28 February 2018

Wordless Wedesday | National Public Sleeping Day

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 - Today is National Public Sleeping Day, where we celebrate the joys of taking a nap. . .in public. 

2 - There's nothing worse than being on a long-haul flight, exhausted and desperate to catch some shut-eye, except you're worried you might start snoring and drool on the person next to you.

3 - Some people don't have a choice about sleeping in public. There are so many homeless people who don't have access to shelter at night.

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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26 February 2018

5 Frugal Things | Keeping The Cruising Kitty Happy

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 (as many others have) and started to share my five frugal things on occasion. It's a great way to inspire me to keep looking for ways to top up our cruising kitty (fancy sailing 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 - Repairing My Glasses Myself

One of the screws came out of my sunglasses and rather than take them in to be repaired, I bought an eyeglass repair kit for around $7 and fixed them myself. Not only was it cheaper than having someone else repair them, the kit will also come in handy when we're out cruising, our glasses break, and there isn't an eyeglass repair shop to be found.

2 - Repairing My Laptop Myself

When my laptop suffered a catastrophic failure, I ordered a new replacement fan/heatsink and replaced it myself. Although it's a pain to disassemble a laptop, it's very doable if you have the manual. And I saved myself heaps by fixing it myself.

3 - Saying No To A Dish Drainer

We got our current dish drainer off of the free table a while back. It works fine and fits on the counter perfectly, but I've always hated having to clean it as gunk gets stuck in little crevices and is hard to get at. I saw that Aldi had a collapsible dish drainer which would have been a breeze to keep clean. I said no to temptation. Sure it was nicer, but we already had one, which works perfectly fine. By saying no, I saved about $10. Besides, it was made of metal, which is a recipe for rust on a boat.

4 - Bringing My Water Bottle To Lunch

I met up with some friends at Subway for lunch and brought my water bottle with me. That way I wasn't tempted to buy a pop. I not only saved money, but also saved on calories.

5 - Visiting The Library

I love to read and I go through a lot of books each month, so the library is one of my favorite spots. I can check out all sorts of books for free.

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

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.

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24 February 2018

Saturday Spotlight | Souper Blog Hop & My Favorite Sailboat Soup

In addition to the usual blog posts every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday about our 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.


Today, I'm excited to be taking part in the Souper Blog Hop with Chrys Fey to celebrate the release of >>Pea Soup Disaster<<, written by her mother, Elaine Kaye. 

Don't you just love that picture? That's how I look whenever I have to eat pea soup. It's definitely not my favorite. Gregory, on the other hand, loves pea soup.

Before I share more about >>Pea Soup Disaster<<, let me tell you a little about one of my favorite soups, which we started making aboard our sailboat in New Zealand - >>Corn Chowder<<. It's such an easy soup to make onboard because you can use provisions which store easily and last forever, like canned potatoes and corn, powdered milk, onions, and chicken bullion cubes. If you're lucky, you'll catch a snapper (or other white fish) and can transform it into >>Snapper Chowder<<. (If you want to know more, check out this blog post which includes the recipe and a picture of a snapper Scott caught).

While I don't have a picture of our >>Corn Chowder<<, I do have a picture of the fabulous contraption that I make it in - our Wonderbag. It's basically a slow cooker which doesn't require any electricity.


BLURB - Gregory Green loves his mom's pea soup, but when he eats it at school, all of his friends make fun of how it looks. He doesn't think it looks like bugs, and it tastes good! Then at recess, his friends run from him screaming, "He's a monster!" Gregory doesn't know why his friends are being mean until he sees his skin is green. The teasing gets worse until an unlikely friend comes to the rescue - his teddy bear, Sammy. Sammy usually only comes to life for Gregory and his family, but Sammy has an important lesson to teach Gregory and his classmates.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Elaine Kaye got the idea for Pea Soup Disaster from her son who loved to eat her homemade pea soup. Pea Soup Disaster is the first of many fun stories featuring Gregory Green and his teddy bear, Sammy, as part of the Gregory Green Adventure series.

Kaye has worked as a library assistant and a teacher's assistant in elementary schools in the Sunshine State. She currently lives in Florida, but she has called Michigan; Honolulu, Hawaii; and Okinawa, Japan her home. She is grandmother of three boys.

You can find Elaine on her website | Instagram | Litsy - @ElaineKaye | Goodreads | Amazon

What's your favorite soup? Gregory has his favorite teddy bear - did you have a favorite stuffed animal?

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Visit the other folks participating in the Souper Blog Hop starting on Monday, February 26th:

23 February 2018

Flashback Friday | Cooking Without A Fridge: A Week On Our Boat In New Zealand


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 when we lived and cruised aboard our 26' sailboat, Rainbow's End, in New Zealand. She was a great little boat, but one of the things I really like about our new boat, Tickety Boo, is that fact that she has a fridge. We managed fine cooking without a fridge in New Zealand, but it's so much nicer to have a fridge, especially when it comes to keeping your beer cool.

