22 December 2017

Holiday Wishes, A Polar Bear & A Blogging Break

Happy holidays to everyone who is celebrating during this festive season. We'll be taking a blogging break until the New Year, but, in the meantime, here's a polar bear to keep you amused. Because who doesn't love polar bears?

Image via The Graphics Fairy

20 December 2017

Wordless Wednesday | Paris Honeymoon

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 - After getting married in Copenhagen, we honeymooned in Paris.

2 - That was a long, long time ago - 26 years.

3 - We didn't have a lot of money at the time (and we still don't) so we stayed in a really dodgy hotel. Thankfully, the views of Paris from the balcony made up for our room's shortcomings. 

4 - For some reason, looking at these pictures has left me with a distinct craving for a pain au chocolat.

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!

18 December 2017

Library People On The Oregon Coast | Spindrift Cottage, Manzanita

My sister is a library person in Portland, Oregon. Library people are weird and wonderful. Or weirdly wonderful. Or wonderfully weird. You decide.

I think being a library person would be awesome. You're surrounded by books and like-minded people. And there's interesting weirdos too. Like the people who bring rats in Tupperware containers into the library and try to pass them off as service animals. Seriously, that kind of thing happens where my sister works.

One of the amazing perks that the library where my sister works has to offer (besides rats in plastic boxes) is access to a cottage on the beach in Manzanita on the Oregon coast. She was lucky enough to win the employee lottery and I was lucky enough to be visiting when she had the cottage.

Here's what it looks like when the sun is out and it's bright and cheerful on the coast. I cheated and took photos of other people's photos. {For the record, it's usually windy, gloomy, and rainy on the coast.}

When you're on vacation with a library person, guess what you do? Yep, you go visit the local library. My sister and the library person on duty at the Manzanita library had a fascinating conversation about periodicals. Well, fascinating if you're a library person. If you're not a library person, then not so fascinating. I read a brochure on tsunami evacuation procedures while it was going on. Slightly more fascinating, considering Scott and I were on our boat in New Zealand during a tsunami warning once.

After the fascinating periodical decision, we went to one of the candy shops in town. My sister bought salt water taffy for her co-workers which was a smart move on her part because none of us like salt water taffy. If she had bought something chocolaty, there probably would have been nothing left for her co-workers.

Possibly the coolest thing about staying at the cottage, other than the fireplace and the ocean views, was the journals which guests of the cottage fill out during their stay. Library people are really creative people. The journals are full of poems, drawings, and even locks of human hair. Okay, human hair isn't so much creative as it is slightly creepy.

Isn't this amazing? The picture on the left is of some woman staying here, reading a book, and trying to ignore everyone talking around her. I can relate.

Kids are also prolific leavers of art in the journals, usually of an outline of their hands. {Yes, I'm sure "prolific leavers of art" isn't grammatically correct, but you need to give library people something to get excited about while brandishing their red pens.}

I really like this one. No idea what it says in Chinese, but you have to admire the penmanship.

There's reference to several ghosts at the cottage, including a ghost dog. Here's proof that the ghost dog exists.

Unfortunately, there are other unpleasant creatures at the cottage, like mice and cockroaches.

 Competition for the cottage is fierce. The holidays are very popular dates, especially the 4th of July.

If you're really lucky, you can see whales on the coast, as documented by this person in one of the journals. We were here at the wrong time of the year, but we still had a wonderful time hanging out with family and my sister's friend and her daughter. {Rebecca and Tseten - thanks again for the great company and the amazing food!}

If you want to know more about Spindrift cottage and see pictures, check out this blog.

Are you a library person? What would you do if someone came into your place of employment with a rat in a plastic containers?

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

15 December 2017

Morning Coffee | Random Thoughts & Oddities {The Crazy Cat Lady Edition}

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'm currently visiting my family in Portland, Oregon and staying with my sister. She has two cats so I'm able to get a little Crazy Cat Lady fix while I'm here.
  • This is Georgie. I tried to explain to her why jumping up on the stove is a bad idea - you know, burning your paws on a hot burner and all that. She seemed perplexed by my concerns.

