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15 January 2018

Interesting Food Encounters At Indiantown Marina

Some people think Indiantown is a sleepy little town where nothing interesting happens. For the most part, they're right. It has one main road and a handful of shops, people ride their bikes everywhere, and the nice folks at the library will look after a lost dog until its owner comes to take him home.

It's sleepy in a good kind of way. Interesting, not so much. Unless you think listening to boat owners at the marina scream in horror when they find out exactly how much it's going to cost to fix their boat is interesting. I'd call that depressing, not interesting. Or maybe even routine, because I'd be hard-pressed to find a boat owner who hasn't screamed in horror at the cost of boat ownership.

But something interesting did happen in Indiantown recently. And not just one thing, but two things. I tried fish tacos and experienced my first low country boil for the first time ever. How did I get to be so old without ever having had fish tacos or a low country boil?

The low country boil was fascinating. It reminded me of that old stone soup folktale where a couple of hungry strangers put a stone in a pot of boiling water and con local villagers into adding stuff to give the soup flavor.

Except, in this case, there weren't any conmen, just a bunch of boat owners chucking sausage, shrimp, fish, potatoes, brussels sprouts, onion, corn, and some old bay seasoning into a couple of pots and bringing it all to a boil on the grill. The end result was delicious.


The next week, we decided to get together for fish tacos. Another delicious meal. So delicious, in fact, that we got together for lunch the following day to finish off the leftovers.



All of these interesting food encounters got me thinking that I should put together a bucket list of foods I want to try on our travels. Grasshoppers in Mexico? Guinea pig in Peru? Arepas in Colombia? Bunny chow in South Africa? So many possibilities. So little time.

What's one food/dish you'd like to try? What do you think I should put on my food bucket list?

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!

12 January 2018

New Year's Eve Boat & Camper Crawl At Indiantown Marina

Have you ever been on a boat and camper crawl? If you haven't, you've been missing out. We had the most amazing time visiting five boats and one camper at Indiantown Marina on New Year's Eve. We got to take a tour of each boat and camper and sample the delicious snacks and drinks everyone had on offer.

Fortunately (or unfortunately, probably, as the evening wore on), there's photographic evidence of the crawl. Have a look below and see what we got up to.

Stop #1 - An Amazing Start to the Crawl

First up were Doug and Tina on s/v Amazed (a 1982 O'Day 37) in the storage yard. See those yellow straps? Those are hurricane tie-down straps. If a hurricane blows through here, the straps will keep your boat tied down. That's the theory anyway. Unfortunately, they're also a great way for rats to climb up on your boat, as some other folks have found out, like our absent friends on Mangoes, Marley and Mermaids who couldn't make the crawl.


Doug and Tina are an amazing couple. Maybe that's why they named their boat s/v Amazed? Tina has got such a fun and bubbly personality and she's an amazing cook. {Let's see how many times I can work amazing into this.} Doug is a sweetheart and he looks amazingly dapper in that hat of his. {Yep, managed to work amazing in one more time. Pretty amazing, don't you think?}


Tina and Doug served coffee with Bailey's (don't judge, we didn't start the crawl until after noon) and these delicious morsels - some stuffed with strawberries and cream cheese and some stuffed with nutella and bananas. I don't know what they're called, so I'm going to call them >>Bites of Amazing Yumminess<<. They're Canadian, so of course they served them with maple syrup. Maple syrup is one of the reasons why I love Canadians - here are some other reasons.


This is my lovely friend Michele from s/v Wind Spirit modeling at the bottom of the companionway on s/v Amazed. Notice the cute throw cushions? Just because you live on a boat doesn't mean you can't have throw cushions. And can you ever really have enough throw cushions? Guys - don't answer that one.



Stop #2 - Fun & Food in the Workyard

Next up were Ted and Sandy on s/v Ragtime Gal (a 1988 Liberty Yacht Gatsby motorsailer). They're such a fun couple. You can tell by their New Year's glasses. Sandy is a wonderful cook. We occasionally have potlucks where everyone is supposed to bring one side dish to share. Sandy always goes all out and brings at least three dishes - all equally delicious (love her banana pudding!). Ted has a great sense of humor. See that beard of his? He started growing it when they started working on their boat and he's threatening to not shave it off until their boat is finished.