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


When we first decided to start cruising full-time on our 26’ sailboat, I thought one of the biggest challenges would be living without a fridge. Yes, that’s right -  we don’t have a fridge on board. We don’t have an oven, a dishwasher or a laundry machine either. This is a very low-tech boat and certainly a long, long way from living on land. But, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised that living without a fridge isn’t really a problem at all. And just to prove it, I thought I would share a week’s worth of our meals to show you the types of things we cook and eat.

One of my “inspirations” for preparing to cruise full-time has been Lin Pardey’s The Care and Feeding of Sailing Crew. In her book, she describes the meals she made each day on a passage that they took from Asia to North America, along with some handy tips and tricks. So, like all good idol worshipers, I decided to imitate her and I’ve been recording what we eat in our log. When I looked back to pick a week of cooking to share, I made a few observations:

  • We eat a lot of pasta. Which you might not think is a bad thing, but I only make it one or two ways.  

  • Tortillas are a godsend when you don’t have an oven and easy access to store bought bread. 

  • Cooking experiments don’t always turn out. 

  • Some things that I’ve made, even a dog wouldn’t eat. 

  • Those are the days you think to yourself, “I wish we could order a pizza to go just now.” But you can’t. Because you have no cell phone reception and you are far, far away from a pizzeria.  
  • We could definitely do better on that whole 5 a day thing. But that was probably the case before we moved onto the boat.  

Tuesday, 3 March 2014 (Bay of Islands) 

Breakfast – nada 
Lunch – rice & bean burritos and cheese quesadillas 
Dinner – pasta 

Usually, I’m a big believer in eating breakfast and demand to be fed pretty much first thing after I wake. But, since we’ve been out cruising, I find that we often eat much later at night then we did on land as we’re either anchoring someplace new or have been out exploring an island during the day. Or, I just can’t be bothered to cook until the sun goes down. So, I find that there have been quite a few days where we’ve skipped breakfast and quickly got the boat ready and headed out to our next destination. This was one of those days. 

For lunch, Scott likes to play a little game I call “Salmonella Roulette”. I heat up last night’s dinner – which has been sitting out without refrigeration – and he happily eats it. So far, he hasn’t gotten sick. So while he had leftover vegetarian rice and beans burritos, I settled for a cheese quesadilla.  

For dinner, I made my specialty – Ellen’s pasta with red sauce. Simple to make. You chop up an onion, a green bell pepper/capsicum, a couple of cloves of garlic and some sun dried tomatoes. Sauté them in pan with some olive oil. Add in a can of tomatoes, some olives, chili flakes and black pepper. (If you’re using a plain can of tomatoes, add in some salt and sugar too.) Turn up the heat and get everything talking to each other. Then turn off the heat for 10 minutes and let the pan sit. Turn the heat back on briefly, then turn off again. This is how we try to minimize how much LPG we use. Oh, the fun and games on a boat. Cook some spaghetti, add the sauce and voila – you have dinner. Even better if you add in some salami and cheese. 

Wednesday, 5 March 2014 (Bay of Islands) 

Breakfast – egg & cheese breakfast burrito
Lunch – nada 
Dinner – chili bean spaghetti with griddle bread and pepper jelly 

Even though Scott is our full-time skipper, he generally makes our breakfast. Technically, I should be doing that given my complete lack of useful contribution to sailing. But Scott is a real sweetheart so he does it. Either that or he is worried I’ll mutiny. His specialty is egg & cheese breakfast burritos. Another simple dish – make some scramble eggs with cheese. Heat up some tortillas in a frying pan with some olive oil. Combine. Yummo.  

Tortillas are fabulous little creatures. They live happily in their plastic pouches for months until you’re ready for them. We use a lot of them as bread is hard to find or is way too expensive to buy and we don’t have an oven to make our own. Tortillas are a regular feature in our repertoire. Unfortunately, they are made with white flour so the nutrional value is probably negligible.  

For some reason we skipped lunch. I was probably unhappy about this. But dinner made up for it as I made my only other pasta recipe – vegetarian chili beans served on spaghetti. At this point, we only had two tortillas left and lacked any other substance which resembles bread, so I made some skillet bread with rosemary and garlic to go with dinner. I found a jar of red pepper jelly in one of the cubby holes which we spread on it.  

Thursday, 6 March 2014 (Passage from Bay of Islands to Whangaroa Harbour) 

Breakfast – leftover skillet bread 
Lunch – leftover chili bean spaghetti & crackers with peanut butter and smoked mussels 
Dinner – pretzels, salami, cheese & crackers 

We had an early start to make our way up north to Whangaroa so we got the boat underway and then ate leftover skillet bread in the cockpit. It was okay. Pancakes would have been better, but they didn’t seem to be on offer. 

