Friday, January 29, 2016

Aloha to Safety Harbor - The Pier, Marina, and Library

Continuing my walk around my home town of Safety Harbor, the pier is a symbol of our city.

The seagull rests on the channel marker, reminding boaters to watch out for manatees. 

The bay offers a small beach better suited for rock collecting than sun bathing.

Yes, let's go to Safety Harbor after this week of snow ... 

... I would be on Cloud 9!

Safety Harbor also boasts a world class library with helpful libraries ...  

... here's the fine print.  Indeed, the Librarians are Human Search Engines!

I found proud parents of a Navy Sailor!  Speaking of sailing, what would you name your boat?  One randomly selected commenter from this week's blogs wins a book choice from my convention stash.  Comments are open through Saturday, January 30, 10 pm in Baltimore.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, January 31.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

The City of Tampa rises in the distance.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Aloha to Safety Harbor - Tampa Bay


I recently traveled to Safety Harbor, Florida, to renovate our condo.  Now that we are homeowners in Maryland, we would like to sell the condo.   But I will miss this small town on Tampa Bay.  

Safety Harbor is home of the Espiritu Santo Springs.  From the City of Safety Harbor (link),

Given this name in 1539 by the Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto, who was searching for the legendary Fountain of Youth, these natural springs have attracted attention worldwide for their curative powers. Today, 22 acres of pristine Florida coastline houses the famous Safety Harbor Resort and Spa which remains one of the world's finest spa destinations and continues to attract health conscious visitors to the area.

From downtown, I walked along Bayshore Boulevard, where homeowners have docks to the bay.

This owner invites walkers to enjoy the view.

The homeowners have fun ...

... turning a tree stump into artwork ...

... paying tribute to Neptune!

How about this mailbox?

The Tucker Mansion, below, witnessed the city's history.  From Pinellas Memory (link),

This Colonial Revival style mansion was built following the devastating hurricane of 1921 by Virginia Tucker, who also built the St. James Hotel. She was the widow of James Tucker, whom the hotel wasnamed after. The couple were early entrepreneurs that made major improvements at the springs and began selling the mineral water for national distribution.

Do you have a historic home in your town?  One randomly selected commenter from this week's posts wins a book choice from my convention stash.  Comments are open through Saturday, January 30, 10 pm.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, January 31.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Even on a cloudy day, the pier is a source of inspiration.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Aloha to Nancy Lee Badger and BURNS SUPPER - Celebrating the life of Scotland's Poet

January 25th marks the annual celebration of Scotland's national poet Robert Burns. Find out about his life and poetry, the Burns supper, and this year’s festivities at this link.

I invited Nancy Lee Badger, author of Scottish themed romance books, to share her experience with Burns Supper.  

Celebrating the Birthday of Scottish Poet, Robert Burns

Scots living outside the borders of Scotland, and folks of Scottish descent, are proud of their history. A large segment take the time to attend Highland games and festivals, Tartan day parades, and Robert Burn’s Suppers. All can be found in several countries such as the United States of America, where I live. I have talked about the Scottish games I attend in New Hampshire, North Carolina, and elsewhere. I have dreamed about marching in New York City’s Tartan day Parade, usually held around the 6th of April. Another holiday that dwells on kilts, haggis, and whisky is the celebration called the Robert Burns Supper.

Have you ever heard of the poem Tam O’Shanter, or A Red, Red Rose? Did you ever sing Auld Lang Syne while sipping champagne on New Year’s Eve? No other poet is as well-loved as Robert Burns, who was born in 1759, and no other Scot is celebrated with formal suppers. 

Since his birthday is January 25th, the deep winters are a good time to warm up with a delicious dinner and spirits. When we lived in northern New Hampshire, we trekked through the snow and sleet to attend a Robert Burns’ supper put on by a group called the St. Andrew’s Society of New Hampshire. We dressed in our best Highland attire, listened to a speech or two, sipped glasses of single malt scotch, and enjoyed such dishes as:

scotch broth: usually made of barley and lamb

cock-a-leekie soup: leeks cooked with chicken broth

bangers and mash: sausage and mashed potatoes, sometimes served with gravy

neeps and tatties: mashed rutabaga and potatoes

shortbread: a simple sweet, heavy cookies

We all stood as a piper piped the arrival of the chef carrying the haggis, then listened to Burns’ Address to the Haggis.

