Wed Nov 12

I know, I know, long time no post - sorry about that. Even got a curt online comment saying if you're not going to take the time to post a new entry then just kill the blog. Ouch.

So, will catch up now and TRY to stay current.

Grand opening went very well. We had sample platters of menu items and got rave reviews. Nice turn-out for Nautica AND Sushi Bar. Afterwards, LONG list of things to cover and address though, but definitely consider it a success.

First day of operations (Tues.) went well, also subsequent nights. Traffic kind of slow but was okay, needed to start out slow and have a chance to perfect everything, then we'll be ready when it 'ramps up'. Changing some things in the kitchen - too many wasted steps so setting up a stream-lined 'station' system. Salads here, set up all your supplies and ingredients, entrees here, plating there, etc.

First big test: wedding party of 35 on Friday night. Went well for the most part - all meals were pre-ordered, everything planned out in advance. Still some glitches. Hard to get 35 plates out at the same time when you're a well-oiled operation, very difficult when you're still trying to work out the kinks. Everyone was happy though, food was awesome, staff did great job so counting it as 90% success.

Stairs still not started - a little cranky about that. Hopefully in the next few days. We'll see.

Mom's coming down tomorrow for a visit - looking forward to that. Hope she brings 'running shoes'. Pace is pretty fast and furious!

Sat Nov 1 2008 - Grand Opening!

Today is the big day. Excited, scared, nervous but overall feeling really good about everything. Beautiful sunrise, cool breeze - all good.

This last week has been crazy frantic but much forward progress. can't say that we're totally ready but then, I guess you never are. Upside is that today is more of an 'open house' kind of thing from 5 - 7, not a sit down, order, "I want it perfect" kind of thing. And it's free - if something goes haywire, at least they can't ask for their money back!

Ups and downs this last week. Roof / ceiling stayed dry but gas line glitches. Not sure which is worse. Roof leaks can be repaired, gas leaks, well, that's a little more problematic. Roof leaks, you re-patch and repaint. Gas leaks, possibility you get an up front and personal view of the pearly gates. Or worse - I HAVE lied to customs. But I digress...

Got the leak fixed. Awesome, now we can start cooking. Silly me. Next day we come in, no gas. WTF? Tank is empty. Of course, wouldn't you know. Leak drained all the butane. Called the gas company, told them we had a possibly leak, come asap - that usually gets them there quicker. Five hours later they arrived. (Evidently that's asap here on the island...)

Finally we have gas - the good kind. So we start cooking, cooking, cooking. First batch of Chimole not so good. Added more of this and that - perfect. Made all of the sauces and dressings, tweaked a few - perfect.

Construction of stairs (outside entrance) held up - lumber is delayed because of flooding on the mainland. Construction crew does what they can in the meantime repairing ceiling in both Nautica and Sushi Bar. Looks good but still ladders, tools, etc. strewn about. So we focus on food and the kitchen. Sharon and Cassidy are anxious to get started putting the sushi bar back together, can't blame them - I'm anxious too.

Tuesday Sharon, Brian and I went to Belize City to get supplies. Five hours and five or six stops later we have a huge haul and head back to San Pedro. Scored some fabulous salmon and mahi-mahi, lots of other 'essentials' too.

Uniforms came in (white polo's with logo), they look great. Got the Micros system installed (cash register / ordering terminal), got everyone 'trained' on that. Lyncho came, replaced all the thatch. Hopefully now NO MORE LEAKS!.

MANY trips back and forth to the hardware store, grocery store, produce market(s). Hectic but all systems go. Has been 12-14 hour days for the last week but will all be worth it. Staff has worked really hard and done a great job, kudos to them. Wayne and Mike (from downstairs) have done a stellar job helping us, anything we need, they're right there.

Brad has been a real trooper also. Found the blinds in the city for the sushi bar, also the curtains, fabric, etc. for Nautica. He's spent countless hours and effort putting that part all together. The fabric he found for the bench seat is awesome and he padded and covered it and it looks incredible.

Stayed late last night to put finishing touches on so now all we have to do is stay calm, maintain sanity and pray that the food comes out good today and that everything runs as smoothly as possible!

Right now the surf is churning but the sun is shining. Aprapos, don't you think?

Thurs Oct 23 2008

Crew started back on Monday. Lots of cleaning to do. Construction guys are doing a great job but cleaning up after them is like cleaning up after a bunch of A.D.D. two-year olds.

If you take your tools out, put your tools back. Screws and nails have a container, not strewn about on the floor. Not a good idea to leave the power tools out on the balcony - rainy season, remember? Extension cords coil up very easily, here, like this. See, didn't hurt at all. Empty pop bottles and candy wrappers have a place, not on every coutertop. Let me introduce you to a new concept - it's called a TRASH CAN.

No leaks on the ceiling, maybe problem solved without having to replace the section of palapa that runs down onto new roof. More rain coming, hope it stays dry inside.

On Tuesday had the crew clean the sushi bar again. They do a really good job - looks good, smells good (love that Fabuloso cleaner liquid). Everything in there ready for finishing touches. Sharon and Cassiday have been going all over town to find all the stuff. Candleholders, knick-knacks, etc. Can't wait to see it finished. They couldn't find the bamboo blinds here on the island so will have Brad scout those out.

Met with Kate, roll down wind/rain shades are going to work great. Canvas border, plastic window in the center. She's going to make a 'test' one so we can make sure it will work and fit like we want.

Met with Brad, went over fabric, colors, cushions for the bench seats, curtains, etc. He's going to take care of it all. We went over to Sew What to look at fabric - some great colors and patterns and colors but not what we need. Really liked one of them but have to keep in mind that a elegantly 'busy' pattern is going to be more forgiving than the tone-on-tone stripe. Picture a teriyaki shrimp landing smack dap on the middle of the cushion. Or a glass of red wine. So criteria is wine and teriyaki colored fabric!

Then we went next door to Caye Supplies on Back Street. That place is great - tons of stuff. Found some vases, glasses, maybe tablecloths, etc. Priced blenders, mixers, etc.

Wednesday morning, leaks again. Ceiling was almost dry enough to patch and repaint. Going to have to replace the palapa section. darn. But have to stop the leaks. Meeting with Lyncho at noon today. He's the palapa / thatch expert, is on the island working on a project up north. This kind of thing is like a lost / dying art and not many people do it - and do it right so he's the go-to guy for this.

Haven't been able to get into the kitchen to start cooking yet, will have to make up for lost time when we do. Running close on time.

Turned in a food order, printing the menus, got the 'opening' ads turned in. Shipment of crab (finally) from the mainland coming in in an hour.

All systems go, obstacles notwithstanding....

Sat Oct 19 2008

Met with the contractor at 8:30, went over the plans, specs, bid for the stairs. Made a few changes, went to the bank to get him money for materials (office was locked so couldn't get a check).

Met up with Sharon to go over some of the sushi opening details, then over to Gecko Graphics to make some changes on the promo book (closed *aaarrrggg*) Then back home. Stopped at a couple stores to get supplies to make chili for the chili cook-off tomorrow at Canucks. Should be fun and is a fundraiser for the school.

Also stopped to buy a little painting from a guy who always sets his stuff up across from Marina's store (next door). Don't need anything, no more wall space really but he's there everyday and always trying, always nice. He was in an accident and has a spinal cord injury but has done well, progressed from a wheelchair to walker and arm brace crutches.

At 28 had to learn to paint with his left hand after the injury. Anyway, bought this cool 8 x 10 painting from him for $70bz. You'd have thought I gave him $700 - was so appreciative, said it was his only sale in two weeks. wow. There but for the grace of God go I... Made me feel good, and it IS a great little painting, he's really talented.

