30 October 2017

Do I Really Have To Make My Bed? Or, The Mysteries Of Facebook

Image via The Graphics Fairy

Last week, I shared a post from Purple Clover on our Facebook page that posed the following question:

"Are there actually people out there who make their beds every morning or is that just myth?"
I expected that maybe a 100 or so people would see the post in their feed and that I'd get a few likes and maybe a couple of comments. What I got instead astounded me - the post reached over 13,000 people, has over 160 likes and there are more comments than I can possibly read in this lifetime.

For the record, the majority of people who commented make their bed every morning. Or their wife does. Some people even said that they make the bed if they're staying in a hotel.

Their reasons varied - it's a habit ingrained from childhood, you start the day off right by making the bed and accomplishing something, the cats need a nice place to sleep during the day, the house is more orderly, it's nicer to tuck yourself into a freshly made bed at night etc.

A few brave souls confessed that they don't make their bed every morning. For many folks, their reasoning was that it's healthier to air the bed out during the day. But my favorite reason was that an unmade bed has less bugs in it. I think I found my perfect rationale for not making our bed everyday.

And then there was this comment that cracked me up - "I made my bed once, then I remembered the old adage, 'You made your bed, now you have to sleep in it.' Climbed back in and missed a day of work."

So this all leaves me wondering why was this Facebook post so popular?

We only have 1.5k people who like our Facebook page and only a fraction of them probably see our Facebook posts in their feed regularly. What made this post so popular? Was it some mysterious algorithm that Facebook uses that caused this to pop up in everybody's feed? Is the topic of bed-making really that fascinating? 

By the way, if you're one of the folks who liked the bed-making Facebook post or commented on it, thank you! It's been so much fun to read everyone's comments. I'm really sorry that I haven't been able to respond to all of them. If I did, I'd never have time to make the bed.

Do you make your bed every morning? If so, why? If you don't, why not? What's been your most popular Facebook or blog post?

Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - pop by and say hi!

28 October 2017

Saturday Spotlight | Around The World In 80 Books, Update #12

In addition to the usual blog posts every Monday, Wednesday and Friday about our eccentric travel adventures and day-to-day life living aboard a sailboat, I also occasionally post on Saturdays, focusing on things related to writing such as cover reveals, book launches, reviews, interviews with authors etc. So if you're a bit of a book nerd like I am, check in on Saturdays - you never know what might pop up.


Remember when I started that "Around the World in 80 Books" challenge? The one I was so gung-ho about, but then never finished. Yeah, I had completely forgotten about it too until my mother reminded me about it. So, while we're land-locked and working on boat projects, I thought this would be a good time to start ticking more countries off of the list.

The idea of the challenge is to read books set in 80 different countries, effectively exploring the world from the comfort of your armchair. Since my last update (which was ages ago), I've read books set in five more countries – Austria, Indonesia, Israel, Pakistan and Portugal.

That makes a total of 60 books since I started the challenge - only 20 more to go!

You can read more about the challenge here, as well as check out Update #1, Update #2, Update #3, Update #4, Update #5, Update #6, Update #7, Update #8, Update #9, Update #10 and Update #11.


THE ACCIDENTAL EMPRESS by Allison Pataki | Austria

The Accidental Empress is a historical novel about Sisi, a Bavarian Duchess, who accompanied her sister to the Hapsburg Court back in 1853. Sisi's sister was supposed to marry Emperor Franz Josef I, but Sisi ended up snagging him herself, becoming the Empress of Austria and the Queen of Hungary in the process. Don't feel too bad for Sisi's sister. She was relieved that things turned out the way they did. After all life in a royal court can be daunting.

The Accidental Empress is an engrossing read, full of romance, intrigue and interference from an annoying mother-in-law. In between descriptions of gorgeous dresses and royal etiquette, I got a feeling for what Austria might have been like at the time. The countryside sounds idyllic. Makes me want to travel to Austria and go for long hikes and have picnics up in the mountains.

"Sisi kept herself occupied in the nerve-fraught coach by staring out the windows and imagining what life must be like in each Alpine home she passed. While the farms appeared idyllic, the goat herders had it the best, she decided. For the goat herders were free to set out each morning from their cliff-side chalets and march into the hills. Armed with a block of cheese, a loaf of bread, and a skin of wine, they could wander and explore the mountains and creeks with no one to answer to. Or they could find an open, sunlit field and lie down on the grass, passing away the hours under a sky so close that Sisi longed to reach up and pull some of its blueness down into her hands."

You can find out more about The Accidental Empress on Goodreads and get your own copy on Amazon.

LAND SHARKS: A SWINDLE IN SUMATRA by Nancy Raven Smith | Indonesia

Land Sharks is a fun, light mystery about a fraud investigator, Lexi, who is sent to a resort on Sumatra, an Indonesian island, to bring back the daughter of one of the bank's biggest clients who is there with her latest boyfriend. Lexi's sidekick is her boss' young son who bumbles alongside eagerly, trying to learn the ropes and often getting in the way. Lexi soon uncovers a larger mystery, runs into an old flame and encounters danger in the form of deadly animals, criminals and murderers.

While the mystery is set in the lush jungles of Sumatra and you get a feel for what the hot, tropical environment might be like, I wished there had been more details about the peoples and culture of Sumatra. Indonesia is a place that I'd like to visit one day, although I'm not to sure about the possibility of being eaten by crocodiles or sharks:

"Steve's right. I'm not thinking straight. If the crocodiles don't get us, the sharks in the bay surely will. The canoe is our only answer. We stumble as fast as we dare in the dark as we hurry back along the twisty path to the river. This time I'm so mad the critters better look out for me."