We stopped off at the Cavalli Islands at lunchtime to wait out the tides so that we could get into the Whangaroa Harbour (when you have a strong tidal stream vs. 10 hp engine, you wait). Scott played “Salmonella Roulette” again and finished off the leftover chili bean spaghetti. He offered to share. I looked at him like he was a madman and refreshed myself about what to say on the VHF if he got really sick and I needed to call for help. As usual, his tummy is made of iron and he was just fine. To top off his spaghetti, he had some crackers with smoked mussels. I was content to just have crackers and peanut butter – a meal which I personally think is a cruiser’s best friend. 

When dinner time rolled around, I decided to call a general strike in the kitchen and said, “I’m not going to make dinner tonight!”  Scott looked at me, rolled his eye and said, “Fine, I’m not going to skipper the boat anymore.” We stared at each other for a good ten minutes and finally realized no one was going to give in. So we settled for a smorgasbord of pretzels, salami, cheese and crackers. I’m not sure there was any winner in this particular battle of wills.  

Salami and cheese are a couple of our staples on the boat. I’ve found a great salami which doesn’t require refrigeration. Once you open it, you just have to eat it within 30 days, but that really isn’t a problem for us. It is a great little protein solution – we put a little in my famous red pasta sauce and have it for snacks. Cheese also doesn’t seem to require refrigeration but that might just be the New Zealand climate. It doesn’t get very hot here and we happily leave a block of Colby cheese in a container and put it in all sorts of things.  

Friday, 7 March 2014 (Whangaroa Harbour) 

Linner - grilled cheese 

For some reason, the only think I marked down in our log was grilled cheese. I’m pretty sure that wasn’t what we ate for breakfast. But I think we had them for a late lunch/dinner combo – what we like to call “linner”. When we were in Whangaroa town, we went to the general store. The thing about general stores in New Zealand is that prices are rarely marked on anything. Usually, I ask how much something costs. This time, I just took a load of bread up to the counter, the woman sized me and my American accent up and said, “$6.50, please.” This is the most we have ever paid for a loaf of bread here. I want an oven on my next boat so that I can make my own and not be held hostage to the general stores.  

So with our very expensive bread, we had some lovely grilled cheese sandwiches with onions and garlic granules sprinkled in for good measure. This wasn’t one of our better days when it comes to getting your daily dose of fruit and veg. 

Saturday, 8 March to Sunday 9 March 2014 (Passage from Whangaroa Harbour to Kawau Island) 


Breakfast – eggs & toast 
Lunch – grilled cheese w/salami 
Dinner – peanut noodles 


Breakfast – toast & breakfast burritos 
Snack – pretzels and coke 
Dinner - pasta 

While I have done a teeny bit of night sailing before, this was my first official night passage – it took us 30 hours and 45 minutes to sail 119 nautical miles from Whangaroa to Kawau. We didn’t actually know that we were going to do it until later on Saturday when we realized that it was miles and miles from an anchorage and it was getting dark. And then Scott suggested we just carry on to Kawau.  

I was glad that we had breakfast that morning, as it turned out to be a very long two days. Because we had bread, toast featured in our breakfast, along with some scrambled eggs. Lunch on the first day featured more grilled cheese with the added bonus of some salami thrown in. For dinner, I decided to make peanut noodles for a couple of reasons – it only requires one pan to boil the pasta in and it tastes just as nice cold as it does warm so we could eat it throughout the night.  

On the second day, Skipper Scott made us breakfast using up the last of the bread for some toast along with some of his famous breakfast burritos with the last of our tortillas. Everything just tastes better when you haven’t slept. Once we got to Kawau, we celebrated with some coke and pretzels and then I topped off the evening with spaghetti and red sauce. One thing you have to love about Scott is that he will happily eat the same thing day in and day out. Which is fortunate as I make the same thing day in and day out.  

Monday, 10 March 2014 (Kawau Island to Islinton Bay) 

Breakfast – cheese & salami omelet & scrambled eggs 
Lunch – peanut butter, smoked mussels & crackers 
Dinner – pasta 

Because we were out of tortillas and bread, we had a “low carb” breakfast of eggs. I had mine plain and scrambled while Scott went all out and put cheese and salami in an omelet. Lunch we the usual cruiser’s special of crackers with peanut butter for me and smoked mussels for Scott. And of course, what would dinner be without my usual spaghetti and red sauce pasta dish. I’m nothing, if not creative.  

So there you have it, a glimpse into a week eating and cooking onboard Rainbow’s End. I’m guessing that job offers won’t be streaming in for me to be a chef aboard a super yacht? But in the end, as long as the skipper’s belly is full, that’s all that counts. 

Could you live without a fridge? Or, if you don't have a fridge, what are your go-to recipes? 

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21 February 2018

Wordless Wednesday | Farming On A Sailboat

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 - What, you think the blog post title was misleading? Were you expecting pictures of fields of wheat and corn growing on the deck of our sailboat? No, this is "farming" cruiser style by growing sprouts.

2 - One of my friends has a sprouter which I've been fascinated by. I finally broke down an ordered one, along with a sampler back of seeds, on Amazon. What would we do without Amazon? Oh, yeah, that's right, we'd have more money and a lot less stuff.