Then home, started cooking. Chopped, sliced, diced, simmered, tasted, added, tasted, added. So far so good. While it was cooking worked on ads and promo stuff for all three restaurants. Back to the store for more tomato sauce, back to the kitchen and computer.

Was going to run back downtown to check on stuff but was starting to rain and I was getting sleepy (up early) so took a short nap then just decided to stay and do stuff here.

By 8pm was getting cabin fever and wondering how much had gotten done on the stairs so headed downtown to check. No work yet on the stairs but work almost completed on patching the ceiling(s). Checked things out downstairs then back home. Chili still simmering, house smells great. Life is good.

Fri Oct 17 2008

What a crazy week. Can't believe it's already Friday again. Has been raining off and on for most of the week. Dry and glimpses of sun today but rain coming in soon, probably an hour or so.

Wednesday was the worst, almost constant downpours . Rained cats and dogs. Actually just rained rain but you get the picture. Was trying not to freak out because I knew water would be coming in, ceiling would be coming down, leaks everywhere but what do you do?

Well, I did what always works for me - headed for the kitchen. Several recipes to tweak anyway and with Brian running around covering everything and the guys mopping and emptying buckets figured at least I could take food down for them.

Food everywhere, all burners going, dishes, pots and pans stacked high but good stuff coming out. And made me feel better. Who needs a therapist when you have a stove??? Grouper Montepertusso over linguine (garlic wine sauce, capers, calamata olives, sundried tomatoes, parmesan), seafood in spicy ginger rum sauce over cilantro coconut rice, Tequila lime chicken, key lime pie with apricot ginger rum sauce, fudge brownies with apricot mousse and toasted coconut. All turned out good except for grouper - too 'fishy', need to work on it.

Cleared a little by Thurs. but still off and on showers and yes, many leaks. Despite the weather, Enrique and his crew kept working non-stop and by Fri. had the roof covered, shingles down, all sealed and working on the palapa joint. Good news.

Stopped in at Sew What to get a bid on the roll down rain shades for the balcony. Kate's the owner - great lady and knows her stuff and does really good work. They'll be expensive I'm afraid but have to have them.

Was going to try to go to Belize City this week with Brad to get fabric, cushions, curtains, etc. but rain and hectic-ness precluded that. May just have to send him over solo with a list and credit card and let him take care of it. No doubt he'll come back with exactly the right thing and save me losing a day. Another valuable team member...

Talked to Sharon, she's getting everything lined out for the sushi bar decor, on schedule there. Well except for the soggy ceiling and tarps and buckets everywhere.

Went over to Gecko graphics to sign off on the Hot Book ad, looks good. Was walking back to Fido's, passed the Post Office - little boy, maybe 8 or 9 sitting on the steps crying. Passed by at first but went back to see if he was okay. He was in his school uniform, backpack beside him.

Asked him if everything was all right, said yes but never looked up. Sat with him for a while, gave him a hug, asked him if wanted to talk about it, he said no so just told him everything would be okay, whatever it was. Don't know what the problem was, hope he'll be okay, seemed like a good kid.

FINALLY got final approval for the exterior access / stairs - was kind of sweating that, HAVE to have them. Going to meet with Enrique tomorrow morning to go over plans and specs then get rolling pronto on those.

Walked over to the post office to pick up a package of some stuff hubby sent me - some pants and shoes I forgot to bring. Had to pay $35 to 'buy back' my stuff. Since he put a declared value on it of $75, had to pay. Should have told him to put $2 value. Live and learn...

Came back to golf cart to head home - PARKING TICKET. WTF? Yes, was my fault, yes, between 16th and end of month can't park on that side of the street, yada yada. Still irritaing.

Now working on promo cards and ads for opening(s) plus print ad for that and Fido's Halloween bash. May cook some stuff later but thinking rum sounds better...

Mon Oct 13 2008

Worked most all of the weekend on recipes and finally 99% finished. Still have sides and desserts to go but everything else plus an ingredient list of every thing in all of the recipes. Told Alberto I'd have it to him first thing this morning, took it in at about 12:30, no one in the office. We both forgot today was a holiday (Pan American Day). Oh well, at least it's done.

Met with Smurf, sign he did was finished, looks good. Walked over to Gecko Graphics to proof and sign off on the final copy of the add for the Hot Book. Closed also.

Back to Fido's to check on ceiling in Nautica and sushi bar. More leaks from the weekend in both. Back out with the tarps and buckets. Enrique's working as fast as he can with his crew to get the roof finished but with intermittent showers and downpours every day is tough. Plywood came in on the barge Sat. so hopefully will get it decked soon then shingles right after.

Was getting ready to head home when the skies opened up - again - and it started pouring. Waited it out at the bar working on lists and making calls so at least not totally wasted time. Hour or so later headed home. Skies still looking very busy though, may come down again. Checked the NOAA site, another big storm headed in in a few days. Great. Hopefully roof will be done by then.

Back to the house, work to do on the t-shirt designs.

Fri Oct 10 2008

Making progress on the recipes and ingredient list(s), still many to go though. Have all the dressings, sauces, seasonings, starters and salads. Now on to entrees, sides and desserts.

Went downtown yesterday to check on the roof, coming along fine. Went over books and expenses with office then back home to cook / test more. Minimal porch time, too much to do.

Today mostly same thing. Went downtown to check on things, cut some checks for labor, checked on things, etc. On the way there Arquel flagged me down - five pounds of fresh spider crab just off the boat. Score. Was going to make the seafood stuffing recipe this weekend and needed crab bad. Perfect timing.

After covering all the bases, stopped and had a beer and played dice for a little bit - haven't done that in quite a while and going to be working all night so decided what the heck. Won $20, had fun, then back home to the kitchen.

On the way out met up with Sharon (she also works at the coffee shop across the street), she's excited about sushi grand opening - planning details and logistics, everything falling into place.

Everything going fairly smooth and mostly according to plan - can't complain.

Had a cool thing happen -Sharon said she had $50 dollars for me from Alexis, he dropped it off the day before. He's one of the little island kids that I've kind of taken under my wing and watched grow up for the last 4 years - probably 12-13 now. I give him rides all over town when I see him, buy anklets from him, tease him about doing his homework, etc.

Well, the other night he asked me if he could borrow $50 for his school fees. They were $250, he had $200, needed $50 more. Normally I don't do that but I went ahead and loaned it to him. He promised to pay me back, we shook on it, he dashed off. I wondered if I would see it again.

When Sharon handed me the rolled up wad of cash wrapped in a little piece of paper he had left for me I just melted. Really warmed my heart - I know there's a lot of bad out there in the world but there's also a lot of good. One good true soul can compensate for scores of bad ones, don't you think? That little kid made my day...

Wed Oct 9 2008

Rainy mornings, sunny afternoons - all good so far, no new leaks as yet.

Spent the whole day cooking and testing recipes. Only left the house once to go to the store for supplies. Day consisted of stove,computer, stove, computer. Having a tough time making the recipes, writing them down, then replicating them. Not impossible, just frustrating. But has to be done, and can be done, not giving up.

Great sunset. Silvery slimmer of the moon peeking through the clouds, cast a nice reflection on the water. Cruise ship on the horizon taking who knows who to who knows where - calm seas, sunny skies - what's not to like?

A little more work on recipes then porch time and to-do list

Mon Oct 6 2008

Took yesterday off. Well mostly. Went downtown several times to check on ceiling, roof and roofers. No more ceiling coming down, thank goodness and only a little rain overnight. No new leaks.

Spent today running back and forth. Paper work and calls at home then down to the restaurant to get Fabio lined out. He came in to help with some things, was already there and doing stuff when I got there.

Lots of bundles of shingles on the roof but lumber hasn't arrived yet so in a holding pattern. But sun is out and no clouds so hopefully we'll be dry for a few days.

