Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Kayaking the Everglades with Worldstrides Spring Break Trip

The Adventure Continues Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 of Molly's Everglades Worldstrides Spring Break Trip. Guest post from my niece Molly, great job Molly girl! Cheers~ Auntie KK

Day four is here. We wake up still exhausted but ready for the day. I put on more Aloe Vera and sunscreen for my even worse sunburn. Then hop into a tank-top and shorts, along with my flip-flops. After breakfast at the hotel, we go to a little local outdoor shopping market. There we fed these giant fish over the dock, ran away from many Pelicans

and went shopping. I bought a necklace with a small baby jellyfish in it, a tank-top and matching glass heart stones for my boyfriend and I. Once we leave there, we go kayaking! 
It was a beautiful two hour kayaking trip. Courtney and I shared a kayak. She was in charge of paddling in the front and I was in charge of steering in the back. At first we were terrible, running into everything and going in circles. But after about twenty minutes we got the hang of it and ended up being the best out of everyone else! It was scorching hot outside but every once in a while there would be a nice breeze or we would have paddle fights and get cooled off by the water. Our snacks were a Capri Sun and a Granola Bar. I never thought kayaking would be so easy! Once we got back to shore and regrouped, we were starving for lunch and dying to eat anything. We go to a fancy fish restaurant. With some of the best fish I’ve ever had. And coincidentally Sierra found the same mustard sauce she had yesterday. 
Next we took a short trip to a bird zoo of some sort. It had Turkey Vultures, Flamingos, Hawks and even Owls. We took an hour drive to a fancy restaurant for dinner. I was so exhausted that I don’t even remember what I ate. I swear I dozed off at the table. Once we got back to the hotel, everyone except me and my roommates went swimming, the four of us fell into bed and passed out. Thanks again for stopping by and sharing my adventure, can't believe only one more day! Check back next Tuesday. What was your favorite educational trip

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Everglades Worldstrides Spring Break Trip

 The Adventure Continues Day 1 Day 2 of Molly's Everglades Worldstrides Spring Break Trip

  Day 3 here we go… Our vacation was already halfway over! Where did the time go?!?!? We woke up tired and hungry. We had waffles and fruit for breakfast at the hotel and
Pic from Key West Aquarium
took our time getting ready. Our first stop of the day was going to the beach for a snorkeling lesson. Finding the right size flippers and figuring out how to put on the goggles was a small challenge, but after a few tries all of us were ready. We are told to stay close to shore for now because later we will have a chance to go to a real big coral reef. But that wasn’t until we got the hang of it. I dive in and for awhile there is nothing. All there is, is sand and sea grass. But all of a sudden, the sea floor drops. And it is pitch black. The only splash of color I see is a little Cuttlefish swimming in front of me. When I first saw it, it was a light blue color. I blink and look away for a second, when I look back it’s white and then changes to black with white stripes. I motion my friends over to show them. By the time they get there the Cuttlefish is light blue again and swimming away from us. Christina has a waterproof phone case and takes a few photos. The next thing we know Tiana screams and we see a giant Manatee underneath us, I stare in awe until I hear Tiana scream again and I realize she isn’t screaming because of the Manatee, she is screaming because she sees a highly poisonous Jellyfish swimming towards us. We struggle to swim away from it and soon enough we are on the other side of the beach. The first thing I see is a group of old, rusted cannons. We explore there for a while and then head back to the beach to dry off. Courtney and I decide to go get ice cream. I swear that ice cream was that fastest melting ice cream in the whole universe! It was all over the place and we had to throw it away before finishing it.

  We are starving; luckily we go to lunch after. I order a grilled cheese sandwich with a choice of fries or two small crab cakes. I of course choose the crab cakes. It was 
Kary's Grilled Cheese with Peppers and Pesto
delicious. Sierra orders a special mustard sauce and falls in love. She orders two more containers of it to take back to the hotel later. But our day was definitely not over yet. We go to the beach and get into groups. We go “fishing”. Instead of using fishing poles, we slowly go through the seaweed with a net. At first, we don’t find anything. But a little while later Courtney finds a Shrimp! And a few minutes later I find a Puffer fish!! Sierra catches a couple Crabs. We find a couple baby shrimp and snails. Christina puts some seaweed and rocks in to make it look more like the ocean. We put them in a container full of ocean water to observe them. We decide to name them. Courtney names the shrimp Bob. The Crab is named Mr. Crabs and I name my Puffer fish, Bill. I loved Bill! A couple minutes later we find out, in the midst of all the seaweed, there was a baby Puffer fish! We name him Bill Jr. and we decide that Bill is now a girl. Some other groups caught Jellyfish, Clams and Cuttlefish. It was fascinating seeing all the marine animals and learning about how they live together. But all good things have to end. We say our goodbyes and release Bob, Mr. Crabs, Bill, and Bill Jr. back into their home.