3 - It's actually quite easy, and tasty too. Now, we'll never suffer from a lack of fresh greens while we're out cruising.

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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19 February 2018

The Call Of The Luddites Beckons, Or Technology Sucks

Sometimes, technology sucks. A couple of nights ago, a loud beeping noise interrupted my sleep. Here’s what ran through my head:

“Am I about to die from carbon monoxide poisoning?”

“Has the Dalek invasion started?”

“Is a garbage truck backing up into my boat?”

Turns out it was none of these things. My computer was just suffering a catastrophic failure. Which, I guess is *marginally* better than an invasion by the Daleks.

I think the fan is broken, causing it to overheat. I’ve ordered a new one, but it won’t be here until later this week. Hopefully, that solves the problem.

Then my cell phone became infected with some sort of bug. I thought I had that sorted, but it happened again. I’ve tried something else. Fingers crossed it works, otherwise I’ll have to reset the thing back to factory settings.

All of this had made me realize two things:

1 - I’m way too dependent on my computer. 

I was on fire working on >>Bodies in the Boatyard<< (the second book in my Mollie McGhie sailing mystery series), but without a computer, I’ve come to a standstill.

2 - The Luddites may be onto something. 

Technology isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Maybe I should just write the old-fashioned way, using pen and paper?

By the way, I’m typing this on an old iPad my mom gave me. It’s a real pain, so if I’m slow to respond to comments or visit your blog, that’s why.

Have you ever had technology problems? Ever been tempted to become a Luddite?

17 February 2018

Saturday Spotlight | Around The World In 80 Books, Update #15

In addition to the usual blog posts every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday about our 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 75 books since I started the challenge - only 5 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, Update #12, Update #13, and Update #14.


GRAVE SECRETS by Kathy Reichs | Guatemala

Grave Secrets is part of the Dr. Temperance Brennan series, which you may know better as the inspiration for the TV show, Bones. In this book, Dr. Brennan is working in Guatemala as part of a team of forensic anthropologists investigating the "disappearance" of villagers (women and children) in the 1970s who were brutally raped and murdered by members of the army. While in Guatemala, she is asked to assist in the investigation of the disappearance of four young women in recent months and see if the remains found in a septic tank are related.

I enjoyed Grave Secrets because of its focus on forensic anthropology (I studied cultural and linguistic anthropology), as well as its focus on contemporary Guatemalan culture and the dark period in Guatemalan history when countless Mayans were slaughtered.

"People filled the lobby, wandering, praying, drinking soda, slumping or fidgeting on wooden benches. Some wore housedresses, others suits or jeans. Most were dressed in Solola Mayan. Women swathed in striped red cloth, with burrito-wrapped babies on their bellies or backs. Men in woolen aprons, gaucho hats, and wildly embroidered trousers and shirts. Now and then a hospital worker in crisp white cut through the kaleidoscope assemblage."

You can find out more about Grave Secrets on Goodreads and get your own copy on Amazon

THE LAST FRIEND by Tahar ben Jelloun | Morocco

As I got down to the final ten books for this challenge, I was struggling to find books to tick off the remaining countries on my list, so I was delighted when I discovered the English translation of The Last Friend. The author is a well-known Moroccan writer who has been short-listed for the Nobel Prize in Literature. The Last Friend is about the changing nature of friendship between Ali and Mamet over the course of thirty years, which ultimately leads to betrayal. The story is told from the perspective of both Ali and Mamet, as well as from that of one of their friends. The plot twists and turns had me engrossed right to the end. 

"A city of seduction, Tangier lashes you to its eucalyptus trees with the old ropes left by sailors at the port; it pursues you as if to persecute you; it obsesses you like an unrequited love. We talked and talked about Tangier. We knew that without our city, our lives would be meaningless."

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

THE WARSAW DOCUMENT by Adam Hall | Poland

The Warsaw Document is a spy thriller set during the Cold War. Quiller, a British Intelligence operative, is sent to Warsaw to "save detente" while anti-Soviet sentiments are smoldering. Although, I'm not a huge fan of this genre, The Warsaw Document was a good read which held my attention. I particularly liked how the author captured what the feel and mood of Warsaw might have been like at the time, and the impact that the Soviet presence had on the Polish people.

"I'd already learned how difficult it was to judge people from their behavior or even their expression: in this city the winter was not only in the streets and they were living on their nerves, the fierce vitality they'd put into their music and their wars now thrust inwards on themselves; and it was worse because the surface of their daily lives seemed still intact: they could sit here and order coffee and complain if it didn't come, and dance at the Cristal-Budapest and walk with their children in the park on Sundays. All they couldn't do was call their country their own and for these people their country was their soul."

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


I used to work with a woman who was in Rwanda during the time of the 1994 Rwandan genocide when 800,000 people (mostly Tutsi) were killed in the space of 100 days by the Hutus. I had seen the news coverage at the time of the Tutsi-Hutu conflict, but listening to her stories was horrifying and made everything seem so much more real. I hesitated about whether or not I wanted to read more about the atrocities that were committed, but in the end decided to go ahead and read An Ordinary Man as part of this challenge.