  • I'd show you a picture of her other cat, Sebastian, but the only one I have of him is one where he's sleeping. Normally, that'd probably be a cute shot, but he sleeps with his eyes open, which is super creepy. You're never quite sure if he's dead or not.
  • Sebastian is quite displeased with the current placement of his water bowl in the kitchen. During the middle of the night, he nudges it into the center of the room, spilling water all over the floor in the process. I know because I came down early one morning and stepped in a big puddle. I wonder who will win the water bowl battle in the end - Sebastian or my sister?
  • It's freezing in Portland. I'm currently wearing two pairs of socks and thinking of putting another pair on. I wish I had a fur coat like cats do.
  • My sister made chocolate chip cookies for me. She's a good sister.
  • Chocolate chip cookies are great for breakfast.
  • Chocolate chip cookies are great at night with a cup of cocoa.
  • I have competition for the chocolate chip cookie supply. My nieces like them too. I thought about hiding the cookies from them. Does that make me a bad aunt?
  • I think my sister is going to have to make more cookies.
  • I saw this magnet at a store the other day. I thought about buying it for Scott because he's from North Dakota, but then I remembered that we live on a boat and we don't have a normal fridge that you can put magnets on.

  • We're going to the coast this weekend. One of the highlight is going to be getting pancakes at the Pig n' Pancake at Canon Beach. 
  • We should probably go to the Tillamook Cheese Factory while we're on the coat too. Not only do they have great cheese, they also have great ice cream.
  • I should probably eat something before I write blog posts. I just read back through this and it seems to be all about food. If only I could remember where I hid the chocolate chip cookies.

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 December 2017

Wordless Wednesday | German Nuns

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 - One of these nuns is my great-great-aunt. She went on to become a mother superior at a convent in Germany.

2 - I like German food, especially sauerkraut and bratwurst. 

3 - It looks like a lot of ironing and starch must have been needed to get their wimples to stand up like that. 

4 - I can't remember the last time I used starch. Heck, I can't even remember the last time I ironed anything. We live on a small sailboat. Our iron didn't make the cut when we downsized. I can't say that I miss it.

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!

11 December 2017

Five Frugal Things | Spending Review, Printers, Discovery & More

Katy at The Non-Consumer Advocate regularly posts about five frugal things she's done. Some things are big, some things are small, but they all help keep her spending down and her savings up. I've shamelessly stolen her idea and share my five frugal things on occasion. It's a great way to inspire me to keep looking for ways to increase the size of our cruising kitty (fancy sailor talk for savings). Maybe it will inspire you to find ways you can save for your personal goals and/or stretch your income further.

1 - Annual Spending Review

Every year, I look back on how much we spent, what we spent it on, and identify areas we can cut back on. This year, I've decided to cancel some Kindle magazine subscriptions as I have a number of unread back issues. This will result in a savings of $96 a year.

2 - Buying a Printer

Yes, it might seem counterintuitive to list buying something as a frugal activity. But I needed to print out a 330+ page manuscript and when I looked at how much it would cost doing it at places like Staples and Office Max, the overall cost was mind-boggling - $33 at 10 cents a page. I found a printer on sale on Amazon for $39 and bought it. As I'll need to do at least another two rounds of printing ($99 total for all three printouts), I'll come out ahead, even factoring in the cost of an ink cartridge ($18).

The one downside is that the printer is enormous so it probably won't make sense to keep it on our sailboat longer-term, but for a short-term money saving solution, it was a good deal.

