Introducing Island Ducks!

12lbs of duck in a box!

Our newest addition to the bird family! Ducks!

I posted this on Facebook over a month ago when we first acquired our latest birds, but was hesitant to write a post about them until the initial “adjustment” period for our new four feathered friends. We’ve given them half of the clay floored first floor in the towered dome in progress for the past month. We were told by the lady who sold them to us to keep them penned in for a month to 5 weeks. So we provided them with all the things they could need for comfort and safety and counted the days until we could open the door for them to venture out into the wilderness again. The reason for the “captivity” period, for those unfamiliar with ducks, unlike chickens, ducks will just go back to where they were before… Especially when it’s basically across the street (mangroves in our case). We learned this the first time we left the door open on day 1 of having them here.

In order to ingratiate myself on the ducks, daily, I fed them fresh cracked oysters and mussels. Within a few days they started eating from my hand, mobbing me more like it, and quickly grew to know me as the food bringer. After about 4 weeks two adventurous birds decided to test out their ability to fly and got up to the open second floor, but just sat there, mildly perplexed it seemed. At that time we felt it would be okay to open the door of their captivity and see what they’d do. I continued feeding them as usual, several times a day and they seemed content to just stay put. Until today! Finally they climbed their wooden ramp to freedom and wandered around the island, staying close to the “nest.” Then two ran back into the safety of the first floor space when J walked by, the other two just scurried away a bit, but otherwise didn’t seem really bothered. A few moments after the girls and I came to feed them the same pair took to flight and soared out over the mangroves landing with a neat splash into canal right in front of the houseboat. They were like happy children let out to play after many days cooped up inside. It was a pure delight to watch them.

Shortly after they ventured into the mangroves and I was certain never to be heard from again, fearing they would not return. But as I called out food time a hour or so later (it was evening at this point) I saw them waddling back to the island wall, looking for a way to get back in. I continued calling and guiding them with my sounds.. And eventually both ducks successfully returned to the coop and the company of their less adventurous fellows. It was amazing and such a relief to me.

So it’s official! We’re now proud parents of a flock of ducks. Three hens/ducks and one drake! I would like you to meet…

Duckorama (J-Me’s drake, white with light grey covering head and back)

Glory – (AJM’s duck/hen, mostly black with shimmering purple and teal hue and some white underneath)

Duckstar (BAM’s duck/hen, white with medium gray covering head and back)

Calypso (My duck/hen, white with black (teal/purple hue))

How to Turn Your Favorite Pastime into a Profitable Business

Photo Credit:Unsplash

Have you ever dreamed about what it would be like to be your own boss? Or, how nice it would be to wake up and head to your home office, instead of embarking on a long, treacherous commute? Perhaps you’ve daydreamed about what it might actually feel like to be passionate about your job.

The notion of work hard and play harder is a stark reminder that we often disassociate our work with fun. But why can’t our work be fun? After all, when Walt Disney took his passion for drawing to his first job in 1919, who would have imagined he’d turn his love for art into a multi-billion dollar industry, and one of the most recognized brands in the world?

If you’re thinking about following in Walt’s footsteps, and turning your passion into a business, you might want to start by asking yourself a few questions.

Is your hobby marketable? In other words, if your favorite pastime is tennis or golf, you’re probably not going to be turning yourself pro any time soon. Your hobby has to be something that translates to a need in the marketplace.

Are you willing to change how you view your hobby? Turning your hobby into a business can take some of the joy out of it. If you’re passionate about graphic design, for example, are you willing to put your labor of love out there to be critiqued and valued? What you think is worth $500 dollars a potential customer may only value at $200.

Are you committed to this hobby? There’s a difference between what we’re called to do and something you take on to pass the time, consider this.

Can you sell not only your products but yourself? If you’ve got a great product for the world to see, you have to be willing and able to sell yourself.

If you’ve answered “yes” to these questions, you’re ready for some tips to make a go at your new living.

Make a plan. The first step in monetizing your passion is drafting a business plan. This plan will serve as a roadmap to the future, by including what you plan to do and how you plan to do it.

Learn about starting a home-based business. If you’re going to be working from home, keep these things in mind.