  The last thing planned for the day was snorkeling in the middle of the ocean. We drive to the pier and board onto a giant boat where we get new flippers, goggles and a breathing tube. It was an amazing thirty minute journey to the reef. It was all natural and untouched by humans. I jump in and the first thing I see is a whole bunch of crabs at the bottom of the ocean floor. As I kept swimming I see movement underneath me. I realize it is a Barracuda! I could see every detail, every scale, it was fascinating. It swam away as quick as it showed up. Tiana is full of shock and fear but I have the biggest smile on my face. We keep going and reach the reef. We see Rainbow Parrotfish,
Rainbow Parrotfish 
Blue Tangs and we even saw Nemo!! There were anemones all around, coral of all different colors and the fastest swimming school of fish ever. On our way back, Tiana screams again and is pointing at the sea floor. I look down and in the midst of the sand is a huge Stingray. He or she isn’t bothered by all of us being there. I believe he or she was actually sleeping! After we were too exhausted to snorkel any longer, we went back to the boat to hang out and take pictures. We all ended up jumping off the edge of the boat and having back-flip competitions.

Shortly after we took the thirty minute boat ride back we grabbed some Wendy’s to-go and headed back to the hotel. I was definitely tired, so I stayed in the hotel room while my roommates went swimming. I took my shower and listened to some music. A calming playlist I put together consisting of Nirvana, Alter Bridge, Paramore, Black Veil Brides and much more. It’s around 9pm and just as I’m about to doze off, here comes Courtney, Sierra and Christina bursting through the door, laughing their heads off. The first thing they say to me is “Call your boyfriend! He’s funny, and we want to ask him questions!” I ask what kind of questions but I am interrupted by the sound of Sierra making very loud Monkey noises. I realized Courtney is in the shower and Sierra is watching Animal Planet. This is when I realize how crazy my friends are and how crazy I have to be to love them and keep them around! A few minutes later Courtney walks out of the bathroom and tells me the shower door is now broken. She calls up the maintenance guy and for the next hour we stay up while he fixes the door. Once he leaves we agree to never tell our teacher about this and soon we all pass out into a deep sleep.

Join me next Tuesday for day 4...more fun to come. Molly~

I hope you enjoyed day 3 of Molly's grand adventure and make sure to stop by check next week. Until then, Just Cook Something! Cheers! Kary~ Or you can call me Auntie KK like Molly

Are you planning your spring break trip yet?   

Friday, January 22, 2016

Book Club 2016 "Have you read the book, book club"

Happy New Year from “Have you read the Book? Book Club”

Where does time go…tick tock tick tock. Another year has just disappeared leaving behind great memories, lots of love, fun, adventures and tears.

Our book club which began over fourteen years ago as the Heathwood neighborhood book club has morphed into not just a group of book lovers but more importantly a gathering that we all look forward to each month where we laugh, share a meal and oh yea discuss the book.

Annie Freeman's Fabulous Traveling Funeral
January's Book 2016
The Monday after Christmas we had our Christmas/New Year’s celebration at Hickory Tavern, a Charlotte favorite that recently opened in Indian Land, SC. We decided on our books for 2016 which I have listed below, and we all feasted on fish tacos, ahi tuna, salads, home made chips with a salsa and ranch dipping sauce, thank you Jackie for sharing your appetizer. We laughed, introduced our newest member Jan, enjoyed our food and mad our plans for book club 2016.

Here’s our selections for 2016 and I look forward to sharing our thoughts on the books we read and of course the meals that we share. 

Just Cook Something! Cheers! Kary~ What are you reading? 