3 - Watching Discovery for Free

I'm a bit of a Star Trek geek and when the new TV show, Discovery, was announced I got very excited. Then I got very disappointed when I found out it would be on CBS All Access, which you have to pay to view. I certainly wasn't going to pay $5.99 a month just to watch a show. Instead, I waited until all of the first half of the season episodes had been releases, signed up for the free one-week trial and binge watched them. After that, I canceled my subscription. Then they offered me another month free, so now I'm binge watching Madam Secretary for the rest of the month.

4 - Saying Yes to Free Stuff

Some friends recently offered us an ICOM M-710 SSB radio. Sure, it's an older model and the unit has surface rust on it, but it's free. How can you say no to that, especially when buying a new one would cost a small fortune.

5 - Getting Sailrite Discounts

The same friends told me that Sailrite has an affiliate blogger program. If you have an established blog that you post to regularly, you can apply to join this program. If you're accepted you get 20% off of everything and 50% off of your first Sailrite sewing machine. In return, you have to blog about your sewing projects, but that's something I do anyway, so I was happy to agree to that. If only the program had been in existence when I bought my sewing machine - 50% is a hefty discount.

What things have you done to save money lately? Any frugal tips and tricks to share?

You can find more links to blog posts from ourselves and others on how much we spend and how we try to save money on this page.

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

09 December 2017

Saturday Spotlight | Around The World In 80 Books, Update #13

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, I've read books set in five more countries – Cambodia, Hungary, Italy, Singapore, and South Africa.

That makes a total of 65 books since I started the challenge - only 15 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, Update #11 and Update #12.


IN THE SHADOW OF THE BANYAN by Vaddey Ratner | Cambodia

This is a book that stuck with me. It describes what life was like in Cambodia during the 1970s under the rule of the Khmer Rouge from the perspective of a seven-year-old girl, Raami It's based in large part on the author's own childhood, which makes it more poignant. Rammi and her family, who are members of the royal family, are forced to leave their opulent home and lifestyle and move to collective labor farms where they endure suffering, starvation, and personal tragedy. The juxtaposition of Rammi's former life and the life she ends up enduring is striking. In the following passage, she describes an ordinary breakfast prior to the revolution. Later in the book, she is happy for any scrap of food she can get.

"Before us was an array of food - lotus seed porridge sweetened with palm sugar, sticky rice with roasted sesame and shredded coconut, beef noodle soup topped with coriander leaves and anise stars, mushroom omelets, and slices of baguette - a dish to suit everyone's morning taste."

You can find out more about In the Shadow of the Banyan on Goodreads and get your own copy on Amazon.

THE INVISIBLE BRIDGE by Julie Orringer | Hungary

{Side Note: Dennis - this is the book I was telling you about.}

I really enjoyed this book. It combines a compelling love story with an account of World War II and the Holocaust from a Hungarian Jewish perspective. I don't think I actually knew anything about the impact of World War II on Hungary and its Jewish population until I read this book. The Invisible Bridge centers on Andras Levi, who goes to Paris to study architecture. There, he meets and falls in love with Clara, a Hungarian ballet teacher. As a result of the war, they end up back in Hungary and suffer unimaginable heartbreak and tragedy. At one point, they consider leaving Budapest to escape persecution, walking around their city and trying to capture in their memories everything they will miss. What would you miss if you had to leave a city that you hold dear?

"On Sunday afternoons they walked the city together, packing their minds with the things they wanted to remember: the green haze of the river-cooled air around Margaret Island; the thrumming vibration of cars crossing the Szechenyi Bridge; the smells of cut grass and hot-spring sulfur in the Varosliget; the dry concrete pan of the skating pond; the long gray Danube embankment where Andras had walked with his brother a lifetime ago, when they were recent gimnazium graduates living in a room on Harsfa utca. There was the synagogue where he and Klara had been married, the hospital where their son had been born, the small bright studio where Klara taught her private students.

