Wednesday, December 31, 2008

an old year has ended

We had a very strong earth tremor in November 2007 and it opened what were small fissures in the round pond. The pond started leaking and losing water. So in January 2008 we started to repair the pond. We had to take out all the water lilies and place them in another pond. We then had to drain the pond and catch the many large and small fish transferring them to a holding pond my hubby had created. We had a friend from the UK Richard (backing the camera with the net) who kindly volunteered to help us, along with Andy who was working for us, and my hubby Chuck. Richard worked like a Trojan, when we wanted to stop he urged us continue. Thank you Richard and I know that you paid for it the next day with your back. We are forever grateful for your assistance.

My mother in law Barbara just couldn't stay on the sidelines like me. I was the gofer and had gone to get something for the boys. When I returned Barbara was in the pond helping fish the fish out. An avid fisherwoman she was as happy as pigs in mud.

Ann (in the red shorts) Andy's wife soon joined the team. Where was I ? Taking the pictures of course, some one had to do that. They were shovelling up the gravel that was at the bottom, washing out some 10 years of muck. The gravel acted as a filter bed for the pond and lasted 10 years. The gravel was washed out and dumped nearby on the outside of the pond to be reused when the pond repairs were completed.

Chuck preparing the holding area. He had to remove all the lilies that were growing out of the floor of this pond. He used half of this pond for the holding area. We had a division built in this pond so luckily it was easy to devise a holding area.

Holding pond

Sunday, December 28, 2008

It's a blooming Sunday

Great blue Lobelia (Lobelia Siphilitica)

The rush is over now, and another one is about to start. We call new years eve "old years night" in the Caribbean. Many people go out and celebrate, some have house fetes (parties), some just go to bed like any other night and I have done that many times. My daughter will be going out of course with her friends, in fact she has been out almost every night since she has been here with my car. Good thing I have no big social life or else we would have been fighting over MY car lol. My stove of twelve years sprung two holes in the oven and had to go out and buy a new one the day before Christmas eve. I didn't even get a discount, now I see in the papers this morning there is a sale on. I feel sick or mad? I think mad is more appropriate. Well we bajans will say cat luck ain't dog luck. I am toying with the idea of hosting a New Years morning brunch, I will sleep on it and then decide.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

West Indian Christmas fruit cake

Christmas in the Caribbean is celebrated with friends and family like many around the world. Many of the traditions have been handed down from family to family. Many of these traditions originated in merry old England and in the Caribbean we have made them our own. We have deleted and added many ingredients to suit our tastes. Christmas is not Christmas without a fruit cake. I am not saying that I can bake one like my mum but from the recent comments I am almost there. After many trials and tribulations I have finally worked out (with the help of my mum) a recipe that will be successful and very easy to prepare. This recipe can be doubled.

Fruit Cake Recipe

1/2 lb /250 grams butter ( I used the one with salt)
1/2 lb /250 grams granulated sugar
1/2 lb /250 grams eggs (I weighed them)
1/2 lb/250 grams self raising flour
grated rind of lime or lemon about 1/2 tsp
2-3 tbs gravy browning (Burgess/ Cross and Blackwell)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1tsp vanilla essence
generous dash or two of angostura bitters
3 to 4 cups of mixed fruit (raisins, currants, prunes, some candied cherries, candied mixed peel and some chopped nuts can be added) that have been soaked in port wine and rum ( I steam mine on a low heat for several hours adding wine and rum to keep moist). You can mince the mixed fruit or cut up large pieces like the prunes and cherries.

Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl for 10 to 15 mins, add eggs one at a time beating them in. Add lime zest, cinnamon, Angostura, nutmeg and vanilla. Beat until creamy add self raising flour a little at a time until all has been added. Slowly add mixed fruit add more if you need to. The mixture will be very thick, add the browning a tablespoon at a time beating it in until it reaches a medium to dark brown colour. Be careful do not put too much browning in since it will make the cake bitter. Line the bottom of a non stick spring form cake pan with grease proof paper or use parchment paper. Spray on some butter flavour non stick spay (Crisco or Pam) sprinkle flour on the pan and pour in cake mixture leaving at least an inch and a half or 3-4 cms at the top. Place in an oven to bake at 320 degrees or 160 Celcius. Place a pan with water at the bottom of oven this will allow the cake to cook without drying out. Bake for 40-55 minutes and test with a long bamboo skewer in the centre of cake. It will be ready when the skewer comes out dry, when you press your finger on the centre of the cake and it springs back or when the cake begins to leave the sides of the pan. If some of the mixture comes out on the skewer, continue to bake until it comes out dry. Remove from oven when cooked and let it sit to cool. Remove from pan when still warm but not too hot or cake will break. Pour some rum about 1/4 cup onto the cake and leave to cool. Serve when cool or wrap in parchment paper and store until ready to use. Keep sprinkling with rum until ready to use. Bon apetit!!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Joyeux Noel Merry Christmas to all

wonder why we have a fireplace in the tropics? LOL the fire is not real and we found the fireplace when we bought the house