Here's s/v Ragtime Gal in happier times on the water. Doesn't she look pretty?

Photo credit: Sandy Kearney

And here's s/v Ragtime Gal in the workyard. She looks sad. Boats like to be in the water, not on land. She has been a labor of love for Ted and Sandy. Although, when you find out that you need to shell out even more money because, yet again, something else needs to be replaced or fixed, it probably becomes less of a labor of love and more just plain old, bank account-draining labor. Can someone remind me why we own boats again?


Naturally, Sandy outdid herself in terms of food. Just take a look at this. Yes, that's a porcupine and palm trees made out of fruit, nutella, and homemade caramel sauce. She also made some delicious sausage potato egg bakes, along with a vegetarian sweet potato option. But wait, that's not all...she also made these things with chocolate in them. I'm not sure what else was in them. There was chocolate, that was good enough for me. Ted served up Marvelous Marys to accompany the food.


You can find Sandy and Ted on Facebook.


Stop #3 - Garlic for the Win

The third stop was right next door with Andrea and Scott on s/v Circuitous (a 1987 Island Packet IP38). They're an adorable couple. Not only are they adorable, they're also professional divers. Check out Andrea's underwater photos on Instagram.



I love garlic. The smell greeting you when you made your way onto s/v Circuitous was heavenly. Andrea and Scott made the most delicious stuffed mushrooms and garlic bread. I wanted to lick the plates to get the last of the garlicky goodness off of them, but I hadn't had quite enough to drink by that point. For which I'm sure everyone is extremely grateful. No one really likes to see people lick plates. Dogs, that's okay, but humans, not so much.

To accompany the shrooms and bread, Andrea and Scott served Moscow Mules. Yum. Takes me back to my days living in Glasgow where a friend introduced them to me.


Island Packets are considered to be very desirable boats. By the time we got to s/v Circuitous, I was starting to feel a little nervous about what people would think when they got to our boat. It's so much smaller and, shall we say, less desirable. I mean, look, they've got this huge chart table area on s/v Circuitous which doubles as a magazine display area. Very chi-chi.


Considering I have a plastic dinosaur from the dollar store on my boat, I was delighted to see this on Andrea and Scott's boat. Kindred spirits.


You can find Scott and Andrea on Facebook


Stop #4 - More Amazing Fun

Then it was off to Tina and Doug's again. No, not back to their boat but to their camper (a 2014 Jayhawk White Hawk Ultralight). I don't know if she has a name, so I'm going to call her r/v Amazed, "r/v" being short for recreational vehicle.

Tina and Doug are smart. They live in their camper while they're working on their boat. None of this living in chaos for these two. No, at the end of the work day, they come back to their cute, spacious, and, most importantly, clean and un-chaotic camper.


As if the >>Bites of Amazing Yuminess<< wasn't enough at their boat, Tina made more food for us to enjoy at the camper - bean dip and chips. This picture really doesn't do it justice. I'm intrigued by the red pen on the table. Did we feel the need to record something important by this point in case we didn't remember the next day? If so, does anyone remember where we put the piece of paper that we wrote important stuff down on?

Tina's famous sangria was served along with the bean dip and, at some point, Doug broke out the whisky.


Here's another blurry picture  - this time of Andrea and Scott looking adorable. I remember getting into some sort of deep philosophical conversation with Scott about his red beard. At least it seemed like it was deep and philosophical. It was probably more along the lines of, "Hey, your beard is red." "Yeah, it is. Pass the bean dip."


Here's a picture of some of the gang hanging out in the camper. That's Duwan on the left, Ted and Sandy in the middle, and Michele's husband, Bruce, at the end.



Stop #5 - How Many People Can You Fit on a 34' Boat?