2016 Selections:
Month       Book                                           Author
February      Garden Spells                                         Sarah Addison Allen           
March           The Hummingbird                                                 Stephen Kiernan      
April              Rogue Lawyer                                                       John Grisham           
May               Maybe in another life                                         Taylor Jenkins Reid 
June~August                         Summer Break                                  
September   Comfort and Joy                                                   Kristen Hannah
October       Marriage of Opposites                                         Alice Hoffman         
November    The Nightingale                                                     Kristen Hannah
December      Christmas Party and Book Selection for 2017            

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Everglades WorldStrides Spring Break Educational Adventure, Middle School Day 2

Last week you joined me for Day 1 of Molly's Spring Break Advetnure, here is Day 2 of her 5 day trip. 
Day 2~The adventure continues with Molly along with Centinnel Middle School and the Worldstrides educational trip. Come along for the ride...

 Day two begins...
  The next day we go on another two hour Everglades tour, but this time it’s during the day and we get to be on a big Tram that luckily had enough room for all of us. The Tram was also open, the only thing separating us and a man-eating gator was a skinny red rope on each side of the Tram. The announcer tells us about the different trees and plants where the animals will make their homes. Some groups of trees acted like a cave and had there own little ecosystem inside. We see Turkey Vultures, Cranes and Hawks for the first hour but after that we get into alligator territory.
Many of them blocked the road and we had to go around. We saw babies and their mom
climbing out of the river and even two males fighting. We get let off the Tram and have 15 minutes to grab a partner and explore a few places that they have fenced off for safety. My roommates and I go on this hidden path right along the river, with no fences I may add. We get at least six feet away from a five foot alligator! As we are called back I take one last look at a big group of alligators and I see something strange. One of the gators snouts is a lot skinnier and the scales are a lighter color then the others. I get one of the employees that work on our Tram and show them. It turns out it was a Crocodile! It is very rare to see Crocodiles in that area with a group of alligators, so that was very exciting.

  For lunch we had a choice of Wendy’s or a Mongolian restaurant. Since I love to try new things I got my friends and we went to eat at the Mongolian restaurant. It was delicious and I wish we had one here in Spokane. I had fried rice topped with teriyaki chicken, black beans, corn and an awesome honey barbeque sauce. After lunch we went back to the hotel to pack our things. For the next four days we stayed in Key Largo, so we had to move to a different hotel. It was about a 45 minute drive but it was beautiful. Once we got our rooms situated at the hotel we got to rest for an hour and go across the street to get Aloe Vera and more Sunscreen for our already terrible sunburns. Our next stop was the Turtle Hospital. They gave us a lesson on the different turtles in Florida, what they eat, and the different injuries they have when they are brought to the hospital. We got to see all the turtles they recently operated on and their permanent residents in captivity, too injured to go back in the wild. I swear they were the happiest turtles I’ve ever seen! My favorite turtle was about five weeks old; his name was Tank and I WANTED TO KEEP HIM. We also saw some Iguanas roaming around the building, resting in the sun. We visited a local burger shop for dinner, and then took a visit to an outdoor aquarium. We went to a Touch Tank. I got to hold Sea Urchins, Sea Spiders and Sea Cucumbers. Then we learned the autonomy of a Squid and dissected it. Legend says, if you kiss a Sea Cucumber or eat the eye lens of a squid, you get seven years of good luck. So I did both! Now I have fourteen years of good luck. I also got to write my name in squid ink. When we were done with the dissection, we fried up the Squid and had Calamari.

It was all outside and they brought out a grill and fryer, right by a dolphin exhibit and we listened to all the dolphins chatting and playing.

 When we returned to the hotel, it was only about 7 pm. We all threw on our bathing suits and ran to the outdoor hotel pool! It was the first time I swam in months. And it was dark out, so it was nice and cool. We played Volleyball in the water and relaxed in the hot tub. The pool was right next to a bar with a band playing. The band started singing Happy Birthday to someone in the bar and all of us joined in. We spent about three hours swimming, afterwards we were exhausted. We took showers and hurried to bed. But with four girls in a room together, no matter how tired we are, we always find something to stay up and talk about. We got to bed at around two in the morning. 

Thanks for stopping by and check in next Tuesday for day 3 of our adventure! Molly~  
Molly loves trying new foods, here are just a couple of favorites: 
Lemon Shrimp Pasta Grilled Shrimp  Sesame Chicken and Avocado 

Just cook something! Cheers! Kary! What is your favorite shrimp dish? 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Everglades Worldstrides Educational Spring Break Adventure and Molly

It’s travel Tuesday! I am so excited to share an amazing adventure. Over the next couple of weeks I have special posts to share which were written by Molly Stevens, my niece and angel girl! When Molly told me about her worldstrides CentennialMiddle School trip I was thrilled for her. This was Molly’s first trip without family and the worldstrides 
program is an organization that has been taking Middle and High School students on a variety of educational adventures for over fifty years! Thank you Molly for sharing your adventure with us and I can hear your voice in your writing, well done. 
So please join Molly on her great adventure and we would love to hear about your great adventures! 

