Aiming to keep my dirt-dwelling life simple, special and sweet

Spring Sail

Wish I would have had a camera to capture what I saw on the dock last night. A liveaboard friend of ours, at sunset, met my husband and I after a sunset sail. Our friend was wearing (1) thick black rimmed eyglasses, (2) plaid pajama pants, (3) gray tanktop, (4) lime green Croc shoes, and (5) a messy "I've worked on the boat all day," hairdo. The sun had set, leaving a pink, purple, and orange sun behind, as we caught up with our friend who was dressed perfectly for a relaxing Friday night on the dock. As the chilly breeze weaved through our conversation, I remembered what it was like on these nights for me. After arrived back after a sail, my husband would hook up the power, clean up the cockpit, and I would be down below getting supper on (wearing my pj's and slippers). A chilly spring night, after sailing, is perfect for heading into the boat, cuddling up with a warm meal and a drink. I loved seeing our friend dressed for the occasion, and a bit of me yearned to again for life on the dock. 

I'm blessed to still get out on the water, and here's some pictures from our sail last night - very pretty on the Potomac. 

Okay, maybe he's still a bit of a boat dog :)

Surfing on a crab pot - cool bird :)

Organized Crafting

Before I moved to Maryland, I was a crafter. To many, especially my husband, crafts are a synonym for stuff. And stuff refers to things really not needed. Therefore, when I lived aboard my crafting activities were put on hiatus. The extent to which I "crafted" was scrapbooking, and into my journal taping cutouts from magazines and rewriting quotes in colorful pens. All could be done at Doggie Paddle's salon table and enjoyed with a glass of wine - also, things could promptly be put away in the stowaway cabinet (pictured behind the salon seat).

Now in a house, I'm able to sew again after five + years. With the birth of new family baby on the way, I have begun the baby quilt which will be my special gift. As I was sewing the other night and my husband was watching me feeding the 3 inch squares through the machine one after the other, he said, "why?" It's hard to explain to him what giving a homemade gift means to me, so I just said, "because I like it," and continued on.
Crafting again feels good, and it feels even better being organized. I have retained the liveaboard guideline that one should only have something if (1) it is useful and (2) there is a good place to keep it. For sewing supplies, of course they are useful, and the place to keep them is upstairs in the office closet (with thanks to Target for their superb organizing containers). 

 Easy come, easy go on the days that I need to sew.

Creature Comforts

At one time, my dog was a boat dog. He would lay on top of the boat all day and refuse our directions to approach the open hatch so we could pull him down below for the night. I imagine he loved smelling the air, watching what marina traffic there was, and just being a part of the natural environment that surrounded our slip. Our good friends, also liveaboards, could always tell if we were home by whether or not our pooch was up top. 

Yet, it sadly seems that our dog has also been seduced by the comforts of land life. Our first overnight stay aboard our new/old little sailboat was unsuccessful due in part to our animal, who could not seem to fall asleep. Through the night, as my husband and I were warm and cozy in our sleeping bags, sleep was interrupted by whining, scratching (which sounds like a jackhammer on a hard surface), and movement. The only time that the dog fell asleep was when he was next to me, warm in my arms - which unfortunately for me, required I lay uncomfortably on my side. 

5 a.m. arrived and in the darkness my husband said, "I think it's time to go home." Once we pulled out of our sleeping bags and switched on the light, the dog jumped down onto the wooden floor and headed straight for the stairs to begin a hard stare at the hatch, willing it to open (so it seemed). We packed everything up, headed up the road in the early morning darkness, and promptly found our way to our queen size bed, on which the dog was sound asleep within minutes - and our household did not wake that morning until 10 a.m. 

It seems that while my husband and I really do want to stay afloat for some portion of our lives, our dog is happy 100% on land. Other than the occasional visit to the dock to see good friends, this creature loves the comforts of his home on land. 

