet - the next morning we checked the seeds and this is what we found -

really - we could not believe it - i had images flashing through my head of Jack and the Bean Stalk (Dillons favorite childhood story that I would soon begin to tell him by memory every night at bedtime)

the beans were not the only seeds to germinate at warp speed - we saw similar results with okra, tomatos, squash, zuchini, beets, radishes and I am sure there are more but I cannot remember - we had so many new plants we had to quickly find space for them all.

this is just after we got all the tomatos from various people - they were growing by leaps and bounds - taking over the garden

the small leaves hold little drops of water

dill helped to add soil the garden and plant some plants in the little spots we found

the key would be to see how the small plants would adjust to being more exposed to the elements.

of course I had to snap some photos of the other plants in the yard

our neighbors hans and kathryn have grown these beautiful orchids out of the trunks of the trees in their yards

the middle of the orchids is so delicate

the plants here just seem so interesting - not just standard flowers like we see at home

we have these really pretty purple flowers by the pool - they have an amazing star in the middle - it is very hard to get a clear picture of the middle - I am working in it though

I will try to get a better shot next time. 

Tiny As A Seed

As I have mentioned before we have started a community garden near our home in Tradewinds.  When Mikes parents came to visit over the spring break they brought a bunch of different seeds for plants that should grow well in the Caribbean.  We decided to start the seeds in little containers to see how they would do.  It was also a great project for Ronan to help with since he had his arm in a cast.

we wrote the name of each seed we started on a wooden clothes pin (thanks Anushka these came in real handy)

we had saved up a bunch of yogurt containers and they were perfect for starting all the seeds

gathered rocks and put them in the bottom of the containers for drainage

seeds, labels, soil, containers

one little helper

second little helper - adjusting well to the cast

some seeds are very tiny

some are a little bigger

placing them gently in a safe place to grow

our simple labels

they work perfectly

once all the seeds were planted, watered and labeled we put them in a spot with the perfect amount of sun

we have never started a garden in the caribbean before so we had no idea what to expect but we were hoping for the best.

Friday, June 10, 2011

What is in Your Grocery Cart?

When I found out it was a for sure that we would be moving to Sint. Maarten I was not exactly sure what kind of groceries we would find.  I was definitely hoping that because there is some european influence on the island that I would find some of my childhood favorites  - and I definitely did.  Plus even more good stuff - the great thing about produce and products from other countries besides the US is that they tend to have less additives, chemicals, pesticides etc.  I was excited to explore the possibilities.  Here is a sampling of what you will find in my grocery cart.  ENJOY !!!!

beautiful cherry tomatos that were perfect and check out the container

just rediculus and way cheaper then at home for sure

translation - nature protected crops - now that is smart and the right way

fresh baked bread (cheaper then the processed American garbage imported  - and tastes better)

I usually buy large blocks of cheese or deli slices but sometimes we try something different like this cheese that comes thinly sliced and is sort of like a havarti

ok 3 bucks and the box is full and fresh - only 3 bucks - easy 6 at home for the healthy stuff

favorite juice

we dont always have this but if you want good salami the europeans have it for sure

2.50 - for real yellow butter - not a pale tasteless block that is 4 bucks

definitely a favorite - instead of tortillas we have crepes - and I am picky about crepes - these are super thin and do not taste like egg - very important.  Ronan has declared we eat Nutella with crepes here, Nutella with bread in Colorado and Nutella on a tortilla in Mexico and if you mix it up  - well that is just bad luck.

can't live without these - amazingly fresh for 1.50

fresh bread toasted, some real butter melted and sprinkle these on top - childhood favorite.  Like they say the dutch love their treats

and this one is special - basil butter made by our neighbor Hans - it is amazing - super strong garlic and basil (great for the immune system) perfect on fresh baguette, crackers, sandwiches or tossed in pasta -YUMMMY -

and back to those beautiful fresh Cherry tomatos (wish they were from the garden but we are in the midst of regrowing some tomatos as the last ones were attacked by snails and I think a fungus from all the rain we had).
So as you can see there are many wonderful items to fill your grocery cart with on the island.  Many people who are in school here will say it is soooo expensive - well - yes it CAN be - but it can be completely reasonable - if you stay away from the pre-made processed foods and the imported American items you will save yourself a ton of money.  We are not perfec,t we splurge on a bag of Doritos or a small container of Haagen Daz ice cream (the local brand Aetna is much cheaper and very good but it is so rich it gives our family instant belly aches) here and there but a majority of the time I buy products from places other then the US.  The food tastes better and is cheaper (I wont get on my soap box regarding US food and the health issues of the states this time).  Cook your food from fresh produce and basic ingrediants and it will taste better and save you money.


Thursday, June 9, 2011

It's A Party

We decided to have a pool party for Dillon and Ethan together.  Ethan's birthday was May 8th and Dillon's May 12 - plus they don't have all their friends from home - so we thought it would be a little more fun having a big party together since we all have the same friends anyway.  The boys wanted a pinata - ok we can handle that.  We found some balloons, newspaper and had Steve mix up some paper mache goo and we went to work - hmmmm the first stage went fine.  The next part not so much.  Just picture this a very hot and humid environment, a gooy flour mixture and ANTS - lots of ANTS.  A little tricky making a traditional pinata here on the island.  So we went to plan B - as Karla calls it a ghetto pinata (hahaha) we get a box, decorate it and fill it with candy.  Works for me.  It came out perfect and all the kids got LOTS of candy - which is the main goal anyway right?

the spread - one of the neighbors brought over german pancakes with chocolate sauce - that is what I love about the student community - they share all the special treats they know how to make YUMMMMYYYYY

so the waterproof cast cover that we ordered did not arrive in time for the pool party - this dude was NOT happy with what I came up with

he did enjoy hanging out with Toby

pool time - Erik about to launch himself in - that boy loves the water - he has been swimming for months and he is only 2

time for some pinata action - Dillon and Ethan each picked 3 super heros and their favorite colors to decorate the pinata with - here goes

dill's turn

yes, that is Erik with a stick as big as him

Elijah's turn

Ro's turn - did a great job for a kid with one arm

after all the kids took a turn or few the pinata finally exploded

and it began to rain candy

it is amazing how kids react to candy falling from the sky

and comin'

nothing better then freezing this moment in time - it goes so fast when it is happening - love seeing candy fall on Mike's head

Sebastian was happy with all the leftovers from the pinata

counting their loot

Admiring the Lego cake Steve made for the boys

Steve made an awesome cake with real strawberries

Dillon loosing part of a baby tooth (way to much candy haha) and hanging out with Alexi and Bailey

can you believe it - a mcglue family photo

dill was pretty excited about getting a rare star wars lego from his friend jake

Ethan was psyched for the projects he got - notice mike in the background - yeah he is trying to open a couple of beers - haha

I think the boys had a great time with all their friends (and the adults to).  Thank you steve and karla for having it at your house - and for the awesome cake.  Round 2 in November right?  Happy Birthday to Ethan and Dillon.