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

THE GONDOLA MAKER by Laura Morelli | Italy

The Gondola Maker is written in present tense, which I always find a bit off-putting. I know that it's used more frequently these days, but I find that it takes me a while to stop focusing on the tense usage and start focusing on the story. Once I became accustomed to the present tense, I found that I really enjoyed this book, in large part because I learned about what life was like in Venice in the 1500s and because I learned about the artistry that went into building gondolas during this period. The main character, Luca, is the eldest son of a respected gondola maker and is expected to take over the family business. As a result of a catastrophe in the boatyard, he ends up leaving his family and finding a new destiny.

I will continue to work in my father's boatyard, and at the moment of his death, it will become my own. I will teach our sons how to season walnut and oak, fashion the keels to be virtually indestructible, and stain ten different woods with our family's own formula of lacquer that will make the craft watertight. On my own deathbed, I will pass the business on to my eldest son. It is preordained.

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

THE AMBASSADOR'S WIFE by Jake Needham | Singapore

The Ambassador's Wife is one of those thrillers that you end up reading just one more chapter before you turn off the lights. When an American woman is brutally killed at the Marriott in Singapore, Inspector Tay is assigned to investigate. He ends up tangling with the American ambassador, the embassy staff, and the FBI during his investigations, but doggedly sticks to trying to uncover the truth despite the American claim that they've identified the killer. Having visited Singapore as part of our travels through Southeast Asia to celebrate our twentieth wedding anniversary, it was interesting to read descriptions of the city-state from the perspective of Tay.

It broke his heart sometimes, this city of his. Back before the Marriott had been built, there was a traditional Chinese department store on that very same corner. It was a glorious building, each of its five floors wrapped in graceful, iron-arched galleries supported by tiled colonnades. Tay remembered the mysterious air they had cast over the structure, the way they had obscured its interior in dim shadows and enveloped it in an unnaturally soft, almost dreamlike light.

You can find out more about The Ambassador's Wife on Goodreads and get your own copy on Amazon.

THE FEVER TREE by Jennifer McVeigh | South Africa

I can't imagine having to accept a marriage proposal because there were no other good alternatives, but that's the position that the main character, Frances, found herself in after the death of her father which left her in a state of destitution. She accepts the proposal of doctor and leaves London to travel to colonial South Africa to marry him. On the passage to South Africa, she meets another man who is the complete opposite of her fiance and finds herself drawn to him, even after her marriage. I learned a bit about life in South African during this time and the impact that the smallpox epidemic had on the mining industry. I also learned that, as horrible as it sounds, zebras can be domesticated to an extent.

"One evening Edwin brought home a mule pack. He suggested she try it on Mangwa, and Frances liked the idea. The zebra didn't, throwing his orange muzzle into the air, laying his ears back, and lashing out with his hind feet. Edwin threw a rope around his hind legs and hobbled him, and after three days of wearing the pack, Mangwa grew resigned to the weight on his back. They took him out walking with them on Sundays, stowing her watercolors in the pack, along with lunch - bread wrapped in paper, a round of goat's cheese, a couple of peaches, and a flask of water."

You can find out more about The Fever Tree 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, Cambodia, Canada, China, Cuba, Czech Republic, Djibouti, England, Estonia, Ethiopia, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Haiti, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mexico, Nigeria, North Korea, Norway, Pakistan, Paraguay, Portugal, Republic of Kiribati, Romania, Russia, Samoa, Saudi Arabia,  Scotland, Slovenia, South Africa, 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!

08 December 2017

Cost Of Boat Projects & Liveaboard Life | October & November 2017

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 waiting out hurricane season and working on boat projects/upgrades to get Tickety Boo ready to head to the Western Caribbean this coming season. You can find details of how much we spent during October and November 2017 below.

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 Boat Projects & Liveaboard Life  | October & November 2017

 We spent >> $3,000.27 during October and November <<, which is about $1,800 less than we spent during the previous two months.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty details of the details of what we spent, here are a few things to note:

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 etc. In case you are curious, while we're back in the States, we do have insurance through the health insurance marketplace (aka ACA/Obamacare), 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.