First Sleepover

We three are preparing for our first night on Fast Eddie, our little new-to-us sailboat. Tonight after meeting our marina friends for dinner and drinks at our marina pub, my husband, pooch and I will slumber again among the water, wind, and sailboat whistles that often sing at night. Can't wait. The heater is ready, I've been told to bring the extra sleeping bag, and I'll have to find my winter slippers (it's still cold outside). This is what we've wanted - to be in a home that provides a place for family and friends along with a place for us to escape to. I feel very lucky tonight, and am thankful for the blessings I've been given. 


I like simple, and I loved it aboard. Since I like simplicity, I like quick quotes that give me a bit of advice to live by. I like to be able to remember them, re-quote them to others, and most of all, remember them in difficult times when I need some support. Words support me, I love words, and I think this (which I read on another blog and will post its link once I find it again) will be something that can help me with the words I put out into the world. Maybe it can help you, too.

Say what you mean.
Mean what you say.
Don't say it mean.


Statistics show, "the more birthdays you have, the longer you live." Astounding. What does this mean? This means that birthdays really should be celebrated to the fullest, in small and big ways.

Today is my best friend's birthday, and here's what I think she should do today:
(1) make that strong and sweet coffee and sip it slowly
(2) hug each of your girls for three minutes straight
(3) take out your photo albums, look through each one slowly, as you make a list in your journal about how many experiences, people, and things you are so grateful for having had in your life
(4) take a walk with your camera (and girls) and take pictures of what they find to be beautiful and post them on your blog
(5) call your parents and thank them for giving you to us
(6) enjoy your sushi tonight with your lovely  husband and friends, and make them tell you one thing that they do enjoy about you (it's not conceited, it's fun)
(7) look yourself in the mirror and notice how beautiful of a person you have become (and always have been) - we all love you very, very much!

I have another friend who told me that in South Korea, families celebrate the mother of a person who is having his or her birthday. Here is some more information on Korean traditions at:

  • Most often guests will present gifts of money, clothes, or gold rings to the parents for the child at this time.
  • With the parents seated at the main banquet table, sons and daughters, in order of age, bow and offer wine to their parents.
  • Family members and relatives indulge in various activities to make the parents feel young, often dressing like small children and dancing and singing songs.
I like the idea of involving parents in the birthday celebration. In our American culture, I have only witnessed the birthday being about the person who was born on this day; however, the person being here is because of the parents. Sadly, in our world today some people may feel compelled to argue that not all parents are to be celebrated, but those that did work hard to raise a child, gave unconditional love and support, how nice would it be (I think) to celebrate them and what they did. It's just a really nice idea.

Most of all, I really really hope my best friend takes time to celebrate all that is her. It's important :) Statistics prove it.

A Good Sauce

The other night I dipped chicken breast in (1) olive oil then (2) a mixture of 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, 2 T. oregano, and 2 cloves of freshly chopped garlic. Next time, I will marinate the chicken in an olive-oil sauce because my chicken always is a bit too bland for me. While the chicken baked at 350 degrees in our Flavor-wave (which each household should have), I followed the recipe for this balsamic vinegar sauce. Very good. 

Courtesy of:

 1 cup chicken broth (I use low-sodium)
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar 
1 T. cold unsalted butter

In a small saucepan, combine the chicken stock and vinegar and boil over high heat until reduced to 1/3 cup, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the chicken to plates, spoon the sauce on top and serve. 

Next time I'll take a picture of the meal, but here's a picture of the Flavor-wave, which again, every household should have. This was taken aboard Doggie Paddle in the wintertime, and yes, that is a whole chicken cooking easily inside. That's why everyone needs a Flavor-wave...

A galaxy of longing...

This week has been a galaxy of longing. Our neighbors have put up their back decks, one deck is simple wood and the other is wood sophisticated with white paint and some fancy grey bottomboards. When I peeked out of of our back doors at the new decks, my longing felt as big as a galaxy. I want a deck, too! I think of the girl in Willy Wonka - "But daddy, I want an oompa-loompa!" That's how I felt. I so badly want to sit outside, on a deck, in a deck chair, and read. 

