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14 November 2018

Wordless Wednesday | Boat On Fire At Indiantown Marina!



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 - A boat caught on fire at Indiantown Marina. There were several fire trucks, ambulances, a HazMat team, and sheriff's deputies in full force.

2 - The word on the street is that the guy was working with epoxy and using acetone to clean up. A halogen bulb fell in the area he was working in causing the boat to go up in flames.

3 - Fortunately, no one was hurt. But the boat is a total loss.

4 - The fumes from the fire smelled awful and were probably quite toxic.


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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The latest Mollie McGhie cozy sailing mystery is now available for pre-order! Pick up a copy of >>Bodies in the Boatyard<< at:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (CA) | Amazon (UK) | Amazon (AU) | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Apple iBooks | Google Play

Paperback available at: Amazon

Find out more at ellenjacobsonauthor.com 

12 November 2018

October In Numbers

Clockwise from upper left: (1) Early voting; (2) Creative Halloween potluck dish - a zombie made out of meatloaf and bacon; (3) Breakdown #1; (4) Breakdown #2; (5) Some of the Indiantown ladies in their awesome costumes; and (6) Yes, it's still hot in Florida and everyone is wearing sandals or flip-flops of some sort.

Cruising season is just around the bend with the end of hurricane season coming up on November 30th. People are starting to come back to the marina to get their boats ready to head on out sailing in Florida, the Bahamas, and beyond. Boat projects are in full swing on s/v Tickety Boo, along with plenty of fun social events to distract ourselves from all the money, time, sweat, and tears everyone is pouring into their boats.

Now, without further ado, here are some of the random things that happened at the marina last month in numbers:

  • 6 - Number of books I read during October. 2 writing-related, 1 cozy mystery, 1 graphic novel, 1 literary fiction, and Deb Akey's lovely book, >>The Essence<< (read my review here).
  • 2 - Number of times our Nissan Pathfinder broke down. Thanks goodness for wonderful friends who helped us out with the loan of their car, giving us a ride back to the marina, and helping tow our car off to the side of the road. There was also a very kind stranger who stopped by the side of the road and gave Scott a ride back to the marina the second time that the car broke down.
  • 2 - Number of Nissan Pathfinders with Oregon plates in Indiantown. (Our boat neighbor has the other one).
  • 3 - Number of potlucks. Good food, good company and, at the Halloween potluck, good costumes.
  • 2 - Number of sailboats on the cover of my latest cozy mystery, Bodies in the Boatyard. A good chunk of last month was spent prepping for the release on November 19th. 
  • 16 - Number of mini-chocolate chips I've been putting into my morning oatmeal lately, along with a spoonful of peanut butter. It's like have a giant cookie for breakfast.
  • 1 - Number of tree frogs that live in the cockpit of our boat. We call him Freddy.
  •  0 - Number of interesting things I have left to say about the past month.

In case you missed them, here are some of our favorite posts from last month both here and on my author blog:

Hairless Cats, Living in a Simulation & Blogging Changes
Wordless Wednesday: Mail Call & UFOs
Organizing Blog Tours during a Book Release

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

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

The latest Mollie McGhie cozy sailing mystery is now available for pre-order! Pick up a copy of >>Bodies in the Boatyard<< at:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (CA) | Amazon (UK) | Amazon (AU) | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Apple iBooks | Google Play

Paperback and large print coming soon.

Find out more at ellenjacobsonauthor.com 

07 November 2018

Mrs. Moto's Murder Meows & Bodies In The Boatyard | 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 great place to mingle with like minded people each month during IWSG day.

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:

"How has your creativity in life evolved since you began writing?"

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. You can see how I answered the question below. This month's co-hosts are Elizabeth Seckman, Ann V. Friend, JQ Rose and myself.


* * *


EDITOR'S NOTE: I found Simon the Time Traveling Cat batting around a crumpled up piece of paper the other day. When I unfolded it, I discovered that it was a diary entry written by a Japanese bobtail cat named Mrs. Moto. By the way, Simon's at the vet today. He sends his warmest regards. Wait, who am I kidding - all he did was growl and hiss when I mentioned that it was the monthly IWSG blog hop. So here's what Mrs. Moto has to say instead.

Thursday, February 14th

Dear Diary,

Humans are weird. I should know - I live with two of them. One of them is tall and wears glasses. People call him Scooter. He's good with a can opener. A very important skill. Those cans of Frisky Feline's Ocean's Delight aren't going to open themselves.