You can find out more about Land Sharks on Goodreads and get your own copy on Amazon.

THE DEVIL IN JERUSALEM by Naomi Ragen | Israel

Let me start out by saying that this is not an easy book to read. I found it to be very disturbing. But since it's about child abuse and cults, how could it not be disturbing? The book depicts the investigation into the abuse of two brothers brought into the hospital with horrifying injuries and the path which led their parents into a cult which abused their children. It's inspired by the real-life Elior Chen trial which took place in Jerusalem. 

The following passage depicts the father's search for religious meaning and truth in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community which ultimately led him and his wife to blindly follow and obey the will of a false Messiah.

"The words spoken by Reb Amos, a shaggy-haired blond guru with a large, white knitted cap of Breslove Hassidim, fascinated him. Amos was treated like a king by his followers, who stood up in awe of him when he entered and waited for permission to sit back down. Yes, Shlomie thought, drinking in the words deeply. This is the truth I have been seeking!"

To be honest, I'm not sure that I'd recommend this book. Although it sheds some light on how people can be drawn into cults and evil, it's certainly not for the faint-hearted.

You can find our more about The Devil in Jerusalem on Goodreads and get your own copy on Amazon.

SUMMERS UNDER THE TAMARIND TREE by Sumayya Usmani | Pakistan

Scott and I have been obsessed with making our own curries lately from scratch. As a result, we've been checking out a number of cookbooks from the library. Most of them are your run-of-the-mill cookbooks - full of recipes and photos of finished dishes. But Summers under the Tamarind Tree is different. Sure, it's a cookbook, but it's also a memoir of the author's time spent in Pakistan. Scattered among the enticing recipes are memories of her family, cultural tidbits about life in Pakistan and gorgeous photos of everyday life. 

One of the things I've been trying to do as part of this challenge is read books in different genres. It never occurred to me that a cookbook would tick that box, but in this case I think it does. Here's a great passage on celebration feasts to give you an idea of how Summers under the Tamarind Tree is much more than just a collection of recipes:

"Food takes centre stage in all Pakistani gatherings and festivals. I'm sure I remember people arriving right before meals were served at weddings, so as to avoid having to wait through the rituals before eating. Food would be cooked behind the scenes in massive steel cauldrons for hours before eventually being served at midnight, and people would pounce on it like hungry cats."

You can find out more about Summers under the Tamarind Tree on Goodreads and get your own copy on Amazon

THE ANGOLA CLAN by Christopher Lowrey | Portugal

I have to admit, before I read The Angolan Clan, I didn't know much about the bloodless Portuguese "Carnation Revolution" which overthrew the authoritarian Estado Novo government in 1974 and led to the withdrawal of Portugal from its African colonies.

Reading dull, dry history tomes isn't really my thing. I'd much prefer to read a novel where historical events provide a dramatic backdrop for interesting characters and thrilling adventures. The Angola Clan fit the bill for me in that regard. The book opens with three seemingly unconnected murders in New York, Switzerland and Spain which leads two women to explore what happened in Portugal and Angola during the revolution.  

The Angola Clan is a thriller and there are lots of twists and turns along the way. The author did a credible job of portraying the fear, uncertainty and chaos that people might have experienced during this period of Portugual's history. The following passage describing the airport in Luanda, Angola, full of people trying to flee the airport, stuck with me:

"After showing their documents and opening their bags, they walked through to the arrivals hall. It was chaos. Hundreds of people were crammed into the area like sardines in a can. Africans and Europeans alike were loaded down with trunks, bags, children, boxes, parcels. Women in brightly colored wraps, bandanas and scarves carried bundles on their heads. Some were carrying crates of chickens in each hand. There were children leading goats, pigs or dogs on pieces of rope. Families were camped out on thee floor, many of them eating their evening meal, bags and possessions strewn all over the place."

You can find out more about The Angola Clan on Goodreads and get your own copy on Amazon.


If you're participating in the challenge too (or any other reading challenge), I'd love to hear what you've been reading. Even if you're not doing the challenge, let us know what books you've been enjoying lately.

COUNTRIES READ TO DATE: Afghanistan, Algeria, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, the Bahamas, Bolivia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Canada, China, Cuba, Czech Republic, Djibouti, England, Estonia, Ethiopia, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Haiti, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mexico, Nigeria, North Korea, Norway, Pakistan, Paraguay, Portugal, Republic of Kiribati, Romania, Russia, Samoa, Saudi Arabia,  Scotland, Slovenia, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Thailand, Turkey, United States, Vanuatu, Vietnam and Zimbabwe.

Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - pop by and say hi!

27 October 2017

Flashback Friday | Polar Bear Defense Systems {A Public Service Announcement By My Nieces}


Flashback Friday takes place on the last Friday of the month. The idea is to give a little more love to a blog post you've published before that maybe didn't get enough attention, or is something you think is still relevant or even a something that you really love and want to share again.

Many thanks to Michael d’Agostino for starting Flashback Friday and inspiring me to go back and revisit some of our earlier blog posts.


When I was visiting my family in Portland, Oregon back in 2014, I spent some quality time hanging out with my nieces. Quality time, of course, means building a polar bear defense system out of Lego blocks. 

