Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Mountain Life in the High Country

Are you a beach person or a mountain person?  That's the question that people always ask in the Carolina's. Most people have a very definite answer. As for me I feel a sense of belonging in most places. I grew up in Southern California and lived at the beach, spent time in the mountains and in the deserts of California and Baja. 

Mountain Cottage

“You are only free when you realize you belong to no place – you belong every place – no place at all. The price is high. The reward great”. This quote is mentioned in the book “Braving the Wilderness” by Brene’ Brown. The quote is by Dr. Maya Angelou and Brene’ heard it in an interview with Bill Moyers in 1973 on public television. I just finished reading this for a book club that I was invited to by my Bestie Karin, who retired several years ago, and we both agree it is a must read.

When I started writing this post, I had not finished reading the book “Braving the Wilderness”. Now that I have completed it and joined the “Bookies” book club in a discussion about this book I started rethinking what I was writing about.

I think feeling comfortable with yourself and where you choose to live are two different things. You might be one of those people who just loves living at the beach, mountains or city, period and would not consider living anywhere but that place you love. You could be a person who feels comfortable in many places, you just choose to live in a warm climate because that is what you love. Stay tuned for my post about the book.

I am writing this post today because we recently purchased a Mountain home, a quaint cottage style home in need of a little TLC.  Finding this little jewel was a journey in itself and a story for another day. As I shared with my hubby “the house found us, maybe the house needed us or maybe we needed the house…hmmm maybe both.
Back Deck 

When we decided to move from Charlotte to the North Carolina Mountains I got “Oh you’re a Mountain Girl”, hmmm yes I love the lush green mountains, the scent of pine and fresh air but I also love the smell of the ocean, the feel of the salty air on my skin, also the quiet dry heat of the desert and the wonder, that many before me braved the hot dry trek across the California deserts to reach the Pacific Ocean.

Something magical happens to me whenever I get out of the city and close to nature. Whether I am near the ocean, a lake, a river, the desert or the Mountains, I feel at home.

 Growing up in Southern California I learned how to scuba dive, surf sort of but mostly knee boarding and body surfing! Camping trips and campfires, lazy days soaking up the sunshine, playing volleyball, long walks and beautiful sunsets were a big part of my life. And of course, exploring the tide pools on school field trips and on my own. I wanted to be Jacques Cousteau growing up, a world travel and explorer!

There were family camping trips, loading up our family camper and traveling the length of California, Oregon and Washington on “PCH” the Pacific Coast Highway and interstate 5. Exploring the Redwoods, Big Sur, Yosemite National Park, they are some of the most magical places that I have visited.

Then there is the San Diego desert; Ocotillo Wells and Borrego Springs in the Anza-Borrego State Park, where we spent a lot of time on the dunes. Dune buggies, three-wheeler bikes. Yep I am talking way back, before they started making four-wheel all-terrain vehicles. I am proud to say that I never did roll on one of those three wheeled motorbikes or in a dune buggy. Unfortunately, a lot of people I know did injure themselves; broken collar bones, legs, arms and assorted injuries. 

We also spent holidays, vacations and long weekends in Baja camping, pitting for friends during the Baja 500 and the Baja 1000; a off-road Motorsport. And then there is the Mint 400 off-road race in Las Vegas, so many memories with my girlfriends and family. Which is now called the BF Goodrich Tires Mint 400…I miss the days of simple titles for sporting events.

I also spent holidays and weekends when I was growing up in Big Bear, where tobogganing, sledding and snow fights were the main event and always a cup of cocoa on the stove at our cabin to warm us up.

School camps and Young Life Camps in the San Bernardino Mountains and Mountain ranges near San Diego, California. Also spending time in Mammoth Mountain learning how to snow ski. Now that’s a story. My Sissy Deb moved up to Mammoth Mountain after High School to learn how to snow ski and work.

A lot of our friends and those chasing the snow and the surf would head up the Mountain for Ski season. The jobs didn’t pay much, the housing was really expensive but living the dream was all they cared about. As for my Sissy she never did really learn how to Snow Ski, her and bestie/roomie Desiree had to work several jobs just to pay the rent and feed themselves. They also lived in some very interesting places; the apartment above the Disco where you could hear the bumping beat of music late into the wee hours of the morning.

Then there was the apartment with a drape as the door for the bathroom... interesting, but for me and my besties Lu and Candy it was a free place to stay. Lu already knew how to Snow Ski but Candy and I learned in Mammoth, which kind of spoiled us because it is one of the most beautiful, Ski resorts I have ever been to. Plenty of powder, wide open Ski runs, which I love and Sunshine on many days, pure Snow Skiing Heaven!

So here we are in the mountains. We are a family of roads warriors, adventures and travelers. We are now about 5 hours from the coast rather than 4, so not so bad of a drive.

It already feels like home! Hubby is still painting doors and touching up, it is a process but all the walls have a fresh coat of paint. The house has beautiful Chinese elm floors in the great room area, we did replace the carpet in the two bedrooms and LV in the bathrooms.  I LOVE it here! 