Then it was time to head to my boat, s/v Tickety Boo (a Moody 346), and answer the question that had been weighing on everyone's mind - "How many people can you fit on a 34' boat?" The answer is ten. Sadly, my Scott (as opposed to Andrea's Scott) was still in Scotland so we weren't able to see if we could fit eleven on our boat. I have a feeling that we could have made it happen.

Here's the gang getting on s/v Tickety Boo. What's harder - climbing up a ladder to get to a boat in the workyard or climbing over lifelines to get onto a boat sitting in the alligator-infested water?

Photo Credit: Duwan Dunn

I served up antipasti, which is a fancy way of saying cheese and meats and things from jars, along with some Freixenet Cordon Negro cava (mixed with cranberry juice for those who like their bubbles diluted).


Okay, this will give you an idea of how tiny my boat is. This is Doug coming through the hobbit-sized door to our aft cabin. It's like living in a tiny dollhouse.

Photo Credit: Sandy Kearney

You can follow the crew of Tickety Boo on our blog, Facebook, and Twitter. I also have an author Facebook page and website if you want to check them out.

Stop #6 - The Cool Cats on Blue Wing

The last "official" stop of the night was on Greg and Duwan's Catalina 36, s/v Blue Wing. From what I hear, there was another "unofficial" stop back at Doug and Tina's camper. By that time, I was in bed.

Greg and Duwan are some of my favorite people, not just because they took us in at their place in Atlanta when we evacuated Florida during Hurricane Irma and showed us an amazing time, but because they're also some really cool cats. They just exude coolness. I feel cooler when I stand in their general vicinity.

For some reason, I don't have a picture of Greg and Duwan together. In fact, I barely have any pictures of Greg from the crawl. I know that, at one point, he went off to play music at another party (he's the guy in black playing the guitar). Maybe that has something to do with it. 

Photo Credit: Duwan Dunn

Here's Tina and Doug getting on s/v Blue Wing. Blue Wing's hailing port is Cabbagetown, Georgia. A very cool place.

Photo Credit - Sandy Kearney

Duwan makes the best nachos. She takes the time to make sure every chip is covered in cheese. That's the sign of a true nacho artiste. There was some sort of dip too, but I don't remember much about it. I was completely focused on the nachos. Along with the nachos, they served hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps and the "champagne of beer," Miller High Life. 

Photo Credit: Duwan Dunn

At some point, someone thought it would be a great idea for Andrea to braid Ted's beard. I'm not sure who that someone is...oh wait, apparently it was me. I think this was the point where I probably decided to call it a night.

Photo Credit: Duwan Dunn

You can find Greg and Duwan on Instagram, Facebook, and their blog.


How did you ring in the New Year? Have you ever been on a boat / camper crawl?

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!

10 January 2018

Wordless Wednesday | Boat Dogs


Photo Credit: Duwan Dunn




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 - Lots of people share their boats with furry friends. These are some of the dogs that live on boats at Indiantown Marina.

2 - The first picture is of Chloe patiently waiting for her treat. A true Labrador retriever, she's a super friendly dog and always happy to see you. The furiously wagging tail gives it away.

3 - Next up is Sandy. I had already put this blog post together when I found out that Sandy sadly went over the rainbow bridge late last week. She was such a sweet little puppy and I know her loss has left a huge hole in her humans' hearts.

4 - And last, but not least is Bob. Everybody knows Bob at the marina. If they had a Mayor of Indiantown Marina, I bet it would be Bob.


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

For more Wordless Wednesday fun, click here

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08 January 2018

Cost Of Cruising & Living Aboard A Sailboat | 2017 Recap

Although I post regularly on our cost of cruising and living aboard Tickety Boo, our Moody 346 sailboat {see our How Much It Costs page,} I thought it would be useful to do a recap of how much we spent during all of 2017. That way you can see the total picture including yearly spend and average monthly spend by category.

So let's cut to the chase - we spent $24,095 during 2017, which comes out to a monthly average of $2,008.



If you want to see the breakdown behind those numbers, have a read below. Be warned, it's a long post so I'll throw some random pictures in to jazz things up.

But before we get started, here are a few thoughts about expense tracking vs. budgeting, income, and categorizing expenses.