This is an autobiographical account by Paul Ruseabagina, the general manager of the Hotel Milles Collines, who sheltered 1,268 people on site. This book was the basis for the film, Hotel Rwanda. Ruseabagina describes how he fostered relationships with Hutu leaders in order to protect the people in his care. It was an eye-opening account and interesting insight into how such a thing could happen in Rwanda. In this passage, he tries to explain how the Tutsi came to be characterized as the enemy over time:

"The other thing you have to understand was that the message crept into our national consciousness very slowly. It did not happen all at once. We did not wake up one morning to hear it pouring out of the radio at full strength. It started with a sneering comment, the casual use of the term 'cockroach,' the almost humorous suggestion that Tutsis should be airmailed back to Ethiopia. Stripping the humanity from an entire group takes time."

You can find out more about An Ordinary Man on Goodreads and get your own copy on Amazon.


Many of you may remember Nujood Ali's role in highlighting the practice of forced marriage of underage girls in Yemen. When she was nine years old, Nujood's parents arranged for her to marry a man in his thirties. She was regularly raped and beaten by her husband, but somehow found the courage to go to the court and ask for a divorce. In this memoir, Nujood shares details of her childhood before she was married off, what she endured while married, and the process of obtaining a divorce at ten years of age.

She was fortunate to have come to the attention of judges who advocated for her, and in being represented by Shada Nasser, a female lawyer. Nujood describes meeting the judges in this passage and how extraordinary her actions were:

"They both explain to me that in Yemen girls are frequently married off quite young, before the legal age of fifteen. An ancient tradition, adds Judge Abdo. But to his knowledge, none of these precocious marriages has ever ended in divorce - because no little girl has, until now, showed up at a courthouse. A question of family honor, it seems. My situation is most exceptional, and complicated."

You can find out more about I am Nujood 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, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Djibouti, England, Estonia, Ethiopia, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Haiti, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, New Zealand, Nigeria, North Korea, Norway, Pakistan, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Kiribati, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, Slovenia, Spain, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Thailand, Turkey, United States, Vanuatu, Vietnam, Wales, Yemen, and Zimbabwe.

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16 February 2018

Spamageddon | Canned Meat Cook-Off At Indiantown Marina

Canned meat is a staple for cruisers, at least for those of us who are carnivores. So, when one of my marina friends suggested that we have a canned meat cook-off, I was excited. A risk-free way to sample canned meats that, frankly, I'm a little scared of buying (like Spam), and get recipe ideas? Yes, please, count me in!

We only had one rule - you had to make a dish with a canned meat. Fresh ingredients, other canned ingredients were allowed. Easy-peasy.

The event quickly became known as >>Spamageddon<< and the gauntlet was thrown down. Would anyone dare to make a recipe with Spam? Would any of us dare to eat it?

The event was a huge success - so much fun and such interesting and delectable dishes. I only wish I had pictures of all of the entries. But, here are a few to whet your appetite. Who knows maybe Spam is what's for dinner tonight in your house.

Spam - the meat you don't want to ask too many questions about

Who knew Spam could actually taste good?  There were three Spam entries - Spam Rice & Beans, Spam Cupcakes, and Candied Spam with Brie.

Two of these dishes even won prizes! Yes, there were prizes - more about that in a minute. But first, let's talk a bit more about these creative concoctions.

Everyone loves rice and beans, don't they? And beans and rice are staples aboard any cruising boat. Just whack in a can of Spam and you've got a meal that will keep the crew happy and well fed.

Doesn't the baked brie look gorgeous? I wouldn't blame you if you didn't realize that there was Spam in there. And not just any old Spam, but Spam candied with red pepper jelly. Add some brie, more red pepper jelly, wrap the whole thing with phyllo dough, bake, and you've got the most elegant looking Spam dish I've ever seen.

Spam cupcakes, anyone? This is such a creative dish. Make meatloaf out of Spam. Put in miniature muffin tins, top with mashed potato 'icing,' and voila you have savory cupcakes.

Chicken - tried and true, a staple on many cruising boats

Personally, I've never cooked with Spam. I rely more on canned chicken, so I was glad to see several tasty chicken entries. There was a very delicious Enchilada Soup and some moreish Chicken Salads and Spreads.

Fish - kind of disgusting

There were two fish entries - a to-die-for crab and bacon mac n'cheese, along with salmon patties served with dill sauce.

Let's talk for a minute about how disgusting salmon is when it comes out of the can. I have personal experience with this as I made the salmon patties. When I dumped it into a bowl, I was confronted with a horrible stench, skin, and bones. {Yuck, big time.} I almost decided to abandon my plans to cook with salmon, but I persevered. Once I mixed it with bread crumbs, eggs, Old Bay spice, onion, and a little bit of mayo, things looked a little bit better. And, of course, frying anything in oil helps immensely.