To the bank again to try to open the gift shop account. Had to get an authorization signed and faxed down. Paperwork, forms, paperwork, forms - driving me crazy. After 20 minutes was told need ANOTHER form. Document actually - proof of ownership from Belize registry. *AAAARRRRRGGGGG* Meanwhile Fabio is probably finished and waiting on me to bring the paint back.

Mad dash to the hardware store, wait wait wait while they mix the paint. It's times like these when the usually enjoyable slow pace of the island becomes maddening. Back to the restaurant, open the paint. ACK - looks like bright purple!!! Supposed to be a deep rich eggplant. Oh my. BRAD?????

Checked the numbers on the can against the numbers that Brad gave me (he's my color guy), yup the same. So told Fabio to start painting. Only doing two walls behind the bar so if it looks hideous only a small area to repaint. Brian pops his head in, I ask him what he thinks of the color, he says it looks hideous. Didn't know whether to choke him or find Brad and choke HIM. Fabio says wait for the second coat, it'll darken up. Let's hope so.

Back home to work on food and make calls. Fax came in with document so back downtown to the bank. STILL can't open the account. Ownership document says Fido's Restaurant not just Fido's. Can't open account named Fido's gift shop with this doc. Advised to open in my name with dba Fido's Gift Shop. Will need to clear that with owner and hubby so back out of the bank. At this point ready to scream.

Quick check at the restaurant, still waiting on lumber but paint is looking better. First coat is almost dry and second coat getting ready to go up and it's looking more eggplant-y. This could work. Mike is putting final coat of varnish on the chairs and they look great, like brand new. So, some good news. Back home to work on stuff there.

By 6pm the suspense is killing me so ran back downtown to see how paint looks with second coat and at night with soft lights. WOW - looks really good! Kind of more like a merlot than eggplant but really goes well with the other walls. Whew.

Ran into Sharon and Cassidy, showed them the new color - they love it. Apologies to Brad for thinking those dire and heinous thoughts...

Talked with Sharon & Cassidy for a while planning / coordinating grand openings of both Nautica and sushi bar. Still shooting for Nov. 1st but roof delay might set us back a little. Will really have to scramble but I think we can do it.

Back home and to the porch. Needed to make next days to-do list but ended up just watching the water until I couldn't keep my eyes open. List can wait.

Sat Oct 4 2008

Rainy morning in San Pedro. Need to go downtown to check on things but thinking for now will stay in and work on recipes and food. Kind of nice just cooking, testing and tasting with the doors and windows open listening to the rain.

Rain has picked up, wind also. Had to shut doors and windows. Really storming now. Good thing 'fridge is stocked and power is on.

After about four hours rain finally stopped. Headed downtown to check on things. Not good news. Bad in fact. Roof is leaking all over the place. The part we patched is dry but all around is letting in water like a sieve. The ceiling damage they just repaired is soaked and falling in pieces plus several other places. Buckets under most drips. Tarps over the rest of the floor.

Newly painted ceiling in sushi bar is leaking and coming down in several places too, also in the kitchen. Whole roof has to be replaced. So back up there with Enrique to assess the damage and make a game plan. There just isn't enough pitch on that section to effectively shed the water so it all will have to come up and be rebuilt to have adequate pitch, then reshingled. Great. And more rain coming.

Back home to finish the stuff I was cooking then probably back down there later. At least the hoisin ginger rum sauce turned out good...

Fri Oct 3 2008

Couple of dolphins gracefully slicing through the water at sunrise. Cool sight.

Worked on recipes for a couple of hours - doubled the broth for the chimole, tweaked the bleu cheese dressing.

Downtown to check on things and line out next step of construction. Going to put up a 'fence' around the butane tank outside the sushi bar window to disguise. Drywall work finished in there, ready to paint.

Covered a multitude of other details, over to the bank to set up gift shop account, need another form signed so will have to make another trip to get it opened. Back to restaurant, paint came in, looks good, start on that.

Smurf painted the new sushi logo on the window - looks incredible, he's really talented. looks just like the picture we gave him. Stopped in to tell Sharon and Cassidy progress so far, they're really excited too.

Back to the house to work on stuff there.

Then back downtown to get a check for Enrique for materials for fence and overage on paint. Back home, more work there - mostly expense reports and spreadsheets - ugh.

On the way home gave a ride to a school kid heading home. He was so cute. Talked non-stop. Was SO excited about a good grade on his math test - pulled it out of his backpack to show me - made a 90 and teacher comment was 'good'. He was beaming. Told him that was awesome, math is really important. And impressed that he said 'please may I have a ride' and 'thank you for the ride'. Don't always get that but nice to hear, he's been taught well. Good kid.

About 6pm the suspense is killing me - want to see how the new paint is looking in the sushi bar so head back downtown. They started on the ceiling so not much to see. Looks good but a white ceiling repainted with white isn't too exciting. Oh well, when the other colors go up will see them then.

Went downstairs to have a quick beer before heading home. Taste-tested Brian's new shrimp cocktail - yum. Sauce is really good. Also tasted the special for the night - Paella. Very good also.

Home, shower, porch, laptop, rum. All good.

Thurs Oct 2 2008

Meeting at 9am with Cindy with Caribbean Treasures to get another quote on retail fixtures, supplies, merchandise etc. for the gift shop. She also does time share sales for Banyan Bay and is a sweet gal and a sharp cookie. Didn't realize she did that also and wanted to give her a shot at it - keep some of the business here on the island if possible. She had some really good ideas and took copious notes and going to get prices for me so feeling good about that.

Went over to Gecko to proof the ad with Brian. Looks really good. A few changes needed but should turn out really nice. Marie's done a great job putting it all together and laying everything out.

Back to the restaurant. Enrique has the roof repair finished, working on fixing the water damage to the ceiling. Brian wanted me to taste the new onion rings that will be going on the Fido's menu. Wow - have to say I couldn't have done it better myself. Used Belikin stout in the batter and some other stuff, fried brown and crispy and really good. Also new: jalapeno stuffed wings. Great also.

Covered a few more details then back to the house to work on food. Checked on the Chimole. Overnight it turned from gumbo into jambalaya. Great flavor but the rice absorbed all of the broth. Oops. So now instead of a savory soup is now a hearty entree. Not so bad but need it to be a soup! Made some more broth, added, all good. Yum.

Put out a few fires (figuratively, not literally), made some calls, made more to-do lists then back to the kitchen.

Came up with a really good key lime bleu cheese dressing, re-did the chimole recipe (doubled the broth), some other things. Now, finally porch time.

Wed Oct 1 2008

Up at six - couldn't sleep. Weather's changing and lots to do. Paperwork most of the morning - posting all the expenses to the right places is a nightmare. And NOT my forte. Would rather be cooking.

Kind of a down morning. Two month old nephew is in the hospital in critical condition with blood infection and fluid in his lungs - prayers appreciated.

Enrique couldn't find the rolls of tar paper for the roof, still there this morning trying to get sheets of shingles.

Crab still not here from the mainland, and about a dozen other things.

Oh well, sure cure for the doldrums is fire up the stove, right? Went out to get supplies, after four stops had everything, got back home and now back to working on recipes with a big pot of Chimole (Belizian black gumbo) cooking. Just the smell perks up my spirits.

Talked to Enrique just now, he found the shingles, he's back and up on the roof. Sky is looking quite ominous, hope he gets it covered soon.

And now it's pouring down. Buckets. Oh my.

Got an email from Marie at Gecko Graphics, Hot book ad is ready to proof. Good deal, that one should be great exposure. Will stop in tomorrow morning to look at it.

Brian called, he went over to check, no water coming in through the ceiling yet. Whew.