GROCERIES | Total = $445.20

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.

This is down quite a bit from the previous two months ($749) due in part to the fact that Scott headed back to Scotland in mid-October and because I ate out more than usual.

Although we won't be heading out cruising until sometime next year, I started to do a little provisioning, getting some more dehydrated vegetables from Harmony House when they were having a sale. We really found these to be useful when we were cruising in the Bahamas (especially the bell peppers), so I stocked up on some more.

PERSONAL & HOUSEHOLD | Total = $57.40

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 = $173.07

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.

Little Caesar's dominated at the beginning of October. We had a power outage for a few days at the marina due to flooding. Little Caesar's saved the day a couple of times during that episode. And there was another day when boat projects had us so tuckered out that pizza was calling our name. Generally, we try our best to avoid getting take-out food, but sometimes we succumb to temptation.

The other reason our entertainment costs were so high is that I went out to eat five times during November. Even though four of those times were at Taco Tuesday, which is relatively inexpensive, it all adds up.

COMMUNICATIONS | Total = $120.00

Our cell phone is actually one of our biggest non-boat related expenses. We have a $60 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 = $1,166.00

Keeping Tickety Boo in a slip is one of our biggest expenses. The monthly cost of a slip with electricity at Indiantown Marina for a 34' boat is $572.40. The guys at the marina will also come pump out our holding tank on demand - $5.30 for each visit - which we tend to do two times a month.

BOAT STUFF | Total = $153.04

This category is for all the stuff we buy for the boat, as well as repairs and maintenance costs. I got a new Customs & Border Protection decal ($27.50) which allows us to clear back into the States over the phone, rather than go to the office. I also bought supplies for some varnishing projects, none of which I've started yet. And we stocked up on some more Gorilla tape, which is like duct tape on steroids.

TRANSPORT | Total = $145.79

This category is for costs related to our vehicle, mostly for gas to keep it going and drive into the nearby "big city" of Stuart for errands. We spent quite a bit on gas ($103.30), partly due to putting miles on the car driving Scott to the airport in Orlando.

We also bought a new blower motor ($42.49). Scott took the old one out before he left and I installed the new one. I was so excited to have air conditioning again only to experience water gushing into the car on the passenger side as I was coming back from Stuart one day. Turns out the drain hose for the air conditioning is clogged, but I need a compressor to blast air into it and clear the clog, something that I don't have. Oh well, at least the fan is working.


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. Thankfully, we haven't had to spend anything in this category over the past two months.

OTHER | Total = $739.77

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.

The big ticket items over the past two months included an airplane ticket to Portland to see my family ($464.60), a printer and ink ($56.10), and new walking shoes for me ($55.47). Other items included a haircut (my first in ages), a tank top on sale ($3.18), new flip-flops ($2.00), highlighters, and a spare USB plug.

Did we spend more or less than you would have expected? Do you track your expenses? Any frugal living tips 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! 

06 December 2017

Waking Up With Simon The Time Traveling Cat | 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:

"As you look back at 2017, with all of its successes and failures, if you could backtrack, what would you do differently?"

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.


Via The Graphics Fairy

So this is what a heart attack feels like, I thought to myself as I woke up in the middle of the night and felt an intense pressure on my chest. As I rubbed my eyes and reached for my phone to dial 911, a furry paw jabbed me in the face.

"Wake up, lady," a low voice growled. I turned on the light, opened my eyes, and saw Simon the Time Traveling Cat sitting on my chest. "Geez, get up already," he said as he smacked his other paw across my nose, this time with his claws fully extended.

"Oof, get off of me, Simon," I said, trying to push him onto the floor. He was surprisingly heavy for a cat. Time to cut down on all of the saucers of full-fat milk he demanded on a daily basis. "What are you doing waking me up in the middle of the night?"