When I re-read this post, I laughed out loud remembering the fun we had. Then I felt really old when I realized that my then 12-year-old nieces are going turn 16 soon (yes, they're twins). How did they 
get so old? How did I get so old?

{This post was originally published in August 2014. You can find the original post here.}  


Polar bears seem cute, but it is important to keep your distance.

My 12 year old nieces and I were talking the other day about how Scott and I might go sailing in Alaska one day. And of course, if you're going to sail in Alaska, you have to watch out for the polar bears. It is critical that your boat be equipped with a polar bear defense system.

We've done some research and the most effective polar bear defense systems use a catapult to hurl marshmallows onto the ice (also known as a "Marsh-A-Pult"). Polar bears absolutely love marshmallows and the minute they see a marshmallow, they immediately lose interest in you and your sailboat and run off to gobble them down. Ideally, your marshmallows should be pink so that they show up on the snow.

In the interest of public safety, we decided to do a polar bear defense system photo shoot so that everyone is better informed about this important topic.

Preparing for the Photo Shoot

To prepare for the photo shoot, we first had to dye our marshmallows. We couldn't find any pink ones at our local Safeway, so one of my nieces turned our ordinary white ones into really cool looking ones.

First, get yourself some food coloring, some water and marshmallows.

Then mix up your dye and dunk your marshmallows.

Once you're done, you get these really cool looking marshmallows. They almost look tie-died and we think they would appeal to vampires, as well as polar bears.

The final step is to get the set built. We don't have a sound stage, so we used my sister's dining room instead.

Once your set it built, then you're ready to begin the photo shoot!

The Unprepared Crew: Sailing without a Polar Bear Defense System

Here are some folks out sailing in Alaska without a polar bear defense system. Silly people - what were they thinking?

They see some polar bears hanging out on an iceberg and think to themselves, "How cute!!! Let's take some pictures!!!"

Unfortunately, while they were looking for their camera, their boat capsized and the polar bears attacked.

The Coast Guard came out to try to rescue them, but it was too late. If only they had had a polar bear defense system, things would have turned out so differently.

The Prepared Crew: Sailing with a Polar Bear Defense System

This boat is much more prepared. The crew is towing a catapult behind their boat. Smart thinking!

They see the same polar bears hanging out on an iceberg.

But instead of rushing to get their camera, they set up their catapult system with a marshmallow.

The polar bears see the marshmallows and rush off to eat them and the crew is able to make a quick getaway.

My other niece made this amazingly cool video about the "Marsh-A-Pult" polar bear defense system. You should definitely check it out on You Tube.

After the Photo Shoot

If you have a bag of marshmallows left over from your photo shoot, the best thing to do is to turn them into "mice krispies". Yum, yum!

Have you ever had mice krispie treats? What kind of silly things do you / have you done with kids? Would you go sailing in Alaska? Ever seen a polar bear in real life?

Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - we'd love for you to pop by and say hi!

25 October 2017

Wordless Wednesday | Monitor Lizard

Wordless Wednesday is supposed to be about posting a photo(s) without any words. But, I'm a rule breaker, so here are a few words:

1 - We've got a lot of lizards running around Florida. They're small, harmless and cute in their own reptilian sort of way.

2 - Monitor lizards, on the other hand, kind of creep me out. Maybe because they're big and lurk about in the water.  

3 - Do you know what else lurks about in the water? Crocodiles and alligators. Monitor lizards kind of remind me of them, especially when I'm not wearing my glasses and they're off in the distance.

4 - I don't like to be reminded of crocodiles and alligators. I'd much prefer to be reminded of sweet and gentle animals, like kittens and unicorns. 

What words does this picture(s) bring to your mind when you look at it?

For more Wordless Wednesday fun, click here

Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - pop by and say hi!

23 October 2017

Cruising In The Bahamas | 2017 Season Recap, Pt 3 - Random Bits & Bobs

This is the third in our >>Cruising in the Bahamas 2017 Season Recap<< series. In our first installment, we talked about the route we took, the anchorages we stayed at and shared some fascinating and not-so-fascinating tidbits, like our average cost per night and what TV shows we binge watched. In our second installment, it was all about food, provisioning, grocery shopping and cooking on boats.

In this final installment, we share various random bits and bobs - like our favorite experiences and our not-so-favorite experiences, the issues we had with equipment on our boat, and doing laundry.

But before we get into that, let's start off with some tidbits. I'll be curious to know which of these you find fascinating and which you find not-so-fascinating. Personally, I'm fascinated by how much it costs to do laundry in different parts of the world. I guess that means I'm a bit strange, which probably isn't a surprise for you long-term blog readers out there.

So what did you think about the cost of booze in the Bahamas? More or less than you'd pay at home? While we did stock up on beer, wine and gin, we did supplement our supplies with a few bottles of rum along the way. The cheapest we found was in Marsh Harbour, the most expensive was at the rather strange combination liquor store / laundromat on Staniel Cay. Because nothing makes doing laundry better than a bottle of rum.

In the spirit of random bits and bobs, let's talk about laundry for a minute.

We don't have a watermaker* on board our boat which means that the water we carry in our tanks has to be devoted to important things like drinking, cooking, bathing and washing the dishes. Clean clothes are important, but rather than waste our precious water supply doing laundry in a bucket on our boat, we use laundromats in the Bahamas. You can find them pretty much everywhere and a load of laundry won't break the bank.

We are frugal sailors though, so rather than partake of the dryers at the laundromat (which are actually super expensive), we schlep our wet clothes back to the boat and hang them on the lifelines to dry. Wind is free after all.