Chimole stock almost done. Getting hungry. Thought I'd cook the shrimp in the stock instead of boiling and seasoning separate. Great idea right? Nope. Forgot that when you boil shrimp you have to add a couple tablespoons of vinegar so the shells slip off. Oops. So spent a frustrating amount of time peeling those little suckers off. Hope I got all the little 'feet'. Just kidding, I did - picky about that kind of stuff.

More veggies in the pot, some cilantro, rice, black beans, then the chicken, sausage and shrimp. final countdown now.

Stopped raining but continual random rolling thunder. Not over yet.

Just heard that little Jackson has stabilized. Thank you Lord!!! I promise to not ever ever lie to customs agents again. Well, except for anchovy paste, you just can't get that here and Caesar salad is NOT Caesar salad without anchovy paste in the dressing. But I digress. Main thing is Jackson is better.

Tue Sept 30

Put hubby on plane home yesterday so now it's back to work. Had a great time and was a nice break. Cooked some (blackened grouper - he gave two thumbs up on new recipe), ate out some (lobster fritters at Sunset Grill hands down the best on the island, awesome cheeseburger at Fido's, chicken burrito at BC's - my absolute favorite), also just hung out and relaxed. Cloudy and rainy most of the weekend but sun peeked out occasionally so it was all good.

Island is very quiet right now, very slow. Trying to find as much work as possible for my crew during the off time. Cleaning, painting, odd jobs, etc. Not much fun but puts food on the table. Going to have to all just hang in there and take care of each other until it picks back up. If I wore all of the ankle bracelets that I've bought from the street kids they would reach to my knees!

Checked in with Enrique on construction a couple of times over the weekend. Looking REALLY good and almost done - final touches. Have to patch a place in the ceiling - roof leaked during rain night before last - took down a 10" x 4" section of the newly floated and painted ceiling *aaarrrggg*. He's going to find the leak, patch the roof, re-do the ceiling. Tiny step backwards but not a biggie.

Mike is sanding and varnishing the chairs, they look so much better. Didn't realize what a difference that would make. Probably need to do it every year - salt and sand very hard on them. Makes me wonder what it's doing to my skin. Note to self: stock up on moisturizer.

Headed into town to meet with Sharon & Cassidy on the sushi bar. Probably should clarify, have had some questions on who's this new gal taking over the sushi bar. Not taking it over, just heading up some of the nuts and bolts and obstacles so she can focus on sushi and her awesome energy and what she does best. Looking forward to the opening, they're going to do great I have no doubt.

Ezekiel's in the sushi bar installing the ceiling fan and servicing the a/c. Paint, blinds, etc. up next. Can't wait to see the 'finished product'! Sharon & Cassidy have done a good job of planning it all, now just get it executed and we're good to go. Went over their new sushi, drink, martini menu and really impressed. The martinis look very tempting, will have to try them out. Of course their Sake is hard to beat. Decisions, decisions... =)

Back over to Nautica to meet with Enrique, got a quote to fix the roof. Extra expense but needs to be done. Since it's the Fido's building they get the pleasure of footing the bill this time, not me. whew. Only prob is it's going to take two rolls of tar/roof paper and there's none on the island. And big storm coming in this weekend.

Enrique, bless his heart, offered to take the boat over to Belize City, pick it up, bring it back, get it fixed tomorrow. Didn't even want extra to do it. Really impressed with him. If anyone ever needs a contractor - he's your guy.

While on the phone with Fido's owner to get okay on roof work my cell signal kept breaking up so went out onto the balcony. My lovely balcony overlooking the ocean with 8" square tiles and pristine white grout. OMG!!! HUGE black stain on 5' square section of tile. Can of dark mahogany stain was leaking and went unnoticed evidently - I wanted to scream / cry / laugh all at the same time. What next? A hurricane?

Enrique came through for me again - or maybe he was scared by the wild frenetic and not very rational ranting and raving that somehow was coming out. Don't know. But he cleaned it up for me and wasn't even his fault or his can of stain. What a trooper.

So now it's 1pm, back at the house working on recipes and putting out other minor fires. Still have to get a quote on signage, check on the Hot Book ad layout and hopefully get a quote on vinyl roll down curtains for balcony.

2:30 and back downtown. Electrician needs me to look at wiring in 5-gang cluster of switches in sushi bar. Some hot, some not, all loose and shaky with exposed wiring. A fire waiting to happen. Looked them over, agreed two can be eliminated (dead) others clustered in one (safe) box, then will fill the gap when we patch sheetrock in prep for painting. Ceiling fan looks great. Had to go with white, out of wood tone. Looks better I think.

Check for electrician for balance of labor, check for Mike for chairs. Couple of other details then back home.

5pm call from electrician. Check I left for him never got signed. Called Brian, he headed down there to sign it, gave it to him, all good.

Headed for shower then porch. Postponed trip to Belize City tomorrow - need to make sure roof gets fixed. Will go early next week hopefully.

Some good news: The basil plants that I started and planted are coming along great. Yes, minor thing but hey, I'll take it!

Wed Sept 24 2008

Morning filled with working my way through the never ending and always growing to-do list. Trying to get a quote on the retail fixtures and supplies for the Fido's gift shop from a vendor in the states. Limited supply in Belize, more in Mexico but difficult to ascertain the quality and specs from here.

Have a vendor I've used before in the U.S. so checking to see what the cost would be to have it shipped here. Might cost an arm and a leg but for a one time expense thinking might be worth it to just go with a known quantity. Found a good screen printer in Belize City so at least all the merchandise and recurring orders won't have duty / international shipping on them.

Reviewed the quote and specs for the Micros terminal we'll be using in the restaurant, also the one for the gift shop. Lot of money but necessary for inventory control, loss management, market data and trends, consumer preferences, etc. Think I have that all nailed down.

New designs for the merchandise coming along good. Came up with a new one that I think will sell - wings with a heart in the middle. Should look good on a tank or little cami. Re-working the Nautica logo so it will print well on a t also.

Into town to check on things, stop in at hardware store to get key copied.

Everything going smoothly. Trim on ceiling almost complete, electrical almost complete. Talked with the electrician about switching out the light kits on the ceiling fans. He wasn't too happy about that - will have to take them down and redo. Oops. Paint is close enough to dry to start on the bench seat.

To the bank to turn in signed papers for the cc merchant account and get that rolling. Still need couple more forms signed by another director of the corp. Don't know why they need two directors to sign but alas, their call not mine.

Back to restaurant with a stop at Greenhouse market for cabbage - working on slaw and other sides today. Big chunk of parm cheese looked tempting and reasonably priced so grabbed that.

Back to condo. Experimented with the leftover Montepertuso pasta. Added some more raw veggies, some fresh chopped basil, little bit of the house dressing - bingo - awesome pasta salad. Cut up some of the grouper and added but would be better with some shrimp I think. Flavors always better the next day, this one no exception.

Back downtown to get the forms signed. Thought I could just do it tomorrow but other director is leaving the island tomorrow for a couple of weeks so back in the golf cart. Saw Arquel (fisherman) on the way - he had some stone crab claws, looked pretty good. He said they hadn't been frozen but I think they had. Will cook them today and see.

Crab is kind of tricky. When it's fresh off the boat and you cook it and serve it, it's great. But has to be that day or maybe day after. If you're going to get large amounts to serve the next week or week after, needs to be steamed immediately, wrapped tight then frozen. Still fresh as can be when you thaw then steam again. But if you don't cook it before freezing can sometimes get mealy and/or dry and tasteless.

