It’s a little after 4pm and I’m sitting here in the living room swatting mosquitoes away, while I scroll thru social media and the woeful pleas of residents near and far. It’s hot today, humid really and there’s a weird buzz in the air. The energy is frenetically charged with anxiety, hope and worst of all, fear.

Outside the dump truck provided by Public Works pick up the bins they droppers off this morning for residents to throw their debris and yard waste from Irma in. And now we lay in wait for the mistress of the sea, Maria. We don’t know what to expect, we are told that it will strike St.Croix as a Category 5 Hurricane, so now know we’re in trouble. It’s now 3a and I’m still awake because…what else should I be doing? The anticipation is unnerving. It’s the not knowing that is the hardest. The last weather update says the storm has battered the Leeward Islands especially Dominica. We are directly in her path and she’s projected to make landfall early Wednesday morning.

We are boarded up, prepared, praying and hoping for the best, but deep in our soul we are preparing for the worst. Our sister islands, St.Thomas & St.John have already taken quite a beating. The road to recovery is long road and arduous, regardless we will continue to do our best to help. It seems we are headed down the same path, so now we just stand here #VIStrong and wait.

If you can, please send up prayers and postivity for all of us in the Caribbean and see you all on the other side.

 

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#GrowingUpCrucian meant that we were taught about hurricane preparedness. I remember during hurricane season you could find hurricane tracking maps everywhere and how to track storms was part of the curriculum in school. It was so ingrained in us in elementary and middle school that it wasn’t strange at all to mention severe weather coming our way and hearing someone ask, ‘What’s the coordinates?’ St.Croix is17°44′23″N 64°44′20″W / 17.73972°N  (in case you were wondering). Weather is never taken lightly here in the Caribbean especially as it pertains to hurricanes. We build houses to withstand the elements. We stock supplies year-round, secure hurricane shutters and if and when the time comes we batten down the hatch, hunker down, wait, pray and hope. Evacuation is not as easy as it seems for various reasons. First off we are not on the mainland, so residents cannot simply drive to the next island or another state over out of harm’s way. The only way out is by air and air travel is expensive not only in the Caribbean but to the mainland as well. Other reasons include caring for elderly and ill family members. It just isn’t as easy as packing up the car and heading north.

This hurricane season has been incredibly active, with Hurricane Harvey ravaging Houston and the Gulf coast a few weeks ago. This past Wednesday, September 6th (Happy Birthday Mom!), Hurricane Irma, tore thru the Caribbean as a Category 5 hurricane leaving a path of chaos and destruction thru Anguilla, Barbuda, St.Maarten, Tortola and the rest of the BVI as well as my home in the U.S.Virgin Islands. Irma has the distinction of being the biggest Atlantic storm ever on record. Being further south of #HurricaneIrma, my island, St.Croix, was spared, we got lots of wind and rain, with a few downed fruit trees, no power or phone service in certain areas. Our sister islands, St.Thomas, St.John and the BVI took the brunt of the storm and suffered tremendous damage. I can say for certain I am thankful to have a safe place throughout the storm and a roof over my head. Many years ago after Hurricane Hugo, my family’s fate was not quite the same as we saw half of our roof blow off and spent the night huddled in a small closet. So believe me when I say that I feel a deep, significant loss for our sister islands. How does the saying go, ‘Who feels it knows it’, trust me we know this feeling very well. You don’t know where to start, what to do, basic survival and shelter becomes your primary concern. For this reason, everyone in our local community as well as Virgin Islanders on the mainland and abroad are doing their best to help in any way they can.

 

 

FEMA is already on the ground in St.Thomas and relief efforts to provide much-needed food, clothing and supplies have been organized here on St.Croix, Puerto Rico as well as the mainland. Often times people forget about the Caribbean and consider it to be nothing more than a vacation destination, disregarding the millions of people who have lived here for generations and livelihood has now been washed away. We have also been begging the Weather Channel, as well as the big network stations including ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, and Telemundo to provide more in-depth coverage of the area instead of just passing over us directly.

I want to take a minute to thank my faraway friends, family members and everyone who’s been checking in to make sure that my family and I are safe and offering to help as best they can. To be loved and to feel the love surrounding me and my loved ones is an incredibly powerful feeling. I am also so proud of the work we are doing as a collective community to help those in need. I will do my best to share as much information as I can.