Expense Tracking vs. Budgeting

We track our expenses on a monthly basis. We do not track our expenses against a budget. In fact, we don't have a budget. For some people budgeting (i.e., setting limits on how much you're going to spend in certain categories) is a very useful tool to control expenditure and prioritize spending decisions. For example, they might allocate $200 a month for eating out. Once they've reached that cap, they don't go out to eat again until the following month. Or they might only spend $150 that month, which means they've got an extra $50 in next month's budget.

We've found that by tightly monitoring and managing how much we spend, we don't need to budget. We know that in some months and some years we're going to spend more than in others. We're naturally frugal (some might call it cheap) and tend to consider what we spend our money on quite carefully. Keep in mind that this approach works for us, but it might not work for you.

Income

The questions everyone really wants to know are How much money do you have? and How can you afford this? If you're hoping that we'll answer those questions, then you're going to be disappointed. Suffice it to say that we have a little bit of income and some savings.  By taking a minimalist approach, living frugally, and stretching our dollars, we've been able to enjoy this lifestyle for now. It may not last forever, but we're going to keep at it while it's still fun and we still have our health. {FYI, for what it's worth, we're in our 50s, so we're not collecting retirement income, social security etc.}

Categorization

Everyone categorizes their expenses differently, which can make it tricky to compare different people's reports of their cost of cruising.

For example, some people categorize everything they buy in a grocery store as groceries even if it includes things you can't eat. And I can see why - it probably makes for easier tracking. You just enter the total on the grocery store receipt under the groceries category. I like to make things hard for myself, so I go through each grocery store receipt line item by line item and assign things to separate categories. That way I know exactly how much we spend on food versus things like shampoo.

There's no right or wrong way to categorize things. Whatever works best for you is the right way.

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When you look at the nitty-gritty details of what we spent below, here are a few things to keep in mind:

1 - All costs are in US dollars.

2 - Not all expenses are included - here's what we've left out:
(a) We don't report how much we spend on alcohol. I remember reading some horrible, judgy comments in a blog post a few years back about how much someone spent on booze, so I left it out when we first started tracking our cruising costs back in New Zealand. For consistency's sake, I've continued to leave it out when tracking our cruising costs.
(b) We've also left out our costs for medical insurance. We didn't think it made sense to include insurance costs as they can vary so widely depending upon your nationality, where you cruise, what level of coverage you want and can afford, whether you get subsidies etc. In case you are curious, while we're back in the States, we do have insurance through the health insurance marketplace (aka the Affordable Care Act), primarily to protect our assets and cover us in case of a catastrophic medical condition.
3 - I've included any shipping and taxes we've paid in what we report. Florida has a 6% sales tax and the Bahamas has a 7.5% VAT.

4 - We have two people living on board full-time - my husband and me (although Scott was gone for ten weeks of the year). No pets and no kids. 

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Indiantown Marina

>>Marina Costs<<

Yearly Total = $4,562
Monthly Average = $380

We include all costs for marina slips and mooring balls in this category. Basically a place to park our boat when we're not anchored out. You can think of it like rent.

During 2017, we spent about five months cruising in Florida and the Bahamas. We had to take a marina slip in Florida during this time to repair a broken dinghy davit and replace our engine's water pump. We anchored the rest of the time while we were out cruising. If we can help it, we try to avoid staying at marinas or picking up mooring balls to try to keep our monthly "rent" down.

When we weren't out cruising, we were at Indiantown Marina in southern Florida. At the beginning of the year (January and February), we were working on boat projects before we left for the Bahamas and we came back to Indiantown at the end of July to wait out hurricane season. The monthly fee for a boat our size during 2017 was $572 and included electric and water. {Note: The rates at Indiantown Marina have gone up for 2018 and they eliminated the monthly rate in the work yard.}

Rebedding a portlight.

>>Boat Stuff<<

Yearly Total = $6,745
Monthly Average = $562

This includes everything we buy for the boat, as well as items related to repairs and maintenance.