I wonder how people younger than us can afford a new house, new deck, and brand-new cars. We can't. I sit every other Friday in front of my pay day spreadsheet, meticulously deciding where each dollar needs to go. I do have some credit card debt that takes money each pay day, and as I look at our other expenses I realize that our pay moves a bit differently than my neighbors'. I begin to self-talk myself. It really comes down to choices, and this year we have made certain choices with our money that create outputs that currently cannot include a deck. 

Our choices come from what we value. I like Suze Orman's thinking - people first, money second, things last. I try to remember this when the wants hit. My husband is my number one person and then my family and close friends. Am I doing things that suit all of our needs? My husband and I miss our boat days, so we did purchase our little new-to-us boat, Fast Eddie. There goes deck money, but here comes life on the dock. Again, we'll have marina sunsets, our dog running up and down the pier, and overnight cruises where on the hook the water rocks us to sleep. 

We also decided to use potential deck money for a bathroom on our first floor. This bathroom will allow our family to have a private area during, what we hope, will be long visits. Another perk to dirt dwelling is that our out-of-town family and friends have a place with us to stay. This will provide us with good times, laughs, and memories. 

So my personalized self-talking therapy has made me okay with being deck-less, as I see how what we have chosen to buy will end up being priceless. Doing is more memorable than having, and I'm really looking forward to what we will be able to do with our family and friends this year. We've made the right choices, for us and where we are right now. I'll be sure to tell myself this went the deck-wants hit again.

Spring is for Flowers

There are perks to living on land, and one of them is flowers. On the dock, containers and etc. were not allowed. Now, on my front stoop, I have a little garden that, for some reason, makes me happy. I smile when I see my flowers growing and blooming and they are a good balance to my husband's "Go Away" un-welcome mat. 

from Zen Habits

I love this to-do list, and am trying to remember it and do at least one each day.

Less TV, more reading
Less shopping, more outdoors
Less clutter, more space
Less consuming, more creating
Less junk, more real food
Less busywork, more impact
less driving, more walking
Less noise, more solitude
Less focus on future, more on the present
Less work, more play
Less worry, more smiles
And breathe, breathe slowly

Shower Success

Weary of too-long showers in my very own bathtub, I set my timer for five minutes to see whether or not I could do all of my cleaning tasks in that amount of time. Why five minutes? Online sites sell timers for five minutes, so that must be the right amount of time for an environmentally friendly shower. Yes?

Less consuming, more creating, so I created my own shower timer with the watch I wear on my left wrist each day (although I think it's cute that one can suction a sand timer to the inside of the shower).

This five minute showering wasn't difficult, so I think that I may be a quick showerer anyway. Our first water bill arrived yesterday, and to our surprise, it wasn't outrageous and was under $100. I feel good feeling that we have been doing a good job responsibly using our home resources, and not being wasteful (which was my big worry about moving to land). So, today, I celebrate cleanliness and my ability to get clean quickly!

Wind Power

Since the house does not have lines to hang laundry from (and the subdivision has a "no clotheslines" clause in the HOA book) I bought a hanging laundry dryer, which I hope will save some power and money. 
Today, I wash the bedding and have hung the sheets and pillowcases on hangers, in front of the office's front window. The sheets are a bit tricky due to their size, but thank goodness for the curtain hooks which does double duty helping me give the monster fitted sheet a larger drying area.
The windows are open, the electric dryer is off, and hopefully mother nature is proud. "Think globally, act locally," even if it's in your home office!

Fire by Judy Brown

What makes a fire burn
is space between the logs,
a breathing space. 
Too much of a good thing, 
too many logs
packed in too tight
can douse the flames
almost as surely 
as a pail of water would.

So building fires
requires attention
to the spaces in between, 
as much as to the wood.

When we are able to build
open spaces
in the same way
we have learned
to pile on the logs, 
then we can come to see how
it is fuel, and absence of the fuel
together, that make fire possible.

