Make Your Own Tropical Popsicles

Does this summer’s heat leave you craving for a refreshing snack? How about a tropical twist on a favorite summer staple?

Try this easy recipe for a healthy, sweet, frozen treat.

Tropical Popsicle

Makes 6 popsicles

INGREDIENTS:

6 popsicle molds or small paper cups

6 popsicle sticks

Fresh mango and pineapple, peeled, cored and cubed

Fresh mango and pineapple, peeled, cored and chopped

1 ½ cups of mango puree

(I used fresh mango, peeled, pitted, chopped then pureed, but frozen mango that is thawed, then pureed will work just as well)

1 ½ cups of pineapple puree

(I used fresh pineapple, peeled, cored, chopped, then pureed, but  frozen pineapple that is thawed, then pureed will work just as well)

1 cup coconut milk, mostly the top cream

¼ cup sugar

2 tsp. lemon juice

DIRECTIONS:

1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.

2. Using a funnel, pour combined ingredients into each popsicle mold or cup.

Tropical Popsicles in freezer

Tropical popsicles in freezer

3a. If using popsicle molds, add top and popsicle sticks, the place in freezer.

3b. If using cups, cover each cup with plastic wrap; make a small slit to insert sticks, then place in freezer.

4. Popsicles should be frozen solid in 4-6 hours.

5. Remove pops by gently tugging on stick. If they don’t come out easily, you can either run water on the outside of the mold or carefully run a dull knife around the inside edge of the mold.

 

Time to enjoy the tropical fruits of your labor with this refreshing treat.

Tropical Popsicle. Create your own refreshing summer treat

Tropical Popsicle – cool, healthy treat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you have any homemade tropical summer treat recipes that you’d like to share? How about tropical food stories? If you’d like, post them in the comments section. We’d love to read them.

Thanks for stopping by!

 

 

 

Please Respect Copyright
Thanks for visiting my blog. All work is copyright of the author/artist, unless otherwise noted. If you’d like to put anything from this site on your website, please quote the author and provide a link back to this blog. All rights reserved.
© Kristi Rhodes 2015

 

Tropical Sunrise Tribute featuring a Tropical Granola Recipe

It’s a beautiful, tropical morning!

 

YouTube Preview Image

 

Be sure to stop by iTunes, Amazon MP3 or Google play and purchase this happy song, It’s a Beautiful Morning by The Rascals.

 

Tropical Sunrise Video

Wait for it~ Vacation video of a talkative sea bird and his flight towards sunrise.

YouTube Preview Image

 

 

Create a perfect breakfast to enjoy with the sunrise.

 

Tropical Granola Recipe

 

My friend Erin, shared a version of this recipe with me. It was from Ina Garten’s the barefoot contessa cookbook. I loved it, but, because of my tropical taste buds, it needed a little tropical tweaking. So, here’s my Caribbean adaptation. I hope you love it too!

 

4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

2 cups sweetened, shredded coconut

1 ½ cups sliced almonds

½ cups sunflower seeds

 

¼ cup vegetable oil

½ cup honey

1/3 cup pineapple juice

 

1 cup dried mango

1 cup dried papaya

1 cup dried pineapple

(I bought a dried tropical fruit mix in the local grocery store that was perfect)

 

1.  Preheat the oven to 350°.

2.  Grease a 14” x 17” ( or similar sized) baking sheet.

3.  Toss the oats, coconut, almonds and sunflower seeds together in a large bowl.

 

Sliced Almonds, Coconut, Sunflower Seeds and Rolled Oats

Sliced Almonds, Coconut, Sunflower Seeds and Rolled Oats

 

4.  Whisk oil, honey and pineapple juice in small bowl.

5.  Pour the liquids over the dry mixture and stir until completely covered.

6.  Spread mixture onto your baking sheet.

 

Mix wet and dry ingredients and spread on baking sheet

Mix wet and dry ingredients and spread on baking sheet

 

7.  Bake, stirring occasionally until mixture turns a nice, even golden brown around 45          minutes.

8.  Remove granola from oven and cool, stirring occasionally.

9.  Add the tropical dried fruit. Store in an airtight container.

 

After the oats and nuts are baked and cooled, add the dried mango, papaya & pineapple

After the oats and nuts are baked and cooled, add the dried mango, papaya & pineapple

 

Enjoy!

 

You can enjoy a tropical granola parfait by layering granola, fruit and yogurt.

Just add milk or sprinkle over yogurt or layer in a breakfast parfait with yogurt and mangoes

Just add milk or sprinkle over yogurt or layer in a breakfast parfait with yogurt and mangoes

 

Thanks for stopping by. If you have a favorite tropical breakfast recipe, please share it in the comments.

Have a wonderful day!

Please Respect Copyright
Thanks for visiting my blog. All work is copyright of the author/artist, unless otherwise noted. If you’d like to put anything from this site on your website, please quote the author and provide a link back to this blog. All rights reserved.
© Kristi Rhodes 2013

 

For Your Summer Reading List – A Tropical Book Review – Castaway by Lucy Irvine

 

Castaway is my recommendation for your summer reading list. It will transport you to the Coral Sea, land you on a deserted tropical island with an unsuitable cohabitor and let you live and breathe a simple, tropical life.

I recently picked it up, again, after returning from my family trip to the Florida Keys. Thoughts of leaving the Northeast and camping out in the Keys (the only way I could afford to live there), kidnapped my brain. Packing the boy’s lunches – drifted to snorkeling with the tropical fish; getting the mail – floated to poolside with palms rustling above. I couldn’t get away from the tropical thoughts. I’d like to say this was an isolated event, but it happens after all great vacations. So, in this adventurous, life-flip-flopping frame of mind, Castaway was the book I had to read, if not to change my life, then just to extend my vacation another week.