{*For those of you not in the know, a watermaker is a gadget which transforms salt water into fresh drinking water. I'm not sure how it works, but I imagine some sort of magic is involved and possibly tiny elves.}

Okay, what should we talk about next? How about all of the stuff that broke or caused us issues? Sure, why not, let's go for it.

If you're a boat owner, while you're reading this, I imagine you'll be nodding your head and commiserating with us, because if there's one thing all boat owners know, it's that stuff constantly breaks. If you don't own a boat, well you might just be scratching your head thinking to yourself, "What kind of idiot would ever want to own a boat? Stuff seems to always break."

There were relatively minor issues that cropped up like the fact one of our >>water tanks was leaking<< when we were heeled over. (Easily fixed with some sealant.)

Or our >>temperature, oil and fuel gauges<< being on the fritz. (We use a heat gun on the engine, check the oil manually and listen for the telltale "gurgle" when we're filling the diesel tanks.)

Then there's >>our stove<< which decided it was tired of heating up our food. (Temporarily replaced with a butane camping stove.)

And >>our dinghy<< doesn't like to hold air. (We've tried patching it, gooping it and slapping gorilla tape everywhere. We're now resigned to constantly pumping it up and looking for a better solution.)

There are some annoying things that you just learn to live with for the time-being - like the fact that >>our anchor shackle sometimes likes to get stuck<< in the bow roller when you're trying to drop the anchor. (Screwdriver to the rescue to wedge it out.)

Then there were more serious issues, like our >>never ending saga with our windlass<<. It crapped out on us right away causing Scott to become our human windlass. Not a great solution and probably one of the things that contributed to his back problems in Rock Sound.

Then there are issues that are more of a pain-in-the-you-know-what like the fact that our >>autohelm and chart plotter cut out<< occasionally. When this happens, we just turn off and on the breaker and they reset themselves. Usually not a huge problem, except for this one time we were coming out of the Elizabeth Harbour (George Town) and the chart plotter cut in and out constantly. Trust me, this is not a great place to have an uncooperative chartplotter. Trying to blindly avoid reefs, rocks, sea monsters and shallow water - eek!

Then there was stuff that was almost fun to fix, like >>repairing our bimini and dodger<<. Okay, it wasn't really fun, but it was neat to use the monster wheel on our Sailrite sewing machine which meant we didn't need electricity to operate it.

Some things can really tick you off when you're out sailing and >>our furling line lead<< is one of them. It often gets tangled up on the drum causing a lot of frustration and taking in and out the headsail. We've tried a number of things to address without any luck.

>>Thorny, our Thornycroft T80 diesel engine,<< is a bit of a grumpy old man. But he's gotten even grumpier this past season. He struggles with early morning starts, which I can relate to. No one likes to get up and get cracking in the morning without a nice cup of coffee and possibly solving a crossword puzzle or two. Partway through the season, Thorny decided he wouldn't start in the morning without the help of the generator. If the solar panels have had a chance to charge the batteries for a while, then he's okay, but otherwise he grumbles and grouses. We do need to replace our battery bank this year, as well as deal with some potential ongoing glow plug issues.

Then there are the things that break that make you question the whole boat-ownership thing. Like the time one of >>our dinghy davits broke<<. This was probably the lowlight of our cruising season. Not only because of having to immediately deal with our dinghy and solar panel dangling precariously above the water, but also because of the time we spent trying to get it repaired in the Bahamas only to have to go back to the States to get a replacement davit and install it.

Fortunately, our other major repair - >> replacing our engine's water pump << - took place when we were back in the States and not in the Bahamas. We needed to source a spare part through a tractor supply outfit. Like I say, inside the heart of every good sailboat lurks a tractor. Thankfully, once we sourced the part, it didn't take long for us to fix it and head back to the Bahamas.

How many of you found that recap of all of the stuff that broke boring? Don't be shy, raise your hands. You're not alone, I've raised mine too. Boat maintenance and repair is really dull. Necessary, but dull.

How about some more fascinating and not-so-fascinating tidbits to liven the place up?

People who cruise in the Bahamas on bigger boats might be a bit jealous when they see how much our cruising permit cost us - $150. If your boat is 35' or bigger it costs $300. If your boat is smaller, like Tickety Boo, then it's only $150. There times when I wish we had a bigger boat. Clearing into the Bahamas is not one of them.

Okay, let's finish off this rambling post by sharing our favorite and not-so-favorite experiences in the Bahamas this year.

When it comes to >>not-so-favorite experiences<<, they group themselves into two categories for me - weather-related and gross bug-related.

Want to know about the bugs? I wouldn't blame you if you didn't. It was disgusting. There I was getting something out of the v-berth when I noticed maggots. Yes, maggots. Ick. Ick. Ick. Keep in mind that we're anchored near Little Farmer's Cay which meant there was no where to run away from them. So, I got out our trusty shop-vac, sucked them all up and chucked them overboard. Of course, I had nightmares that night thinking that there were bugs crawling all over me. Definitely a not-so-favorite experience.

If it's not bugs, it's the weather. Mother Nature rules your life when you're a cruiser and we're pretty used to her moodiness by now. But there are still days when she likes to shake things up and remind you who is in charge - her, not you. Like the time I thought >>we might very well lose our boat<< during a storm cell off of Cat Island. Another not-so-favorite experience.