The Winners

We roped in a very nice (and brave) gentleman from Tattoo II to be our judge. He tasted all of the dishes, didn't discretely spit anything out into a napkin, and named winners in two categories - tastiest dish and most original dish.


1st - Salmon Patties (Tickety Boo) - that's me!
2nd - Chicken Dip (My Dream)
3rd - Baked Brie with Candied Spam (Amazed)

*Most Original*

1st - Spam Cupcakes aka Spoalf (Amazed)
2nd - Corned Beef Quesadillas (No Snow)
3rd - Enchilada Soup (Faith)

Have you ever cooked with canned meat? Any good recipes to share? Would you eat Spam?

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14 February 2018

Wordless Wednesday | Valentine's Day

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 - If you like free vintage, royalty-free images, look no further than The Graphics Fairy. That's where I got these cute valentines.

2 - Scott and I don't do the whole Valentine's Day thing. It's way too much pressure. 

3 - Exchanging Valentine's Day cards in elementary school was such a big thing. I remember decorating a shoe box with construction paper and lace doilies to turn it into a "mailbox" for my classmates to put their cards into.

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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11 February 2018

You Know It's Going To Be A Great Day When...

You know it's going to be a great day when...

...you have just enough milk left for your morning coffee.

...all the news headlines are about adorable kittens and puppies, instead of politics.

...dolphins frolic around your boat.

...nothing new hurts when you stretch in the morning.

...you've magically lost five pounds overnight and can button your jeans with ease.

...you find $40 in the pocket of your jeans.

...you do your taxes and realize you're going to get a refund.

...you finally submit your first novel to your editor.

...you forget to put sugar in your morning oatmeal and it still tastes great.

How do you know when it's going to be a great day?

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10 February 2018

Saturday Spotlight | 10 Minute Novelists Conference

In addition to the usual blog posts every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday about our 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.

Today, we have a guest post by Pam Humphrey about the 10 Minute Novelists conference in August. It sounds like a great opportunity to connect with fellow writers and hear from some amazing speakers. Take it away, Pam.

By Pam Humphrey

As writers, some days we struggle to find ten minutes in a day to dedicate to our writing. We scrape together small snippets of time each day, adding words to our work-in-progress. Those words add up. Our small things, brought together, can make something great. 

The writers of the Facebook group 10 Minute Novelists believe that this is true. Started by Katharine Grubb, who wrote the book, Write A Novel in Ten Minutes A Day, the Facebook group offers tips, encouragement, and community for time-crunched writers worldwide.

August 9-11, 10 Minute Novelists will be hosting their first ever conference in Cincinnati, Ohio. The theme is fitting: Small Things Brought Together. The conference hopes to bring this online community of hard-working writers together for learning, support, and fun. Through the speakers and learning opportunities, they hope writers can make connections, amplify writing energy, and add tools to their writing toolbelt.

Their speakers include:

James Scott Bell, bestselling author of Plot & Structure, and award-winning thrillers like Final Witness, Romeo’s Rules, Don’t Leave Me, Blind Justice, Deceived, Try Dying, Watch Your Back, and One More Lie, will give the keynote.

Donald Maass, founder of the Donald Maass Literary Agency and author of The Career Novelist (1996), Writing the Breakout Novel (2001), Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook (2004), The Fire in Fiction (2009), The Breakout Novelist (2011) and Writing 21st Century Fiction (2012), will speak on The Fire In Fiction. This hands-on presentation will reveal how master contemporary novelists make every book great—and how participants can use the techniques of greatness in their current manuscripts.

Janice Hardy, founder and owner of FICTION UNIVERSITY, is the award-winning author of The Healing Wars trilogy, including The Shifter, Blue Fire, Darkfall from Balzer+Bray/Harper Collins, and of multiple books on writing, including the bestselling, Understanding Show, Don’t Tell (And Really Getting It). She’ll be speaking twice on Saturday: Planning Your Novel in Ten Easy Steps: 10 Surefire Steps to Planning a Bestseller! and (later that day) on Revision Readiness: How to Revise.
For more information go to http://www.10MinCon.com. The conference price is $329, but will go up to $379 after March 1, 2018. Price does not include travel, airfare, or hotel accommodation. Price does include lunch for Friday, August 10 and Saturday, August 11. Hotel accommodation information is also available at www.10MinCon.com.

Make time for your writing this summer. Join us at 10MinCon!


Pamela Humphrey, author of Finding Claire and Finding Kate, has been a member of 10 Minute Novelists since March 2016. She lives in San Antonio, Texas, with her husband, sons, black cats, and a leopard gecko. 

Have you ever been to a writing conference? Are you planning on attending 10MinCon?
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09 February 2018

Life Lately At Indiantown Marina

This is what life looks like lately at Indiantown Marina for me.

I'm knee deep in wading through beta reader feedback and making the final revisions to >>Murder at the Marina<< before I send it to the editor on Monday. This round of editing is taking way longer than I thought it would, but I've learned heaps in the process.