"Look into my eyes and count to ten," he said. "We need to travel back in time to answer that stupid IWSG question of yours about what you would have done differently during 2017."

I didn't put up much of a fight, probably related to the fact that I hadn't had any coffee yet. Simon blinked at me slowly with those weird clockface-like eyes of his and I felt myself drift off.

"Snap out of it, lady," Simon said. "We're here. It's New Year's Day, 2017" He rolled onto his back. "Now rub my belly and tell me what you would have done differently during this past year."

I sat up and started scratching his gray fur. "Well, for one thing, I would have never let you onto my boat in the first place."

Simon narrowed his eyes and growled. "Wrong answer, lady."

"Okay, fine. What I would have done is started getting ready to publish my cozy mystery, Murder at the Marina, much earlier."

"What cozy mystery?" Simon asked. I stopped rubbing his belly and stared at him. "Oh, do you mean that stupid manuscript that you got so worked up over just because of a hairball?"

I sighed. "Yes, that one."

He pawed at my hand. "Stop your whining and get back to scratching. And hurry up and tell me about this stupid publishing stuff so we can travel back to the present and you can give me some milk."

"It's just that there's so much to do. Deciding if I want to self-publish or go the traditional route, writing blurbs, setting up social media accounts, that sort of thing."

"Big deal," Simon said. "Use your nails, lady. If you're going to scratch my belly, do it right."

I took a deep breath and ignored him. "And, since I'm leaning towards self-publishing, then I have to think about cover design, ISBNs, formatting, uploading to Amazon and other sites. Not to mention all of the editing I'm going to need to do to my manuscript once I get feedback back from my beta readers. It's a little overwhelming."

"Whatever," Simon said. "Enough about you. I'm hungry. Time to go back to the present and get me some milk."


In anticipation of maybe publishing my cozy mystery, Murder at the Marina, one of these days, I've set up an author website, author Facebook page, a Twitter account, and a Goodreads author account. If you have a minute, I'd love for you to check them out and follow along. Any tips, suggestions and/or feedback on using social media (especially Twitter, I'm clueless) as an author/writer also very welcome.

As you look back on the past year, if you had a time traveling cat or a time machine, what would you do differently?

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!

04 December 2017

November In Numbers

Clockwise from upper left: (1) Women Who Sail Facebook group gathering; (2) Getting girly and painting my toes with a friend; (3) Lizards are everywhere; (4) Dinghy racing at the marina; (5) Setting up for one of the bands during Thanksgiving week; and (6) Editing my manuscript.

It's time for our usual monthly recap by the numbers. November was characterized by two things - writing and having way too much fun. Lots of friends (old and new) are back at the marina and there have been plenty of distractions. I did manage to buckle down and get a lot of editing and writing done. Of course, the flip side of that is that I ignored the boat project list. The weather has also been much nicer here in southern Florida - I've had the air conditioning off and even needed a sweater on occasion.

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

  • 4 - Number of times Taco Tuesday happened this month. Taco Tuesday often continues well into the night (or at least well into the night for cruisers - we tend to hit the sack early) with some of the guys playing music on the patio.
  • 12 - Number of ladies who attended the Women Who Sail Facebook group get together at the marina. Delicious food and drinks, interesting conversation and lots of laughs. A great group of women.
  • 69,337 - Number of words in the draft of my cozy mystery, Murder at the Marina, which I sent out to beta readers this month. The word count is a little shy of what's expected in this genre (70-75k), so I'll need to think about beefing things up in the next round of edits.
  • 5,160 - Number of words I wrote for the sequel, Bodies in the Boatyard, during NaNoWriMo. While I may not have achieved the 50,000 words needed to win, at least I made a start on it. And besides, I was knee deep in editing Murder at the Marina during most of November, as well as setting up an author website. That counts for something, doesn't it?
  • 8 - The number of toes I can get nail polish on. My pinkie toes are weird and hard to paint. Anyone else have this problem?
  • 4 - Number of days of Thanksgiving festivities at the marina. Lots of food, plenty of drink, bands, dancing, wine tasting, dinghy racing and a nautical flea market. I'm going to need all of December to recuperate.
  • 17 - The number of named storms this year, including ten hurricanes. Hurricane season officially ended on November 30th. It was a doozy this year. So glad it's finally over.
  • $148 - How much I spent on groceries this month. Way down from our usual average, due to the fact that Scott is in Scotland, the marina providing so much food during Thanksgiving week, and eating out way too much.