  • Learn the home-based business laws in your area. Make sure zoning and licensing allow you to conduct your specific business from home.
  • Even though you’re working from home, you’ll want to make sure to set up your business as a legal entity. And always keep your personal and business finances separate.
  • Even if you’re working from your home in pajamas, your image in the marketplace needs to be professional. Take the time to have business cards, letterhead, and marketing materials that make you look accomplished.
  • Consider the logistics of working from home. For example, if you have children that require daily attention come summer time, how will you negotiate working free of interruption?

Make online presence a priority. In today’s computer-driven world, any business needs a strong online presence to generate business. You’ll need SEO, a website, and social media pages, for starters.

Network. Plan on attending industry meetings and joining local organizations that allow you to meet potential customers. Start an online blog. Ask your customers for referrals, and encourage them to spread the good word through positive testimonials. Networking can help you achieve things you couldn’t otherwise do alone.

Be Persistent. When the road to your business’s success gets bumpy, and it will, it can be easy to flood your mind with doubt. Instead, commit yourself to being persistent through all of the challenges your new venture will bring.

So maybe your new business won’t quite make you the next Walt Disney, but your unbridled passion can fuel a business worth building. With proper planning, and a fair amount of personal grit, you can create a profitable marketplace for your services. And, in the words of Walt himself, “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” It’s time to make your dream a reality.

What do we eat?

Pork raised and butchered by a local indigenous family. They charged us $1.50/lb and weighed it on a scale they brought with them. We purchased 7 lbs (skin and fat still intact!) Picture above is after I cleaned the pieces up. Will use fat and skin later. Cooked some fordinner in the slow cooker, froze the rest inthe chest freezer.

I thought it was about time to answer this question, which gets asked quite often…

What do you and your family eat?

The short answer is, food!

Okay, okay… I know you want to know the long answer… so here it goes!

Those of you who really know us, know that our goal is to create a self sufficient and sustainable food operation for our family. We didn’t come here with much, if any, experience growing/raising food in this environment. A lot of our food growing attempts have been unsuccessful, but when we have the successful moment, man it’s cool!

Since it’s basically just J doing all the building and me occasionally planting something here and there, it’s not really getting us to our goal quickly. It doesn’t mean we aren’t growing ANYTHING. It just means we’re only growing a few things and those things are doing pretty well. J has been working on the garden behind the workshop dome, adding, the top soil from the island when he’s bulldozing, and setting a small fire in it to create ash and charcoal. The girls and I help by collecting and throwing our compost (any biological food waste we have that our flock of birds won’t eat) out into the mix of soil. Some of the plants seem to be doing ok along the wharf, while others don’t like it. Also our chickens keep jumping the short walk around the island and getting into the garden and eating the edible green. Eventually we’ll get that all sorted.

In the meantime I thought I’d share what we DO eat and where it comes from. So without further ado…

Plantains brought to us and by a local neighbor. There were 83 total, he asked for $12 for the entire bunch.

Locally Grown/Collected

(by ourselves or our neighbors/local vilages within 3-5 miles of the island)

Yuca Root (grown here)

Coconuts (grown on one of our other islands, 3/4 mile away)

Coco Plums (same island as coconuts & here on this island)

Eggs (a flock of 8 mature hens, will be 9 once our new pullet grows up)

Red Striped Amaranth (grown here)

Katuk (grown here)

Lemon Grass (grown here)

Jamaican Sorel (grown here)

Mint, Basil, Sage & Oregano (Mexican & Panamanian varieties) (grown here)

Taro Root (grown by the river, where I wash laundry by hand, I dig it up on the way back)

Culantro (locally foraged, by me and my kids)

Pork (local neighbor)

Ñame Root (local village)

Plantains (local neighbor)

Bananas (local neighbor)

Oranges (local village)

Grapefruit (local village)

Fish (we catch it, fish trap coming soon!)

Coconut Oil (a local indigenous woman makes it by the gallon, it is amazing!)

Sugar Cane (grown here and on our farm property 1 mile away)

Pineapple (grown on our island here and a local neighbor)

Red striped amaranth grown on our wharf. This entire sand patch is a garden of them! Very prolific plant. Provides the leafy greens we eat.