Island very quiet and empty right now - low season. On the one hand is a nice peaceful change, on the other is very difficult for the workers and service people - money very tight. I usually try to wrangle a better price on many things I buy but not this time of year. Every penny counts. I also try to buy from the street vendors if possible - I usually do anyway but this time of year might mean the difference between food or no food for their family. So needless to say I have a 'fridge full of pineapple, tangerines, avocados, a mixed concoction of what I think is ceviche or close, etc.

Back to the condo and laptop, porch, rum - trifecta?!!!

Really missing my family - going to try to connect tomorrow with as many as I can. Hubby coming in tomorrow evening, looking forward to that =)

Life is good...

Tue Sept 23 2008

Busy couple of days but at least not quite as hectic and getting lots done. Everyone was off yesterday for the three day holiday. Well, most everyone. I went down to the restaurant to turn on fans (paint getting closer to being dry but still a little sticky). Also spent quite a while walking around and making notes - easier to do with out everyone there.

Met with Brad (he's my color, fabric, decor guru). He brought some antique copper spray paint and we tested it out on one of the little lanterns that will go on the tables. They're really cute and perfect for that candle on the table ambiance I want - and windproof! But they're a really stark black - little bit of copper paint sprayed on here and there and wala - old ship's lantern look! 'Nuther problem solved.

We went over the specs for the bench seat, made materials list, set date to go to the city next week to pick up the supplies, curtains, fabric, etc. By then bench should be complete and he can start padding and covering it.

More cooking and testing.

Jerk blackened snapper with ginger rum sauce. Really good but sauce on top is almost too much, will serve it on the side. Grilled pineapple with it a really good flavor compliment.

Re-did the cashew crusted grouper. Pan seared THEN broiled this time - much better - crispier and the cashews had fuller flavor.

Garlic roasted veggies and baby pumpkins. This time roasted the pumpkins first (actually little sweet acorn squash), then added the other veggies. Much better - last time pumpkins were still a little firm and the red and yellow bell peppers were too soft. After cooking tossed them with a little parmesan - perfect.

Grouper Montepertuso. That's what I call it anyway. Montepertuso is a little village high above Positano on the western coast of Italy - down south, like in the instep of the 'boot'. A little restaurant there called Il Retrovo has the most incredible food and freshest fish.

Had this dish there and immediately when we returned started trying to recreate it. I think I finally have it. It doesn't really have a sauce, just fresh grilled fish with a little olive oil and Italian seasoning over a bed of penne pasta tossed with sauteed red, yellow, green bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, garlic (of course!), fresh diced tomatoes, capers, calamata olives. Pasta with veggies on bottom, fish on top, more veggies on top of fish then parmesan and fresh cracked black pepper. The capers and calamata olives give it a zing and the saltiness of them goes really well with the sweet peppers and mild fish. Yum.

Sun Sept 21 2008

Today is Belize Independence Day - lots of spirit and national pride, fun to watch. They achieved their independence from Britain in 1981 so still a 'new' country. Still part of the British commonwealth but independent.

Went down to the restaurant about 10 to open the windows and turn on the fans - paint STILL not dry - going on three days now. Did some stuff there, then to hardware store to change out light bulbs (wrong kind - need halogen). Looking for some Old English furniture polish to spiff up the woodwork so we don't have to sand and varnish it all (how long would THAT take to dry???). First place didn't have it but second one did.

Back to restaurant, tried out the Old English - looks great. Rearranged some stuff in the kitchen, updated to-do list(s), took inventory of kitchen supplies we have, made list of what we need, carried out boxes, moved power tools OFF the hardwood tables - basically just general 'have to get it done' kind of stuff.

Was planning on heading home and getting some things done there before heading to BC's to meet some friends but ran into a snag. Pulled out of the Fido's alley, took my usual trek towards home but couldn't get any farther than the old football field. Everything blocked off for the Independence day parade. Okay, surely there's a way through the back streets to get to the south end of the island. Nope. So if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Or in this case, chill and watch the parade. So I did. And I'm glad it worked out that way.

I love parades and never experienced one in a foreign country. But really, when you think about it, they're all basically the same and really heartwarming. The excitement, the enthusiasm, just the energy was over the top. And they go all out here. There were golf carts all decorated with flags and palm fronds, flat beds with sound systems that would put any club to shame (complete with generators, control panels, laptops, DJs, mics, amps, etc.) and many were followed by a contingent of anywhere from 15-20 people in matching t-shirts, native Mayan costumes, and many other assorted outfits! The spirit and enthusiasm was infectious to say the least.

After about an hour decided I might as well head back to Fido's since I couldn't get home, park the cart and just walk to BC's. Got only as close as Harmouch's hardware store - okay, so only four block walk, not bad. Turned off the fans, locked up, walked down to BC's - ten minute walk on the beach - no prob. Met up with friends, had a couple of really cold Lighthouses, caught up with Dulce, listened to Dennis and the band. Nice respite from the current pace!

Walked back downtown to get my golf cart then headed home for shower, rum, porch. In that order. Only enough rum for one drink but no prob, need to work on paperwork and list for tomorrow anyway.

Microwave popcorn for dinner.... =p

Sat Sept 20 2008

Lots of cooking, lots of running back and forth to the restaurant. worked on to-do list and agenda for the day then about 9:30 headed down town.

Paint on half-wall still not dry so ran downstairs to snag some more fans (thank you Shaggy!) Went over expenses so far with contractor, cut a check for paint and labor so far and materials for next week.

Fabio came in to do some more clean up stuff in the restaurant and sushi bar. Defrost another freezer, move chairs and stools out of the way of the storeroom supplies, clear out construction debris (random nails are killing the hardwood plank flooring. Afraid we're going to have to refinish. *aaarrrggg*). Anyway, always more to do but he's doing a great job.

Sushi bar is going to be awesome! Going to talk to Enrique about doing the re-do. Mainly cosmetic - some drywall, paint, blinds, etc. Sharon wants to go with a deep rich Chinese red, bamboo blinds, etc. will look great I'm sure.

While there went into the Fido's office to make some copies, ran into the guy who runs their citrus farm on the mainland - he can get crab for me at $9bz per lb. - half what I'm paying now. Steamed, vacuum packed and on the plane to the island day after it was in the water. Score. Hello crab cakes...

Back home to work on food. Added more ginger to the ginger rum sauce - perfect. Double chocolate cake with mango mousse filling - needs more mango flavor.

Back downtown. Paint still not dry and Enrique can't find a place to cash the materials check - banks closed for Belize Independence Day (Sept 21) - weekend-long affair evidently. So back home to see if I have some U.S. cash squirreled away. Found a little - hopefully enough for him to get materials and pay his guys.

Mid-way stopped to give a ride to one of my little island kids - Alex. He's one of my favorites, 12 or 13 now I think, have watched him grow up the last four years. Sharp kid and sweet spirit. Took him to his house which I figured when he said just over there would be no big deal. Left here, now right here, left, then left again, right, curve here, watch the puddle (read: small pond)... Finally got there, dropped him off, on my way back trying to remember the twists and turns and pretty much covered in mud splatters.

Got to the restaurant, gave Enrique the money, took care of a few things then back home to the kitchen.

Cashew crusted grouper - awesome but needs a little more salt. Added some Parmesan to the crushed cashews, turned out good. Warm cashew crusted goat cheese medallions for a special salad - good but cooked them too long, a little rubbery, needs work. Mango salsa - great. Added some mango juice and key lime juice, perfect.

A friend came over to taste-test - thumbs up. So far so good.

Fri Sept 19 2008

Worked on food and recipes until 11, then downtown to the restaurant. Everything perking along just great. Enrique (contractor) had the half-wall stained to match the floors (was kind of a blondish color before - ick). New color looks really good. Still wet and tacky, needs to completely dry before we can start the bench seating along that wall. Fans on it but slow going.