And I couldn’t write a post without mentioning food, sooo my first meal that I cooked on the “new to me Bosch Stove fueled by propane was turkey chili. Easy for me to make, I kept it simple with a really bare pantry. Click on the link Quick and EasyTurkey Chili for the recipe.

Just Cook Something and stay tuned for more recipes and adventures. Cheers! Kary~

Friday, June 7, 2019

Quick and Easy Turkey Chili

We moved into our Mountain Cottage at the end of March. Spring had just started showing a few colors and the air was still cool. I thought Chili would warm us up and my kitchen cabinets were pretty bare of supplies, actually almost non-existent, because why move all those containers of food.  

The first meal I cooked on our, new to me, Bosch Stove fueled by propane was turkey chili. Easy for me to make and I kept it simple in the mist of unpacking, cleaning and trying to make a place for everything in our 1,000 square foot cottage, a little bit of a challenge, but we are making it work!

I had dry seasonings and herbs on-hand but nothing else so I made a quick trip to the grocery store to pick-up what else I would need. 

Here's a really simple and quick Chili: 

Quick Turkey Chili
       1/2 medium sweet yellow onion chopped (I find that the sweet yellow onion adds the best flavour and you can always use the whole diced onion, your choice
       1 Green Bell Pepper seeds removed and diced
       1 teaspoon olive oil
       1 pound of ground turkey 
       2 tablespoon chili powder
       2 tablespoons of garlic powder
       1 15 oz of black beans, drain, rinse in colander to remove some of the sodium
    1 15 oz of red kidney beans, drain, rinse in colander to remove some of the sodium
       1 29 oz can of tomato puree
   Over medium heat in a large Dutch oven I heated olive oil then sautéed the onions and green peppers until they began to soften, added the ground turkey to the pot, chili powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. I cooked it about 15 minutes on medium heat until the turkey started to brown. There was a little grease which I drained then added the black beans, kidney beans and tomato puree. I will add more spices once the chili is cooked if needed. After the chili boiled, I let it simmer for over an hour. The longer you simmer the chili the better the flavor! On my, new to me, stove top the simmer setting is a little high so I moved the pot to a smaller burner to keep the chili from continuously boiling. It was a cold blustery day so the heat from the burners was welcome!
I topped the Chili with shredded white cheddar cheese and served it with saltine
crackers. Oh, so yummy and easy. 

Check back for more recipes from my mountain cottage and posts about mountain living. 

Just Cook Something! Cheers~ Kary

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Memory of my Brother, a fan of Moroccan food

---  Original Message ----
From: Vegascruzn
To: Ksquiresnc
Sent: Sun Jul 19 2009 2:28 pm
Subject: Check out – Recipes – Moroccan - Recipes - Moroccan            You might see something you like
                                                             Love Douglas

Who knew this would be the last email my brother Douglas would ever send to me. This was the last email that I ever received from my brother Douglas, although never the last message…
Christmas, Idaho 1998???

Douglas left us 9 years ago. He left us too soon at 53 years young. In 1973 we changed High Schools and he would tell people that we were twins and I flunked a grade, for the record he was born February 14th and me in August, clearly not twins! Oh, how I miss his humor, but he can still make me laugh or cry when I think of him or hear a song, watch a movie, TV show or hang out at the beach listening to the surf roll in and out, we do love the ocean!

Douglas is forever in my heart, part of my soul and I feel him with always, during moments of joy and despair.

You know that I am truly a happy, joyful person, also the cheerleader, the glass not just half full kind of girl, but glass always full!  However, we all have our challenges in this life and when I start to “go down the rabbit hole in my mind” to places best not visited, Douglas is there with all my Guardian Angels pulling me back towards the light.

The significance of the last email was, well so many things but one was Douglas loved Moroccan food, also travel and adventure, so when the opportunity was literally dropped in my lap one Thursday afternoon in April by another angel Ms Betty I said yes to another adventure, packed my bags and was on a flight the following Wednesday night from Charlotte to Madrid, then on to Casablanca, yes, THE Casablanca, “Play it for me Sam” place in Northern Africa!

So today I dedicate this post to my bro Douglas and all my future posts about my amazing, magical adventure to Morocco… Bro, I know you would have loved the Camel ride, the getting up at 4:30 am not so much…which I might add my roomy Linda and I almost missed, again thank you Betty!
And it was truly worth getting up to ride on a Dromedary/Camel to see the sun rise over the Western Sahara, truly magical…

And yes, those camels, actually we rode Dromedary are really really uncomfortable, the good thing was mine was in a good mood and seemed to take to me, no biting!

Stay tuned for my recipes and visit Kongo’s blog, a really fantastic fun writer so click on his link for the most incredible journey, Oh and did I mention an amazing photographer and friend.

It you are still reading my post, we have such short attention spans these days, please take time every day to hug, call, connect with those you love and meet. Stay present in your moment.

