Monday, 23 April 2012

Is it the weekend yet???

All photos from the St. Croix Food and Wine Experience
unless noted
Some weeks living here on St. Croix is just mundane, mundane, mundane. Other weeks, you have to remember to sleep things can get so busy! This past week has been one of those busy weeks where on top of the regular things that we have to do; school, laundry, cooking; we were busy with meetings for the June Swim Invitational, starting a blog for the homeschooling families on St. Croix, going on a field trip, etc. Then there was the best part of this week – the events surrounding the St. Croix Food and Wine Experience.

Volunteers helping in the kitchen at Pearl B.
This is a week long event that consists of famous chefs from all over the US, and some international ones too, who give of their time to bring scrumptious food, wine, and fun to St Croix.  There are private dinners at villas here on St. Croix,  “food fights” where celebrity chefs “fight” local chefs for bragging rights, wine dinners and tasting, BBQs, cooking classes for kids, etc.  I would hazard a guess to say that this event is the BEST food and wine event in the Caribbean for both it’s variety of offerings as well as the caliber of chefs that come to cook for us Crucians and visitors. The biggest event for this week is the Taste of St. Croix, which is held at Divi Carina Bay Resort.  The tickets for this particular event sell out within about 4 hours.  We went to this last year and it was great. Everyone dresses up, dances, and eats scrumptious food from our local restaurants.  The bragging rights for winning this event are tremendous.  We thought about going to this again this year, but decided that with everything that we had been doing last week it would be just too much.  I was sad L

Acting as sous chef with Ana Sortun
This year however, I volunteered to help with the Kids Cooking Classes and the Wine in the Warehouse event. I had never even attended the Kids Cooking Classes event – possibly because last year we were so busy that one more thing was just too much. This year, I was asked to help out and I did so gladly. My background is in event management and I have been wanting to get back into events on a part time basis so this was fun to do.  My part was small, but totally fulfilling. I gather my volunteers and on the day of, provided support to the chefs. 

Let me tell you, the classes were AWESOME! The chefs were so friendly, and it was so much fun to do.  Of course, one of my volunteers was A, and she LOVED it. She loved meeting the chefs, helping to prep the food, set the tables, “work” in the kitchen and then play with her food.  She is so excited about everything that they did, that last night she made the special iced tea that Ana Sortun from Oleana made with the kids during the class for her babysitter! She also got to know Evelyn Paul, another great chef that actually grew up here.  By the end of the afternoon Chef Paul had become Auntie Evelyn! A is so enthusiastic about the whole day that she wants to help next year and do more – like maybe the shopping for the chefs or having them stay at our place so she can be at their beck and call!  She is so cute I could just eat her up J

enjoying her Moroccan sandwich!
The attendees all had a great time fixing food with the chefs. There was laughter, smiles, and best off all full tummies by the time the classes were over.  Everyone that I spoke to had such a great time, and some kids got to try new types of food. Ana Sortun made Moroccan sandwiches which consisted of mashed potatoes with cheese, spices, hard boiled egg, scallions, and salt.  It was very tasty if I do say so myself.  Evelyn Paul made Southwestern Chicken wraps and short cupcakes with buttercream frosting.   Who wouldn’t like a wrap and cupcakes?! The filling for the wrap was so yummy I could have eaten it for breakfast, lunch, AND dinner and still wanted more.  It had black beans in it.  Really, almost anything with black beans in it will make my heart beat faster and make my stomach happy.

After cleaning up from the Kids Cooking Class, I dropped volunteers at their houses, grabbed the babysitter, and got home with enough time to change and walk out the door to go help serve wine at the Wine in the Warehouse. This event is a wine tasting where people come from all over to taste some fantastic top wines and eat great food.  This is our 4th year helping out at this event and it is always fun.  We talked to people from St. Thomas, Puerto Rico, Chicago, etc…. I was serving wines from the Hoffman wineries and each bottle had such a great story that it made serving and “educating” tasters a blast.  S was helping to hand out water, and empty spit buckets. I am pretty sure I had the better job J There were tons of people at this second to last event, and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves immensely. 