Waking up at 4 am to catch a plane would not be my first choice. I’m 14, I like to sleep in! But it’s not my decision. So I hurry to the car, with wind and rain around me, in my summer clothes and throw my suitcase and bag in the backseat. I’m still tired but very excited. My mom and I take an hour drive to the airport and the next thing I know I am hugging her goodbye and boarding a plane to Florida. I’m going with my friend Courtney, along with 30 other students, teachers and parent volunteers. Most of them have never been on a plane. I for one have been traveling mostly to North and South Carolina all my life to visit my Aunt Kary (“KK” for short). So for the next 8 hours I will be teaching my friends how not to have a heart attack every time there is turbulence.

  After our 3 hour flight to Denver, Colorado and then another 5 hours to Florida, we finally arrive! It’s sunny, warm and I am tempted to jump out of the plane and feel the hot, humid air that I love. Yes, I did come here to learn about marine biology but just knowing I have a chance to be back in Florida was enough motivation for me to raise two thousand dollars. The last trip was with Auntie KK and Mom to visit Lynn and Paul in St.Augustine, then to meet Winter at Clearwater Marina which was truly amazing!

  Once we get everyone together, we head outside. My eyes are closed as I feel the wonderful warm air. I open them and its raining. Everyone is disappointed, except for me. Warm rain is the best! The smell is refreshing to me. I tell them to enjoy this moment because in five days we will be back in Spokane, Washington where the rain is miserably cold.

   We get introduced to our tour guide; throw our bags in the bottom of our bus and take our seats. This was no ordinary bus. This bus was luxury; it had the best AC, footrests, TVs, outlets for our phones, and free Wi-Fi! A teenagers dream, right? Our first stop was Golden Corral. I hadn’t eaten all day so I was starving. I sat with my three roommates; Courtney, a girl named Sierra and Christina. Surprisingly, we got along enough to spend five days together without going completely crazy. By the time we got done eating, the rain had stopped and the sun was setting. We are told we are going on a night hike in the Everglades National Park. The hike was amazing!

The lightning bugs were all around us and sometimes we would mistake two of
them for a pair of alligator eyes. The hike was all open, no fences or gates. So if there was an alligator in the middle of the path, we had to turn back.

Luckily, there wasn’t and we had a peaceful walk. We saw more alligators than I thought we would. The biggest one was at least seven feet. The tour guide said, for example, if the snout was about seven inches long, the whole alligator would be at least seven feet. We also heard a lot of baby gators calling out for their momma, so we knew we were too close and had to walk another path.  We headed back to the hotel, tired, happy and excited about tomorrow! Thanks for stopping by and check back next Tuesday for day 2 
or our adventure. Molly~ 

I hope you enjoy Molly's posts as much as I do. Molly and I share a love for travel, the ocean, books, cooking and good food. Just Cook Something! Cheers! Kary~

Friday, January 1, 2016

New Years and Christmas Food, Celebration, Traditions and Family

Zingers by Deliciously Organic~ Yummy
Happy New Year! Wishing you a year filled with joy, love, laughs and fun! 

Our family has a tradition of celebrating Christmas on New Years weekend. When you have a blended family starting your own traditions is something that has worked for the Squires Clan. One tradition is preparing Prime Rib for our Christmas celebration. My Mother once asked me “When do you celebrate Christmas”? My response was “We celebrate every time we are together”!

The main course is always Prime Rib and the sides vary from year to year: scalloped, mashed or baked potatoes, grits, green beans, Brussels sprouts. We keep it simple and no matter what we prepared it’s really all about being together!

More favorites, great any time! Just Cook Something! Cheers! Kary~

 Shrimp Marinated Lulu’s Awesome Recipe  ~ The shrimp is so delicious as an appetizer or try my Shrimp Pasta Salad, Mardi Gras Style always a fan fav!  

A new family favorite is Apricot Zingers; Dried Apricots, Organic Jalapeno Peppers and Bacon Appetizer from Carries Vitt’s new cookbook, “The Grain-Free Family Table, Carrie Vitt of Deliciously Organic”.