“There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called Yesterday and the other is called Tomorrow. Today is the right day to Love, Believe, Do and mostly Live.”
― Dalai Lama XIV

Peace be with you! Hugs, Kary

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Shrimp and Rice with Bay Seasoning

What's for dinner...I  was rummaging around in the fridge and here is what I came up with. This is so easy and really yummy.

Here’s what I had on-hand:
1 Cup cooked brown rice
1 Lb. cooked, cleaned and deveined, toss with a teaspoon of Bay Seasoning
Green Peppers & Sweet onion
½ cup of diced tomatoes with the juice from a can or jar
Bay seasoning to taste

Just toss it all together, so easy and delicious.

If you don't have Bay Seasoning here's a recipe to make your own homemade.

Just cook something! Cheers~ Kary

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Crock Pot/Slow Cooker Recipes

Happy holidays! If you are like me you are up to your neck in holiday preparations, so I thought I would share some of my Slow Cooker/Crock Pot recipes. 

I do love coming home in the evening  and being greeted by the wonderful aroma of dinner simmering in the slow cooker. Here are some of my favorite slow cooker recipes and also meals you can make with the extra Pork, Turkey, Beef or Chicken. 

What is your favorite slow cooker recipe? Just cook something! Cheers~ Kary


Pork Ribs Slow Cooked

Turkey Breast Slow Cooked

Monday, September 11, 2017

Peaches, Mozzarella, Pacenta & Basil

Fresh tomato season in the southeast is over and one of my favorite tomato dishes is Caprese Salad. 

A couple of weeks ago hubby and I loaded up the car and headed to the 1000 Islands on the Saint Lawrence River in New York state. Doug’s brother and wife have a cottage up there on a lake, which is amazing and a really beautiful part of our country.

I brought fresh peaches with us and Cathy had a new recipe to try; peaches, mozzarella, pancetta, basil, drizzled with balsamic syrup. Oh, wow they were yummy and that easy to make.

Just slice the peaches and mozzarella, then layer with the pancetta and drizzle the balsamic and top with fresh basil. Yep that’s it and new summer favorite!

Just cook something! Cheers! Kary~ 

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah with a side of Pizza

"Have you read the book, book club is back! 

We gathered at The Stuffed Olive in Waxhaw, NC to share a meal, laughs and discuss The Nightingale” by Kristin Hannah.

“The Nightingale”by Kristin Hannah opens with this statement; “If I have learned anything in this long life of mine, it is this: In love, we find out who we want to be; in war, we find out who we are.” This got my attention, did this grab yours?

As I mentioned in my last post about our book club we decided to try something different this year and meet at some of our local restaurants rather than host from one of our homes. We always love getting together and look forward to catching up, sharing lots of laughs, great food and our thoughts about the book.

Meeting and discussing the book at a restaurant has a completely different vibe than meeting at one of our homes. Still enjoyable, but at one of our homes it’s just plain comfy. Also, I love writing about what our host prepared for the evening. Stay tuned we may change back to hosting at home.

We settled in at The Stuffed Olive, ordered pizza and got down to the business of discussing our book.

Kristin Hannah is one of our groups favorite authors and again she does not disappoint us. The Nightingale is set in France during World War II and although we have all read many history books about war WW II, this book is focused on two sister’s perspectives, experiences and about the struggles that the women and children face. Back then women were usually not on the front lines shooting guns, but they were fighting a different kind of battle in their homes and villages. And some women, like Isabelle found a way to join the resistance, I won’t share the details and spoil the story, you will just have to read The Nightingale.

In The Nightingale, Kristin Hannah’s  story tugged at my heart strings, brought tears to my eyes, an ache to my belly and I could almost feel the chill in my bones. The story is about the Women in war and it is set during World War II in worn torn France during the German occupation.

Kristin’s writing takes me to a place where I can only imagine what is was like to experience the screeching of the air raid sirens, the cold harsh winters, the anger, loneliness, hunger and despair that people felt during WWII and any war zone.
To me the story is about the women’s hope for the war to end, for husbands to find their way home and to get back the simple pleasures of life they experienced before the war. Basic survival was the goal for the day. And in war everyone is damaged, some are heroic and some not so much.

I found myself shivering, trying to stay warm while reading about how Vienne tried to keep her family from freezing and not starving.

This was one of those books that continues to haunt me. Kristin writes about the struggles the women face; basically, just trying to survive, to feed their families and avoid freezing during the winter while many of the German soldiers ate their food, took over not only their town but homes and abused the women.

War is truly an awful thing and as I read The Nightingale I was thinking about the horrors of war, but my hope continues to be that someday all mankind will lay down their guns and find peace throughout the world, war does not solve problems. 

A haunting story…. Kary~

2017 Book Selections:
 “Before the Fall” Noah Harvley
  “The Nest” Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
  “Dark Town” Thomas Mullen
 “Mister Owitas Guide to Gardening” Carol Wall