Fortunately, >>our favorite experiences<< outnumber the not-so-favorite ones. Or at least our selective memories helps us forget the unpleasant times we have. The things we loved about the Bahamas are similar to the first time we cruised there - the people, the water and the mix of towns and solitude.

Probably our best land-based experience was visiting the Hermitage on Cat Island. Seriously amazing.

Our best water-based experiences were all about snorkeling. Surprisingly, some of the best snorkeling we had was in the Abacos at Sandy Cay. Everyone raves about the snorkeling in the Exumas - and we had some great times there - but Sandy Cay was truly special. Sadly we don't have an underwater camera so we don't have any pictures of the cool fish, coral and even submerged airplanes we saw, but here's a picture of a seaplane taking off in the Exumas next to our boat to make up for that.

And that's probably enough about the Bahamas for now. It's time to stop reminiscing about last year's cruising adventures and get back to boat projects so that we can get Tickety Boo all tickety boo for this coming season's adventures.

If you want to know more about the Bahamas, you can find links to all of our blog posts here.


What are the things that have broken in your home, RV or boat that really annoy you? Do you dry your clothes in a dryer or hang them up to dry? Do you drink rum? If so, what's your favorite rum-based drink?

Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - we'd love for you to pop by and say hi!

20 October 2017

Computers On Board Our Sailboat | Cherished Blogfest

We lead a pretty minimalist lifestyle. Which isn't all too surprising given that we live on a 34' sailboat, named Tickety Boo, which has >>less than 300 square feet of living space<<.

If you don't live on a sailboat or RV, then the thought of living in something that small might freak you out just a little bit. Maybe because it sounds horribly claustrophobic, or perhaps because the thought of sharing such a tiny space with your partner sounds like a recipe for disaster, or even because you can't imagine where you would put all of your stuff.

Fortunately, we don't have a lot of stuff. We got rid of most of it when we moved onto our first sailboat in New Zealand (she was even tinier - just 26'). Then we got rid of even more when we came back to the States and moved into our ridiculously small 13' travel trailer.

In comparison to our first boat and our camper, living on a 34' sailboat seems almost palatial. But it's still small and we still don't have room for a lot of stuff. And the stuff we do have is downright boring. Things to keep you safe, things to maintain and operate your boat, food to eat, clothes to wear etc. You know, stuff that's practical, but not stuff that you'd necessarily cherish.

I remember last year, when I first participated in the Cherished Blogfest, looking around our boat trying to find an object that I cherished. It took a while, but I finally settled on some toy polar bears my nieces gave me years ago. 

This year, I thought, well there's no way I can participate, there's nothing else on my boat that I truly cherish. Then I had a brainwave - >>our computers<<. I can't imagine life without computers on board.

After a few minutes, I had second thoughts. The things that people were sharing during the blogfest were lovely things, things truly worthy of being cherished. Things like a daily devotional gifted by a friend who passed away, adorable guinea pigs, and Mother Earth herself.

A computer seemed so dull and insignificant in comparison. A hunk of metal, plastic and electronic bits. Blah. Totally unworthy.

Then I thought about it some more and realized that I'd always make room on our boat for our computers. And when space is as rare a commodity as it is on our boat, that's saying something.

After all, our computers allow us to connect with others through email, Facebook, forums and blogging. It's the tool I use to express my creativity through writing. It stores photographic memories of our families and our travels. It helps us with planning and record keeping. All in all, I think our computers have earned their place on board Tickety Boo as truly cherished items.

What items do you cherish in your life and why?

Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - pop by and say hi!

Check out what other things people cherish at the Cherished Blogfest.

18 October 2017

Wordless Wednesday | Singapore Alleyway

Wordless Wednesday is supposed to be about posting a photo(s) without any words. But, I'm a rule breaker, so here are a few words:

1 - We like poking down alleyways. Sure, it might not be as pretty as the front side of the buildings, but it's often quite interesting in a weird and dodgy sort of way.

2 - Look at all of those air conditioning units. At least that's what I think they are. 

3 - It's hot in Singapore. I'd want air conditioning if I lived there. 

What words does this picture(s) bring to your mind when you look at it?

For more Wordless Wednesday fun, click here

Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - pop by and say hi!

16 October 2017

Morning Coffee | Random Thoughts & Oddities

Paul at Lat43 does these hysterical Morning Tea blog posts which are a brain dump of whatever pops into his head while he's writing them. I decided to steal his idea. Except, I'm drinking coffee while I write this and he drinks tea, so it isn't really stealing, is it?

So, here we go - all of the random nonsense floating through my head while I sip on my morning coffee.