While the yearly total is enough to make me wonder why anyone would own a boat, it's lower than what I expect we'll spend in 2018 as we've got some pricey items and tasks on our wishlist (watermaker, new headsail, new batteries, AIS, bottom paint, new cooker, chain plates, lifelines, sorting out our windlass).

For those of you who want to know where all the money went, here are the details (I've also included links to relevant blog posts):

  • Auto Pilot - Our Raymarine autohelm had been giving us some issues, so we bought a new wheel, new belts, and an auto pilot drive clamp kit.
  • Anchoring - We bought a new mushroom anchor, shackle, and line for our dinghy. We also bought seizing wire.
  • Dinghy - We had to replace one of our dinghy davits, as well as the base plate.
  • Electric - We got a new solar panel and connectors, as well as a Blue Sky 3000 controller. We bought an inverter and a 12-volt socket which we installed in the aft cabin. 
  • Engine - We had to replace our exhaust elbow on our Thornycroft T80 engine. We had two exhaust elbows (one to keep as a spare), end caps, and gaskets shipped over from the UK. Our water pump had to be replaced. We sourced a spare through a tractor supply outfit. And we bought some of the usual spares you would expect - Racor fuel filters, oil filters etc.
  • Navigation - We bought a new Plastimo compass.
  • Plumbing & Waste Management - We bought a new manual fresh water pump for the galley which is great for minimizing water usage. We installed a new galley faucet. We bought a new electric water pump, a new bilge pump switch, and joker valves. 
  • Portlights & Hatches - We bought acrylic and Dow 795 sealant to replace and rebed all or our hatches and one of the portlights in the saloon. We'll replace the other three portlights when Scott gets back.
  • Safety - We bought two of those cheap orange PFDs to keep in the dinghy, a tether, and a Sailrite harness kit.
  • Sails - We bought a stack pack kit from Sailrite and a new fairlead for our headsail roller furling set-up.
  • Other - We bought two Camfaro fans (one for the saloon and one in the aft cabin). They make life so much more comfortable on board. We changed out our bulbs to LED. We bought a new zinc, but haven't had to replace it yet. We got a clamp-on cup holder for the cockpit. Scott made a fold-out table for our galley out of a cutting board. Great solution for when you need extra counter space. And there's the usual tools, hardware, and other miscellaneous stuff you need to work on various projects .

Doing laundry at Black Point, Exumas

>>Boat Fuel<<

Yearly Total = $710
Monthly Average = $59

This includes diesel for our inboard engine and gas for our outboard engine and generator.

I use our Wonderbag all the time. It's like a non-electric slow cooker. Great for saving on propane.

>>Propane & Butane<<

Yearly Total = $138
Monthly Average = $11

Our grill and our cooker run on propane (LPG). The stove part of our cooker broke and we ended up using a butane camping stove while we were out cruising, which is why you see butane reported here. Getting a new cooker is on our wish list for 2018. While we're at Indiantown Marina, we use an electric hot plate and crockpot for cooking.


Tickety Boo in a slip at Indiantown Marina.

>>Boat Insurance & Documentation<<

Yearly Total = $953
Monthly Average = $79

This includes insurance and documentation related fees.

Previously, we only carried liability insurance as the quotes we had for full insurance were way too high considering the age and value of our boat. We opted to accept the risk of something happening to our boat and self-insured. However, we were able to get full insurance through Geico in 2017 for $776 for coverage in the Bahamas and the States. It wasn't much higher than a liability-only policy so we went for it. I'm not looking forward to sorting out insurance options for next year, if we head to the Western Caribbean. {Note: We just got our renewal notice for Geico and our premium has gone up to $937, a 21% increase. Gotta pay for those hurricanes somehow.}

We also have Tow Boat US insurance ($124) which offers peace of mind should we need need a tow or assistance (you can think of it like AAA or CAA insurance for your car).

Other costs in this category include $27 for a Customs & Border Protection decal (which allows you to clear back into the States over the phone as part of the Small Vessel Registration System) and $26 for our annual Coast Guard documentation renewal.

Views like this are why we love cruising.