When I need a bit of a break from editing, I've been looking through my Boat Galley cookbook for recipe ideas.

No, I'm not looking for bread recipes. I'm on the hunt for a fabulous canned meat recipe. Yes, you read that right - canned meat. One of the essential provisions to have on board your boat if you're a non-vegetarian cruiser. We're having a canned meat cook-off this weekend and I want to experiment with a new recipe. Who knows, maybe I'll be just crazy enough to try something with Spam.

And in other news, winter appears to be over in southern Florida (at least for now).

When the real feel temperature hit 89 yesterday, I broke down and plugged in our air conditioning unit. I do feel a little guilty basking in air conditioning, while much of the rest of the northern hemisphere is still battling snow, but I have to say, it beats wearing three pairs of socks.

What's life been lately where you are? Any good canned meat recipes to share?

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07 February 2018

Simon The Time Traveling Cat Gets Evicted | 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:

"What do you love about the genre you write the most in?"

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.


Image courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

Simon the Time Traveling Cat sprawled on the table, knocking my highlighters on the floor. Then, he washed carefully behind his ears before rolling onto his back.

"Scratch my belly, lady," he demanded while batting at my hand with his paw.

"Stop it, Simon. I'm busy working on this month's IWSG post - what I love the most about writing cozy mysteries."

Simon batted at my hand some more, this time with his claws fully extended.

"Ouch!" I pulled my hand away and checked for blood. I was going to need a bandaid. I glared at Simon. "You know what I love about writing cozy mysteries? Being able to kill off characters."

"Why are you looking at me, lady?" he asked. "What, you think you can kill me off? Hah! All of your readers would revolt."

"Revolt? Not a chance. They'd sympathize. After all, in just the past week, you've hacked up hairballs on my bed, you knocked a bowl off the counter on purpose, spilling soup everywhere, and to top it all off, you've scratched me. . .again!"

Simon blinked slowly at me. "But, I'm a cat. Everyone knows you can't kill off a cat in a cozy mystery. People who read those books are crazy about cats."

I sighed. "Fine, you're right. I won't kill you off. How about we just evict you instead?"


In all seriousness, I do wonder if people are getting tired of Simon the Time Traveling Cat popping up each month. He's been hanging around for almost a year. {Click here to read the original Simon post.} Other characters pop up from time to time, like Esme the Annoying Life Coach, but Simon really has seemed to take over things.

So, what do you think - should Simon be evicted?

(a) Yes, evict Simon.

(b) No, keep Simon.

(c) Have Simon stay, but on a part-time basis.

(d) None of the above.

So, what do you think - should Simon be evicted? Leave your answer and reasons why in the comments below.

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05 February 2018

Hand-Knit Sweaters For Koala Bears, Or Strange Emails People Send Us

We often get emails asking us to advertise products and services on our blog. Usually, I send a quick reply back saying "thanks, but no thanks." After all, the person sending the email is generally some peon in a cubicle making peanuts.

But recently, I was tempted to send a more detailed response. Something along the lines of:

"Thank you for your inquiry. Before we proceed with advertising your product in exchange for absolutely no compensation for our time and effort, can you clarify which of our online businesses you were referring to? Was it the one where we sell hand-knit sweaters for koala bears? Or, did you mean our mobile unicorn grooming business?"

It all came about when I received this form email (the highlighting in red is mine).

Let's just dissect this, shall we?

First of all, she says that she came across our >>post<<. Well, the link she provided takes you to >>this page<<, where we have links to various posts on blogging tips and tricks. It's not an actual post.

Next, she says that it was >>super insightful<<. Uh, okay. What exactly did she find insightful about it? It's just a page with a listing of blog posts. Did she find it insightful that I know how to insert hyperlinks? I think what was supposed to happen here is that I'd be so flattered that she called it *insightful* and put a *super* in front of it, that I would jump at the chance of doing her bidding.

Then, she mentions the importance of >>online businesses<< and talks about my >>work<< later on. That's what got me thinking maybe there is some money to be made in hand-knit sweaters for koalas or starting up a mobile unicorn grooming business.

If she had actually looked at our blog for even a nanosecond, she'd probably have figured out that we aren't selling anything.* In fact, we don't monetize our blog.** {Yep, all of this crazy, random nonsense - it's all yours for free.} Something, she'd know if she had read >>this post<< I wrote a couple of years ago about annoying form emails we get from people wanting us to flog their stuff.

Although, maybe she did read that post as she didn't offer any sort of compensation for publicizing their web hosting guide. By the way, I'm pretty sure they make their money by recommending certain web-hosting services. Our share of that profit - zero. Unless, you count the fact that they'd be >>thrilled<< if we helped out as compensation.

Which leads me to the reference to >>web-hosting<<. Yeah, we don't pay anyone to host our site. We do things the cheap and cheerful way around here by using Blogger's free service. No domain, no hosting, nothing. So, why would we be interesting in talking about web-hosting?