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

Going for a Crazy Cabbagetown Walk
Seven Days, Seven Black & White Photos and Some Explanation
Marina Life on a Bulletin Board
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 - we'd love for you to pop by and say hi!

01 December 2017

Going For A Walk In Search Of Ethiopian Food | Little Five Points, Atlanta

Whenever Scott and I travel to a new city, we always look to see if they have an Ethiopian restaurant. We were spoiled for choice when we were spending time in Atlanta hiding out from Hurricane Irma. We weren't sure which restaurant to go to, but then our friends suggested we try the one in the Little Five Points neighborhood because the area is fun and funky. Who are we to argue with fun and funky?

We took a roundabout way to Little Five Points from where we were staying in Cabbagetown, meandering through the streets. We walked past this building several times when we were in Atlanta. It wasn't until the second time I saw it that I realized the windows were meant to represent the eyes.

Personally, I've never been tempted to dumpster dive, but, for those people that are, this is a creative way to tell them to keep out.

We hooked up with the BeltLine and walked along this multi-use trail running through the heart of Atlanta, checking out the art scattered about, as well as people creating art in real-time.

After some confusion about where to get off of the BeltLine (who's to blame is still a matter of some dispute), we made our way over to the Carter Center and walked around the grounds.

Some more walking and then we reached Little Five Points. I love how they painted the side of the post office, welcoming you to the neighborhood.

I wonder how many bouquets of flowers he sells in a day.

Little Five Points is a colorful neighborhood - both in terms of the buildings and the characters walking about.

Does anyone else find this juxtaposition of signs intriguing? The >>Zone 6 Mini Police Precinct<< right next to a >>Medical Cannabis<< store.

At last, we found it - Kimi's Ethiopian Bistro.

It's such a cute little place and the people that work there are lovely.

Here's what happens when they bring our meal to us in an Ethiopian restaurant. We roll up our sleeves (which is important because you eat with your hands) and dive straight in. After a few minutes of stuffing our face, we remember to take a picture.

And this is what you get - a picture of a half eaten plate of doro wat (chicken stew with hard boiled eggs), miser wat (lentil stew) and injera (a spongy flat bread). It might not look like it in the picture, but it was delicious.

Of course, because we live on a sailboat, we couldn't pass up a stop at the Euclid Avenue Yacht Club. We had had overpriced beer earlier at a nearby bar which had zero atmosphere, so Scott was particularly excited to see a sign outside the Yacht Club that advertised cheap beer. Oh, yeah, if you haven't figured out by now, it's not so much a yacht club as it is a bar with tons of atmosphere. It was a great way to end the afternoon.

Have you ever been to Atlanta? Have you ever eaten Ethiopian food? Do you like eating with your hands or do you prefer to use utensils? Do you belong to a yacht club?

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!

29 November 2017

Wordless Wednesday | Dinghy Racing 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 - During Thanksgiving week at Indiantown Marina, they had a dinghy poker run race. People went from station to station in their dinghies and picked up cards. The crews with the best hands won prizes in the form of credit to their marina bill.

2 - Our friends, Greg and Duwan, won second place. Duwan is the one in the gray tank top looking deliriously happy because they just won a $50 credit.

3 - I'd be deliriously happy if I won a $50 credit. That's the equivalent of ten pump-outs, excluding tax.