Back to condo, more cooking / testing. 1pm back downtown to let Diana in to finish cleaning sushi bar. Over to hardware store to get more Easy-Off for the grill pans. Stopped in to talk to Sharon (the sushi chef, also works days at Island Perk across the street - awesome coffee BTW) to update her on the progress. She's anxious to reopen, we'll get together next week to go over final details of the workplan for the 'facelift'.

One more stop at hardware store - two actually before I found the heavy duty ones - to get some more pot scrubbers. Grill pans are being very stubborn.

Back to condo, paperwork, more recipe testing. 6:30 back downtown. Wanted to check the drying process and maybe turn fans back on. Still very sticky so turned fans on and had a beer at the bar downstairs and played dice (for fun, not money this time). Ordered some calamari. Yum. Love the new Fido's calamari recipe. Checked on the sushi bar, took measurements, locked up and back home on the porch with laptop. Full week but very productive.

Thur Sept 18 2008

Well, another interesting and action-packed day. Up at 5, very cloudy, very sultry, little bit of rain. Cleared by 7 so not bad.

Worked all morning on recipes - some successful, some not so much - need to 'retool' some. Peach balsamic vinaigrette - good. Needs more ginger though.

Cleaned the crab, 12 oz. of meat from 3 lbs. of crab. LOVE the flavor of the spider crab though - sweeter and fuller flavor than claws or legs but have to get a better price. At $4.50bz an ounce means crab cakes would have to be priced too high. Going to make them up and see what yield is...

Spring rolls, mixed deal. Filling turned out great but rice noodles never softened up. Last time I made the rolls there was too much liquid so instead of cooking/soaking the noodles first thought it would be a good idea to add them to the mixture, let them soak up the moisture. Should have worked, right? Nope. After sitting for three hours, still stiff as toothpicks. So will re-do that one and cook off the current 'batch'. Stir-fry anyone?

Snagged a ton of fresh basil from Rico's garden (no worries - have permission and they're closed until season anyway). Made up the house vinaigrette - basil dijon. Perfect. Check that one offa da list.

Another trip to Hariri's for forgotten supplies. Sam's used to that - doesn't even look askance when I come dashing in for some random ingredient at 7am. "Green peppers, mango juice and coconut milk? Uh, ok" Prolly thinks I'm making some crazy gringo omelet or something. =)

Ginger rum sauce - good. Roasted red pepper tarragon sauce - good. Caramelized walnuts - needs work, never got crispy after roasting. Too much humidity? Not enough cook time? Don't know. Will re-do tomorrow.

Good thing I have very willing and understanding 'guinea pigs' down at the Fido's office. Have to qualify the source though - some give good useful, honest and critical feedback, some eat it all and comment is "great".

"But what about the crunchy rice noodles that poke through the rice skin wrapper?"

"There were rice noodles? Crunchy? I like crunchy. Another please?"

And so it goes...

Headed down to restaurant about noon to meet with crew to start clean out process of sushi bar to get it ready for the 'facelift'. Lots to do there but they're up for the task - good workers.

Met with electrician on Nautica stuff. Need a new exhaust fan for kitchen and two more lights. Over to hardware store, got the lights, no fans. Over to other hardware store, got the fan, back to restaurant.

Work going great, beams look awesome, ceiling fans up and running, wiring in place, workers everywhere - looked like an ant hill. Just the way I like it...

Went to bank to open merchant account for credit card processing, more paperwork. Back to restaurant, went over the plan for exterior stairs with contractor. Should work great.

Cut check for materials for bench seat, check for electrician for labor so far. Missing a check. Dang, searched everywhere - no check. No time to worry about that right now, have to work on specs for bench.

Got that lined out, back to hardware store for more bulbs and plate to cover electrical box we have to cover because wall light doesn't fit in original location (too close to wine rack. HAVE to have the wine rack). Solution: move the light 3 inches, cover old box with blank plate, paint to hide. Problem solved.

Packed up my stuff to go, found the missing check under my backpack. Note to self: not so bad to lose tape measure. Not good to lose checks.

Finally home at 6. Shower felt great. Rum and the porch even better. Friend called, tempted me with wine and 'quality' porch time. Couldn't resist - I'm so easily swayed. Had a good time though and needed the break.

About 8:30 decided we were hungry, neither of us had eaten anything (hence the rapid buzz I suppose). Cooked up a big batch of shrimp stir fry (from the ill-fated spring roll mix). Turned out great. Must have been quite a site - two tipsy (drunk) women in the kitchen with sharp knives and hot skillets. But no injuries or damage to property and great food. Win-win-win.

After she left, stayed up working on paperwork and felt obligated to finish the wine so did. Resulting headache but worth it. I should buy stock in Tylenol...

Wed Sept 17

Got back to the island last night. couldn't wait to see the progress so headed downtown first thing. Looking great so far! Ceiling beams are almost finished, ceiling and walls are painted and look really good. It IS more of a greyish color but still like it. Kind of hard to tell in the dim light but so far so good...

Up at 4:30 with brain already racing and more to-do lists forming. Cloudy and slight rain and very muggy. Cleared a little by 5:30 and was a spectacular sunrise. Took a couple hours to get everything unpacked that I brought down and stuff settled into place.

Headed into town with first stop at the golf cart place. Called Sherry first, permits still not approved. Darn. At cart place found out the cart I was wanting to buy was just bought by someone who DID get a permit. WTF? I love my island BUT....

Down to the restaurant. Met with contractor, went over all that had been done while I was gone, told him what a great job he/they were doing, elicited a big smile. He seems like a good guy. And so far has done what he said he was going to do, when he said he would do it and cost same as what he quoted. Rare but much appreciated. Wonder if he knows anything about getting a cart permit? hmmm.....

Met with electrician - going to add some ceiling fans and outdoor post lights. Went over to hardware store to get the materials. Four fans, six post lights, circuit boxes, wiring, switches, etc. OUCH. Hadn't budgeted for that so let's see, where can we cut? I know, I'll pretend like it's lent and give up rum punch from now until NEXT Easter. And who says a person can't live on microwave popcorn? High fiber, no cholesterol - win-win. Should almost cover it. sheesh. Oh well, will look great and add a nice intimate ambiance....

Went in to office to turn in receipts, forgot to get one at hardware store, back to hardware store, back to office to turn it in. Then back home to continue working on menu / ingredient list. Sun out now and turning out to be a great day. Tiny bit of a coolish breeze every now and then so all good.

Note to self: stock up on microwave popcorn. Lots. Already depressed at the thought of a rum moratorium. =(

It's only 11am and feel like I've already put in close to a full day and still lots left to do. Better get to it...

Couple hours working on menu then back downtown to pick up some more stuff. Forgot two interior lights - dang. On the way picked up a couple of chicken tostadas from Celies Deli on Front Street. I love those things. (Couldn't resist, microwave popcorn starts tomorrow). Met with accountant, need to set up credit card processing with the bank. Okay, more copies, more paperwork but has to be done.

Back to condo. Little bit more work then back downtown to check on progress. Ceiling fans up - look great! Couple of post lights up - great also! Okay, this could work...

Stopped in at Greenhouse to pick up some things - in a cooking mood. Great place - kind of pricey but good selection and quality. On the way home remembered that I told Arquel (my fisherman guy) that if he could get some big fat shrimp and some crab I'd buy some. There he was, right in front of Marina's waiting for me. No big shrimp today but he had some great looking crab and pretty nice snapper.

Was wanting stone crab claws but what he had was spider crab. Never heard of it but looked good and smelled really fresh so bought it. He also had some really nice snapper filets so got those also.

He handed me the crab and said it was three pounds. Well, it didn't feel like three pounds. So I went into Marina's and weighed it. One and a half pounds. Went back out and started to chew him out. He was totally taken aback and said, no way, it's three pounds. We both went in and weighed it together.