As I read Lucy Irvine’s tale of survival, there was no doubt in my mind, it was me not her on that island.  I guess that’s what’s best about reading a gifted writer. From my suburban home, I was lifted to Tuin, felt the sand in my toes, and the hot sun on my back, felt her frustration at losing her hard-fought catch to a shark, and joy of coaxing a coconut out of its tree for a nutritious and satiating treat.

As time passes, I’m sure the magic of some of the images and her magnificent strength and courage will dim in my mind.  So, I’ll be forced to once again, pick up this lovely friend and remind myself of its gift.

You can pick up a copy of Castaway at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, your favorite on-line bookstore, or your favorite local independent bookstore. (Mine is R.J. Julia’s, just in case you didn’t have one you love)

What is your favorite tropical book? The one that takes you straight to the tropics and gives you a mini-vacation without leaving your home.

 

 

Please Respect Copyright
Thanks for visiting my blog. All work is copyright of the author/artist, unless otherwise noted. If you would like to put anything from this site on your website please quote the author and provide a link back to this blog. All rights reserved.
© Kristi Rhodes 2013

 

Tropical Christmas Cookies, Music, and More Holiday Ideas

 Tropical Twist to the Season –

 

Celebrating the holiday!

Enjoy tropical Christmas or Holiday Cookie recipes, an on-line relaxing spot to take a breath, take in a Hawaiian holiday song and an adorable holiday ornament to decorate a tree or window.

 

 

 

 

YouTube Preview Image

Be sure to stop by iTunes, Amazon MP3 or Google play and purchase this Mele Kalikimaka (Hawaiian Christmas Song) by Bing Crosby, on the White Christmas album. (It’s a must have for your holiday playlist:)

 

 

Try these holiday treats for your sweet tooth. Taste the melody of sunny flavors that melt in your mouth.

Yum! Tropical Holiday Treat!


Tropical Carrot Cake Cookies

INGREDIENTS

1 stick butter (8 Tbsp.) at room temperature

½ cup packed brown sugar

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking soda

1 cup finely grated raw carrots

½ cup crushed pineapple packed in it’s own juice, drained (save the juice for frosting)

½ cup chopped pecans

½ cup shredded sweetened coconut

 

 INSTRUCTIONS:

*Pre-heat oven to 350˚.  Grease your cookie sheet (or line with parchment paper).

*In a large bowl, beat butter until creamy, (1-2 minutes using handheld mixer).

*Add both sugars and mix until fluffy (about 5 minutes).

*Add egg and vanilla. Mix well.

*In medium bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.

*Add flour mixture to butter mixture until just combined.

*Fold in carrots, pineapple, pecans and coconut.

*Drop by Tbsp. onto baking sheet.

*Bake at 350˚ for 13-14 minutes or until set and edges slightly golden brown.

*Remove from oven and cool on cookie sheet for a couple of minutes, then onto a cooling rack.

*Let cool completely, then frost.

 Tropical Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz. Neufchatel cheese (can substitute cream cheese, this one has lower fat and fewer calories)

2 cups powdered sugar

3 Tbsp. pineapple juice

1 Tsp. vanilla

½ cup sweetened shredded coconut (for sprinkling)

 

Mix all ingredients together except coconut. Sprinkle coconut on top.

 

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥  ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥  ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥  ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥  ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥  ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥  ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

 

Enjoy a stress free 2 minutes at:

www.donothingfor2minutes.com

Hear the waves crash, see the peaceful shore. Relax.

 

 ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥  ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥  ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥  ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥  ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥  ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥  ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

 

Coconut, Pineapple and Orange, a delicious cookie combination:)

Tropical Macaroons

Add a tropical twist to a favorite macaroon.

(Adapted from http://yearonthegrill.blogspot.com/2010/12 /pina-colada-macarooms-tropical.html)

INGREDIENTS:

2 ½ cups sweetened, flaked coconut

1/3 cup granulated sugar

4 tbsp. flour

½ tsp. salt

3 egg whites

1 tsp. vanilla

4 tsps. orange juice

1 cup crushed pineapple

INSTRUCTIONS:

*Pre-heat oven to 350˚.  Line cookie sheet with parchment paper or coat with cooking spray.

*Mix coconut, sugar, flour and salt together in large bowl.

*Whisk egg whites, vanilla and orange juice in medium bowl until light, frothy and evenly colored.

*Drop dough by spoonfuls onto cookie sheet and use your fingers to form the dough into tight pyramids or domes.

*Bake about 20 minutes until edges and tops lightly browned.

 

≈  ≈  ≈  ≈  ≈  ≈  ≈  ≈  ≈  ≈  ≈  ≈  ≈  ≈  ≈  ≈  ≈  ≈  ≈  ≈  ≈  ≈  ≈  ≈  ≈  ≈  ≈  ≈  ≈  ≈  ≈  ≈  ≈  ≈

JELLYFISH TROPICAL ORNAMENT

The coolest tropical ornament on the planet. I happened upon her booth at this art show in between games at a soccer tournament. Beautiful, whimsical, lovely.

 

Adorable ornament

I love this colorful, whimsical little ornament!

Check out the rest of Liza Abelson’s amazing art glass works at www.daskendesigns.com. Be sure to see the little mermaids!

 

≈  ≈  ≈  ≈  ≈  ≈  ≈  ≈  ≈  ≈  ≈  ≈  ≈  ≈  ≈  ≈  ≈  ≈  ≈  ≈  ≈  ≈  ≈  ≈  ≈  ≈  ≈  ≈  ≈  ≈  ≈  ≈  ≈  ≈

What’s your favorite Tropical Holiday Tradition?  Did you find a cookie cutter in the shape of a palm tree or put a little pineapple in your cranberry sauce.  We want to know.  Share your tropical ideas in the comments.

 

Wishing you and your family a happy tropical holiday and a sunny New Year.