St.Croix’s very own Tim Duncan, a Hurricane Hugo survivor, has organized a relief effort, 21 US Virgin Islands Hurricane Help. Tim is also a Hurricane Hugo survivor, you can read more about his story here. Duncan’s organization has a plane leaving with supplies from San Antonio next week, you can contact them directly to drop off supplies if you’re in the area. Duncan has also started a relief fund and has already donated $250k and will match up to $1 million. I just read that his fundraising efforts so far have surpassed the $1 million mark, GO TIMMY! #VISTRONG

As I receive more information I will be sure to update this post. If you have any information that you’d like to share you can contact me here or on any of my social pages.

Together we are #CaribbeanStrong.

Financial Contributions

St.Croix Foundation
21 US Virgin Islands Relief Fund – Tim Duncan
St. Croix Foundation – Caribbean Assistance and Relief Effort (CARE)
Richard Branson/Virgin BVI COMMUNITY SUPPORT APPEAL
St. John Rescue
Caribbean Sea Adventures
USVI Hurricane IRMA Relief Fund – VI United (John P. Wheatley)
Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands
BVI Hurricane Relief Irma Fund
Convoy of Hope-BVI

Toiletries/Clothing/Medical Supplies and Non-Perishables Item Location Drop Off

St.Croix
Cane Bay Dive Shop Frederiksted and North Shore-
The Shoe Bar
Caribbean Sea Adventures
Juan Luis Hospital Nursery (needs supplies for infants and newborns)- 340- 772-7348- ask for Faye
Island Moms Rock! -#OperationBabies (will be at Kmart West until 4:00 pm today September 10th)
Seaborne Airlines- Seaplane Base (Christiansted)

Puerto Rico
Seaborne AirlineRoblex Aviation Center- Ave Jose (Tony) Santana, World Cargo Building B, Carolina, Puerto Rico, 0097

Shelters
Shelters in St.Croix are being set up to accommodate evacuees from St.Thomas and St.John, if you would like to volunteer please contact 340-626-6288.

Facebook Groups
Helping the Virgin Islands Recover
USVI Hurricane Irma Alert
BVI Abroad
What’s Going On Virgin Islands?
What’s going on St. John, US Virgin Islands
US Virgin Islands Hurricane Watchers
Eyes on the Storm Caribbean

DISCLAIMER: I am not affiliated with any organizations listed. I have done my best to reach out directly to members of these organizations to provide information about their ongoing efforts. If you are hesitant about making a financial contribution please consider donating well-needed supplies. If you would like to help and are in the Puerto Rico, Atlanta, DMV, Raleigh, Charlotte, San Antonio, Houston or Phoenix area they are several organizations and individual where you can drop off clothing, food and other supplies. Some are listed on the flyers below. This is not an exhaustive list and will continue to be updated as more information can be vetted and provided. Information has been pulled from a variety of sources to have relief resources available in one central place.

 

 

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DISCLAIMER: I am not affiliated with any organizations listed. I have done my best to reach out directly to members of these organizations to provide information about their ongoing efforts. If you are hesitant about making a financial contribution please consider donating well-needed supplies. If you would like to help and are in the Puerto Rico, Atlanta, DMV, Raleigh, Charlotte, San Antonio, Houston or Phoenix are they are several organizations and individual where you can drop off clothing, food and other supplies. Some are listed on the flyers below. This is not an exhaustive list and will continue to be updated as more information can be vetted and provided. Information has been pulled from a variety of sources to have information in one central place.

Summertime is here! By the time you’re reading this the bells have already rung announcing the beginning of the season. I love summer, it’s not my favorite season, but I still find it favorable. Summer in St.Croix also means that fruit is in abundance. It’s mango season! It’s tamarind season! It’s genip season! It’s passion fruit season! It’s crab season. Damn near everything is in season It seems lol. And who am I not to partake in the bountiful glory of fresh produce that the Lord has bestowed upon us?

I try to lighten up my meals in the summer and came up with this chicken dish. It’s already grilling season so why not throw something a little different on the grill? I thought this would be an awesome dish for a picnic, garden party or BBQ. Since it’s protein, it’s filling, the chicken is skewered on sugarcane which imparts a hint of sweetness as it cooks as well as a little tenderness. Last but not least the sticky, sweet and slightly tart tamarind glaze just sets it over the top. You can serve these as a main dish or appetizers, this time around I had it a side of coconut rice and a bit of veg and I was in heaven.

Without further ado, let’s get into it, shall we?