Local Grocery House

(3 miles away, we go there by solar boat)

Flour

Rice

Pasta (spaghetti & macaroni, back up for when I don’t have time to make it from scratch)

Dry Red Kidney Beans

Potatos

Onions

Garlic

Chicken Quarters (sometimes it is locally raised, other times not, we plan to raise our own soon)

Eggs (whenever our chickens are on strike or I go egg crazy and use them all up)

Shelf stabilized milk (for homemade yogurt and putting on homemade granola)

Quick Oats

Sugar (for homemade ginger bug fermented carbonated juice & tea)

Salt

Yeast

Purchased from Town

(Bocastown, Almirante or Chiriquí Grande , all roughly 14-20 miles away. I generally make this trip once every 4-6 weeks. I share a ride with my neighbor in his panga.)

Meat (chicken breast, ground pork, beef and/or turkey, various cuts of beef & pork, fish)

Dry beans (black, pink, red kidney, lima, black eyed peas, pinto, navy, split green & yellow peas)

Canned meat (pork, beef, tuna & sardines)

Olive Oil (for homemade mayonnaise)

Ketchup (by the 5kg bag, then I refill the container)

Honey

Vinegar

Butter

Cheese

Various Nuts

Whole Rolled Oats

Peanut Butter

Prunes

Raisins

Fresh fruit & vegetables as needed but include the following:

  • Watermelon
  • Pineapple
  • Apples
  • Lettuc
  • Cabbage
  • Bell Peppers
  • Tomato
  • Mushrooms
  • Avocado
  • Limes

And last but not least various spices as needed.

I try whenever possible to buy, the few things we get, processed food items in bulk. This way I can just refill the containers and minimize trash that comes home. I take reusable net/nylon/recycled fiber shopping bags with me, bring several gallon size silicone reusable zip lock bags (for meat products and cheeses from the butcher), recycle containers and zip lock bags from the nuts we buy and the leave any excess packaging at the store for them to recycle.

Tips For Succeeding In Recovery: Embrace New Hobbies To Build Up Mental Health


When one is working to stay sober and put an alcohol or substance addiction behind them, creating a new lifestyle filled with healthy habits is critical. Oftentimes, one’s previous habits were closely linked to their substance use, so finding new outlets for activity is essential for success. Building a healthy, sober life post-rehabilitation can be challenging, but incorporating new hobbies can have a big impact.

Hobbies can help you rebuild a healthy life

A sober life does not have to be a boring one. Embracing new hobbies once you are sober, or reigniting your passion for previous hobbies, can make a big difference in building healthy habits and staying committed to your recovery. New, healthy hobbies can pave the way for new friendships and connections that will help you build your new life, and hobbies can reduce your stress levels and improve your mental health.

Avoiding isolation is key in maintaining your sobriety, and sometimes people in recovery need to rebuild their social skills. It can feel intimidating to make new friends as you work on your sobriety, but trying new hobbies can make the effort seem less overwhelming. When you are joining a group activity, you already have something in common with others and that can make it easy to start a conversation or make a connection.

You can join a card or game club, a community sports team, take some classes, or join a theater group, for example, and all of these hobbies help you connect to others who share similar, healthy interests with you. Everyone going through recovery knows that it is critical to keep a distance from old associates who are still using alcohol or drugs, and building up new hobbies that pave the way to interacting with others can help you move forward.

Challenge your brain and boost your mental health by trying new hobbies

Hobbies are great outlets for sparking creativity and building new skills, and these activities will challenge and boost your brain. When you tackle a new hobby that challenges you, you will often develop a sense of confidence and accomplishment, and those qualities will help you feel stronger as you move forward in your sobriety. Some hobbies that can be especially impactful in challenging your brain include learning how to play a musical instrument, learning a new language, art, reading, or throwing yourself into doing puzzles, Sudoku, brain teasers, or board games.

It can be especially helpful to focus on new hobbies that help to build both your physical and mental health, and Spirituality Health shares some valuable suggestions. You may want to try out Tai Chi or yoga, or reach out to do some volunteer work with a group that sparks a passion for you. Practical crafts can also be good hobbies to try for those working on recovery, such as knitting, woodworking, gardening, or cooking. You may also want to try out a hobby that connects you to animals, as time with dogs and other animals can reduce stress and boost your mental health. In addition, anything that gets you outdoors can be great for your mental and physical health too.

Boredom is a bad thing for people working to put an alcohol or drug addiction behind them, so finding healthy ways to fill up the hours of the day is essential. While your new sober life will include plenty of commitments to maintaining your sobriety, developing new hobbies can be critical to your success. Whether you go back to a healthy hobby you used to love or branch out and try something new, you will see your mental health strengthen and your stress levels decrease, and the socialization aspect will be a big benefit as you rebuild your life.