>>Boat Miscellaneous<<

Yearly Total = $461
Monthly Average = $38

This includes stuff that doesn't fit into the other categories, like charts and guidebooks, pump-outs, membership in the Moody Owner's Association, and a haul-out and splash at Indiantown Marina.

Charts and guidebooks for the Bahamas

>>Groceries<<

Yearly Total = $4,012
Monthly Average = $334

This category includes everything we put in our bodies in terms of food and drink (excluding booze) that we prepare ourselves. It doesn't include things like paper towels and ziploc bags, which I know some people would classify as groceries. Sure, you could probably eat them, but they wouldn't taste very good. 

Our spend on groceries over the year is really variable. We spend lots in months where we're provisioning for the Bahamas and not as much in other months when we're out cruising. That's why I like to look at the monthly average, which actually turned out to be lower than I thought it would be. However, keep in mind that Scott was away for ten weeks of the year so I spent less on groceries during that period.

Making chocolate chip cookies in our tiny galley.

>>Personal & Hygiene<<

Yearly Total = $204
Monthly Average = $17

This is the category where we include household things (like paper towels and ziploc bags) and personal hygiene items (like soap and shampoo). We also capture items for the "home" here, like bug spray.

Taco Tuesday at a bar in Indiantown.

>>Entertainment<<

Yearly Total = $1,233
Monthly Average = $103

In terms of drinks and eating out, this includes everything we don't prepare ourselves, even if we get something to go and eat it back on the boat.

Tracking pizza, fast food, coffees etc. in the entertainment category helps to remind ourselves that, in an ideal world, we would only drink and eat out as a form of entertainment - enjoying the company of friends (Taco Tuesday comes to mind), as part of our travels (like the chicken dinner we had a church fair in the Bahamas), or indulging in Ethiopian food (one of our favorite cuisines). However, we don't live in an ideal world and fall prey to the lures of take-away food from time to time.

We also track how much we spend on books, magazines, DVD rentals, and going to the movies in this category, as well as the occasional lottery ticket.

This is one of the categories where we can really try to control costs and look for ways to cut back on spending as part of our yearly review. For example, I was spending about $8 a month on online sci-fi/fantasy magazines (Amisov's, Analog etc.), but I have a number of back issues which I haven't gotten around to reading yet, so I canceled the subscriptions. $8 a month may not seem like a lot, but over the course of the year it adds up to $96.

Camping in the Everglades

>>Vehicle & Camper<<

Yearly Total = $877
Monthly Average = $73

This includes gas, repairs, and maintenance for our Nissan Pathfinder, and storage fees for both our vehicle and camper. It also includes any parking, public transport, taxis, Ubers etc.

We have a 13' Scamp travel trailer which we store at Indiantown Marina for $21 a month. We go back and forth on whether we should sell it or not and, until we decide, it lives here at the marina. We also stored our vehicle while we were out cruising (also $21 a month).

We spent $455 on gas, primarily for going into the "big city" of Stuart for shopping (about 20 miles away), as well as our evacuation to Atlanta as a result of Hurricane Irma. We try to batch errands together to minimize the amount of trips we need to make so that we can save on fuel.

Bimini repair at Cave Cay, Abacos

>>Medical Expenses<<

Yearly Total = $1,278
Monthly Average = $106

This category includes medical expenses outside of our monthly insurance premium (which aren't included here - see section on exclusions above), like over the counter medications, prescriptions, and things for our medical kit. It also includes the costs of doctors visits and medical tests which aren't covered by our insurance.

The majority of the spend this year ($1,206) was for some hospital and doctor bills for treatment in 2016. It took ages for insurance and the medical providers to sort out the billing, which meant I was still paying the last of it this year. Our insurance policy is primarily for catastrophic coverage which means we have a huge deductible and out-of-pocket expenses to be met before insurance kicks in. {Sigh}

Staying connected on board.

>>Communications<<

Yearly Total = $884
Monthly Average = $126

Our cell phone is actually one of our biggest non-boat related expenses. We have a $60 monthly GoPhone plan with AT&T which includes 8GB of data and unlimited calls and texts. We continued with that plan while we were out cruising so that we can keep our US cell phone number.