 

Please Respect Copyright

Thanks for visiting my blog. All work is copyright of the author/artist, unless otherwise noted. If you would like to put anything from this site on your website please quote the author and provide a link back to this blog. All rights reserved.
© Kristi Rhodes 2012

Ten Tropical, Cost-Saving Tabletop Decorating Touches for Your Party or Casual Wedding Reception

I discovered these tropical decorating ideas while helping plan an event very close to my heart…

Lovely Mom and Dashing Richard during their tropical wedding:)

My wonderful Mom was married to her very sweet beau, Richard, this summer.  The loving couple had a simple, enchanting, homemade, fun, tropical wedding and reception. The affair was filled with love and tropical beauty.

A sample of the tabletop decorations. Photo courtesy of Wendy Maus©.

 YouTube Preview Image

Pardon me for the tropical interruption.  This seemed like a good place for a video of Stone Calypso Medley – Trinidad&Tobago – Steel drums.

Plan Your Own Party in Paradise with Ten Ideas for Tabletop Tropical Touches
1. Splash Everything in Tropical Colors.

Color the party fun and festive with bowls and other serving pieces in the blue/green pallate, accented with crisp white.   

Pop in tropical colored serving dishes.

Great serving spoons were found at a dollar store.

Multi-colored serving pieces

 

2. Scatter Fabulous, Decorative Fish Nets.  They can be found at dollar stores and used over plain white tablecloths for a tropical touch.  Try them for a tropical wall decorations.

Decorative fishing net reely (little fishing humor) adds the tropical feel

 

3. Sprinkle sea glass. I found small packages of it at Michael’s for around a dollar.

Sea glass sparkles in your tropical centerpiece

 

4. Beautiful Baskets, Crazy Useful. You could fill them with tropical colored napkins, an arrangement, or to hold chips or bread.

 

Baskets, versatile and tropical

5. Put it All in Positively Perfect and Multipurpose Pails. They’re available in all sizes and colors and can be used for everything from holding arrangements to silverware and drinks.

 

These pails are perfect for tropical party tables.

6. Flexible, Fabulous, Faux Foliage.  We found ours at a dollar store and they really amp up the tropical feel.

Fabulous Faux Tropical Foliage

 

7. Burlap, Not Just for Bags Anymore. A great layering piece.  We used a 1’ x 1’ square as an inexpensive starting point for a tropical centerpiece.

Burlap is versatile, for a runner, an easy gathering piece for a tropical arrangement of a small accent under a vase.

8. Bouncy, Beach Balls.  Scatter on the tables or fill the pool with these playful, always tropical, adorable additions.

Beach balls add fun to a tropical table top.

 

9. Lanterns, Some Light Up for Extra Pizzazz.  I found these little ones at CVS, they’re tropical, add interest and beautiful at night.

These lanterns were extra special because they were small enough to fit nicely on a tabletop. They ran on batteries and they changed colors.

 

10. Fish Decorations, Plates, and Bowls.  They are just tropical and cute

 

Fun fish serving pieces and decorations

 

Wishing you a wonderful party.  I hope these suggestions helped you create a fun, tropical get-together.

If you have a tropical tabletop idea you’d like to share, please let us know in the comments.  Also, If you have any tropical party ideas or stories, please share. I love to hear from you and discover new decorating tips.

Thanks so much for stopping by!

 

Please Respect Copyright

Thanks for visiting my blog. All work is copyright of the author/artist, unless otherwise noted. If you would like to put anything from this site on your website please quote the author and provide a link back to this blog. All rights reserved.
© Kristi Rhodes 2012

 

Mangoes in the Morning – 3 Tropical Recipes to Start Your Day

Mangoes. Yum.

The local grocery stores are filled with ripe, sweet and juicy mangoes.  A perfect time to add a little tropical to your morning.

Mangos are my favorite fruit.  I love their silky texture, the bright tropical orange color to their meat, and their tangy/sweet flavor, their luscious juiciness. Yum.  Like a burst of sun, wrapped in a fruit.

In case you haven’t worked with a mango before, they are a little different. First wash them because a small percentage of people are allergic to the sap that sometimes can be on the skin. Mangoes are covered with a thick skin and have a large seed in the center.  You peel the skin off and then cut the fruit away from the pit. There are a couple of ways to do this, I use a knife to peel the skin all the way around working to remove as little of the delicious fruit as possible (like peeling an apple), then I slice down both sides of the oblong pit.  It sounds all neat and orderly here, but chopping a ripe mango is a juicy, messy but joyous proposition.

If you’d like to try another way of peeling your mango, simplyrecipes.com has a great description.

The three recipes I’ve created here add a tropical twist to a few old breakfast favorites.

1. Mango Coconut Banana Bread -The mango and coconut bring a fruity, nutty, tropical twist to beloved banana bread.

2. Mango Tropical Smoothie  – A quick breakfast packed with vitamin C and protein.

3. Mango Pancakes Topped with Mango Whipped Cream  – Not only for the weekend, a decadent tropical delight.

 

Mango Coconut Banana Bread

A new twist on an old favorite – Mango Coconut Banana Bread

adapted from Coconut Bread recipe, Bahama Mama’s Cooking by Capt. Jan Robinson

This bread is the comfortable banana bread you know and love with a tropical kick that makes it fresh. It’s perfect for breakfast, snack or lunch.  Served warm with butter was the favorite at our house.

Makes 2 loaves

 

 4 cups flour

2 cups sugar

1 cup shredded sweetened coconut

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. nutmeg

1 tsp. vanilla

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1 cup milk

½ cup cream of coconut or coconut milk

1 cup mango, medium diced

1 cup banana, mashed

4 eggs, beaten

 

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine all ingredients.

Separate into two 5 X 9 inch greased loaf pans.

Bake 1 hour or until done.  After 10 minutes, remove from pans and cool on racks.

Top with mango butter – YUM!

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Mango Tropical Smoothie

A Tropical Eye Opener – Mango Tropical Smoothie

This Mango Tropical Smoothie is perfect for breakfast-on-the-go. It is easy and quick to make. Full of vitamins and protein it will help kick-start your day.