Generally, Burns’ Selkirk Grace is spoken:

Some hae meat and canna eat,

And some wad eat that want it;

But we hae meat and we can eat,

And sae the Lord be thankit.

Here is a quick description of haggis: it’s a savory pudding that contains sheep’s pluck, otherwise known as a heart, liver, and lungs. It is ground up with onion, oatmeal, spices and salt, then traditionally encased in the animals’ stomach before baking. In the United States, we do not include the lungs, and it is usually cooked in an artificial casing. To me, it looked and tasted like a nutty, gritty goose paté. The best way to eat it is to smear a dollop on a cracker, followed by a swallow of whisky.

Robert Burns Suppers are fundraisers, and it takes many volunteers to plan the event. Anyone can generally attend for the price of a ticket, and should not be missed.

More About Nancy Lee Badger

After growing up in Huntington, New York, award-winning author Nancy Lee Badger attended College in New Hampshire, married, and raised two sons in a small town in the shadow of New Hampshire’s White Mountains. She is the proud mother of an Army veteran. She moved to North Carolina where she writes full-time. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, Fantasy-Futuristic & Paranormal Romance Writers, the Celtic Heart Romance Writers, and the Triangle Association of Freelancers.

Nancy and her family volunteer each fall at the New Hampshire Highland Games surrounded by…kilts! Contact Nancy Lee Badger here…

Blog Website Twitter Facebook Goodreads

Amazon Author Page

Her latest Release, MEDIEVAL REDEMPTION, is available at AMAZON

When his clan convicts Cameron Robeson of treason in 1598 Scotland, the last thing he thought his cousin the Laird would do was banish him to the future. With a certain woman on his mind, he plans revenge while surrounded by the sights and sounds of the modern day New England Highland Games. His plans go awry when a comely redheaded lass wearing the Mackenzie plaid lands at his feet. 

Iona Mackenzie is worried about her friend, Haven, and searches for answers among the tents at the games. Whom can she trust to help? When a magical amulet and an angry sorcerer send this unlikely couple back through time, more than one heart will be broken. Will the strong-willed Highlander and the present day witch stop fighting long enough to listen to their hearts? With a letter in her hand and a Highlander at her back, what could go wrong? 

I am giving away a digital copy of MEDIEVAL REDEMPTION to one randomly selected commenter.  To enter the giveaway,

1.  Leave a comment about BURNS' SUPPER - have you attended one?  Would you try any of the dishes Nancy shared?  Have you read any of Burns' poetry?

2.  Comments are open through Saturday, January 30, 10 pm in Baltimore.

3.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, January 31, on SOS Aloha (link).


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Aloha to Mullet Creek Nature Park in Safety Harbor, Florida

Last week, I traveled to my home town of Safety Harbor, Florida, to renovate our condo for sale.  The Sunshine State was colder than expected!  One cloudy afternoon, I took a brisk walk and brought my camera along.  I discovered the Mullet Creek Nature Park.  From the city's website (link),

Safety Harbor's newest park is Mullet Creek Nature Park. It is an outdoor art gallery that provides a unique visitor experience. The demonstration gardens are an area where you will be able to learn about and see plants growing. These garden plots are planted and maintained by volunteers. The formal art gardens sits is on 2.6 acres of City owned land and is at the corner of Church Street and Philippe Parkway. The Park has Outdoor Art Gallery, two picnic tables, one barbecue pit, three swings, lots of benches and chairs, a water fountain, and lots of fresh air.

Let's check out the art gallery ...

... where children explored their imagination ... 

... and I found the same flowers and fish from Hawaii!

The wise owl ...

 ... watches over those who sit for a while.