If next year you have a few hours to spare, and you have children I would highly recommend attending the Cooking Classes. They are fun, support a great organization, and you get to meet some wonderful chefs that otherwise you wouldn’t see unless you were watching TV or at their restaurants.  The classes are on time (a rarity here), and just plain FUN! Plus, you don’t have to clean up after your child plays with their food – we do it!

See what I mean? St. Croix is just plain hopping these days and so super busy! If you think our island paradise is sleepy – you would be right. Not, however because there is nothing to do here. But because there is so much to do that we can’t get enough sleep!

Isn't she just adorable?
Photo from Evelyn Paul

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Leatherback Turtle Watch at Sandy Point

Aerial photo of Sandy Point taken

When I was a little girl, I remember going with my parents to see the Leatherback turtles come and nest on Sandy Point.  I tried to take A about 2 years ago to do the same, but the group we were with decided to leave at 10 and we didn’t get to see anything. So, in the spirit of homeschooling and experiencing the island I decided to give it a go this year. 

Let me just tell you, it was AWESOME, AMAZING, INCREDIBLE, and COOLIO!!!!

This was our group minus a few adults because
taking pictures in the dark is near impossible!
So, here’s the lowdown. Anyone can go see these amazing animals come up on shore and lay their eggs at Sandy Point as long as you have reservations and the turtles cooperate.  You need to get a hold of the Fish and Wildlife personnel to do this. If you have a large enough group (15-30 people) it’s like your own private tour, if you are a small group, they might be able to sneak you into another group.  Oh, and it’s FREE.  Of course if you want to make a donation to a great group you can pay St. Croix Environmental Association to make your reservations for you as they block off certain dates in advance.  Anyway, you need to make your reservations, confirm your date, and then on the day of gather at the Refuge entrance at 7:45 pm. Bring bug spray and PLENTY of it.  I brought drinks and snacks for my kids, but we ended up not needing anything but drinks. 
photo from

This is how it went for us. We got there, all the homeschoolers who had signed up for the field trip were there. We listened to Jennifer from the FWS talk and tell us the rules. We got back into our cars and headed into the refuge. After driving down some amazingly well paved roads, we got to our beach spot.  Then we waited – it was POURING for about 30 mins.  Eventually we got out of our cars and this is what happened according to A:

            When we got out of the cars it was wet and damp and I could smell the wet sand and the sea and it smelled wonderful. Then we went on a path to the ocean and there was a bridge that we had to pass. We went to a spot on the beach and we stayed there for an hour and a half until we got the first call on the radio and there was a leatherback sea turtle! When we got the call I was so happy that we were going to see a turtle nesting.

photo from
After getting the call on the radio, we packed up all our stuff and moved back to the road and booked it to the next parking area where we walked/ran to get to where the turtle was.  All this time, we were only using the light off the moon and the stars to navigate by. It was amazingly cool. We could hear the surf the whole time too because it was a rough night.  Once we got down to the beach were the turtle was, we had to walk along it until we actually found her.  The beach sand was a luminous white with ribbons of black seaweed all along it, so walking was a big difficult, but not bad.  All of a sudden, there appeared before a huge, hulking, black mountain that hardly moved at all but was quite substantial.  It was our leatherback momma.  She was in the process of laying her eggs. The researchers had started to collect her eggs as she was laying then in the area of the beach where the waves broke and could potentially have been washed out to sea if it had gotten rougher.  After being able to touch her carapace(shell), back flippers, shoulders, and even sides we got to see the researchers measure her from the front of her carapace to her back, measure her width, and put in new tags.  She did NOT like the new tag bit – can’t say I blame her. Then she disguised her nest for a bit before “the mother sea turtle clumsily slid into the black ocean.”

The kids named her Friday as we saw her on Friday the 13th! She measured 164.5cm from the front of her carapace to the back. If you added her head into that she was at least 184 cm long if not longer.  She laid 132 eggs that night. Can you imagine doing that?!