  • I've been thinking a lot about lizards lately. Does that seem weird to you?
  • Every time I walk from my boat to the marina office, I encounter at least 37 lizards. Sure, I know I'm a tiny bit prone to exaggeration, but not in this case. They're really are a lot of lizards here. Go on, try it yourself. Next time you're at Indiantown Marina, walk around and see how many lizards you count. But make sure you look up from time to time or else you might walk into a boat in the parking lot and that would hurt.
  • I guess it's a bit strange to find boats in a parking lot next to cars. I'm used to it now and hadn't really thought about it in a while. You know because I've got lizards on my mind lately.
  • Lizards are cute in their own reptilian sort of way. Sure, they're not going to win any sort of cuteness contest against kittens, but they might win the Miss Congeniality award.
  • The lizards here are tiny. You could probably stuff at least five of them in your handbag and still have room for your wallet and keys.
  • Not that you'd want to stuff lizards in your handbag. Although there are people who stuff dogs in their handbags.
  • What would you rather have in your handbag - lizards or a dog?
  • I know what I'd rather have. Lots and lots of money to buy ridiculously expensive stuff for our boat. And chocolate. I'd buy a lot of chocolate too.
  • I wonder if lizards like chocolate? Personally, I'm never going to find out because I don't like sharing my chocolate.
  • You know what else has been on my mind lately? Lint. I always clean the lint out of the dryer after I'm finished with it so that the next person can chuck their clothes in and not worry about it. Some people think it's perfectly okay to leave their lint in for the next person. When I find out who's been doing that, I might stick a couple of lizards in their handbag. 
  • The Canadians are back. Busy season at Indiantown Marina is upon us. 
  • They've been doing the usual touch-ups around the marina in anticipation of the busy season. They painted the women's bathroom yellow. It was yellow before. I was hoping for a different color this year. Or polka dots. Polka dots would have been good.
  • Maybe they should have a suggestion box. You know what I'd suggest? Polka dots in the women's bathroom.
  • They also put in a new faucet on the sink. Same sink. Different faucet. At least, I think it's a different one.
  • When I went to wash my hands I got a little freaked out. I didn't remember the faucet looking like that. Everything else was the same. Yellow walls. Garbage can. Mosquitoes hovering in the corner waiting to bite you. But the faucet was different.
  • I started to worry that I had been transported to a parallel universe. Everything seems pretty much the same except for a few small details in parallel universes. And, of course, who won WW II. It's possible I've been watching too many episodes of Man in a High Castle.
  • I decided to ignore the whole parallel universe thing for a while and wash my hands. I'm sure they have hygiene standards even in parallel universes.
  • Then, as I walked back towards my boat, counting lizards along the way, I noticed the trash dumpster wasn't in the same place as before. Freaky. 
  • What's even freakier is that there used to be two trash dumpsters. Now there was just one. Maybe this parallel universe isn't too bad after all. They've managed to do a better job at recycling and not having wasteful packaging and need fewer trash dumpsters.
  • That's probably enough randomness for this morning. Have a look around you - notice anything that's not quite right? Something not quite as you remember it? Maybe you're in a parallel universe too. The good news is that they have coffee over here.

What did you think about over your morning cup of coffee, tea or other favorite beverage? What did you have for breakfast?

Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - pop by and say hi! 

13 October 2017

Cruising In The Bahamas | 2017 Season Recap, Pt 2 - Provisioning, Cooking & Eating Out

This is the second in our >>Cruising in the Bahamas 2017 Season Recap<< series. In our first installment, we talked about the route we took, the anchorages we stayed at and shared some fascinating and not-so-fascinating tidbits, like our average cost per night and what TV shows we binge watched.

In this installment, we talk about something far more interesting - food! I'm one of those people who needs regular feedings, so when my next meal is going to happen and what it's going to be is always top of mind for me.

Grab yourself a snack, sit back and read on and we'll tell you all about the provisioning we did before we left for the Bahamas, grocery shopping in the Bahamas, what we cooked on board, and eating out in the Bahamas.


I was looking back at a blog post I did about provisioning aboard our boat in New Zealand and not that much has changed since then. I make a list of what we need and stock up, I buy a few things we don't need and will never use (hello can of three bean salad), and squirrel stuff around in the various cubby holes in our boat.

We've cruised in the Bahamas before, so we had a good idea of what to stock up on before we left and what we could buy there at relatively reasonable prices (like chicken, ground beef, hamburger buns, butter and government cheese, which is surprisingly tasty).

Everyone's provisioning list will be different, but here's an idea of the types of things we took. It's probably worth noting that we have a fridge, but we don't have a freezer.

Canned / Jarred Veggies & Fruit

Tomatoes, corn, beans (black, kidney, baked, white, chickpea, refried), potatoes, chipolte peppers, green chilies, jalapenos, sun dried tomatoes, olives, roasted red peppers, sauerkraut, peaches and pineapple.
Note: Scott is not a fan of sauerkraut. That doesn't stop me from trying to feed it to him periodically.
Canned chicken, canned ham, smoked oysters, shelf stable chorizo, kielbasa (goes great with sauerkraut!), brats, ham steak, deli meat, pork loin and Aldi's pulled pork.
Note: Overly processed meat products, like brats, last a long time in the fridge. Sure, they're not great for you, but they're tasty in their own over-processed, sodium enriched way.
Fresh Produce
Apples, cabbage, carrots, butternut squash, onions, garlic, potatoes, lemons and limes.
Note: Wrap lemons and limes in tin foil and they last a really long time. Your gin & tonics will thank you.
Beer, wine, gin, tonic water, cola, root beer, lemonade, tea bags and milk (UHT and powdered). Oh, and a ton of coffee. You can never have enough coffee.
Note: Beer costs a fortune in the Bahamas, like $40 a case. Stock up before you leave.
Spices, Oils, Condiments & The Like
Your normal jars of spices, curry paste, stock cubes, hot sauce, sriacha sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, olive oil, canola oil, sesame oil, cooking spray, syrup, tahini, ranch dressing mix, onion soup mix, gravy packets and taco seasoning packets.
Note: The ranch dressing mix is for the spicy pretzels that we like to have with sundowners. Also, a popular addition to cruiser get-togethers.
Grains & Legumes
Lentils, rice (basmati, brown minute rice, jasmine, long-grain, ready-to-cook Mexican and yellow rice packets), pasta (spaghetti, rotini, elbows and tortellini), barley, couscous, quinoa and dried beans (black, pinto & chickpea), udon noodles and oatmeal.
Note: I prefer to used canned beans rather than dry. They're ready to use and you don't have to use up your precious water supply to soak them.
Baking Stuff
Flour, yeast, baking powder, baking soda, chocolate chips, brownie mix, pancake mix pecans, walnuts and raisins.
Note: Yes, I use pre-made pancake mix. Don't judge.
Other Stuff
Granola bars, coconut milk, crackers, pretzels, Aldi's dark chocolate bars, instant mashed potatoes,  peanut butter, jam, dehydrated vegies, pesto and tortillas.
Note: Tortillas last forever and take up very little storage space. Love them. 

