Carcanyon Olibander Mantzel

Birth story
Born: 6/6/2018, at 4:20am
3.996 kilograms/ 8lbs 11.65 oz
50 cm/ 19.75 inches long
32cm head circumference
Apgar 9/9

On Tuesday June 5th at 11am my waters began trickling out. I had to out a pad in, and just go about my day. I had been having the same mild contractions for weeks off and on. So this was a big change of pace. I checked baby’s heart rate and all was well. I was 5 days past 40 weeks. I was having the same mild contractions randomly through the day. At around 5pm they started becoming somewhat more consistent and a bit stronger. It wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle at the time. I just laid down or walked or did whatever I felt best doing. By 9pm they were definitely stronger and more frequent. I was able to breath through most of them. I started feeling very intense and uncomfortable contractions around 11pm. I was in transition for sure and found myself on my hands and knees burying my face into J’s leg, trying to find a place in my mind away from the intensity of each contraction. I found myself in tears sometimes, they were so intense. My contractions were now about 3 minutes apart and coming on strong. I started telling J that I wanted to go to the hospital. He followed our agreement (I told him to make sure I was certain by asking me and reminding me of what I wanted to do). I said I wasn’t sure. At 1am I saw a dark splotch on the towel and asked for a flashlight, there was a clot of blood. I told J to get our neighbor to take me. to the hospital. He left in the pedal boat. My friend was with me and helped me collect my bags. She walked with me to the dock. At one point I was down on the ground overcome with a contraction. I couldn’t find my positive head space anymore. I screamed out with each one. Our neighbor arrived finally, thirty minutes later, around 2a, and my friend loaded me into the boat and we pushed off, leaving J behind to watch the girls. We made it to Almirante in record time, an hour, and I got out and begam hobbling and moaning my way to the hospital. I screamed out in pain with every contraction, fighting the urge to push. Our neighbor ran ahead and told the ER I was coming, they met me halfway with a wheelchair and rolled me in. I was told to get onto the examination table and had my first of two, cervical checks. It was excruciating. I looked down at the pad I had put in before leaving and it was soaked in blood and amniotic fluid. They said that I was fully dilated and told me to stop pushing until they got me into the delivery room. I felt such an intense need to push and was trying not to, it was around 3:15a. They got me into the delivery room and up onto the pushing bed and set up with a heplock all while I’m pushing. I was crying and screaming with each contraction. The nurse was yelling at me to stop screaming and push as if I needed to use the toilet. She was very angry with me for being so inconsiderate of the other people in the hospital and carrying on so loudly. The doctor kept looking at me and rolling his eyes and oozing impatience with me. I kept trying to push, while lying on my back and holding myself up with these joystick like bars on each side of me. It was uncomfortable and made pushing very difficult. I finally felt a very faint sensation like what I thought was the ring of fire, it was nothing compared to the contractions, and knew Baby C was crowning. Though the staff wouldn’t tell me anything. Then all of a sudden, baby was out! I saw them take him over to the warming table and exam him. I asked if he was alive… they wouldn’t respond. I was able to see him though. And he was! He had his eyes open and he was just blinking and looking around. He was purplish and plump and perfect. I began shivering and they put a sheet over me… then had me move to the bed I was stay on for my visit. They wheeled me to the public maternity ward, just 3 beds. They brought my baby along and finally gave him to me. He was so perfect. It was worth it.

The way people ask me questions…

I have a subreddit.

Yes, it’s true!

And I also have a YouTube channel..

What? Don’t you?

Well, the reddit thing is pretty recent and it was started as a way to let people see more of the behind the scenes of our lifestyle, home, kids, stuff like that. I even started a “ask me questions and I might consider answering them section”… I know. I know. I’m so hip with the times. Hee hee.

I’ve definitely received a pile of really good questions so far! It’s going better than I expected, truly. Though there is one thing that is driving me crazy about the questions… (And not just the reddit ones, but also the YouTube, my contact form, email, Facebook and sometimes even instant messaging… ) whenever a person includes within their question(s) the following:

Have you and/or J… discussed/considered/thought about/talked about/researched/given an inkling of mind space to… Insert topic here.

I know people mean well and are just trying to wrap their heads around our quirky lifestyle choices, but I really find this portion of the questions to be offensive and belittling.

It’s equivalent to pretending you are my parent and that you are under the delusion that I (a 37 year old educated woman, who is well traveled, articulate, inquisitive, does not accept the status quo of just do what you’re told, actively thinks for herself, who has birthed two children and they’re thriving) am a complete and utter moron who walks around blindly following the other sheeple without a care or thought to my life or the impact my decisions make on my family, who now  needs to explain that decision to you.

Now I am not saying that I am perfect by any stretch of the imagination.. Because I’m not.