In the Bahamas, we had a 30-day data plan ($35). The data plan we bought was billed as "Limitless" which the woman at BTC assured us had no data cap, nor would it choke down our speed after we used a certain amount of data. Turns out that was rather misleading. Once you used 15GB of data, they shut you down without warning. Fortunately, we didn't use up our data allowance, but I know other people who did. To be fair, the cost per GB was actually pretty good compared to our AT&T plan.

Tickety Boo anchored at White Cay, Berry Islands

 >>Other<<

Yearly Total = $3,371
Monthly Average = $281

In this category, we include how much we spend on clothes and travel expenses. We also include a catch-all miscellaneous group for stuff that doesn't fit neatly anywhere else, things like laundry and trash disposal.

Our biggest expense was on travel - clearing into the Bahamas ($150), Scott's plane ticket to Glasgow ($260), my plane ticket to Portland to see family ($464), and a dodgy motel when we evacuated from Indiantown as a result of Hurricane Irma ($30).

We spent $263 on clothes and shoes. In some ways that surprises me because I actually need to get rid of some more of my clothes, but in other ways it doesn't. Shoes wear out and t-shirts get holes in them.

We bought some new electronics including a Kindle, laptop, earbuds, flat screen TV, and printer. We both got wetsuits and I got new snorkeling mask (one of those full-face ones, can't wait to try it out). And the list goes on and on - new stuff for the galley (mixing bowls, mortar and pestle, English muffin rings etc.), fishing gear, Amazon Prime, photocopies, a toy dinosaur from the dollar store, and a water hose.

Did we spend more or less than you would have expected? Do you track your expenses? Any frugal tips and tricks to share?

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

05 January 2018

December In Numbers

Clockwise from upper left: (1) Beach at Manzanita on the Oregon coast; (2) Covered with my sister's cats; (3) So cold in Oregon that you need a fire; (4) Back in Florida and wearing flip-flops; (5) Christmas tamales; and (6) Ringing in the New Year with a boat/camper crawl.

It's time for our usual monthly recap by the numbers. December was a fantastic month. I got to spend the first part of it visiting my family in Portland, Oregon and the latter part celebrating the holidays with friends at Indiantown Marina. It was brutally cold while I was in Portland. I had to borrow a coat from my mom and even wore real shoes. You know, shoes that don't expose your toes. My feet were confused by these contraptions. My toes didn't know what to make of being encased inside them. They were so glad to get back to the land of flip-flops in Florida.

So, enough with all of those words, here's the usual random nonsense recap by the numbers:

12+ - How many hours it took to get from Palm Beach to Portland. Such a long day, but worth it to see my family, who I don't see often enough.

4 - How many days we spent on the Oregon coast. I love the Oregon coast. The beaches are are so much more beautiful than those in Florida. Of course the weather isn't as good and the water is freezing, but the views are stunning.

15 - How old my nieces are (soon to be 16). They're smart, creative, and beautiful young ladies. Listening to their stories about high school and their plans for college made me feel so old. Was I ever as young and energetic as they are?

2 - How many cats my sister has. I loved cuddling up with them when I was staying at her place in Portland.

0 - How many cats I have. {Simon exists only in my imagination. Good thing, because he's obnoxious.}

17 - How many cats I want. {This is my inner crazy cat lady talking.}

0 - How many cats I'm going to have while we live on a boat. {This is realistic Ellen talking.}

2 - How many days I stayed in bed suffering from a cold when I got back to Florida. I caught it on my last day in Portland. Why do we say that we catch a cold? Normally, you chase after and catch desirable things. Like the ice cream truck that starts to pull away before you've had a chance to get an orange popsicle. Nobody wants to catch a cold.

1 - How many tamales I ate at the marina's Christmas Eve lunch. I  love tamales. Not only are they delicious, it's fun to peel the corn husk back before you eat them. It was a great afternoon. There was tons of food, the weather was perfect (yes, I was wearing flip-flops) and some of the guys played music afterwards.