Sometimes I add a little coconut milk to up the tropical factor.

 

Makes 1 cup

 

1 1/2 cups fresh mango diced large or 1-15 oz. can sliced mango drained and rinsed or 1 cup frozen mango chunks (but need to add another tablespoon of honey)

1/2 cup orange juice

1/2 cup plain, non-fat greek yogurt

1/2 banana

1 Tbsp. honey

Handful of ice

 

Blend until smooth.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Mango Pancakes topped with Mango Whipped Cream

Tropical Treat - Mango Pancakes Topped with Mango Whipped Cream

These Mango Pancakes Topped with Mango whipped cream are for that special morning when you just need something tropical. No need for syrup, just top with fruit, then the whipped cream and heaven-on-a-plate.

Makes 10 pancakes

 

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 Tbsp. sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

¾ tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

2 eggs

1 ½ cups milk

1 banana, mashed

1 cup fresh mango, diced small (you can substitute frozen mango that has been thawed or canned mango)

Vegetable oil

 

Mix all ingredients, except vegetable oil, until combined. Don’t over mix, should be lumpy.

 

Warm 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in skillet over medium heat.

 

Pour 1/3 cup batter per pancake into skillet.  Cook until bubbles form in batter. Flip and cook until done, approximately 2 1/2 minutes per side.

 

Keep warm on a plate as you finish the remaining batter.

 

Serve with sugared mango chunks and mango whipped cream (recipe follows).

 

Mango Whipped Cream

 8 oz. whipping cream

½ tsp. vanilla

2 Tbsp. sugar

2 Tbsp. fresh mango, diced small (can be messy:)

 

Whip cream until it starts to thicken.

 

Add remaining ingredients and continue to whip until stiff peaks form.

 

Do you have a favorite way to eat mangoes? Have you had any mango adventures? We’d love to hear about it in the comment section.

Thanks for stopping by!

 

Please Respect Copyright

Thanks for visiting my blog. All work is copyright of the author/artist, unless otherwise noted. If you would like to put anything from this site on your website please quote the author and provide a link back to this blog. All rights reserved.
© Kristi Rhodes 2012

 

12 Top Tropical Travelogues. Books That Bring Adventure

These 12 top travelogues whisk you away to be part of the author’s tropical adventure.

 

YouTube Preview Image

 

Pardon me for the tropical interruption.  This seemed like a good place for a video of UB40.  Be sure to stop by iTunes, Amazon MP3 or Google Play to purchase this song, Guilty by UB40.

 

1.     Embarrassment of Mangoes. A Caribbean Interlude  by Ann Vanderhoof

I love this book. I’ve read it many times.  This couple begins their sailing odyssey in Canada, winds down the East Coast via the Intracoastal Waterway and ends in the Caribbean.  Her writing is so accessible, you feel like the second mate on their trip. There are also more than 30 tropical recipes. Yum!

 

2.  The Spice Necklace. A Food Lover’s Caribbean Adventure by Ann Vanderhoof

Ann and her husband, Steve, travel again to and through the Caribbean on their trusty sailboat, Raceta.  This trip is more focused on the food of the region.  The Spice Necklace is packed with more than 60 tropical recipes and many cool foodie references, like a trip to a Cocoa Research Unit at UWI for chocolate tasting and the discovery of “seamoss” a type of seaweed that is reported to have aphrodisiac qualities. A culinary and sailing adventure.

 

 3.          A Family Island, A short history of Salt Cay Bahamas by H. Shaw McCutcheon

This tropical tale follows the American family that purchased the “Blue Lagoon Island”in 1919. It details the ups and downs of owning a small Caribbean island as well as hosting visits by The Duke and Duchess of Windsor and many other dignitaries. Interesting adventure.

 

 

4.         Sex Lives of Cannibals. Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific by J. Maarten Troost

An unemployed 26-year-old packs up and follows his girlfriend to Tarawa, a remote South Pacific island.  He’s laugh-out-loud funny in his description of day-to-day living on this idyllic-looking tropical spot.

 

5.   Getting Stoned with Savages. A Trip Through the Islands of Fiji and Vanuatu by J. Maarten Troost

The author returns to island living, this time in Vanuatu and Fiji. Again, I laughed my way through his misadventures from moray eels, to a foot long centipede in his house.  His description, “Venatu centipedes eat meat. Now, I’m no entomologist, you’d think that fact alone would be enough to bump it out of the insect classification.”  He goes on to explain how he and his kitten are on chairs to avoid the venom-laden intruder.  Funny guy.

 

 

 

6.         Floreana by Margret Wittmer

Set in 1932, Margret Wittmer and her family relocate to Floreana, a remote island in the Galapagos.  I enjoyed learning about her female explorer experience and how remote island dwellers manage self-sufficiency.

 

7.         Kon Tiki by Thor Heyerdahl

This tropical book made it on the Extreme Classics:  The 100 Greatest Adventure Books of All Time by National Geographic’s Travel Magazine list (#17). The tale follows six men who set sail in Peru and sailed a primitive raft 4,300 miles to the South Sea islands. I felt like I had a spot on the voyage.

 

8.         Bahamas Out Island Odyssey by Nan Jeffrey

Nan describes her own book as “neither a guidebook or a travelogue, but rather a taste of Out Island life as seen and experienced from the vantage point of a visitor.”

Each chapter details a new out island, highlighting resorts they visit and offering great tips for budget-minded family travelers.

 

9.        Yoga Bitch. One Woman’s Quest to Conquer Skepticism, Cynicism, and Cigarettes on the Path to Enlightenment by Suzanne Morrison  

A twenty-five-year-old woman travels to Bali in her quest to become a yoga teacher.  She details the two-month adventure diary-style and did I mention that she is HILARIOUS!