Are you confused by the picture above? Are you thinking - "Hey, that's not a grocery store!" That's true it isn't. It's the kitchen next to Vernon's grocery store in Hope Town where they bake bread, pies and make other treats. But, it does give you an idea of what grocery shopping can be like in the Bahamas. You'll usually find small mom n' pop / corner type stores (like Vernon's), but you can also find large, modern type grocery stores like you might find in the States in larger settlements.

While we brought a ton of food with us, we still needed to hit the grocery stores for things like fresh meat, milk, cheese, butter, fresh veggies (usually onions, cabbage and carrots), fresh fruit (usually apples) and the occasional ice cream sandwich bar.

We also ended up buying cans of cola a few times. We seriously underestimated how much soda pop we would be drinking. But when it's really hot outside, a cold can of pop tastes amazing. Soda pop can be really expensive in the Bahamas. We steered away from the name brand and got the cheaper, generic stuff.

We do a lot of cooking from cans and jars on board. I remember when we were getting ready to move onto our first boat in New Zealand, I did a lot of experimenting with recipes made from canned goods. I was amazed what you could make without using a single fresh ingredient (with the exception of onion and garlic).

The picture above is from one of the times I made lentil curry. Saute some onion and garlic with jarred curry paste, chuck in some dried lentils, add in cans of coconut milk, tomatoes and potatoes, pop in a stock cube and bam, you've got a vegetarian meal that you can easily make from what you have on hand when you're miles away from a grocery store.

This season in the Bahamas, I stocked up on canned meat (chicken and ham) for the first time. While we had relied on shelf-stable sausages before, we had never really cooked with canned meat before. It actually worked out better than I thought it would. I brought Walmart's Great Value canned chicken, cans of chicken salad (add curry powder, dried onion and dried garlic and you've got a delicious topping for crackers) and a couple of Dak Premium canned hams.

I used the chicken in soups and stir fry dishes and didn't notice a real difference from fresh. I used the ham in bean soup, as well as pan fried some for breakfast. The ham was really salty, so it probably worked better in soup (skip adding any salt that the recipe calls for) and not so well on it's own.

The other thing I experimented with this season was dehydrated veggies from Harmony House. I got a sampler pack from them, along with two larger jars of bell peppers and onions. I loved the bell peppers and chucked them in everything (pasta sauce, soups, curries etc.). I'd definitely buy them again. I used the onions a few times when I ran out of fresh. They worked well too. My favorite from the sampler pack was the broccoli (good in stir fry dishes). I'll probably by a larger packet of that for next season.

See that picture above? That's our grill. See what it's dangling over? That's water. Grilling is a heart-stopping operation on our boat. Will a power boater speed through the anchorage, creating a huge wake and causing your hamburgers to slide off of the grill into the water? Will the chef drop the pizza when he's flipping the crust over and end up feeding the fish instead of the crew?

Surprisingly, everything that we've cooked on the grill has ended up on our plates and in our bellies. I attribute that to Scott's superior grilling skills and ability to balance on a boat. Scott does all of the grilling on board. I think we all know that if I was in charge, then we'd lose a lot of food overboard.

We grill the usual suspects - hamburgers, brats, chicken - as well as things like pizza, twice-baked potatoes (or in this case, twice-grilled potatoes) and pita bread.

Grilled pizza is one of our favorite things to eat on board, but it does require a bit of preparation (making the dough and sauce from scratch and getting the toppings ready) and then you have to work like clockwork while you're grilling the pizza so that it all gets done in time without burning (grill one side, flip, add sauce, cheese and toppings and grill some more).

Scott and I played a game recently where we listed our top ten favorite foods. You can probably guess what was at the top of my list - yep, that's right chocolate chip cookies. I made them a few times on board, except they weren't so much cookies as bars. One of the issues with marine ovens is that they don't heat evenly, making baking challenging.

I've done all of the things people recommend - baking stone on the bottom of the oven, rotating the cookie sheet and lighting candles at Cookie Monster's shrine, but it never works. So I just plop the dough in two small pyrex dishes and make monster bars. Then, in a surprisingly display of self-control, I put the rest of the dough in the fridge for the next day.

This is what baking on board is all about - adapting to the conditions. Actually, that's what life in general is like living aboard a boat - you adapt constantly. You quickly learn who's in control and generally it's not you. (If you want to see a funny and very accurate account of how you have to adapt bread recipes on board, check out Sailing Totem's post.)

In addition to baking sweet treats like sour cream coffee cake, apple cake and baked oatmeal, I also made a lot of bread. Seriously, a lot of bread. You can buy freshly baked bread in the Bahamas and it's delicious (coconut French toast, anyone?) but at $4-5 a loaf, it adds up. Plus, we're often anchored in places far, far away from any stores. So, if you want bread on board, you have to make it yourself. Or you could go on one of those low-carb diets and not have bread. Yeah, not gonna happen on Tickety Boo.