The other one is named Mollie. She's constantly complaining about her frizzy hair. I don't know how many times I've demonstrated my beauty regime to her. Wet your paw (or hand) with your tongue, wipe all over, and, voila, you have smooth, glossy fur (or hair) in no time. Instead, she uses these things called straighteners and then complains when she burns her ears. 

But back to the weirdness of humans. The frizzy-haired lady believes in aliens and UFOs. Talk about your crazy ideas. I heard her tell a friend the other day that she thinks her experience writing about unexplained phenomena has made her more creative in other parts of her life. She rambled on for a while about how she thinks about art and music differently now. 

It got to be a really boring conversation. So I knocked a glass off of the table. That livened things up.

If she really wants to know what true creativity is all about, she should check out where I deposited my latest hairball. Possibly the most creative spot I've come up with to date. I wonder if she'll scream when she finds it.

The humans are going out for a romantic Valentine's Day dinner tonight. I hope they bring me back something good to eat. Fish would be nice.



* * *

This month's question was an interesting one. I'm not sure that I'm more creative in other aspects of my life, but I think I'm much more appreciative of all that goes into other people's creative pursuits. When I'm listening to a song or looking at a painting, I feel like I have a better idea of all of the hours, days, months, even years in some cases, that it took the artist to transform a germ of an idea into a final product.


* * *




Exciting news!!! >>Bodies in the Boatyard<< is now available for pre-order!!! 

Okay, that was probably more exciting for me than for you. But I'm sure you'll excuse my enthusiasm and excessive use of exclamation points because you all are nice that way. 

So, yeah, can you believe it, I've about to release my second cozy mystery on Monday, November 19th! {Sorry, yet another exclamation point slipped out.} If you'd like to pick up a copy and find out what Mollie, Scooter, and Mrs. Moto have been up to since they bought their dilapidated sailboat, Marjorie Jane, you can pre-order ebooks at:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | Amazon (CA) | Amazon (AU) | Kobo | Nook | Apple Books | Google Play (coming soon)

Paperback and large print will be available closer to the release date.

Find out more on my author site.

BLURB


Selling your house and moving onto a rundown sailboat—not a dream come true. Finding dead bodies in the boatyard—a total nightmare.

Mollie McGhie loves her beachfront cottage. When her husband announces that he wants to sell the house, downsize, and move onto their dilapidated sailboat, she’s not impressed.

When the boat starts leaking, she secretly hopes it will sink. Instead, they haul her out of the water and into the boatyard. Fixing the boat up is bad enough, but when Mollie finds someone has been killed nearby, things get even worse.

Mollie takes matters into her own hands and investigates the mysterious death in the boatyard, along with her adorable feline companion, Mrs. Moto. While she searches for clues, she meets more of the quirky characters who live in the small Floridian town of Coconut Cove, learns about sea turtles, overcomes her fear of public speaking, and, of course, eats way too many sugary treats.

Can Mollie catch the killer before someone else ends up dead?

How do you express your creativity? Has your creativity changed over time?

05 November 2018

Cost Of Cruising & Living Aboard A Sailboat | September & October 2018

We track and report every penny we spend living aboard and cruising on Tickety Boo, our Moody 346 sailboat for a couple of reasons.

1 - It helps us see where our money is going, helps us make informed choices about where to spend our money, which in turn helps us stretch our money further so that we can keep adventuring longer.

2 - We found it really useful to check out other people's cost of cruising when we were starting out, so we figure we can return favor by sharing ours.

We're currently at Indiantown Marina in Florida. Scott is working overseas so the costs are lower than if he was here. He'll be back in the next month of two and then costs are going to skyrocket as we start work on the very long list of boat projects that we have to do.

You can find links to other cost updates from ourselves (on Tickety Boo, camping across the States, and our previous boat in New Zealand) and others on this page, as well as on The Monkey's Fist.



* * *

Cost of Cruising & Living Aboard | September & October 2018

Overall, we spent >>$3,584<< during September and October.

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 a high deductible/high out-of-pocket expenses 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.
(c) I haven't included any expenses related to my writing projects (e.g., editor, book cover design, publishing expenses, author website).

3 - I've included any shipping and taxes we've paid in what we report - Florida has a 6% sales tax.



* * *

GROCERIES | Total = $508

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.