I was delighted to find the Little Free Library.  From its website (link),

In the beginning—2009--Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin, built a model of a one room schoolhouse. It was a tribute to his mother; she was a teacher who loved to read. He filled it with books and put it on a post in his front yard. His neighbors and friends loved it. He built several more and gave them away. Each one had a sign that said FREE BOOKS. Rick Brooks of UW-Madison saw Bol's do-it-yourself project while they were discussing potential social enterprises. 

Together, the two saw opportunities to achieve a variety of goals for the common good. Each brought different skills to the effort. Bol was a creative artisan experienced with innovative enterprise models; Brooks was a youth and community development educator with a background in social marketing. They were inspired by many different ideas:

- Andrew Carnegie’s support of 2,509 free public libraries around the turn of the 19th to 20th century.
- The heroic achievements of Miss Lutie Stearns, a librarian who brought books to nearly 1400 locations in Wisconsin through “traveling little libraries” between 1895 and 1914.
- “Take a book, leave a book” collections in coffee shops and public spaces.
- Neighborhood kiosks, TimeBanking and community gift-sharing networks
- Grassroots empowerment movements in Sri Lanka, India and other countries worldwide.

What's your favorite artwork?  Or have you seen a Little Free Library in your neighborhood?  One randomly selected commenter from this week's blogs wins a book choice from my convention stash. Comments are open through Saturday, January 23, 10 pm in Baltimore.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, January 24.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

The back view of the Little Free Library

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Aloha to Taste of Aloha - Polynesian Restaurant in Halethorpe, Maryland


Last week, my family enjoyed lunch at Taste of Aloha in Halethorpe, Maryland.  From its website (link),

Our mission is to serve the best Polynesian comfort food, in an enjoyable atmosphere for customers & employees. It's a popular place to meet friends & enjoy good, affordable food. Perfect for the business lunch crowd, families & students.

We are a family owned & operated business, focused on the quality of our food & your dining experience. We strive to ensure you feel like ohana when you come in. All our sauces & marinades are made from scratch; as are the weekend treats that Amy (my wife) makes. We pipe in Hawaiian music in the dining room & encourage you to relax & enjoy your meal.

Oldest son ordered Loco Moco - two scopes of rice, hamburger patty, fried egg, and brown gravy on top.

I dove into Teriyaki chicken with a scope of Mac Salad - an island staple.  I loved the classic cafeteria tray!

Hubby enjoyed the Hawaiian burger with grilled pineapple.

We were tempted by the cupcakes ... what is your favorite Hawaiian, Polynesian, and/or Asian food? One randomly selected commenter from this week's posts wins a book choice from my convention stash.  Comments are open through Saturday, January 23, 10 pm in Baltimore.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, Jaunary 24.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

The spices are devine!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Celebrating National Parks - Aloha Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island

2016 is the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. There is one national park with an active volcano, Kilauea, home of Pele from Hawaiian mythology.  Above is the Kilauea Caldera .... 

.... with the Halemaʻumaʻu crater blowing off steam!

Madame Pele, the Volcano Goddess, is both feared and revered.  Her portrait hangs inside the Jaggar Museum in the Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park (link).

Pele produces two kinds of lava. Above is A'a lava that is difficult to walk over. Perhaps it is Pele's revenge.

This is Pahoehoe lava that can flow up or down hill. It is easier to walk across.

Pele's temper produces two types of sand - green and black.

Outside the Jaggar Museum, I found a "rainwater" station, "captured from the clouds, filtered by the sand, pumped here by solar." You can't get much "greener" than that!

We walked along the caldera rim to see it from different angles.

We discovered the vents where rainwater turns to steam when it seeps into Kilauea's caldera.

I welcome your comments about Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park.  One randomly selected commenter from this week's blogs wins a book choice from my convention stash.  Comments are open through Saturday, January 23, 10 pm in Baltimore. I'll post the winner on Sunday, January 24.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

The pictures above are mine during the day .... and I found one fabulous photo at twilight to demonstrate the awe of Pele:

Dave from gave me permission to publish this image. It truly captures the essence of Pele - she is present even if you cannot see her during the day. You can find this image and others on his blog at this link. Mahalo, Dave!