 

Thai Carrot Salad

Photography by: Sonia Lyons

After tinkering around with a recipe sent to me by a friend, I came up with the recipe for Thai Carrot Kale Salad below.  Now that summer is here, I make this recipe every week or so.  It’s crunchy and delicious, does not require heating up my kitchen with the oven.

Thai Carrot Salad Recipe

  • 1 lb shredded carrot (I use rainbow colored carrots)
  • 1/4 large thinly sliced red onion
  • Large bunch of kale destemmed and chopped
  • 2 C sriracha peanuts
  • Thumb sized grated ginger root
  • 1/4 C soy sauce
  • 1/4 C lime juice
  • 2 t sesame oil
  • 1/4 C maple syrup
  • 2 T chili garlic sauce

Directions

Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix it up!

Can be made it bulk, and stays fresh for two weeks in the fridge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orange Lilies, Vincas and Baby Zucchini 

My friend E, who lives in The States, recently mailed me some lily bulbs and Vinca seeds! My sister SAL mailed us some black beauty zucchini seeds as well! Since both items arrived with our neighbor, who recently returned from The States, on Monday, I thought I’d get them all into the ground together.  Here is a picture of the spot in which I planted them.

I’m excited to see a few days later some green shoots are popping up from the lilies.

 Can’t wait to see the other plants pop up too!
Here are some of the other plants along the wharf:

The banana forest, herb and salad garden and flower garden area.

Our banana forest is producing another bunch of bananas 🍌! 

Here are some of the plants from the salad & herb garden:

Mint

Sweet Marjoram

Red striped amaranth (an edible salad leaf, eaten raw or cooked)

Seedlings of Red above 

Katuk (edible salad, raw or cooked)

Mexican Oregano 

Rosemary 🌹 

Acorn Squash

Lemon Guava 

Rue

Yay gardening! 

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Southwest Chicken Pie

I found this shredded chicken recipe last week and it was delicious!  I made a double batch, using the salsa chicken I made in the crockpot that same day,and ended up freezing half. I also made a few modifications and substituted/added ingredients I had on hand and needed to use up. Tonight I pulled out the pie crust I made recently from this piecrust recipe and decided to thaw out the chicken I saved to make a casserole pie!

Ingredients (prepwork in parentheses) 

  • 1 lbs Yuca Root or Potatoes (peeled, chopped and par-boiled)
  • 1 lb chicken breasts (cooked and shredded) OR 3 cups Salsa Chicken (do not add tomato, pepper, onionor cilantro below, if using salsa chicken)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 cup water or broth
  • 1 cup yogurt (strained thick)
  • 1/2 cup onion  (chopped) optional – do not add if using salsa chicken
  • 1/2 cup  bell pepper (chopped) optional – do not add if using salsa chicken
  • 1/2 cup tomato (chopped) optional – do not add if using salsa chicken
  • 1/2 lb cooked (or can) beans 
  • 1/2 can sweet whole corn 
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro or 1 teaspoon dry (chopped) optional –do not add if using salsa chicken
  • 2 cup cheese, divided (shredded)
  • 1 pie crust (rolled out to fit casserole dish)

Directions 

  1. After doing all the prep work above, see parentheses next to each ingredient, put all items, except 1 cup cheese and pie crust, in stand mixer. Stir on lowest setting until ingredients are all incorporated making the filling for the casserole. Add a little water if it doesn’t resemble thick batter. Should be thick but sorta pourable.
  2. Put crust into lightly greased casserole dish, pierce with fork, press out air bubbles.
  3. Pour filling into prepared casserole pan with pie crust. Sprinkle remaining cheese over top. 
  4. Bake in preheated oven (350 degrees) for 1 hour, broil for last 10 minutes until cheese is melted and slightly golden. 
  5. Let cool for 10 minutes, cut and serve.

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    Marshmallows

    I really wanted to test out my kitchenaid whisk attachment and some of the higher speeds today.  I decided what better way to do that than making homemade marshmallows for the FIRST. TIME. EVER!!  It was really easy only took 3 ingredients and the outcome was overall fantastic!! I am really enjoying my new Kitchenaid Pro Design 600 that I picked up refurbished by the manufacturer for $220 with the pour shield, spiral dough hook, whisk and cake paddle attachments.  It has held up to everything I’ve thrown in it and is making cooking so much more fun!