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
½ pound sugarcane (you can find them at your local Asian or Caribbean market), cut into thin sharp strips (about the thickness of a pencil)
3 cups lukewarm water
¼ cup honey
½ cup white vinegar
2 tablespoon sea salt

For sauce
3 tablespoons dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon grated ginger
3 tablespoons brown sugar
¼ cup tamarind paste
¼ scallions, diced.

**I’ve noticed boneless skinless thighs may still have some of the fat still attached. I trim as much as possible but leave a bit on which will help once we get it on the grill.**

1. Rinse chicken with vinegar and set aside. In a large bowl/container add water, honey and sea salt, mix until honey and salt are dissolved.

2. Cut chicken lengthwise into strips about 2 inches wide.

3. Add chicken strips to salt water brine, soak overnight, or at least 6-8 hours, preferably overnight.
The next following day

1. Heat grill or grill pan

2. Remove chicken from brine and pat dry

3. Skewer chicken on sugar cane. If it is difficult to pIerce meat with the end of sugarcane, use a sharp knife to poke holes through the meat and them thread skewer thru and prepare the grill.

 

 

4. Once grill or grill pan is heated thru and ready to use, use tongs to place chicken skewers on the grill, and leave for 3-4 minutes. Be careful not to remove from heat until it forms nice grill marks.

5. After 4 minutes flip skewers to the other side.

 

6. As meat is cooking prepare glaze for basting skewers. In small bowl mix all ingredients until smooth, you may need to add more soy or sugar to suit your taste.

7. Once meat is cooked thoroughly, begin to baste with glaze. Turning twice to make sure skewer is evenly coated and Glazed.

8. Sprinkle with green onion before serving.

 

 

What are some of your favorite ways to incorporate in-season produce into your recipes? Let me know in the comments! And remember if you try out the recipe make sure to tag me and use #ahirokoeats so I can find you!

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After a brief hiatus and a few hectic weeks. I’m back! bright eyed, bushy tailed, happy, hopeful and ready for change.

Spring has sprung and I’m here for it! It’s my birthday month as well so I’m super excited for no reason in particular…just that…it’s my birfday y’all! I plan to keep it low key that way there’s a less likely chance for disappointments. And trust I know what disappointing birthdays look like.

But that aside let’s get back to what I’ve been up to. I’ve been keeping busy with client work which is great! Being a small business owner is hard work but I love helping others, offering services that benefit them and their business as well. Happy clients make for a profitable business. I have a few projects winding down, a couple starting up and a few in the pipeline. If all goes well I’ll be accepting new clients in the late Spring/early Summer.

I’ve also registered for the #BlogHer17 conference which will be in Orlando this year. Crazy excited about that trip and looking forward to connecting and learning with tons of amazing women! I’ll also get to reconnect with an old friend while in town so yay for me! It’s Orlando so I plan to check out Disney World’s newest attraction, Pandora. It should make for an epic start of the summer.

If you follow me on Snapchat or Instagram you’ll know that I’ve been back in St.Croix for the past few months. We had our annual Agriculture Fair during President’s Day weekend. The AgFair is very much like the county fair stateside. Lots of livestock, farmers, planters, and cooks showcasing their best and brightest. It draws a big crowd, especially from our sister island of St.Thomas, our cousins in the British Virgin Islands and our down island neighbors from Dominica, St.Vincent, and St.Lucia to name a few.

 

If there’s a line, you know its guaranteed to be good!

 

Corinne has some of the BEST pates on island.

Here on our sleepy, super chill island things have been shaken up the past few weeks. March 31st marked the 100th anniversary of the transfer of the Danish West Indies to the United States. This transfer was made for 25 million in gold coin. You can check out the official VI Transfer Centennial website here.

There has been much controversy surrounding this centennial anniversary as well as the celebration of transfer day in general. Many locals feeling that we left one oppressor for the next and that it should not be a day to celebrate. The relationship between Denmark and its former colony is not a romantic one. But a tumultuous one filled with strife, resistance, sorrow, heartache, and anger. The exploitation of people and theft of their resources to build the economy of another is a familiar story to many with a connection to the African diaspora. And truth be told it’s a tangled web. Though I understand and agree to some extent with the anti-centennial group in that this centennial event should not be looked upon as a cause to celebrate. I do however think this is major cause to start a conversation for Denmark to recognize and acknowledge their hand in the trans-Atlantic slave trade and how it affected to citizens and descendants of its former colony. For the United States to discuss the second-hand citizenship the territory has. Hundreds of thousands of talented tax paying individuals who have contributed to the fabric of the America we know and love. Thousands who have served their country proudly in battle, defending her honor and shores but still not allowed the right to vote. For the citizens of the Virgin Islands to be allowed full participation in the political processes that govern our country and for both Denmark and the United States to finally open their eyes and LISTEN and UNDERSTAND what’s going on here in the local community and providing the support and resources to build and sustain a harmonious and profitable economy. That’s the conversation I want and pray to see happen. We are making steps towards that but the outcome of this remains to be seen.