2 - How many brownies I ate at the Christmas Eve lunch. I wanted to eat seven, but showed considerable restraint by only eating two. Of course, it probably had less to do with restraint and more to do with the fact that they ran out of them, but let's pretend it was restraint, shall we?

5 - Number of boats we saw on our New Year's Eve boat crawl, along with one camper. We had snacks, drinks, and a tour of each boat and camper along the way. So much fun! More about the crawl next Friday.

In case you missed them, here are some of our favorite posts from last month:

Library People on the Oregon Coast | Spindrift Cottage, Manzanita
Going for a Walk in Search of Ethiopian Food | Little Five Points, Atlanta
Five Fugal Things

How did last month go for you? What are you looking forward to this month?

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03 January 2018

Simon The Time Traveling Cat Takes A Nap | IWSG



The Insecure Writer's Support Group (IWSG) is a place to share and encourage, where writers can express their doubts and concerns without appearing foolish or weak. It's a wonderful spot to mingle with like-minded people each month during IWSG day.

I'm co-hosting this month, along with Tyrean Martinson, Megan Morgan, Rachna Chhabria, and Jennifer Lane.
 

Every month there's an optional question which may prompt folks to share advice, insights, a personal experience or story. Some folks answer the question in their IWSG blog post or let it inspire them if they're struggling with what to say.

This month's question is:

"What steps have you taken or plan to take to put a schedule in place for your writing and publishing?"

Check out how people have answered this month's question, as well as the other insecurities and writing topics they may have shared by visiting the IWSG sign-up list here. If you want to see how I answered the question, have a look below.

But before you scroll down, let's take a minute to applaud the winners of the 2017 IWSG anthology contest! I'm so excited for them and can't wait to read >>Tick Tock: A Stick in Crime<< when it's published later this year.

Top honors go to Gwen Gardner for her story, A Stitch in Crime.

The other winning stories are:

Three O’Clock Execution - S. R. Betler
Until Release - Jemi Fraiser
Cypress, Like the Tree - Yolanda Renée
Gussy Saint and the Case of the Missing Coed - C.D. Gallant-King
Reset – Tara Tyler
Center Lane - Christine Clemetson
One More Minute – Mary Aalgaard
The Little Girl in the Bayou - J. R. Ferguson
The Tide Waits – Rebecca M. Douglass
Special Mention: Heartless – C. Lee McKenzie

****


"Move out of the way, lady," Simon the Time Traveling Cat said as he jumped onto the table. "You're in my spot."

"What do you mean your spot?" I asked indignantly. "I was here first."

Simon ignored me, nudging my water glass with one of his gray paws. "Hey, watch it!" I grabbed the water glass before he succeeded in tipping it over. "You almost spilled water all over my laptop."

"Oh, stop your whining, lady," Simon said. "It's not my fault that your stupid laptop is in my way. And why do you have to drink water from a glass anyway? Why can't you just drink it from a bowl like I do?" He swished his tail back and forth, knocking my notebook to the floor. "I'll never understand humans."

I picked my notebook up and set it back on the table. "Simon, can you please just go somewhere else and leave me in peace and quiet? I need to finish typing up my writing and publishing schedule for this year."

Simon narrowed his eyes and growled. "This is where I take my afternoon nap, lady. Why don't you go someplace else?" He glared at me and knocked my notebook back onto the floor. Then he padded over to my laptop and stared at the screen.

"You call this a plan?" he asked. "All it says is that you're going to finish revising your cozy mystery, Murder at the Marina, and then publish it this year. Big deal. You've been saying that for ages."

I leaned back and sighed. "If you had let me finish typing, you would have seen that I also plan on drafting the second book in the series, Bodies in the Boatyard, this year too."

"Whatever," Simon said as he pressed one of his paws on the keyboard. "This is my plan for the coming year."

I looked at the screen. "It's just the letter 'Z' repeated a million times."

"Geez, you really are a stupid as you look, lady. It means catching some Zs. You know, taking naps. Now move your laptop out of my way so I can get on with it. It's time for my afternoon nap. And by the time I wake up, there better be some full-fat milk in a saucer waiting for me."

What are your plans and/or resolutions for 2018?

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