Merry Christmas to all gardeners and garden bloggers. It has been a hectic week for me, I hosted a garden ramble for the public over the weekend. Sold some preserves and met some wonderful people. Garden blogging has allowed me to make many friends from around the world. Meems from central Florida with her beautiful garden photos and very descriptive narrative, Sunita in India with her clever photography and beautiful style of writing , Nicole in my region with her very informative style and traditional recipes and Sharon in Trinidad with her free spirit and captivating photography. To all my blogging friends and visitors who have taken the time to visit my garden, "may you have a peaceful and happy Christmas and a healthy and prosperous new year" This ditty is from my garden to your garden:

May your garden bloom profusely
and your plants grow beautifully,
may your ideas flow freely
and your heart beat melodiously

May all your dreams continue
without them we have no avenue
to get where we want to

May the birds bees and butterflies
hover forever in your skies
Please take time
to savour and share the flavours

The rewards
of all your garden endeavours

Helen Knighton Dec 2008

Bloomsday Monday in December

Malay apple (pommerac or french cashew) in bloom

vanda orchid
starburst clerodendrum (clerodendrum quadriloculare)
Crinum Xanthophyllum aka golden crinums
snow on the mountain ( Euphorbia leucocephala )

T'is the season to be jolly !

My garden is ablaze with the colours of christmas. It has been raining somewhat at nights (liquid snow) lol and am soo happy that I do not have to water the garden. I decided to get a real pine tree and should have that up by tomorrow Tuesday Dec 16th. I am soo tired and will try to get a good night's sleep. What am I talking about ? Sleep ??? with so much to do? Ha!

Friday, December 12, 2008

George Carlin on life

A Message by George Carlin:

The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider Freeways
,but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.

We've learned how to make a living, but not a life. We've added years to life not life to years. We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We've done larger things, but not better things.

We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We've conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We've learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete...

Remember; spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.

Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.

Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn't cost a cent.

Remember, to say, 'I love you' to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.

Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again.

Give time to love, give time to speak! And give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.


Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

If you don't send this to other people....Who cares?

George Carlin

Country Garden Ramble

Benthams House invites you to Garden Ramble this weekend Dec 13th and 14th 10.00 am to 5.00 pm.

Come visit this 2 acre country garden with your friends. On sale will be plants, palms, garden magazines, home made jams, chutneys, pickles and salsas. We are located between the St. Lucy Post Office and the Texaco Gas Station. Call 439-6864 or 263-9012

Monday, December 8, 2008

my old house

tv room/living room

The formal foyer that is never used
Formal living room that is used at Christmas, notice there is no seating. This because we haven't found it as yet or we cannot afford what we like.

Origin and Meaning of the name Bentham

BENTHAM is an Old English place description. The suffix ham refers to a homestead or house while bent, from what I have been able to discover, appears to be a kind of grass. So the name would mean a house or homestead surrounded by grasslands.
My old house dates back to the 1840's, prior records have been lost and I have to try searching from another perspective. The property was owned by a Doctor St. John and was left to his wife and children at the time of his death. The St. John family is one of the oldest families here in the north. It was then left to the son on his wife's death who was also a doctor who then allowed his unmarried sisters to live there until they were married or until their death. I remember some of the older people in the village saying that there was a post mistress by the name of St. John who lived at Benthams house (my house). In fact, the post office is located just a stone's throw away. The house was later owned by the Wards (Mount Gay Rum ) of St. Lucy who owned many of the plantations in this parish. 
 I am also in the dark as to who the first owners were and why it was named Benthams House. I wondered if it was named after the village or the village named after house, but who was Bentham? I am still trying to find out. 
The house is constructed of cut limestone and field stone. The walls are about sixteen inches thick. These stone houses are much cooler than the newer houses. It is a work in progress and will always be. The house has since been renovated just click on the link below to see.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

a few of my favorite things

ox blood heliconia in bloom

newest family member li'l bear

Betsy who loves to talk

And my new pot in this place

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

back garden update

I took out the old pergola from this spot, it had rotted and was leaning.

I decided to create a focal point when viewing from the new pergola. I have decided that I really don't like this pot here and it is annoying me every time I look at it.
OOOh la la ! now that looks much better here, looks like it has always been there.

The new pergola stained in a teak colour. I plan to paint the table legs a copper colour and do a painting on the glass top. I plan to go to the metal dump to look for some chairs to finish the table.

This annoying view, that pot just did not fit in. It is too loud.

view from the pergola quite nice I must say.

a closer look

I am not quite yet finished am just excited about the progress and can't wait to share it with you all.