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Finding Joy in Baking and Books and More on Ambergris Caye, An Update

 An Update on My Life

Almost 2 months ago, I wrote a blog post called Finding Joy in Quarantine in Honey Bunches of Oats – an update of the cooking, books, podcasts, TV shows and eating I was doing to keep busy (and sane…mostly to keep sane) in quarantine on Ambergris Caye.

I was finding exceptional comfort in cereal…namely, in Honey Bunches of Oats.*

Keeping sane is becoming easier (one day at a time they say)…the uncertainty now seems like a way of life.  I’m getting better at accepting that.

Things have certainly changed in Belize since the end of March.  The quarantine/State of Emergency first imposed then, ended on July 30th.  We are open – gyms, spas, bars, nightclubs, everything – there is no curfew, no restriction on alcohol sales, you can travel throughout the country.  But the borders and the international airport are still closed!   So while these things may be open, there is very little money to spend.  Almost everyone involved directly in tourism – from tour guides to hotel staff – is out of work right now.

(You can read in my last post about the August 15th reopening of the International Airport and what you should know)

*Side note on Honey Bunches of Oats:  Certain imported products are getting harder and harder to find.  Like a wide variety of cereals, imported dairy products and snacks.  Less money on the island has people sticking to basics – and with no visitors, Greek yogurt or Honey Bunches of Oats runs out and just isn’t re-ordered.

Here’s what’s going on in my life…but first a picture of my walk in Boca Del Rio yesterday.

New Construction In Our Neighborhood

This falls into the “things you took for granted” before moving to Belize category.  It’s something I never thought about at all – zoning!

There are 3 lots, perhaps four, between our home and the sea.

I would call our lot “beachside”.  When Jeff first built the house, there were no other buildings in our little subdivision.  We had Xtan Ha Resort to the south – they are on the other side of our property line – and “bush” to the north.  Over the last four years – 3 houses have been built in our little area (I’ve seen our subdivision called Santa Rita and San Mathilde).  We always knew that over time, there would be building all around us.

A few weeks back, the surveyors came…and clearing started.  Someone is building a giant cistern and warehouse in front of us.  A 36 foot by 75 foot warehouse on a 50’x100′ lot.

Last one in the dirt pool is a rotten egg!

If anyone knows a great CHEAP muralist let me know.  🙂

Nope…there is no zoning in Belize.

Books

I’ve read 20 books since the end of May!  And LOTS of really great ones.  I rank them (give them stars) on GoodReads – here are my favorites.

The General’s Daughter by Nelson DeMille:   Kindle had a list of books below $3 – and Nelson DeMille was on it.  I remember as a kid reading Sydney Sheldon and Nelson DeMille – old paperbacks from garage sales or on my mother’s bookshelf and I loved them both.  Juicy thrillers.  This book was published in 1992 and it’s GOOD!  I couldn’t put it down.  Now I need to see the movie…though John Travolta?  He wouldn’t be my first choice.

The Female Persuasion and The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer:  I read The Interestings and immediately bought the other.  God.  I would love to write like this woman.  The characters!  Her descriptions.  FANTASTIC novels with excellent, flawed female characters.

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett This is just a great read.  Interesting characters and descriptions of places like L.A. and rural Louisiana that make you feel like you are there – this book is about race but more…  It’s about trying to live a life where you hide who you really are from everyone.  Isolation and doubt…empathy and viewing others superficially.  REALLY GOOD.  It’s not a surprise that the author had 17 bidders vying for the rights to this book – HBO won with a 7-figure offer.

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker:  A novel…small town California life and then…the rotation of the earth begins to slow.  Gravity is affected…nights become longer…20…25 hours long…bizarre behaviors.  Adjusting to the “new normal” during “The Slowing”  scarily reflects what’s going on now in our world.

TV Shows

I’m starting to wonder if we are going to run out of the TV!  Though we only watch 1 or 2 hours in the evening…it’s becoming a serious worry.  Before I completely panic, I will figure out how to order and hook up a VPN so that we can get HULU and HBO.  These shows are all on Netflix.

Money Heist:  This Spanish (made in Spain) thriller is all about the ragtag cast of characters brought together by a nerdy mastermind to commit the crime of the century.  Rob (in a huge way) the National Treasury/Mint of Spain.  It can drag at points but when it moves?  Hold on tight.  Watch it with subtitles – the dubbing is awful and distracting.  (With Jeff)

The Politician:   Jeff and I were both into this one.  Funny, camp, bizarre characters (caricatures is more like it)  with some serious co-STARS like Gwenyth Paltrow and Jessica Lange and Bette Midler.  This series looks like they spent zillions to make it.  The clothes, the interior decorating, Gwenyth Paltrow’s jewelry and kaftans, Fast paced satire?  Just wait for the lead character Payton to sing!  Wow.  I’m doing a horrible job describing it. You’ll either love it or HATE IT.

Jane the Virgin (last season) – This show makes fun of the overdramatized telenovela.  It is perfect pandemic programming.  A P Trifecta.  Light and fun…characters I love (unlike the next show on this list) and feel invested in.   (No Jeff)

Bloodline: slogging thru the last season after we gave up on this show months ago.  I despise all of these characters and I want the worst possible thing to happen to them.  I have a few more episodes so…fingers crosses.  (With Jeff)

Please please please send me suggestions for great stuff!  I almost resorted to watching a show in Polish yesterday!

Podcasts

I put a big list of what I’m listening to in my last post but I’ve added even more.

Pod Save America – Jeff and I pretend these podcasters are our best friends.

Brent’s Two Cents – The Semi-Serious Thoughts of A Guy in Belize – a naturalized Belizean (originally from Canada) who lives in Belize City muses on politics, COVID (to open or not open…) and life in Belize.  I’ve been facebook-friends with Brent for a while…he’s smart and FUNNY.  So is this podcast.

Post Reports – Daily podcast from the Washington Post which puts the news into really good storytelling.

Cooking and Baking

I’ve been on a SERIOUS bagel kick…I’ve probably tinkered around this recipe 3 or 4 times…baking about 10…maybe more batches of bagels in the last month.

The Recipe for New York Style Bagels

I’ve used Malt Powder and no malt powder, I’ve used AP flour and high-gluten flour (thanks to Mike at Beach Basket), I’ve boiled them with baking soda in the water and just plain water, I’ve made a dough so stiff that I can’t even hand need it…just punch it and throw it around.

My very best results and DANG are they good were using no malt powder, just regular Bebe Agua AP flour (found at any store in Belize), plain water for boiling and a stiff but not unmixable dough.

They are SO good.

My new baking infatuation is scones.  Yes…they can be dry and dense but if done right?  They are delicious biscuits…flaky and butter with a creamy inside.  Yum…

I’ve tried these Banana Scones and they are delicious.  Today I made Cheddar and Jalapeno Scones and GOOD LAWD.  These are definitely a winner.

And all in our KitchenAid countertop little oven.

That’s all from me for now.  Oh…one more thing.

My New Fundraising Button

It’s new on my advertising section and I JUST fixed the donate button.

Though you have to click here.






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