Saturday, July 31, 2010

When the Internet Goes, Cupcakes Win

So, I watched DC Cupcakes the other night. Never seen the show before, but thought it rather funny. At one point, the sisters started arguing about who was the better baker (in front of a customer, no less), then decided on a bakeoff. One of the cupcakes they made had a marshmallow frosting. When the sister making it listed the ingredients, I thought, "Hey, I have all that stuff, I can give that a try." There was no corn syrup involved, either, which made it even better. This morning, I decided I was going to give it a try. The only problem was I hadn't found a recipe online for the icing. Right before I went to make the cupcakes, our wireless went out.

This is a fairly common problem here, although it seems to happen a lot more often on the street we live now. Fro some reason, the tower we have to rely on now is a lot less reliable. Very frustrating, but there's not much we can do about it. Sometimes, these outages are only minutes in length, but sometimes they last for a day or more. This time around, it was about eight hours before it came back online. (Later in the day, I did take the laptop and drive to another street where there was a working tower and take care of something I had to do that day.)

When it first went out, I decided to go ahead and make the cupcakes anyway, since I had a recipe for that part. When it still wasn't back, and the natives were getting restless because we had all these yummy smelling cupcakes that I had declared off limits until the frosting was done, I gave up and just made some buttercream fro them. In an effort to change things up, though, I used peppermint extract in place of the vanilla.

Wow, why have I never thought to do that before? Seriously, it tasted like a peppermint patty. Fantastic. Goes to show that sometimes when your plans have to change mid-stream, they can still come out fabulous in the end.

So ends my life lesson taught by cupcakes and sketchy wifi.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Careful With the Eggs

When we finally returned home, we discovered Tropical Storm Bonnie had not only delayed our return, it had also prevented the supply barge from getting here on time. So, there were no eggs in the store, along with a few other things. I cracked open our powdered eggs (definitely not high on my list of yummy things to eat, but bearable in baked goods or pancakes) and made do, but was very happy to find out it had arrived Monday.

So, this afternoon, I headed to the store to buy us a couple dozen eggs. When I looked at the bins they are kept in, I thought for a minute that something else had been put there. Our eggs are always in yellow, Styrofoam egg cartons. This is how they were packaged this week:

The woman at the register told me there was a mishap and they won't be like this again, but I am baffled as to what happened that lead them to be packaged in strips of egg cartons (it looks like a carton with its top removed, but it is actually cut in half lengthwise making it incredibly precarious to carry) and tied inside produce bags. She advised me to put them in a bowl when I got home.

Ah, what stories we will have to tell to our grandchildren someday!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

MMB Post

I almost forgot about this, but I have another post up on MMB. It's been awhile because summer is crazy, but I should have one up every month here on out. I'll link it here, though, for anyone that is interested (and for my own reference).

The Survivors

Ok, a little later than I intended, but here are the pics of my surviving plants. I'm impressed any of them are still kicking, quite frankly. Not only did I leave them for over a week, but it was right after I transplanted them when they were in need of some TLC. I did mulch them well, and since we'd been having thunderstorms nearly every day for the two weeks before we left, I hoped the trend would continue.

I also hoped for some lower temps because it's hot in the summer here! Apparently, the summer is sort of like the winter in harsher climates - it's not so easy to grow things when it's so hot. Most of the seedlings we started a month or so ago didn't make it, despite my vigilant watering. The one bright spot was my swiss chard, which I feared wouldn't make it when I left. It's proving very hardy, though, and I'm about to plant some more because I love the stuff and am happy to find something that thrives in a tropical environment (along with the jalapenos, which we can't seem to eat fast enough).

*Warning: these pics are pretty bad. I think I had something on the lens when I took them, and I'm too lazy tonight to clean them up. I left them big, though, so you can click on them if you are so inclined. *

Here's a look at the bed. I felt like the 6 inch depth I had the two boxes at was a little shallow for the huge tomato and pepper plants I ended up with, so I stacked them  up and went deep this time around. I was thrilled to discover that we have actual dirt here, too, so I dug into it a bit and left off the tarp I was using as a weed cover. (Although, ironically, none of the bigger plants ended up here.)

Here you can see some chives in the front right. Behind them is the basil bush I am going to remove and replace with some more standard basil plants. I didn't like the tiny leaves on the bush; it was too time consuming to harvest. The Swiss chard is to the far left, and there is a very sad tomato plant leaning to the side in front of it. It's looking pretty bug-eaten, but I'm not ready to give up on it just yet.