Guess what? Three pounds. It was one and a half KILOS. Was reading the wrong dial. Oops. Sorry Arquel. Totally negated any bargaining on price position I might have had so apologized, paid, we laughed, all good. Note to self: check dials on scales before lambasting hardworking fishermen. Especially Arquel, hasn't let me down yet.

Back to condo, steaming the crab, need to do a test run on the crab cakes...

Mon Sept 15 2008

Should be on my way to San Pedro right now but Ike seems to be determined to way-lay my travel plans. Flights from Oklahoma City to Houston cancelled today so even though I could get to Belize from Houston, can't get to Houston *aaarrrggg* Prayers and thoughts for those who suffered such loss and devastation.

Good news is I can get out tomorrow, bad news is 5 hour layover in Houston. Oh well, could be worse, right? Could have my nest egg in Merrill Lynch or Lehman. Shouldn't be so flippant, condolences to those who DO. Money under the mattress sounding better and better...

Good news: exterior entrance / stairs approved today. Great thing for business but main thing is fire escape - don't know about you but no matter how good the food / booze is I'm thinking that's a pretty important thing when flames are encroaching and it's not from the hottie at the next table. But that's just my opinion... =0

Fri Sept 12 2008

Construction going well so far - from what I can tell long-distance. Updates sound positive anyway. Paint is up on walls and ceiling. Was supposed to be a rich cocoa color but my 'source' says looks more like grey. Uh oh. Of course, there ARE many shades of grey. Maybe is more like a cocoa-grey? Will see when I get there.

Getting bogged down in the minutia of the menu. Over sixty items I'm dissecting and trying to write out. Everything from salad dressings, sauces, marinades, entrees, salads, etc. When I cook I cook 'to taste'. But in a restaurant - my restaurant anyway - has to be standardized and consistent. Nothing makes me crazier than going into a place and having something one time then next time is different.

Well, I wouldn't say NOTHING makes me crazier - double-sided tape makes me crazy. Non-stick pans that AREN'T make me crazy. Rude people make me crazy. And red tape, a fly landing in my coffee, forgetting a speed bump location (when the heck did they put THAT there?), psycho taxi drivers, toilet paper put on backwards, people who spit when they talk - those make me pretty crazy also. But I digress. Suffice to say, food in a restaurant needs to be consistent. Hence the ridiculous amount of time I'm now spending on it.

Finally heard back from screenprinter - panic attack not necessary. Now just have to finalize the designs and email to her and we're ready to roll. So to speak.

Watching the progress of hurricane Ike and thinking about our friends all along the Texas gulf coast. We used to live in Houston, had a beach house in Galveston. Wonder what will be left. Prayers and thoughts are with all of them.

Wed Sept 10 2008

Building isn't square (surprise) and new ceiling beams won't cover cracks so have to tape/bed/mud the ceiling. Paint doesn't cover previously yellow walls so needs couple more coats (who puts yellow walls in a restaurant in the first place? aaarrrggg) Good thing I padded the budget for 'surprises'.

Oh, and roll down door on order for gift shop entrance is the wrong one - was supposed to have plexiglass inserts so merchandise would be visible when closed. Nope. Now will look like a warehouse door. Okay, workaround - paint and put fido's logo on it to 'dress it up'. (hmmm, will the 'lipstick' disguise the 'pig'?)

Haven't heard back from screen printer who's doing all my merchandise for the gift shop and Nautica stuff. Did she get caught in the recent immigration sweep 'net'? Did she get wind of the difficulties she was in for in working with me? Maybe she just decided life was too short to have to deal with neurotic spastic OCD people???? hehe

And to top it all off I'm out of 1 Barrel. Life is just not fair....

Have I mentioned lately how much I love all of this????

Mon Sept 8 2008

Good to be back in the states but miss my island. Lots of catching up with family and hubby - only downside to this whole deal, miss them alot.

Email and phone contact with stuff going on with restaurant but not the same as being there and having eyeballs on it.

Non stop work on menu and ingredient list. Have to list ALL ingredients and amounts to get costs / determine prices. Driving me crazy. Is it really crucial to list EVERY teaspoon of ginger in each dish or sauce? Accountant says yes. I think I'm coming to strongly dislike that man. Just kidding, he's great and just doing his job. Hard to stomach the fact though that I'm paying out hard earned money for this punishment and abuse. Isn't that why I had kids????? =0

Fri Sept 5 2008

Leaving today, hate to leave. Feel like I'm leaving a preemie newborn with a baby sitter for the first time. Three trips into town checking on things and final instructions. Probably didn't need to - clue should have been when Enrique (contractor) and Alberto (accountant) got a blank glazed look over their face and said "Got it. Go"

Wed Sept 3 2008

Papers and passport finally in - I'm legal, yeehaa!!!

Have to go to the states for a week leaving Friday so scurring to get all bases covered. Really need to be here but have to go back for my dad's 77th birthday.

Lots of work on menu - coming along really well. Great to be working on 'fun part' for a change.

Word came down from main office to close sushi bar until season (Nov. 1st). Hard to process/accept because have been working my tail off with Sharon and Cassidy to keep it perking along through slow time until it picks up. But business is business and I took it on so had to do it. Brian and I put together a plan, delivered the bad news, tried to focus on the positive - grand re-opening, facelift, new name and identity, new promos, etc.

Still hard to do. And now have three 'babies' I'm giving birth to on Nov. 1st: Nautica, Fido's gift shop and Mermaid Sushi & Martini Bar. Hope everyone who reads this patronizes ALL or I'm going down in flames! Of course might be a mute point because by that time I might be heavily sedated and in serious therapy involving straightjackets and only bladeless dull utensils.

But again I digress....

Mon Sept 1 2008

Up early, nice gentle rain - refreshing respite from the heat and dryness. Didn't last long though but that's okay, cleared in time for the workers on bicycles and kiddos heading back to school to get there safe and dry.

Love watching the 'rush-hour' traffic. Especially the kids - all clean and crisp in their school uniforms with moms or dads taking them or walking in clusters with their buddies talking, laughing, doing the silly inane things that kids do. Many speak spanish and I don't but the language of happy kids is universal, don't you think?

Anyway, I digress...

Work permit and passport supposed to be on plane over today - fingers crossed. So far four trips to DFC (drivers license dept.) down south so, hopefully getting closer. Need copy of passport, back with it, need copy of land title, back with it, need $90, only had $62, back with it, need dr. to sign form saying my eyesight is okay to drive a cart (Helloooo, I just filled out the form in front of you - I CAN SEE), need thumbprint of first born - I drew the line. Just kidding but many hoops. Think I finally have it. Now for cart permit...

Met with contractor to line out construction on restaurant and gift shop. Should work good, on the same page so far. Coordinating both might be a hassle but workable.

To Castillo's to pick out paint colors - going with cocoa walls and eggplant accents. Food on the brain I guess - colors rocked but when they are named after something edible just couldn't resist. Not good together on a plate but hopefully on the walls will work?

Back home, in a cooking mood and just got a huge big thick chunk of grouper from Arquel (thin, darker skinned guy on bike with ice chest. Great fish but check the weight and count. Just an fyi). Crusted it with toasted coriander seeds and white peppercorns, drizzled with olive oil and broiled. Yum. Needed a mango salsa or something over it (kind of dry) but was happy with flavor.

Also experimented with cous-cous. Easy and pretty tasty. Added olive oil, ginger and cilantro. Went well with the grouper. Lots left over - breakfast.

Sun Aug 31 2008

Days have been filled with meetings, work days, covering minutia, etc. But today is Dulce's birthday so taking the afternoon off to just have fun. Met at Beachin' Kitchen up north - awesome pizza and mango-mosas, then to Coco-Loco's, then to BC's. Good times.