We only  need to lay a log
lightly from time to time.
A fire
simply because the space is there, 
with openings
in which the flame
that knows just how it wants to burn
can find its way. 

So much you can do with Pillsbury pizza crust

Although I posted below about eating more fruits and veggies, I slip into abandon when it comes to Pillsbury's pizza crust and all that it can do. 

I prefer the thin crust

 Preheat the oven to 450 degrees, and pop open the can. Roll out the dough into a large rectangle (I use a cookie sheet as the work surface) and decide to cut in half for two "hot pockets" (as my husband names them) or one big one. 

For fillings, you can choose whatever you want. That's why I love a quick meal with the crust. Here's what I've had success with, and post any other ideas you may have. 

Breakfast Hot Pocket
I scramble a few eggs, while I prepare the dough. My preference is to divide the dough in half, and make two separate hot pockets (one for now, one for later). In this recipe, I will share approximations for measurements b/c you really can use and layer as much or as little as you want. 

Layer in order:
  1. Cream cheese spread on dough 
  2. Shredded cheddar cheese 
  3. Cooked bacon or ham or prosciutto 
  4. Scrambled eggs
  5. Optional: a spice, I like to use Old Bay Seasoning
Starting at one end, slowly roll up the dough pulling the sides in as you roll so the stuffings do not come out. If you find that holes occur, just pull the dough back together. You won't hurt anything.  Place on baking sheet and bake at 450 until the top of the dough is golden brown (about 10 minutes, or so). 

Spaghetti Hot Pocket
Brown ground meat (I like to use venison, but beef or turkey works, too) and preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Layer in order:
  1. Spaghetti sauce, just up to the edges
  2. Shredded cheese (I like to use cheddar, but mozz would work too)
  3. Optional: sliced green pepper (I include it in big slices b/c I like the flavor it creates, but do not eat the pepper)
  4. Ground meat, as much as you want (but remember that you do have to close it, so just one layer of meat)
Starting at one end, slowly roll up the dough pulling the sides in as you roll so the stuffings do not come out. If you find that holes occur, just pull the dough back together. You won't hurt anything.  Place on baking sheet and bake at 450 until the top of the dough is golden brown (about 10 minutes, or so). 

Sweet Sloppy Joe Hot Pocket

For the filling on this one, prepare Rachael Ray's slopppy joe recipe. You will most likely have left over joe, but that's a good thing. This recipe is also good on top of open-faced buns with cheddar cheese on top. My husband asked me to roll these sloppy joes up in pizza dough, and it was gobbled up with rave reviews. Enjoy!


The home makeover shows make me want to go out and (1) buy on-sale fabric for homemade curtains, (2) go to the dump and ask if they have any broken marble for a new countertop, and (3) rent a rototiller for my backyard, creating gardens with flowering plants which circle a flagstone patio where a blue birdbath sits.

Thanks, HGTV, for making me feel the need to spend even more money, but I will defeat you. At least today. I'm taking one. day. at. a. time.

This is my current backyard

This is what HGTV makes me want to have (except with water for birds)

Super Simple Fiesta Shrimp

Before being scooped up and placed on top of rice

This is a handful recipe - I kind of measure everything by the handfuls, so that means that you don't have to worry about mis-measuring because this recipe is easy.

1 cup cooked rice (or more if you want)
2 handfuls of uncooked, peeled shrimp (I like jumbo)
1/4 cup of chopped white onion
handful of small tomatoes, or you can chop up big ones
option: green or red peppers (as much as you like)
chopped garlic (as much as you and your breath can stand)
2 tbsp. olive oil
3/4 cup or more of a fajita sauce

Cook rice.
Drizzle olive oil in pan on stove and heat on medium heat. 
Add onions and tomatoes and stir around. Let sizzle for a few minutes until the onions are soft and the tomatoes look like they are ready to burst. 
Sprinkle garlic on top, let cook for just a minute.
Add in shrimp, and cook until pink (about four minutes).
Add the fajita sauce, stir, and let heat for just a minute.
Remove pan from heat. 