I did attend a few centennial activities (really and truly to see where our taxpayer dollars went). I attended a lecture at St.Croix Landmarks Society called Breaking the Silence: The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and saw the related exhibited which was created and curated by local students. They did an amazing job and led a very spirited and heated discussion between locals and students who were visiting from Denmark. Hot topics included: reparations, a public apology from Denmark, plus the after effects of slavery and colonialism and Where so we go from here. Most importantly how do we heal? Executive Director Sonia Jacobs-Dow also shed light on two children who were taken from the St.Croix under Danish rule to be displayed as exhibits at the Tivoli Gardens. I plan to do a separate post on that so stay tuned for more on that story.

The next day I attended the Centennial Ceremony in Christiansted. There was a parade (which I missed) and a program (which I didn’t get one because I was late). But you can find a digital copy of the centennial program here. The ceremony was a dual program celebrating the 100th anniversary itself as well as a citizenship ceremony welcoming 20+ newly minted American citizens. It featured remarks from Delegate to Congress Stacy Plaskett, Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen, Deputy Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke as well as many others.

 

Transfer Day Ceremony in Christiansted

The following week I had the opportunity to tour the Tall Ship Danmark, which is a training vessel from Denmark that sailed to the territory to commemorate the Transfer Day celebration. The ship is manned by a crew of 60 students and 11 full-time staff members. Built in 1933 it has been used as a training vessel. The crew invited the local community to come aboard and tour the ship. Some joked that the last time locals were invited on a ship they were kidnapped and stolen from the Motherland. I don’t see the humor but the comment once again shows that as a community on a whole we have a lot of healing to do.

 


The ship was impressive albeit a bit tight in my opinion to house such a big crew. It was nice to chat with the students who are training to sail on the ship, many are in high school. I think that it’s an awesome opportunity to get such hands-on experience and sail the world. It’s not for everyone but I still think it’s awesome. The ship departed Tuesday afternoon and it’s currently on its way to Bermuda. You can view the ship’s current location here.

 

With the Centennial activities behind me and March coming to a close it was time to get ready for the St.Croix Food and Wine Experience (#STXFWE). I try my best to go whenever I’m on island, there are tons of events during the week but my favorite is Taste of St.Croix, where local restaurants, chefs, mixologists, and farmers come together to highlight the best of both worlds: locally grown and sourced food as well as some of the best culinary creations in the region.

 

Taste of St.Croix is held at Divi Carina Bay Resort and is the place to be and be seen. I literally have little no pictures of this event because I spend most of my time eating and drinking to my heart’s delight. I did manage to sneak in a pic with St.Croix’s own Crucian Contessa.  She has an amazing food blog that you guys should be sure to check out.

One of my favorite foodie friends, The Crucian Contessa.

 

The eats at Taste of STX here are always delicious and innovative and as mentioned early they highlight local livestock and produce. Add to that being in rum country the cocktails were a standout as well, BES Craft Lounge and Zion Modern Kitchen had libations that left me more than a little bit happy and joyous, to say the least.

Ms.Sweets and I at #STXFWE, partners in crime and wine…always!

Friday evening saw me enjoying more eats right in my backyard at Sunset BBQ on the Frederiksted Pier. Once again local restaurants showcasing some of their best-grilled dishes, lamb ribs, black bean burgers, yucca fries and shrimp kebabs, to name a few. Listen when I say we get down and burn when it comes to cooking I mean WE.GET.DOWN!!! St.Croix is an absolute food lovers paradise and the preparation of food is always down with so much love and respect.

Ran into a good friend, Ms.X at Sunset BBQ.

 

Saturday night saw me at the Bohlke Airways private hangar for Wine in the Warehouse. This time I managed to get a few shots in between stuffing my face! This was my first time attending this event and it was truly a treat.