Home by 6 and can't turn off the brain so out to the porch with laptop and lists.

Thur Aug 28 2008

Hot sunny morning, slight breeze. Gustav has headed north so good news for San Pedro.

Another work day, still lots to do. Got to the restaurant, Mike has the freezer pulled out to seal the floor and take care of leak problem. All good stuff except he has the freezer blocking the sinks. And while I'm not a genious, I DO know that to clean, a sink and running water is fairly essential.... Did the best we could and still got quite a bit done. And leak problem is getting fixed so that's good.

Inc. papers came in - pretty cool! It's official - Belize corporation: Nautica Investments. Wow. should I be scared? Probably so but here we go...

Home, shower, porch. Friend came over and we parked on the porch with bottle(s) of wine and I think pretty much solved the world's problems. Amazing how level of intelligence is directly proportionate to amount of wine? More wine = more smart. Gotta love it. hehe

Wed Aug 27 2008

Work day today! Staff coming in to clear out, clean out, get ready for re-do. Was up at 3am making lists of things to get done.

Also trying to figure out best strategy for sushi bar (have been helping with that on consulting basis for a couple months now also - just because I didn't have enough to do I guess...). Great sushi but very slow right now - crunch time. Great potential, totally viable bottom-line wise, just need more traffic and have to cut costs wherever possible. Putting together a plan with Fido's mgmt. to pump life-blood into it.

Work day went very well. Wanted to get an idea of who's a worker and who's not. And who I can work with and who I can't. And who can work with ME and who can't. So far all good - want to keep all of them and see how it works out. We'll see.

All was going well until we flooded Lindsey AGAIN. (Belizian Arts Gallery downstairs below us). Seems she has been flooded many times over the year(s) and nothing has been fixed. She's a sweetheart and VERY patient.

Can't have that though - my thinking is if it's broke, fix it. Condensate line on beer cooler clogged and disconnected, got that fixed, defrosted freezer, more leaks and drips, got that fixed. Kudos to Mike - not only is he a great bartender but also fixes everything at Fido's and a very valuable resource - great guy too.

So, minor crises notwithstanding, very productive day.

Lost a nail today - first on the job injury. And not just a girlie 'I broke a nail' thing - whole thing ripped off at the quick. Was moving barstools and hit it and ouch - gone. Oh well, nine still intact...

Stopped in at Fido's to get a take-out order of calamari - no dice going on, darn. Calamari was great though - new recipe, prep method, crispy and brown. Yum.

Home, shower, porch, ocean. Yessssss

Tue Aug 26 2008

Turn over day! Okay, now past the point of no return. Yikes. All good though, really excited.

Met with Dave, Laura and the staff. He did his thing (Out of the Steakhouse, focusing on Sandbar, been real, yada, yada.) Then they left and I took over. Literally and figuratively I guess. Mostly just sat and talked about what I was wanting to do, the changes, new menu and concept.

Tried to get an idea of what their mindset was and how receptive or not they were. Very encouraged. They all pulled up their chairs closer to the table and were really eager to hear the plans and gave some great input. Great crew so far as I can tell at this point.

Afterwards ran around taking care of things: Giovanni's for banner, Gecko for ad, Castillo's for supplies (fans, locks, cleaning supplies, etc.), then Mango's for southwest eggrolls to take home for dinner.

Back home and after long shower out to the porch (worn out but at least I smell better. ahem). Me, laptop, Lighthouse, eggrolls, ocean - life is good.

Mon Aug 25

Okay, back to the rat race. Not complaining, totally loving it.

Into town. Stopped in at Monkey Bites to check with Sherry on cart permit (we're both trying to get one, she's helping me). I love that place - shrimp chimichangas today - yum.

Then to Island Adventures to check on cart title for cart I'm trying to buy (renting is KILLING me), then to Giovanni’s to check on 'coming soon' banner - closed.

Then to Fido’s for meeting on Hot Book ad (even though restaurant is mine, am under the Fido's 'umbrella' - good thing. Still free falling but at least a net. Office staff, ordering, accounting, etc. takes some of the pressure off. I sign all checks and make all decisions so no worries, just nice to know I'm not totally flying solo)

Over to Gecko Graphics to finalize layout, back to Fido's, beer and chat with Shaggy about cart title, teensy bit of dice (won $20 - woohoo!) then back to Giovanni’s, still closed, then to Hummingbird to get price on re-do of office chairs.

Back to home and my porch. Several things marked off the list, many more added. The ocean and I solved many problems and came up with some creative work-arounds. Gotta love it...

Sun Aug 24 2008

Took the afternoon off from restaurant stuff to go to Dennisito's going away party at BC's. Last time to play with the band. Going to miss that kid but excited for the options and future possibilities for him as he continues his education in the states.

Went through the 'empty nest' thing several years ago so of course felt duty bound to impart my 'survival' tips to Dennis and Dulce: 1 Barrel. Lots of 1 Barrel. Shots, mixed, intravenously - doesn't matter. For therapeudic purposes of course.

Just kidding.


Back to the porch, back to work.

Sat Aug 23 2008

Put Jessica on a plane yesterday - great fun time together and enjoyed seeing her enthusiasm for my new 'project'. She's a 'foodie' also so needless to say, menu is coming together.

Back to the lists, lists, lists. After hours of sitting on the porch with my trusty laptop decide I need a break. Since cooking is my other form of therapy and escape (first is the ocean) what do I do? Head to the kitchen.

It's a mustgo day (everything in the fridge MUST GO). Fresh tomatoes, chorizo from Sausage Factory, fresh flat leaf oregano I pilfered from Rico's 'garden', leftover fry jack. Hmmmm, this could work.

Yum, rich marinara sauce with the sausage, penne pasta from the pantry, oregano and mozzarella melted and bubbly on top. Not necessarily a menu item since want to focus on seafood but definitely an option for a daily special.

And I think I found the bread I want to serve. Score.

Took the fryjack, brushed it with olive oil and garlic, little bit of the oregano, little bit of parmesian, then broiled it. Little crunchy, little chewy, totally decadent and easily available! (no worries if crusty french bread doesn't make the barge!)

Yes, a good day. *brrrrrrrp*

Aug 20 2008

Oldest daughter arrived last night and so excited to see her and spend time together but can't turn off the racing brain and mental to-do lists. Day trip to Lamani with her. My apologies to the whole Mayan culture and history - sorry, but my brain was on staffing, stocking and how in the heck am I going to get baby spinach in January.

Was a great day though. And as soon as we hit the condo and parked ourselves on the porch she wanted to read so I got out my laptop and got back to work.

Bigger problems than baby spinach - work permit and passport held up in Belmopan, wire transfer held up in the states, gift shop for Fido's that I've been working on for six months now set to open SAME day as Nautica, former owner not agreeing to terms so delayed turn-over ergo delayed construction start date.

Oh, and daughter drops bombshell that after five years of being engaged they want to go ahead and do the deed.

This coming spring.

In France.

Peddle faster...

Aug 19 2008

And the craziness begins. Met with attorney to get incorporation process started, still working on getting work permit (what a nightmare that has turned into), trying to get the theme, concept, design, etc. lined out.

Have an idea of menu but first things first. I know it will be fish, fish, fish (correct me if I'm wrong but do people come to the island saying "what I really want is a nice big steak"? Or do they say "fish, fish, fish"? Guess I'll find out!

Aug 18 2008

It's official - I've totally lost my mind. Signed the deal this morning to buy out Fido's Steakhouse and turn it into Nautica Seafood Grill & Bar. Have done a restaurant before and swore I'd never do it again but I guess as they say, never say never.