Serve a scoop of the fiesta shrimp on top of a scoop of rice. You may even want to add some taco cheese on top! Mmmmmmmmmmm. 

Toxin To-do List

In reading more about everyday toxins, here are the things that I think I can do or look in to doing (and some I already do - yay). There's research to support the claim that environmental toxins make us sick, a little bit or a lot : 
  • water purifier for drinking water (I use a Brita pitcher)
  • water purifying showerhead 
  • air purifier
  • use and buy food only in glass containers (chemicals leak into food from plastic or metal containers)
  • test faucet water for chemicals (she recommends
  • eat and drink only organic foods and beverages (I try to do this as much as I can... and afford!)
  • limit or totally avoid all "white" foods: flour, sugar, dairy products
  • more fruits and vegetables
  • large amounts of pure water and organic juices (I'd like to start juicing again) and herbal teas, only in glass
  • eat "real" foods (our government, unlike Europe, does not regulate genetically modified foods so there are no required labels to tell you what is or not altered (Rapp, p.65))
  • avoid natural gas heat in kitchen stoves, hot water heaters and furnaces (these are what I have, but I use my Flavorwave cooker quite often - electric)
  • Use only natural cleaning products (I like the ones for sale at Target)
  • Natural personal cosmetics and body preparations (I'd like to start making my own body stuffs, since I have a kitchen.. .my husband will be so happy...)
  • Do not microwave any food or beverage
  • Everything electrical should be as far from your bed as practical, or everything should be unplugged at night (exposure to electromagnetic energy (EM) can cause problems from simple tingling to epilepsy (Rapp, p.85)
I've also checked out the American Academy of Environmental Medicine to see where environmental doctors are located in my area - not many!

Great Garlic Bread

We loved this garlic bread the other night, even more so than that scrumptious processed bread for sale in the freezer aisle. This recipe is quick and easy (I think I found it on Rachael Ray's site), but just make sure that your garlic pieces do not burn!

Loaf of crusty bread, or rolls
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. chopped or minced garlic 
option: Parmesan cheese

Slice the bread as you like it. 
Toast the bread in oven or cooker until the top is just a bit golden.
Combine butter, olive oil, and garlic in a glass container (or saucepan if you want to use stovetop)
Microwave for 1 minute (or cook for about 3 minutes) 
Use brush, or simply pour, the melted concoction evenly on top of each piece of bread
Option: put some parmesan cheese on top of each slice and toast for a few minutes until the cheese has melted.

Eat and enjoy! 

Toxic turn of events?

One of the things I miss most about being aboard is the constant connection with nature. Our hatch was open on sunny days, fresh breeze constantly circulated around the cabin, and multiple times a day I would climb up and out into the cockpit for some reading in the warm sun. We are always outside, or near to it, and being in a house is very different from that. Today as I type, the windows are closed, the heat is on, there is an absence of fresh air around me. 

I will open the windows, but it has gotten me thinking about how possibly our health has (and may) change because we are now "cooped-up" inside. In the recent months, my husband has developed what Johns Hopkins University hospital could only describe to him as a "visual phenomenon" (read - we don't know what causes or cures this). My husband constantly sees visual snow, and although he has had a history of migranes which could have had an effect on his optic nerves, the "snow" didn't start until a few months after we moved back to land. 

To experience visual snow:

To date, all medical tests, medicines,and specialists haven't been able to say where the snow came from or how to get rid of it. My husband has come to a place of peace with it, but because I've been reading some research from Dr. Doris Rapp (environmental medicine) I'm wondering if his vision has something to do with a toxin in the environment. Toxin is a scary word, but I really don't have another one for it! I'm just wondering if there is a chemical that we have been using or been around that has had some impact on his system. There are a few things that I, too, have been experiencing which are out of the ordinary that I wonder about now.