Sadly out of those 132, probably only 1 will survive to sexual maturity and come back to nest. 

photo from
If you have never been to a turtle watch before you NEED to do this. Email the Fish and Wildlife Service, call SEA, find a group, sell an arm or leg to do this. It is an AMAZING experience. It touches you in ways that you didn’t know possible. It makes an impact on kids. I REMEMBER each and every time we did as a child, I remember helping hatchlings on other beaches find their way back into the water. I remember being so amazed at these turtles size that I thought it was as big as a VW Bug when I was little.  This event only happens between April and Jule/July so if you are here during that time, it is well worth the effort to go and see these animals up close and personal.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Super Hero Arm bands - a DIY

Who can say no to that face?
Apparently, C knows what super heros are.  All day yesterday he was wearing an empty Crayola crayon box on his arm and using his Super Powers!  After MUCH convincing, I got the box off his arm and put the crayons back in it.

From the moment he woke up all he wanted to do was get his powers back.  No idea where he gets these things, but I love it :)  C repeatedly asked me to make him some powers, and breakfast didn't count. So, having finished off a roll of paper towels, I got some inspiration.


  • 1 empty paper towel roll
  • Spray paint
  • elastic
  • tin foil
  • needle and thread or sewing machine
  • craft glue
How to:

Photo Steps. Sorry about the flash.

  • Cut open the paper towel tube and press flatish
  • Spray paint the paper towel tube
  • Wait... play Ring Around the Rosie, answer the question "Powers done yet?" about 5 billion times
  • Once done, cut tube to size
  • Figure out how much elastic you need and sew that on to the painted tube.
  • Cut out a bazillion little tin foil shapes until you get the right one
  • Glue said shape onto the tube and let dry while child destroys house
TADA! Done.
One happy little boy :)

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Mangrove/Wetlands Lapbook

I have been much inspired by the recent trend towards lapbooking for homeschoolers. I think it’s a great idea to get your kids writing, drawing, creating, and recording their experiences from various subjects.  We just finished our Mangroves/Wetlands lapbook. It was a project – only because we had so many holidays and breaks during the last few weeks in trying to finish it.

Here it is:
Cover of book

Inside pages, you can see there are multiple pages in the book.

A had to cut, color, paste, write, think, define words, look at maps, etc in order to finish it. I think she did a pretty good job and I am proud of her.  We did pull pictures and drawing from the net where we could, but she also drew some things on her own.

Journaling and a flat diorama of animals in the mangroves.

More photos from her field trip
We are currently working on two others – the Middle Ages, and Sea Turtles – specifically Leatherbacks because we are doing a turtle watch this Friday.  The turtle one is going to be very artsy fartsy and it will require a helping hand from Mommy at points, but will be primarily put together by A.   I will post photos when we are done with the Sea Turtle lap book. It should be pretty cool.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Morning Find

It seems like everyday we find something new to explore.  Some days we need to go hunting for things at the beach, in the bush, in Christiansted, etc.  Other days, our find come to us.  Today was a case in point.  we opened the front door this morning and an AWFUL smell entered the house - almost like something was dying. My first thought was that the cat:

brought us a present and hid it somewhere over the weekend while trying to emulate the Easter Bunny. Then C found it, A yelled at me to come see, and I grabbed the camera.  What did we find you ask?

Tada! Here it is.......


It's a Clathrus ruber or a fungus in the stinkhorn family. It is also know as the latticed stinkhorn, red cage, or basket stinkhorn.  It feeds of decaying woody plant material, and is usually found alone in areas where there is mulch, leaf litter, grassy soil, etc.  The brown part is the sticky, stinky pollen.  It smells so bad to attract flies, ants, etc.  It really does smell bad, not as bad as 24 hour side of the road Caribbean road kill, but pretty close.  

Go find something and learn about it. Just remember if you see one of these guys, wear a gas mask!

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

The Rut

I find ourselves in a rut these days.  Know what I mean?

I have all these THINGS I want to get done, all these items on my to do list, all this info I want to pass on to A, all these fun ideas for games for C, this stuff called housework to do (not that I WANT to do it, it just needs to be done), all these fun just for me crafty projects I want to start and finish, and NOTHING, I mean NOTHING is getting done!  What's a Mom to do?

Yup, go exploring. Actually, that's what I wished I had done. Instead I spent the day going crazy.  I need to go out and grab my life by the horns and get going again.  Not today though. Not tomorrow either - we are busy running errands and doing volunteer modeling for a friend's online boutique that supports women in Guatemala.

Maybe I should just start over next week hmm?