Although we don't budget (you can read more about that here), I'm happiest when we keep our monthly grocery spend per person under $200.
 
PERSONAL & HOUSEHOLD | Total = $87


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.

ENTERTAINMENT | Total = $185


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. 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.
 
COMMUNICATIONS | Total = $110

Our cell phone is actually one of our biggest non-boat related expenses. We have a monthly prepaid plan with AT&T which includes 8GB of data and unlimited calls and texts.

BOAT FUEL | Total = Nil

Tickety Boo has been sitting in her slip so we haven't needed to get any fuel.

PROPANE  | Total = Nil

We have a propane/LPG cooker on our boat, which we need to replace as the stove no longer works and replacement parts aren't available. While we're at Indiantown Marina, we use an electric hotplate and a crockpot for cooking, so we haven't had to spend any money on filling our propane tanks.

MARINA COSTS | Total = $1,325

Keeping Tickety Boo in a slip is one of our biggest expenses, and the rates went up in January. The new monthly cost of a slip with electricity at Indiantown Marina for a 34' boat is $657. The guys at the marina will also come pump out our holding tank on demand - $10 for each visit. Our marine toilet broke in October, so we haven't had to pump out like we normally would have. We're holding off on repairing it just now while we decide whether we want to switch over to a composting toilet.

BOAT STUFF | Total = $133


This category is for all the stuff we buy for the boat, as well as  repair and maintenance costs.

TRANSPORT | Total = $352

This category is for costs related to our vehicle, mostly for gas to drive into the nearby "big city" of Stuart for errands. Our car broke down twice during October so we've had to spend some money on a new battery and belt, with more expenses related to repairs coming due in November.

MEDICAL EXPENSES | Total = $296

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.

OTHER | Total = $586

In this category, we break out 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, Amazon Prime, presents, computer parts, postage etc. One of the expenses over the past few months has been food for the semi-feral cats at our marina. People have been pitching in to keep them fed and the kitties show their appreciation by purring and looking adorable.


Any money saving tips to share? What do you spend the most on each month? Are there any areas you're trying to cut back on?

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


Murder at the Marina - a lighthearted & humorous cozy sailing mystery - available in ebook and paperback format at:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (CA) | Amazon (UK) | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Apple iBooks | Google Play | Book Depository | Books-A-Million

Find out more at ellenjacobsonauthor.com 

31 October 2018

Wordless Wednesday | Cat Food For Imaginary Cats





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 - I have an imaginary cat named Simon. Some people think he's real because I write about him here on the blog from time to time.

2 - So if my cat is imaginary, why am I shopping for cat food?

3 - If I was a cat, I think I'd prefer crunchy nuggets over soft food. The soft food stinks. Although maybe if I was a cat, I would think it smells divine.


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!


Murder at the Marina - a lighthearted & humorous cozy sailing mystery - available in ebook and paperback format at:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (CA) | Amazon (UK) | Amazon (AU) | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Apple iBooks | Google Play | Book Depository | Books-A-Million

Find out more at ellenjacobsonauthor.com 

29 October 2018

The Travel Bug


You know what's great about Facebook? It's chock full of distractions!

Wait a minute. . .maybe that's not such a great thing. I should be focused on boat projects and writing projects. Instead I find myself discovering new sites and rabbit holes to waste time on. Like MapLoco's cool site where you can make maps of all the places you've visited. You can fill them out for US states, Canadian provinces, European countries, or worldwide.

I couldn't remember what states I've been to, so I filled out the worldwide map instead. In my defense, I only spent about ten minutes doing it, so it wasn't too much of a distraction. But then I ended up daydreaming about places I want to visit for a good three hours, so that was pretty distracting.

I'm thinking we need to set our sights on filling in the blank parts of the map. There's a lot of countries left to visit.

Do you like to travel? What's the most interesting place you've visited? Where do you want to travel to next?

26 October 2018

Flashback Friday | Now, I'm Too Warm! {Cedar Key & Shell Mound, Florida}


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.

* * *

This is a flashback to our time camping across the States while in search of our next sailboat, which ended up being a Moody 346, Tickety Boo, which we found in Florida. It's been ages since we've gone camping and I've enjoyed looking back at some of the pictures from our travels on land, as well as reading my strange observations on life - in this case, about being cold blooded and possible UFO sightings.

This post was originally published in February 2015. You can find the original post here.