4 - Yes, that's what happens when you live on a boat for too long, you start to think about the value of things in terms of pumping out your holding tank.

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!

27 November 2017

Going For A Crazy Cabbagetown Walk | Atlanta, Georgia, Pt. 2

The title of this blog post might be slightly misleading. It's not exactly about walking in Cabbagetown, although we did walk there. It's about walking around Atlanta with a certain mindset - >>a crazy Cabbagetown mindset<<. It's also about the Cabbagetown spirit that comes into full-force in the face of ex-tropical cyclone weather barrelling across the city.

If you haven't heard of Cabbagetown, it's a funky, quirky little neighborhood in Atlanta, full of interesting and fascinating people. We spent some time there with friends when we fled from Hurricane Irma. You can read more about our crazy Cabbagetown time here.

But enough about that, let's get on with our walk. Which isn't really a single walk as much as it's a compilation of many walks over many days, because, let's be honest, the >>crazy Cabbagetown mindset<< isn't really about keeping track of what day of the week it is.

Here's one of things Cabbagetown is known for - crazy street art.

Story time at a children's bookstore. Yes, that's a drag queen. So worth the walk to see this. Aren't those eyelashes amazing? I wonder if it hurts to take them off.

Proof that actual walking did take place.

I don't think this bike is going anywhere.

We walked to this bar. The good thing about walking is that you don't feel as guilty when you have nachos and some beer.

This is the Sweet Auburn Market. Everything looked so delicious there, but we had eaten so much during our time in Atlanta, we couldn't eat any more. Okay, that's a lie. I'm pretty sure we had pizza of some variety later that night.

Take a close look at this. Notice the cars hanging off of the side of this parking garage? Isn't that insane?

We got stopped by some panhandlers here. Actually, we got stopped by panhandlers lots of places. They see your camera and ask you if you're visiting. I find it helps if you start speaking Hungarian in response. Not that I speak Hungarian, but I'm pretty sure they wouldn't know if I was speaking it or not.

My family loves visiting cemeteries. They'd think the Oakland Cemetery is awesome. And it is. Margaret Mitchell is buried there. So is some famous golfer. I didn't have a clue who he was, but Scott did.

It would be wrong to visit Atlanta and not walk up to the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site. So we did. Such a moving place. Everyone should spend time there.

Now for the non-walking part. The people of Cabbagetown are resilient. In the face of awful weather, they focus on the truly important things, like finding a place to charge their devices and freeze their chicken.

Here's a picture of some of the local residents hanging out in the house we were staying at. It was one of the few places in the neighborhood to have power after the remnants of Hurricane Irma swept through.

Look at all of this chicken! The lady who brought it over to keep it from thawing knows a serious sale on chicken when she sees one. Seeing all of this is giving me a craving for a chicken salad sandwich, preferably curry chicken salad. 

Let's stop for a minute and indulge me in a crazy cat lady moment. Look at this cat - isn't he adorable? His name is Deck Star. His human built him a little platform on top of a newspaper box, complete with a food dispenser. And just in case you were confused as to what the platform was all about, the helpful sign on the wall lets you know that >>cat goes here<<.

Deck Star lives near Little's Food Store. The folks at Little's lost power, but they're not the type to cry and whine about all of their meat going bad. No, these people are true Cabbagetownians. A storm and power outage can only mean one thing - a street party. They got out the grills and cooked up amazing burgers, steak and potatoes and passed it out for free. By the way, we walked here.

Scott really got into the swing of things. He bought a couple of 12-packs of beer and started handing them out. I think he may have secretly been running for Mayor of Cabbagetown and trying to buy votes, one can at a time.

It's not a street party without music.

And we'll have to wrap it up here because I need to go for a walk. No, not really. What I really need is to fix myself a snack. All this talk about chicken, burgers and steak is making me a little peckish.

Would you park your car in that crazy parking lot? What's the last walk you went on? What do you have in your freezer?

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