 

 

10.         Home by Another Way.  Notes from the Caribbean by Robert Benson

Robert and his wife spend time each year on a tropical island and share the endearing qualities of their home-away-from-home.  He helps us experience his journey whether it be the slower living on the tropical time zone, the smiling faces everywhere, or the water taxis that double up as deep-sea fishing boats.  His account is engaging and addictive.

 

11.         A Trip to the Beach. Living on Island Time in the Caribbean by Melinda and Robert Blanchard

A Vermont couple relocates and builds a small restaurant on Anguilla. They pursue their far-flung dream.  Magic and mayhem occur.

 

12.         Castaway. A Story of Survival by Lucy Irvine

An adventurous mismatched couple go to live on Tuin in the Coral Sea, north of Australia.  This is the true account of how they survived day-by-day on this mile-long tropical island with very little help from the outside.  You’ll be immersed in island living.

 

 

 

Be sure to stop by Barnes and Noble, Amazon, two stores I adore, Vero Beach Book Center and  R.J. Julia’s Book Store or your favorite bookstore to get your copy of these engaging books.

What is your favorite tropical book?  Is it on our list or do you have a suggestion for everyone?

Thanks for stopping by!

 

Please Respect Copyright

Thanks for visiting my blog. All work is copyright of the author/artist, unless otherwise noted. If you would like to put anything from this site on your website please quote the author and provide a link back to this blog. All rights reserved.
© Kristi Rhodes 2012

Rent a Sailboat for a Tropical Adventure in the British Virgin Islands – Part 2

Part 2

I’m Kristi Rhodes and excited to continue my interview with Tom Thompson, Captain of Lucky Dog Sailing.  He answered my many questions about what it takes to enjoy a sailing vacation in the British Virgin Islands (BVI).

Part 1 of my interview with Tom follows this post. Backwards. Sorry.

This trip is on my bucket list, and I also really love just hearing about their adventures, where they go and how they manage it. Renting a sailboat to cruise around the (BVI) seemed like an unattainable vacation until they told me their story.  The only caveat is that Tom is a captain with many years experience sailing, both in Chicago and the Caribbean.  For less experienced or novice sailors, hiring a captain with the boat is a great way to enjoy the same adventure.

First, a little background, Tom is a U.S. Coast Guard certified captain, sailing out of Belmont Harbor, Chicago, IL.  He has fifteen years sailing experience on Lake Michigan and has made 5 charter sailing trips to the BVI and St. Martin/St. Barts. His wife, Kristi is the helms(wo)man and a wonderful photographer.

YouTube Preview Image

Pardon me for the tropical interruption.  This seemed like a good place for a video of Bob Marley.  Be sure to stop by iTunes, Amazon MP3 or Google Play to purchase this song, Satisfy your Soul by Bob Marley and The Wailers

 

Snorkel adventure at Monkey Point. Photos provided by Kristi Moen. Click on photo to enlarge.

Do you snorkel a lot? What is favorite activity on trip? 

Yes, we snorkel almost every day, and it seems that each spot is better than the last.  We’ve seen great coral formations, sea fans, sea turtles, stingrays, octopus, dolphins, squid, crabs and an abundance of fish.  There is one spot named Monkey Point, just off Great Guana, that is a “must see”.  In addition to the normal sea life, there are giant schools of 4” long silver fish that completely surround you, but stay about a foot away from you, as you swim through the school you can’t see anything else.  It’s amazing.

What’s the funniest thing that’s happened to you?

The list is long, but generally it has something to do getting the crew of 8 into and out of the Zodiac style Dinghy.  Add in a couple cocktails and a moving boat and somebody is going swimming…

 

Oh, and a particular taxi ride comes to mind….  Our first year, our flights arrived late, so we made reservations to stay at a hotel that said it was near the airport.  8 of us were on the same flight, so all loaded into one mini-van type cab – a guy in our group negotiated a rate of $40 for all of us – what a deal!  As you can imagine, with all of our luggage, we needed to sit on laps and were packed in like sardines.  It took a while, but we finally got the doors closed and left the airport.  About a block away, the cab took a right, went about 100 feet, and stopped.  We thought he might be getting directions, or that we were too overloaded to go any further.  Nope.  We were at the hotel.  It took us longer to unpack the van than to get there, and we certainly could have walked.  Lesson learned?  Google your hotel location before you travel!  The cabbie probably laughed as much as we did later that night (and I’m sure we weren’t the first or last to do this).

  What’s the scariest thing that’s happened to you?

I’d have to say, the scariest moment(s) are usually weather related.  There are frequent late afternoon squalls – luckily you can see them coming, but you have to reef the sails quickly to prepare.   One trip to St Martin, we had to bring the boat in a day early due to a tropical storm approaching.  It was still sunny, but the wind and waves were building quickly.  The channel into the harbor is very narrow and winding with a lot of reef, and we had to navigate it in 10-12 foot seas.  A harbor boat came out to lead each boat in, but trying to navigate a Cat through that was a workout for sure, and the lead boat kept disappearing beyond the large waves.  It was a welcome moment when we tied up to the dock that afternoon!

Rough Seas-not the rough seas they encountered, just generic rough seas:) –added for dramatic effect.

What percentage of trip is done doing what?  Like, sailing from spot to spot 50%, hanging out on deserted island 40%, cleaning and preparing meals 10%.

It’s rare the winds are going to be in the direction and strength you need each leg of the trip, so, we sail some and motor some each day.  But in general – Traveling from place to place – 30%, Stops for lunch and snorkeling – 40%, Time on boat and on shore at overnight accommodations – 30%.  Other “chores” really happen concurrently, but we share the load.

Do you dock and sleep?  Or does someone sail overnight or at night?

The charter companies prohibit night sailing, so we’re usually on the mooring ball by 4pm, just in time for Happy Hour!

How about fishing?  Do you eat mostly fish?

You can fish off the boat as long as you buy and license and you’re not in a Marine Park.  The onshore restaurants have the best fish you’ve ever tasted.  It’s all caught locally, never frozen, and when it’s gone, it’s gone, so plan to eat dinner early – and, in high season – radio ahead for a group reservation.