* * *

Not too long ago, I was complaining about the cold. Now, I’m complaining about being too warm. 

Scott thinks I’m reptilian in nature, having a very limited temperature range where I’m comfortable and not complaining. It seems unfair that he can tolerate a wide range of temperatures. When we were in North Dakota last, he was wearing his Keen sandals in the snow, while I refused to leave his aunt and uncle’s house until the snow melted. When we were in Thailand, he was cool and comfortable, while I sweated profusely. It’s tough being cold blooded – too much warmth and you die, too much cold and you die. Okay, maybe not die. I tend to exaggerate. But I would rather be too warm in Florida then too cold in North Dakota any day. 

And here’s why – look at how pretty it is. I swear the sky is bluer here. 

Cedar Key Beach

Cedar Key Pier

After spending a few days at Manatee Springs State Park, we headed down to Shell Mound in search of the county campground. In some ways it’s much nicer than Manatee Springs. You’re right on the water, hardly anyone is there, the people are so incredibly friendly and go out of their way to chat with each other (doesn’t always happen elsewhere) and it’s cheaper ($16.35 for water and electric). While I missed seeing the manatees, there is something to be said for cheaper.

Scamper at Shell Mound

I wonder how many people might struggle with the rules about no alcohol and no profanity?

Shell Mound Campground Rules

The county campground is right next to the Lower Suwannee Wildlife Refuge. We took in some amazing views at sunset our first night there.

Shell Mound Sunset

Shell Mound Sunset2

While we were there, we chatted to some other folks who came up from the campground for the sunset. As the sun went down, this bright light was shining in the sky while planes kept flying by. We had all sorts of theories about what was going on and what the bright light was. The boring theory was that the bright light was the International Space Station and the planes were just doing military drills. The most interesting theory was that the bright light was an alien spacecraft and the planes were out there trying to prevent an invasion. If you know anything about me, you can probably guess which theory I was a proponent of.

Turns out it was just the planet Venus. Or at least that’s what they want you to believe.

The next day we headed to Cedar Key – a colorful town not too far from Shell Mound. Big Decks is a great place to have a few beers. I haven’t had a Rolling Rock in years. They’re pretty tasty.

Rolling Rock Cedar Key

This cat was really disappointed we didn’t order the seafood special with our beers. It was hoping for handouts. So it ignored us and took a nap instead to punish us. 

Cat Cedar Key

We strolled around town, dodging people in golf carts as we went. Which seem surprisingly expensive to rent ($25 for an hour). Cedar Key has lots of cute shops and restaurants. And oodles of hotels and rental properties. I imagine this place is heaving with folks in the summer.

Cedar Key Fish Sign

It was the kind of day where you wished you had a sailboat like this little beauty moored off of the beach.

Cedar Key Sailboat

I’m really loving our time in Florida – the landscape is so different from what I grew up with. Just across the road from the campground are a couple of short walks which take you through the woods and along the water. Perfect for a cup of coffee in the morning.

Cedar Key Walk

And, of course, if you’re going to camp near Shell Mound, then you have to walk up to the mound. It is basically a giant trash heap (or midden if you want to get all archaeological and technical), where Native Americans dumped shells and other refuse. They basically used their rubbish to infill the swampy areas. Not surprisingly, there are shells everywhere as you walk on the mound. 

These cheeky little polar bears just had to get their picture taken with the shells. Such demanding little creatures. But surprisingly, they never complain about the heat. (The polar bears are hard to spot among the shells with their white fur, but they're there.)

Polar Bears Shell Mound

We had a wonderful time down in the Shell Mound and Cedar Key area, but I have to say the highlight was Scott’s spicy marinara sauce with shrimp. Delicious! Some of the best shrimp we’ve ever had. If you want some, just head up to Robinson’s Seafood. More expensive then the ones we got in Grande Isle, Louisiana, but then again everything seems more expensive in Florida. Robinson’s was a tip from Steve, the nicest camp host you’ll ever meet. So generous in sharing his local knowledge and tips. Thanks Steve!

How do you handle temperature extremes? Would you rather be too hot or too cold?
 
Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - pop by and say hi!


Murder at the Marina - a lighthearted & humorous cozy sailing mystery - available in ebook and paperback format at:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (CA) | Amazon (UK) | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Apple iBooks | Google Play | Book Depository | Books-A-Million

Find out more at ellenjacobsonauthor.com