You can see the jalapeno plants in the background, but here's a closeup:
This is what happens when you don't pick jalapenos when they are green. I have actually read that they get less potent when they are red, but we picked these and used them in dip and they seemed about as spicy as ever. And a whole lot prettier!

The next pic is an overview of what is going to be the gardening area. The tomato plant in the big white bucket is the one that has been producing well for me. Big plants don't transplant so well, though, so I didn't have high hopes for it, but it's hanging in there. I still see some blossoms, so I'll nurse it along until it's obviously dying. 

I actually went out today and dug out an area next to the wooden box there. I used the cinder blocks to frame it, and buried some bokashi to start prepping it for more plants. I think I will just concentrate on making dirt the rest of the this summer, then plant in earnest this fall when things cool down a bit and the bugs go away. 

Speaking of bugs, I had my first close encounter with fire ants today. There is a colony of them that seems to have moved into the jalapeno plants. I brushed against them while working this afternoon and got a couple bites. Ugh. They are nasty. 

Finally, here's my pepper plant, doing a nice impression of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It was tough getting it into the pot straight, and clearly I failed to do so. It's still producing peppers, though, even if they look a tad deformed. I actually saved this plant from a whitefly infestation using soapy water (thank you, Internet) not long before we found out we were moving. I'm happy it's still kicking.

Monday, July 26, 2010

So, We Made it Home

I'm slow about updating, but we did make it home on Saturday. I'm still trying to get my bearings, and Sunday was a very quiet day around here as everyone crashed, but things are looking up. I actually managed to do four miles today (only about 2.5 running).

It's been weird, though, getting back to our house and not knowing where everything is. We put stuff away in whatever place we could find so we didn't have to return to a disaster area, but while it looks all right, we no longer remember where a lot of it is. I've also made only a couple of meals in the kitchen, so that was a bit of a novelty on Saturday. I also made bread for the first time here, and was very happy to discover that the oven here has a timer and a digital display. The temperature seems a bit more accurate, too.

Our trip was great, and much needed on many fronts. I'm actually surprised at how many issues were resolved and insights gained, some personal, some related to our marriage, and some related to other people. All of that contributed to my exhaustion at the end, but in a good way.

I do have a couple pics to post of my surviving plants, but don't think I will take the time to do it right now. I have pizza to make. Hopefully, I'll get back to that tonight, though.

Friday, July 23, 2010

I Need a Nap

We were supposed to be home right now. However, our return to West Palm Beach after a week in New York has found Tropical Storm Bonnie right between us and home. Surprisingly, the flights have still been going, but we've been bumped because they aren't going out full due to needing to take extra fuel to get through the storm.

If I were thinking a little straight, I would probably be grateful we're not flying on a little twenty seater through a tropical storm - a plane that with the slightest turbulence feels like it's falling out from under you, but I'm just tired right now. Bone weary tired.

Because the only thing worse than reaching the end of your vacation and being unable to get back home is having it start with five insane days of moving your stuff using only eight boxes and a small five passenger KIA. At least we have the money to stay here, as unexpected as it is. We actually splurged on both a Marriott and a Hilton, one of which had marble bathroom floors and an HDTV (thank you AUTEC rates and the ability to sign up online for a free Marriott rewards account that gave us $400 off the going rate for our hotel room).

I sure hope we're going home tomorrow, because there's only one flight to catch on Saturdays, and we have to get up at 0530 to catch it. Which also means checking out of our hotel that early, which means we won't be able to return to the hotel if we can't get on the flight. Ugh. It sucks that you have to show up for your flight whether you are number 24 or not; there's always the chance you will still get on, and they can lower your priority if you just don't show up. No fun.

Time to get some sleep and hope for the best.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Crazy, Crazy...

So, no fireworks for us this year. The flights out of AUTEC were very full with people leaving to see some somewhere, but we decided to stay put and not fight the crowd. Instead, we discovered how the 4th is celebrated here. It was a lot of fun. It started with a golf cart parade and a water fight (including a fire truck), and ended with a free meal and my oldest swimming in the ocean wearing jeans because we hadn't realized what we were getting into when we went to watch the parade.

I have some great pics and I want to upload them and edit them and get them on here, but I'm stressed out a little right now. Pictures are low on my to-do list. The chief in charge of housing came over to us and told us the OIC (officer in charge) had given him the go-ahead on us moving to the larger trailer. So, there is a very high chance we're moving. This week. Right before we leave for a vacation that is in itself very last minute because of the leave dates we ended up with. And where does someone find boxes on a quiet island such as this? Very good question. Guess we're going to be raiding the recycling bins. Fun times ahead, people, fun times.