What’s your favorite place to dock and visit?

Baths on Virgin Gorda. Photographs provided by Kristi Moen. Click on photo to enlarge.

In the BVI we actually have two favorites…The Baths on Virgin Gorda and the island of Jost Van Dyke.  The Baths is a spot right on the beach with very large granite boulders that look like they were stacked by a Giant from outer space.  There are marked paths through the boulders that lead you to ponds and little secluded beaches.  Some call the Bathes the 8th Wonder of the World.  Note – get there EARLY in the morning, as it gets incredibly busy and hard to get through by late morning.  Jost Van Dyke is a small island on the north side of Tortola with several famous bars (Foxy’s & Soggy Dollar), and Sidney’s Peace & Love restaurant.  Don’t want to miss Jost!

Tintamarre Island Beach looking back at St. Martin. Mike soaking:) Photo provided by Kristi Moen. Click on photo to enlarge.

In the St. Martin area (Il Forche), we spent a night on a deserted island where we were the only sailboat in a harbor, and woke to do a morning hike to the top of the highest point on the island at sunrise.  Looking out over a deserted island surrounded by ocean as far as you can see really makes you feel small and also how much “work” really matters.  It was a morning I’ll never forget.

Have you met any really great locals? Tell me about them.

Kristi, Foxy (from Foxys Bar on Jost Van Dyke) and Tom. Photograph courtesy of Kristi Moen©

We met Foxy (from Foxy’s on Jost Van Dyke) – he was casually playing his guitar in the morning at his beach bar.  He would ask folks where they were from, and then make up a song with that city in it.  He also told really colorful jokes that will make even sailors blush!

We also had the opportunity to meet Sidney (from Sidney’s Peace & Love on Jost) and a lot of his extended family.  He served us lobsters that were as tall as we were (when you held antennae, which he had you do for a great photo moment before he cooked them).  It was a quiet day, and he introduced us to his family and visited with our group for most of the afternoon.  Also gave the Captain a free lobster meal!  Sadly, Sidney passed away 2 years ago, but we will always remember this day with him and his family.

From left to right Sidney (from Sidney’s Peace & Love on Jost), lobster, Tom, lobster, Kristi & Mike. Photo couresty of Kristi Moen©. Click on photo to enlarge.

How hard is it to walk off the boat after a week in the tropics and leave on the plane for home?

It’s a hectic morning – coming into the dock, packing, disembarking, grabbing a cab, getting to airport, transfers in Miami, etc…

One funny thing to mention is that on the boat, you’re always barefoot and deck is generally wet, so your feet get a little water-logged.  It feels sooo good to put on a pair of dry socks after the trip.  You wouldn’t think it’s such a big deal, but it really is.

Is this type of trip horribly expensive? 

Well, let’s just say it’s worth every penny!  But, yes, it’s more than your average vacation.  There are some ways around this – going in off/shoulder season, looking for special discount weeks with the charter companies, going on a monohull, etc.  The catamarans are almost double the price of the monohulls, so if you’re going alone or only have 2-3 couples, a monohull will save a lot of money, but you will spend a LOT more time sailing from spot to spot vs. enjoying the stops (cats are much faster).  With a group of 8 on a cat, we plan on about $200 per person per day, which includes the boat, meals/drinks on the boat, moorings, etc. (Airfare, transfers, shore meals/drinks, etc. not included).

What if someone wants more information?

For charter questions, contact Sunsail or The Moorings either online or call them and request a brochure.  The brochures are full of options and pictures of the different islands that they have mooring base locations.  I really would recommend the BVI, especially for your first charter trip due to the favorable sailing conditions and abundance of mooring balls for overnight stays.

For trip advice, leave your name in the comments section and I’ll forward your request to Tom, you know, just to avoid spam and all.  He loves to hear where people are going and always glad to share his experiences.

Tom and Kristi–Thanks again! Photograph courtesy of Kristi Moen©

Thanks so much to Tom and Kristi!!!!!

We’d love to hear your favorite tropical adventures, let us know in the comment section.

Thank you for stopping by!

 

Please Respect Copyright

Thanks for visiting my blog. All work is copyright of the author/artist, unless otherwise noted. If you would like to put anything from this site on your website please quote the author and provide a link back to this blog. All rights reserved.
© Kristi Rhodes 2012

 

Rent a Sailboat for a Tropical Adventure in the British Virgin Islands – Part 1

See How This Couple Is Living the Dream

Each year on his Christmas card, I stared dreamily at Tom’s photos of his Caribbean sailing vacations. I always wanted to hear the full story of how he and his wife, Kristi, were able to sail in the Caribbean, it seemed like such an out-of-reach, exotic adventure. I had so many questions, where did they sail, what is involved, but we never got around to talking about it. Today, I finally asked the questions for my bucket list trip and he gave me great answers.  I hope they help you learn how to take a sailing trip to the British Virgin Islands, or just to daydream about a sailing trip to the Caribbean.

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Pardon me for a small tropical interruption.  Just thought a little Jimmy Buffett could set the sailing mood. Be sure to stop by iTunes,  Amazon MP3 or Google play and purchase this song, One Particular Harbor, by Jimmy Buffett. A must-have for your summer playlist:)

Back to our interview…A little background, Tom Thompson of Lucky Dog Sailing, is a U.S. Coast Guard certified captain, sailing out of Belmont Harbor, Chicago, IL. He has fifteen years sailing experience on Lake Michigan. He also has made 5 charter sailing trips to the BVI and St. Martin/St. Barts.

Where did you go on your first Tropical Sailing vacation? Did you have a captain?

Thanks to Wikipedia for this map:)  Click to see bigger picture.