    Wanna make some marshmallows too?

    Marshmallow Recipe

    Ingredients

    • 1 cup honey
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 2 (.25oz) packets unflavoured powder gelatin
    • 1 cup water

    Instructions

    1. Put 1/2 cup water in the botton of the mixer bowl, sprinkle gelatin over water, walk away.
    2. In a small saucepan pour remaining 1/2 cup water, honey & sugar. Cook over medium-high heat until boiling, then about 7-9 minutes later check the temp using a candy thermometer if you are lucky enough to have one, I am not, or use the cold water test discussed here.  Once you’ve reached correct temp of 240 degrees farenheit, remove from heat.
    3. Turn mixer on to lowest setting and slowly, pouring down the side of the bowl, add the honey mixture.  Once all the mixture is incorporated, time to crank up the speed.  Turn it up to highest speed setting (mine is 10) and let it do it’s thing while you wander around the house waiting so patiently for it to thicken up and resemble marshmallow fluff (or really really stiff frosting).  Roughly 10-15 minutes.
    4. Once it’s thickened to your liking scoop into a 13×9 pan lined with parchment paper…or if you are like me and too lazy to wash the ONLY pan you have that size in time…just spread it out on the piece of parchment paper and using your finger kinda spread it around into a rectangular shape that’s roughly 5cm high.
    5. Set aside in a safe place ,where no little fingers will try to lick it, to dry for approximately 12 hours (overnight is good too).  Cut into whatever shape makes you happy and store in a dry coolish place….or eat them…or do whatever you like to do with marshmallows.

    For storage: I dust the cut marshmallows in flour and put in an air tightish container. They should keep for about a month…assuming they last that long!!

    The KitchenAid in action:

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    Baked Crispy Fish & Potato Casserole

    Ingredients

    • 2 pounds Potatos (peeled, chopped, parboiled) 
    • 2 pounds Fish Fillets 
    • 1 cup Homemade Mayonnaise (room temperature)
    • 1 cup Cheddar Cheese (shredded)
    • 1/4 stick (2 oz) Butter (cut into small cubes)
    • 4 tablespoons Oil (get fancy use something delicious…Olive, Coconut, Almond..live a little)
    • 8-10 round Butter Crackers (crushed, think Ritz crackers)
    • 1/4 cup sliced Almonds
    • 1 teaspoon Homemade Fish & Poultry Seasoning

      Instructions

      1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees farenheit. In a lightly greased 13×9 pan line bottom of pan with parboiled potatoes.  
      2. Over potatoes evenly place cubes of butter, drizzle 2 tablespoons oil and sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of F&P Seasoning.
      3. Pour 1/2 cup mayonnaise over all of the potatoes, then sprinkly 1/2 a cup of cheddar cheese over the mayonnaise.
      4. In a single layer place fish fillets on top of the cheese ensuring full coverage of the lower layers.
      5. Pour remaining 1/2 cup of mayonnaise over fish fillets followed by remaining 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese.
      6. In a small bowl mix crackers, almonds and remaining 1/2 teaspoon F&P seasoning until well incorporated. Generously cover the top of the cheese layer with cracker mixture, ensure that it is completely covered. Drizzle remaining oil evenly over the cracker mixture.
      7. Bake uncovered for 30-40 minutes or until crust is golden brown and fish is flaky and potatos are easily pierced with a fork.

      Serve with a simple side salad of fresh spring greens, tomatos, onions & shredded carrots, topped with one of these delicious homemade salad dressings (link coming soon!!)


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      Chiriqui Grande

      Today I went to Chiriqui Grande for some food and fabric. My neighbor drove me in his boat. He likes to leave early, usually he picks me up around 730a. The trip takes approximately 30-45 minutes depending on the weather and today we had totally calm water and brilliant blue sunny skies! It was HOT. Once I get into to town I usually stop at the little restaurant near the dock for a quick breakfast. This morning it was scrambled eggs and these little oval shaped meat filled potato pastries, they look like fingers. Ha! After breakfast I wander around the town with my list, returning often to the boat to drop things off, acquiring all kinds of items. Today was no different. My spoils included a variety of fruit, vegetables, chicken food, chicken for eating and fabrics for sewing. Overall it was a successful trip and I was able to return back home by 130 as planned after dropping off a friend of ours, who came along with me. image