As a matter of fact, I make really irrational and emotional decisions, that are no bueno, often.

Like several times a day often.

Even when I’m NOT pregnant!

But when there are decisions to be made about myself or my family that will have any major impact on my/our overall well-being, be that choosing the father of my children, having children in the first place, getting pregnant, moving to a foreign country, building a home, raising children, getting animals, land purchases, food choices, etc…

Planning, discussion and research, etc. happens FIRST.

So… Yes, I/we HAVE… discussed/considered/thought about/talked about/researched/given more than an inkling of mind space to…your question…. Waaay before you thought to ask it.

So please, from the bottom of my heart, when you ask me question, assume I am an intelligent, active life participating woman, who keeps my family’s safety and well being at the top of my list before even DECIDING to do anything. Then discussing with J, planning accordingly and executing said plan together, with lots of plan B, C and D’s when appropriate.


Nutty Cranberry Squares

I have been really craving cranberries lately… and cake. So much so that I have been shoveling the dried cranberries in to my mouth in heaping handfuls. It’s so hard being pregnant sometimes. 😂 Since we’ve been out of flour for over a week now, (I know it’s almost a sacrilege) I’ve had to make do without cake. It was rough I tell you, but somehow I survived. Today J went to the local grocery house on his really amazing kayak walking machine. I handed him a list and the reusable grocery bags/box, and he was off and elliptical jogging over the ocean. It’s really a very fun machine to use. Anyway upon returning home I rummaged through the bags and pulled out potatoes and started making fries and chips. After making a few batches I got the bag of flour open and whipped up this delicious masterpiece of cranberry, walnut, almond deliciousness.

You’re welcome.

Cranberry Almond Walnut Squares


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil or melted butter cooled
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sweetened dried cranberries (think Craisins)
  • 1/2 cup hand crushed walnuts
  • 1/2 cup blanched almond slivers


  • Mixing bowl
  • 2 cup glass measuring cup or equivalent cup size for mixing wet ingredients
  • Whisk or fork
  • Rubber spatula
  • 8×8 pan
  • Oven


  1. Preheat oven 350° and lightly grease an 8″ pan.
  2. Thoroughly mix dry ingredients in a bowl.
  3. Whisk wet ingredients in a cup.
  4. Gently combine wet and dry ingredients together in bowl using rubber spatula.
  5. Add fruit and nuts until evenly distributed through thick batter.
  6. Pour batter into prepared pan then put pan in to heated oven.
  7. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes or until golden brown on top and a knife or toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Let cool completely and frost or glaze as you wish.


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))

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)



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

Dry Red Kidney Beans




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)



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)





Various Nuts

Whole Rolled Oats

Peanut Butter



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.


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


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


  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:


Baked Crispy Fish & Potato Casserole


  • 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, a little)
  • 8-10 round Butter Crackers (crushed, think Ritz crackers)
  • 1/4 cup sliced Almonds
  • 1 teaspoon Homemade Fish & Poultry Seasoning


    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!!)


    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

    Crunchy & Green Triple B Muffins

    Bacon, Bananas & Blueberries???
    In muffin & loaf form? WHAT?!?!?

    Yes I did it. They were absolutely delicious.  Feel free to make some of your own. 

    Crunchy & Green Triple B Muffins

    This recipe makes approximately 24 muffins or 6 muffins and a 7″ loaf.


    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
    • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1/4 cup bacon grease with a bit of neutral flavored oil to top off the measuring cup
    • 2 large egg (can substitute 1/4 cup banana or applesauce for each egg to make egg-free)
    • 3/4 milk; dairy and non-dairy both work
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 6 to 8 ounces fresh or frozen blueberries (do not thaw frozen) (about 1 cup)
    • 1/2lb crispy bacon (reserve grease for oil in recipe), crumbled
    • 2 small ripe and soft bananas
    • 2 tablespoons flaxseeds
    • 1/4 sliced almonds
    • 1 whole kale leaf or handful of baby spinach


    1. In a large bowl, mix until well combined, flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, flaxseed and almonds. 
    2. In a 2 cup liquid measuring cup put grease/oil, eggs, milk, vanilla, bananas and kale/spinach, using an immersion blender, puree until all ingredients are smooth. 
    3. Mix blueberries and then bacon into flour mixture. 
    4. Add liquid mixture and fold until just incorporated, do not overmix, you want the ingredients to all be moist, but a little lumpy is fine. 
    5. Scoop by the spoonful into muffin cups (about 3/4 full) or pour/scoop into loaf pan.
    6. Place in preheated (375 degrees F) oven for 15-20 minutes (6/12 cup muffin pan), 45 minutes for loaf pan.  Remove with you can insert knife/toothpick into center and remove clean and tops are golden brown.  

    Serve with butter and honey/maple syrup!