 Our first charter trip was to the British Virgin Islands. The BVI is a group of islands just southeast of St. Thomas & St John. The largest island in the BVI is Tortola and it is surrounded by many barrier islands that form a “ring” around Tortola. You sail in the protected waters between Tortola and the barrier islands, mostly in the Sir Francis Drake channel and basically do a circle around Tortola. The waters around the BVI are deep with few reefs, navigation is line-of-site, and there are a lot of mooring balls for overnight security. Our first trip was on a Lagoon 38 catamaran with 4 cabins and 2 heads. We now have upgraded to a 44’ catamaran which provides more living/dining space and a private head for each of the 4 cabins.
( Editor’s note, this is the manufacturer’s video and I just thought it was cool and would give you a feel for the 44′ catamaran.  I did not receive compensation — but if they offered, I would not turn down a free boat:)
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There are 2 major yacht charter companies on Tortola, Sunsail and The Moorings, each with many choices in styles (mono-hull or catamaran) and lengths of sailboats.  Depending on your sailing experience, you can Captain the boat yourself (you have to submit a sailing resume to the company) or you can hire a Captain (through the charter company) to take you around the islands.   Sunsail also offers a Flotilla option, which we did our first time and would highly recommend for all first timers.  This is where a group of charter boats, with a lead boat from the company, travel to the same spot every night, but you are pretty much on your own all day.  Each night you meet for a briefing for the next day, and they also have some social nights, if you’d like to join the group on shore.  This gives you peace of mind, as they make sure each boat arrives to the harbor each afternoon and help you set anchor if needed.  The lead boat has a mechanic on board, so is there to assist with any minor issues with the sailboat that inevitably come up.  This gives you a lot of flexibility and feeling that you are doing it alone (as you don’t follow each other all day), but the security that someone is looking out for you.

Dead Man’s Cove, Peter Island. Photo courtesy of Kristi Moen© Click on photo to see full size.

(If you click on the photo, you can see the larger size and it is even more beautiful.  Kristi -photographer and helmswoman- says that Dead Man’s Cove is one of their favorite lunch spots.  “There is an incredible resort with a great lanai-type lunch spot on the beach (only place where you have to dine with “real” clothes on  – no suits etc. – men usually wear collars). There is also a great beach for relaxing and good snorkeling, too.  This day was busier than most – sometimes there are only 2 – 3 boats with us.”)

Where did you learn to sail? 

Growing up in Panama City, FL, my family was always out on the water on our power boat. When I turned 14, I bought my first sailboat – a 14’ Sunfish, and probably sailed it 3 or 4 times a week.  Since then, have owned a Hobie 12, Hobie 16, Catalina 27, Hunter Legend 35.5 and currently own a Hunter 41 Deck Salon.  We live in Chicago and sail out of Belmont Harbor on Lake Michigan.

How big are the boats you rent?  How many people does it take to run them?  How many slackers are on board or does everyone have a job?:)

Yes, I Captain the boat, with my wife, Kristi, as my Helmsman (or should I say Helmswoman!).  We usually charter a 41’ to 44’ catamaran.  We always go the catamaran route for the stability, the extra living space and everyone loves to sit on the front trampoline as we are under way.  The two of us can handle the sailing duties of the “cat”, but we give everybody a job for the week.  Some jobs are more glamorous than others, but each is important to a smooth and safe sail.

Less glamorous job

Describe a typical trip, day-by-day, like arrive in day one, sail to next island, , spend day two snorkeling, then hike up a mountain and sing “The Hills are Alive”…

Day 1 involves getting to the island and usually staying overnight in a local hotel (you can also pay ½ day rate for boat if it is available the night before).

Day 2 starts with the crew dividing – some to the grocery store, some to the liquor store, and some to do the boat briefing and checkout with the charter company.

Once we’re underway, there really isn’t ever a typical day, which makes the trip very interesting.  We do have a “plan”, but we always have a “plan b” to take into account prevailing winds/weather.

Each day we have breakfast on board and then head out of the harbor.

Most days involve a snorkel spot and a lunch spot on the way to our overnight stop.

One thing we really like is the flexibility to move at whatever pace you want, there isn’t a schedule to follow.  The charter companies ask that you arrive in your overnight location around 4pm, so that you can see the sea bottom while the sun is still high in the sky, and also gets you to Happy Hour on time! In the BVI, most harbors have a field of mooring balls to secure the boat overnight.  The fee to use the mooring balls is usually $20-$25 per night.  There is also the option to anchor for the night, but we sleep a lot better knowing the boat is secure on a mooring ball.  There are also some harbors where you can have a slip with power, etc., but we prefer to be out on the water.  The last day is busy getting everything off the boat and getting back to airport.

Sunset at Cooper Island – Manchioneel Bay. Photo courtesy of Kristi Moen© Click on photo to see full size.

(Kristi says,”Cooper Island is a great place to go to shore for sunset, cocktails and conch fritters before having dinner on board.  Great views and quiet place.”)
So, this is an annual trip. How many friends go?  Any snoreres?  Are they invited back?

The first few trips, we had the same 3 other couples.  The past few trips, we have actually had enough “demand” for 2 weeks, so we go around Tortola for one week, then the first group flies out, the second group flies in, and we do it all again!

Yes, we have some snorers (the Helmswoman, for example, ha!), but on the catamaran, the cabins are spread out to the ends of each pontoon, so you really don’t hear your fellow crew.

Where do you sleep? Anyone under the stars? 

Each of the cabins have at least a full size bed…. the bigger the boat, obviously the bigger the cabins and the beds. We have slept under the stars on occasion, but in Caribbean, it generally rains a bit overnight, so we usually end up in our cabins.  Once you leave the dock (and shore power), you lose the air conditioning, so the cabins have small fans and you sleep with the hatch open for ventilation.  Well, until it rains…..  Usually someone will be on the trampoline for sunrise in their blankets.

What do you eat?  What’s your favorite on-board meal?