What kind of strange, annoying and/or stupid emails or slow mail do you get? If you have a blog, do you monetize it? Ever knit a sweater for a koala bear or brushed a unicorn's mane?

*Disclaimer: In all fairness, I've had a link up here before for the IWSG anthology I had a story published in and I'll do the same when I publish my cozy mystery. So, I guess I am selling stuff. 

**Another Disclaimer: I did try Amazon Affiliates for a while, primarily with links to books I reviewed. We made a whopping $10. We're no longer part of the program. And, by the way, there's absolutely nothing wrong with monetizing your site. If it makes you happy and it works for you, go for it!

You can find links to our other posts on blogging tips & tricks on here.
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03 February 2018

Saturday Spotlight | Sailing Book Reviews

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.


Today, I'm featuring reviews of three sailing-related books. Two were written by fellow members of the Women Who Sail Facebook group - Jackie Parry and Daria Blackwell -  and recount their adventures crossing oceans, exploring new countries and cultures, and connecting with fellow cruisers. Chris DiCroce's book is jam-packed with information about the ins and outs of traveling along the Atlantic ICW (intracoastal waterway).


>>This is It<< is a wonderfully well-written memoir of the author's adventures buying a sailboat in San Francisco with her husband, and then sailing it across the Pacific back to their home in Australia. The author has a beautiful voice and way with words which effortlessly draws the reader in and makes them feel like they're part of the adventure. 

During the course of the book, we follow the crew of Pyewacket from San Francisco on the first part of their journey through Mexico, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Panama and then across the Pacific with stops at fascinating places like Pitcairn, the Gambiers, and Suwarrow. The descriptions of the highs and lows of cruising are fascinating. I loved reading about their experiences immersing themselves in local cultures, and the friendships they made with fellow cruisers. There were also times when I was sitting at the edge of my seat with my pulse racing as the author described the treacherous conditions they faced during their journey.

Bonus material is provided at the end of the book with information about buying a boat in a foreign country, the areas where they cruised, and the process of importing a boat into Australia.

This book is far more than a travel memoir about sailing; it helps you understand the restless spirit that drives and inspires people to lead a nomadic life in search of their next adventure. A great read for anyone who is dreaming about cruising, as well as those already out there living the dream. 

>> Find out more about Jackie and her books at Amazon | Website <<


If you've ever wanted to know what it's like to cross the Atlantic on a sailboat and cruise in the Caribbean, then this book is for you. >>The Naked Truth<< reads like a fictional travel memoir with a “murderous” twist.

The two main characters, Xander and Jessica Lynch, are exploring the Canary Islands on their Oyster 47 ketch, Arcadia, when Jessica witnesses a brutal murder. Unfortunately, the murder remains an unsolved mystery when they depart the Canaries and sail to Barbados. Other mysterious events take place during their time in the Caribbean which turn out to have a surprising cause.

This nautical murder mystery is set against the fascinating background of living aboard and cruising on a sailboat. Throughout the book, the reader is treated to descriptions of various Caribbean islands, their people, and history. Different aspects of life aboard a boat are shared in an engaging way – including provisioning, communication on passage, clearing into different countries, the deep connections one forms with fellow cruisers, weather forecasting, seasickness, and watchkeeping. The author also describes Xander and Jessica's desire to write a book on anchoring, something the author and her husband have done in real life.

Whether you're a fellow cruiser or an armchair sailor, >>The Naked Truth<< will be a fascinating read and may inspire adventures of your own.

>> Find out more about Daria and her books at Amazon | Website <<


The author and his wife have traveled up and down the ICW numerous times. He provides his views, based on their experience, on a range of topics including preparing your boat (focusing on what's essential vs. nice-to-have); holding tanks and pumping out; navigation and weather; navigation and charts; currents and tides; bridges; engine issues; dinghies; having a dog onboard; anchoring; connectivity; going aground; and the importance of being courteous to your fellow boater.

As the author states, >>What's Up Ditch!<< isn't meant to be a guidebook or a “how-to-sail” book. Instead, he provides his personal perspective on traveling on the ICW and shares the things that they've learned and the misadventures they've had in order to ease fears and help “nudge” people into exploring this waterway. I enjoyed his humorous, light-hearted approach to the subject matter, which made it feel like he was sharing stories about his experiences over a cold beer at anchor.

This is a great introduction for people who are considering cruising on the ICW. Even if you're an experienced boater and have traveled the ICW before, you're bound to pick up some new insights.

>> Find out more about Chris and his books at Amazon | Website  <<

Note: I won a copy of >>What's Up Ditch<< courtesy of Saving to Sail (a site dedicated to learning how to make money online, while sailing the world) and voluntarily chose to leave an honest review.


Image courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

Have you read a good book lately? One of the best ways you can thank an author is to leave a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads. One of my New Year's resolutions is to try and be better about leaving reviews, especially for indie authors.

What books have you been reading lately? Have you read any of the sailing books featured here today? Do you leave book reviews?

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