 

 

 

 

Beet Hummus Arepas with local microgreens

 

Chocolate Mousse with Candied Mangoes

 

 

St.Croix Finest, DJ Swain

And then like that St.Croix Food and Wine week was over! Until next year that is….

My birthday rolled around last week and I was back in celebration mode again. This year I kept it pretty low key, celebrating with my close circle instead of planning some big to do. I spent my pre-birthday eve, with the lovely Ms.Sweets at Zion Modern Kitchen. I had a great birthday dinner with family and close friends who I consider family at the Renaissance Carambola Beach Resort. I had an amazing time am grateful for another year of continued blessings and success. With the state of the world right now and the continued exploits and frustrations caused by #45 and his administration. I realize although it stays weighs heavily on me (y’all I was having NIGHTMARES) I can’t let it take over my well-being. So I’m back on track and ready to blog it out with ya.

Happy Birthday to Me #TeamTaurus

This post has gone on forever so it’s time to wrap it up but not before letting everyone know that I will be attending the BlogHer 2017 Conference in Orlando in June. This is my first year and I’m excited! I’ve been to Orlando a few times as well as to Disney World and Universal Studios but it’s been about 10+ years since my last visit so I’m stoked to not only attend the conference, but I’ll also have an opportunity to connect with a few close friends and if I play my cards right, get to check out Disney’s World of Avatar attraction at the Animal Kingdom park. That will be epic for sure!

Well, guys that about wraps it up for now and should bring everyone up to speed. Has anyone else been to Taste of St.Croix or visited my home island of St.Croix? What about BlogHer? Ever attended? Any tips and advice? Disney World? Any attractions you suggest I see? Orlando? Where to go? I’ll be in town for a week so I’m open to suggestions. Til next time loves.

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Oh my dear sweet home. Being born and raised here on St.Croix I feel that I’ve been really blessed to soak up the natural beauty of my island. I can’t speak for others but being born in such a tiny place with such a huge back story and history is amazing to me. Whenever I feel down or just need inspiration, all I need to do is step out of my front door and take in the sights, smells and sounds of Twin City. I always say on a good day you can see everything but on a clear day you can see forever. And we have tons of clear days so when they come I love to take advantage of them,  that’s why I knew I had to take this opportunity to get out and enjoy some of the local sunshine and sights to see. I don’t care what you’ve heard there’s nothing like the Crucian sun, if you let it it will kiss you with the most golden glow.

 

 

 

Top: Primark Denim Shorts: Old Navy

 

Have you ever seen water so crystal clear and blue?

 

 

In honor of my Springtime glory I wrangled up the crew for a shoot on the west side of the island. But first let me give you a little history on one of the most beautiful places on earth, America’s Paradise, mi tierra, my home. St.Croix is the largest of the 4 islands that make up the U.S.Virgin Islands. About 90 miles south of Puerto Rico, St.Croix has at one point and time been under the rule of 7 different countries: England, France, Spain, Holland, the Knights of Malta, Denmark and most recently the United States. Marked by white sand beaches, warm people and an up and coming food scene, life on St.Croix is not without its charms and simple delights.

 

Goddess Twist Dress: Fashion 2 Figure

 

 

We drove North of town out to the Butler Bay ruins, many moons ago St.Croix was one of the top producing sugar cane plantations. And do you know what comes after sugar? RUM! St.Croix is also home to two rum distilleries, the age old Cruzan Rum and more recently Captain Morgan. So when you visit know that you’re in rum country and we take our spirits seriously.

 

Oh hey! Just hanging amongst the ruins…

 

 

Floral Kimono: Marianne’s               Dress: Forever21              Floral Headband: Claire’s

 

 

Butler’s Bay or Bottler’s Bay as it was originally listed according to Florence Lewishon’s St.Croix Under Seven Flags, was gifted to a new settler to encourage agriculture production in the Northwest area of the island. (Can you imagine being gifted an entire plantation? (Oh to melanin deficient in those times.) Back to story…the plantation and great house that were constructed on this property were very extravagant. Today the Great House has been restored to it’s former splendor and if i’m not mistake is available to purchase for a cool $1 million. The ruins  below still tell the story of a time long gone where sugar reigned supreme. I love coming here to shoot pictures or just on a long Sunday drive. It’s quite peaceful.

 


Do you have any warm weather historical haunts that you like to hang out at or visit often? Let me know in the comments!

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Photo credit: Icy Moonlight Fotografie Makeup: Fierce Fusion by Jai