I'm reading Dr. Rapp's book, Our Toxic World: A Wake Up Call, and there are some things that I'm going to try to do in our house to make it chemically cleaner. Some ideas will take some getting used to, and I others I think will be easy to implement. As my husband also has been undergoing other natural therapy for his vision, I'm curious to see if we both can feel better by implementing some of Dr. Rapp's natural cures.

Dishwasher vs. By Hand

In an attempt to continue being kind to the earth, I've tried to find information about which really consumes less water - washing dishes by hand or using the dishwasher. 

My eco-friendly sources tell me that the dishwasher does use less water. Also, a post on Facebook yesterday (which may be reliable) stated that this nugget of information is true only if when washing dishes by hand the water runs constantly. 

When we lived aboard, our water supply was contained in a water tank and there was only so much before we would have to run a hose to the tank and refill. Therefore, doing the dishes had to be done mindfully, using only what water was needed right at the moment. My routine utilized the two small sinks for water-friendly washing. Right side of the sink was was for soaping and washing (with water off) and the left side was for rinsing (water on). The counter even further to the left was the drying area (no rack).

Sink aboard "Doggie Paddle"
So, since it takes a really long time to make a full load of dishes, I'm going to back boat-style washing. I've been revisiting our old routing: (1) soap up and sit, (2) full rinse, and (3) use the dishwasher as a drying rack. It's easier, uses less water and electricity, and makes me feel like I've discovered a genius never-before-seen way to utilize the dishwasher. Quite a fancy dish rack!

Couched with Cable

Cable tv is for homeowners :)

We have had cable television for about a month now, which feels like complete luxury. For years, we were without channels because we chose not to convert our boat tv over to digital, and we relied on Netflix for our shows and movies. Now in a house, feeling the need for home internet because I teach online classes, the best deal was a cable / internet package. A package of full entertainment! I have been blessed with channels like Bravo, E!, and Comedy Central. I have learned so much from the shows my husband chooses, especially "I Shouldn't Be Alive." If I'm ever trapped in the Amazon rainforest (because I willingly decided to vacation there)I'll know what to do. Thank goodness.

Yet, after a month, I'm feeling the need to turn off the tube. Although I love every single episode of the silly "Real Housewives" we really are watching too much tv. It's on all the time, and I'm scared that the quality time my husband and I have will (too often) be spent in front of the tv - watching it instead of eachother. My goal is to get some projects or activities going that will get us outside or at least off the couch, and get us soaking up the greatness in our real life together. TV isn't something we need, it's just an upgrade in our new life on land. 

Using the Provisions

True, pizza may not be a "staple" on-board, however making it from scratch brings back some memories of truly homemade dishes from the boat. Each Friday night, the guys who were down at their boats usually came over for dinner. In the warm spring and fall, and "cool enough" summer, dinner would take place in the cockpit of our 35.5, me passing up dishes and drinks from the galley. Sometimes, we would be out on the water or on the hook, but usually we were in our slip sitting up top. Stories would be told and laughs would be had as the sun set over the water. As the sky turned pink to orange to that night blue, it was awesome to share a fresh boat-cooked meal with good friends. Tonight making homemade pizza sauce takes me back to those good times when I made good food from the provisions we had on-hand in the boat. Although anyone can buy a can or jar of pizza sauce, I've had a better experience making and measuring it out myself.

A Huge Batch of Pizza Sauce (revision from the online recipe), which tonight will serve many

8-6oz cans of tomato paste
8-6oz of warm water (in a measuring cup, I did 16 oz three times)
24 oz of parmesan cheese 
6 tbsp. of honey
6 tbsp. of Penzey's ( Pizza Seasoning (garlic, onion, oregano, black pepper, cayenne, red pepper)
1 tbsp. of garlic powder

Mix the wet (tomato paste, warm water, then honey) with a whisk until smooth. 
Let sit for 30 minutes. 
When ready, add in the parm. cheese. 
Then put on pizza dough, bake, and enjoy.