Soggy Dollar on Jost Van Dyke, White Bay. Photo courtesy of Kristi Moen©

There are several great restaurants and famous bars around the BVI, like Foxy’s and Soggy Dollar on Jost Van Dyke, that you’ll want to try.  We always have breakfast on board, but usually split lunch and dinner with one on shore and one on board based on the day’s itinerary.  There is a small BBQ grill on board, so most meals involve grilling in some way.  We try to vary the meat – chicken one night, steak the other, fish, etc.  One thing that works well is that each couple takes one meal to prepare – and they plan it all.  This couple leaves Happy Hour on the beach early to prepare cook and serve the meal, make the drinks, and do all the cleanup – while the rest of the crew does whatever they would like – arriving in time to enjoy a relaxing dinner on board.  This way, you work hard one night, but get to enjoy all the other nights.  Also, the galley is not really large enough for more than 2 – so it works out perfectly.

What do you bring?  What do you buy when you get there?

Groceries – To help make the trip a little more affordable, we bring most all of the dry goods (like rice, pasta, pop-tarts, cookies, energy bars, spices) and condiments (ketchup, mustard, soy, BBQ sauce) from home.  We pack this all in a double large black trash bag and put into a cooler with wheels and check this as one piece of luggage.  There are Velcro straps you can buy to hold the cooler lid shut (and keeps the handle in place).  This keeps everything from breaking, and then you have an extra cooler on the boat, as well as something to carry your souvenirs home in!  Refrigerator space is very limited on the boat, so we go to the market every other day for fresh meat and veggies.

Clothes – Bring a LOT less than you think you need.  It’s casual everywhere you go, and you will be in your swim suits the majority of the time.  Also, things get a little “boaty” after a few days, so here’s a trick – get the extra-large Ziplock bags (2.5 gallon) and put 1-2 days worth of clothes in each bag with a dryer sheet.  Then, when you open it, it is nice and fresh!  And pack a few pairs of socks (see departure day notes).  And a pair of shoes you can walk/hike in – there are some spectacular morning hikes from many overnight coves.

Other – A few small waterproof flashlights (Target has some with blinking lights for safety, too).  You do a lot of traveling in and out of the dinghy at night, on docks, and in bars.  Walkie Talkies to communicate to others when you split up (as you only have one dinghy).  Febreeze (remember “boaty” comment).  Games & Cards.

Off the beach at Soggy Dollar, Jost Van Dyke, White Bay. Photo courtesy of Kristi Moen© Click on photo for full screen view.

To be continued…

If you have any questions, have a fascinating sailing tale or just wanna extend the conversation…please fill in the reply box below or  hit the talk balloon by the title and leave us a comment:)

NOTE: Please check with boat rental companies for all of their rules and most of all, be safe:)

Thanks so much for stopping by:)

 

 

Please Respect Copyright

Thanks for visiting my blog. All work is copyright of the author/artist, unless otherwise noted. If you would like to put anything from this site on your website please quote the author and provide a link back to this blog. All rights reserved.
© Kristi Rhodes 2012

Tropical Toasted Coconut “Chips” Dipped in Dark Chocolate

Oh, the happy coconut.  I thought we’d start off with a little coconut nostalgia. Please enjoy this tropical moment from YouTube, then we can go on to more serious coconut matters.

Be sure to stop by iTunes,  Amazon MP3 or Google play and purchase this song Coconut, by Harry Nilsson. It’s a must have for your summer playlist:)

 

Okay, now that we’re all feeling really tropical.

I wanted to share one of my recipes.  It was inspired from the tropical book I wrote and am currently editing.

 

Toasted Coconut “Chips” Dipped in Dark Chocolate

These little candies are perfect for a special treat, a gift for your favorite coconut + chocolate lover, a great barbecue take-along, or an after school snack. From start to finish, this recipe takes about forty-five minutes to create.

 

Ingredients:

1 fresh coconut from your local grocery store

2 dark chocolate 3.5 ounce bars (I used Lindt 70% cocoa, Smooth Dark for this recipe)

 

Prepare the coconut:

First, crack the coconut in half and drain the water (or keep for another recipe). I placed the coconut in the grass and hit it with a hammer. It cracked very easily.

Next remove the meat from the hard shell.  One technique is to run a butter knife between the white meat and the brown shell.  Then score the white meat with a sharp knife into 2 inch chunks, and use your butter knife to “shimmy” out the chunks.  You want the coconut to stay in as large of pieces as you can manage.

Using the butter knife to ‘shimmy’ out the coconut meat:)

Once you have the chunks of coconut out of the shell, take a vegetable peeler and peel away the darker skin from the white

meat.  Save the meat.

Peeling off the darker layer

 

Now use the side slicer on a box grater or a paring knife and carefully cut the coconut meat into thin slices.

Grating into slices to make “chips”

 

Placing the coconut slices on the baking sheet to put in the over for toasting

 

Place these slices onto a baking sheet and bake at 350° for 3 – 10 minutes depending on the thickness of your slices — until toasted.  You want the edges to be light brown.

Cool.

 Prepare the chocolate for dipping:

Break up the chocolate bars in a bowl

Break up the two dark chocolate bars into squares and place in a bowl.  On fifty percent power, microwave the bowl of chocolate for a minute, stir.  Repeat until all of the chocolate is melted.

Dip the cooled toasted coconut “chips” into the dark chocolate and place each chip on a platter lined with wax paper.

The toasted coconut “chips” dipped in dark chocolate ready for the fridge

Put platter into the fridge for ten minutes or until hard.

Enjoy!

Store in airtight container with layers separated with wax paper in the refrigerator.

What is your favorite tropical candy?  Let us know click on the comment balloon next to this post’s title at the top.  If you have a recipe that you’d like to share, we’d love to try it.

Hope to see you next week.  Thanks so much for stopping by.

 

Please Respect Copyright

Thanks for visiting my blog. All work is copyright of the author/artist, unless otherwise noted. If you would like to put anything from this site on your website please quote the author and provide a link back to this blog. All rights reserved.
© Kristi Rhodes 2012