One of my go-to books for bread recipes is The Boat Galley cookbook. Not only does it have great recipes (onion bead, yum!), but it also has helpful tips for folks new to making bread on boats and in general. My mom taught me how to make bread when I was young. It's always something I've enjoyed, but I never do a lot of unless we're out cruising.

Who doesn't love snacks? Snacks make people happy. I think if they served more snacks at the United Nations, we might actually have a chance at world peace. It's hard to find diplomatic solutions that make everyone happy when stomachs are grumbling.

Okay, here's the thing - when we provisioned for the Bahamas, we didn't stock up on a lot of sugary, salty, bad-for-you-but-delicious snack food. The theory was that if we didn't have snacks on board, then we couldn't eat them which would result in a healthier lifestyle, smaller waistlines and glossy, shiny, thick hair. (Yeah, that hair thing probably wouldn't have happened, but a girl can dream about her fine, stringy hair being transformed into thick, lustrous locks, can't she?)

Sure, we got around the lack of sugary treats due to my baking efforts, but eventually the pretzels and crackers we brought with us ran out. Those were dark days. Fortunately, we discovered these things called Stax. They're like Pringles, except they come in a plastic can which is totally wasteful. But they're coated with awesome sodium flavor particles (yum!) and they're relatively cheap at Maxwell's grocery store in Marsh Harbour (yay!). 

The only problem with Stax is that the lid on the can doesn't work. Seriously, you eat a few chips and put the lid back on the can in order to save the rest for the following day and then the lid pops off of the can all by itself flying into mid-air allowing the sodium flavor particles to waft about making any self-control you might have had disappear and forcing you to finish off the rest of the chips. Stupid lid. They really need to look into that design flaw. 

The cracker shortage was pretty traumatic too. What were we supposed to eat our government cheese with? We lived without crackers for quite a while and then managed to find some Jacob's cream crackers at the grocery stores in George Town and at Rock Sound. Order was restored in our universe. Crackers and cheese, together again.

Those of you who follow our cost of cruising posts, where we document every penny we spend and what we spend it on, will know that one of the ways that we try to keep costs down is by minimizing how often we eat out. We actually find that what we make ourselves is almost as good as what we can get in a restaurant. That's not always the case, but there have been a number of times where we've said, "Hey, we could have made this ourselves for half the price and it would have been as good." Of course, the downside is having to do your own dishes.

So, given our cheap and cheerful approach to eating out, how many times do you think we ate out while we were in the Bahamas?

While you're thinking about that, here are some fascinating and not-so-fascinating tidbits related to food. Once you've read these, scroll down to find out the answer.

[Note: RO = reverse osmosis, making fresh water from sea water. We have to buy water to cook with and drink.]

The answer is three. Did you guess right?

The first time was at the coolest laundromat ever - Miss Ida's in Black Point. She serves snack type food in the shop next to the laundromat which you can eat out on the verandah overlooking the anchorage while the wash cycle is in progress. The first time we were there, I had a chicken pattie (kind of like a curry pastie), Scott had conch fritters and we both had a can of soda pop. We liked it so much that we went back the next day for more of the same. Total cost for both visits - $13.50.

I expect for some of you, snack food at a laundromat wouldn't qualify as eating out. But, that took care of our lunch both days, so it totally counts in my book. Plus, it was a definite cultural experience hanging out with the locals and learning from Miss Ida how she makes her patties. And as a bonus, we had clean clothes along with our full bellies.

The other time we ate out was at a church fair in Rock Sound. We split a chicken dinner, Scott had some conch fritters and we each had a can of soda pop. Total cost - $13.00. Another great experience dining with the locals and enjoying some delicious food.

Going out for drinks can be expensive in the Bahamas, so we had our sundowners on board, rather than go out. We did make a couple of exceptions when we were buddy boating with our pals in the Abacos having a beer at the Jib Room (which we think is one of the prettiest spots in Marsh Harbour) and having beers outside of the liquor store in Hope Town (they have some benches out front where you can sit and watch the world go by while you're sipping on a cold Kalik).


I'll leave you with some more fascinating and not-so-fascinating tidbits. Next up in our season recap series is about daily life living and cruising on a sailboat - the mundane (like how we did our laundry), moments when naughty words were uttered (like that time we found maggots in the v-berth), repairs on the hook (such as sewing without electricity) and the like. Should be fun. See you then

If, for some strange reason, you want to know more about what we ate in the Bahamas, check out this blog post about a week eating on board Tickety Boo.

If you want to know more about our time cruising in the Bahamas, you can find links to all of our blog posts here

What's your favorite meal? Do you prefer cooking or eating out? How often do you grill and who does the grilling in your household?

Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - we'd love for you to pop by and say hi!

11 October 2017

Wordless Wednesday | Sailboats & A Ferris Wheel, Scarborough, England

Wordless Wednesday is supposed to be about posting a photo(s) without any words. But, I'm a rule breaker, so here are a few words:

1 - Scott took this photo when he was working outside of York. He took a drive to Scarborough on one of his days off. 

2 - I'm pretty sure he took the photo because of all the sailboats.

3 - I would have taken it because of the Ferris wheel. 

4 - Ferris wheels are fun. Especially when you can see sailboats from them.

What words does this picture(s) bring to your mind when you look at it?

For more Wordless Wednesday fun, click here

Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - pop by and say hi!