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Blogathon Review

Posted in: Uncategorized on Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

As most of our readers know during the month of June I participated in the WordCount 2013 Blogathon event which challenged bloggers to post a blog a day for the entire month.

And it was a challenge.

But on reflection it was a beneficial one both for myself and for this blog. Early on in the month I blogged about why I was participating and what I hoped to achieve, you can read here. Although I didn’t quite state that my goal was to post everyday, it was a personal goal that I really wanted to achieve.

Obviously I didn’t quite make it to the magic 30 mark. I burnt out. Life got in the way. Someday’s I couldn’t be bothered sitting at the computer let alone trying to write something entertaining and coherent.

But you know what? That’s okay. Because although I didn’t post every day, I did learn that I don’t want to be an everyday blogger. As a result I now have a more realistic goal to get new content up every 2-3 days.

Not only did I discover a blogging schedule that suits me but I also achieved some of my other goals.

When I set out I wanted to increase readership and web hits…which I did! During the month of June average daily site visits as well as visits by new readers doubled and on some days tripled which is fantastic.

I also wanted to boost interaction with readers in our comment sections…which I did. Interacting with readers is one of the best things about blogging, I love it. Getting the email to moderate a new comment on the site still makes me do a little happy dance. So getting comments from new readers and my regulars was one of the highlights of the month.

As for my writing, well who can say, maybe it’s improved, maybe it hasn’t. But I’ve certainly done more of it which can only be a good thing.

Here are some of my favourite posts from June:

The first installment in our series showing what daily life is like aboard Tygress – ‘Through the Porthole’

The amusing things that people have typed into Google search and found our site – ‘They Typed What?’

A post about my love of books and whether or not I have too many on board (I don’t!) – ‘Books on Board’

And how could I leave out pictures of our cute cat being cute – ‘The Ship’s Cute Kitty’  

 

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Pandora’s Mystery

Posted in: Uncategorized on Friday, June 21st, 2013

Pandora’s Box or more accurately Pandora’s Storage Area is real. It existed under our main berth and a few months ago we finally braved the mess and sorted through it.

A jumbled mess

With a can-do, slightly apprehensive attitude we systematically removed everything and stacked it in the cockpit. We found all manner of things in that jumbled mess, at times pleasantly surprised by what we pulled out and at other times left scratching our heads in confusion. Spare parts, assorted tools, random junk and odd bits and pieces were discovered. Fuel filters, a box of leaking sealants and glues, shackles of all sizes, an impressive collection of stainless steel bits and bobs, extra foot holds for the mast, funnels in various sizes. It appeared to be the equivalent of our ‘spare bedroom dumping ground’ that we had at the house. It was a time consuming and dirty process.

Laid out neatly in the cockpit

Thankfully Ben knew the purpose of most of the items we sorted through and it was good to be able to take stock of what spares and other useful items we have on board. We worked with the guiding rule of ‘If we don’t know what it is or what it’s used for we’ll keep it just in case’ because it’s better to be safe than sorry. The items we knew we didn’t need or were in an unusable state we threw in the trash. By the end we had an impressive (read: shocking) junk pile and as with all trash it felt good to get rid of it.

There were some intriguing and mysterious items that we found that defied identification. With no idea what they are or what they’re used for we’re asking you, our internet friends to help us solve the mystery.

Do you know what these parts are?

 

A close up, a drill attachment maybe?

If you can help please speak up, leave a comment below, we’d greatly appreciate it. I have a sneaking suspicion that they’re important in some way.

 

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Here, take a card!

Posted in: Uncategorized on Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

Happy days! Our boat/blog cards have arrived and we think they look awesome. What do you think? A big thanks to Vistaprint for their free card promotion, I ordered 250 of the premium cards and all I had to pay was postage!

It’s going to be great to be able to hand these out to people when I tell them about our website. I hope they’ll prevent the blank stares when I say I write a blog and go on to explain about Blue Water Dreaming.  Besides any little bit of promotion is a good thing.

They’ll also be great to have on hand when we start cruising and meeting fellow sailors. Pocket sized mementos to hand out with useful contact information for keeping in touch with each other. Hopefully one day I’ll have a large collection of other cruising friends cards stuck up around the boat, and ours will be stuck up around theirs.

 

 

 

 

 

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Train or Ferry?

Posted in: Uncategorized on Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

Let me think, a crowded sardine can full of commuters or a peaceful ride on a cute little ferry boat down the river? Ferry of course! And what a beautiful morning for a trip down the Brisbane River, a glorious clear day in the warm sun.

The City Hopper ferry service is a free service run by the council that operates on the half hour, I hopped on at the Sydney St ferry terminal and was lucky enough to have the whole upper section to myself.  Armed with my awesome new phone (Thanks B!) I got some photos of my trip.

 A beautiful clear day with the CBD and Story Bridge in the distance.

Approaching Dockside Marina which hopefully will be our new home base in a few months. I’ll miss Manly but I am looking forward to being closer to friends and family that work in town. Not to mention the New Years fireworks display!

Getting closer to Brisbane’s iconic Story Bridge.

About to pass underneath

 Looking back at the bridge after we’d passed underneath it.

Leaving sparkling water in our wake

Approaching the North Quay ferry terminal, I love my city!

I didn’t head straight into the city but took a wander along the river to check out the boats moored at the Gardens Point Boat Harbour. When I worked in town and we were still dreaming of the day we’d have a boat of our own i’d come down here with my lunch and watch the boats.  Being close to the water and the boats made me feel better, like our dream wasn’t so far away. I guess I wanted to see them again now that we’d made our dream a reality. Besides being near them was helping ease the separation anxiety I was having about being away from Tygress.

There’s no shortage of space to park your tender.

There were all sorts of boats in all sorts of conditions moored here. I’m not sure what facilities this harbour has but you can’t complain about the location and views.

Well there you have it, if you’re ever in Brisbane and even if you’ve lived here your whole life make the time to take a ferry ride along the Brisbane River. There’s not many finer ways to enjoy our city!

 

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Sunday Sampler – Recommended reading for the week ahead

Posted in: Non Boaty Bits on Sunday, June 16th, 2013

 

Blogs we Follow

The Art of Hookie – Living and Voyaging on a Small Sailboat – This guy takes a minimalist liveaboard lifestyle to the next level. His posts are always well written and feature great pics so take the time to check this one out.

LittleCunningPlan – How i’m Going to Spend my Summer Vacation! I mean it! – Mike and Melissa are trying to break free from land and sadly not having much luck, but this summer they’re going sailing come hell or high water!

Forge Over – Life Like a Story – Live the story you want to keep reading.

Zero to Cruising –  A Tragic Coincidence – Warning! Heartbreaking pictures ahead, fire on board is one of my biggest fears and a sad reality for the owners of this boat.

Content from my Triberr Tribemates

We said go travel – Australia the Climb – Taking tree climbing to whole new heights.

02809 Photography by Ed King – Peace, Passion and Serenity with Nautical Photography  – A stunning image entitled ‘Harbour Lights’

Destination Unknown – 10 More Signs i’m Back in Australia – As the title suggests, 10 signs that you know you’re back home in Australia. Hello beetroot and chicken salt!.

Fellow Blogathon Blogger Blog Posts 

What’s to Eat – The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook Recipes for Wizards and Muggles – Stop by and read the blog post but make sure to take a peek inside the book itself at Amazon, this muggle wouldn’t mind trying a few of these recipes herself!

Herb in Kitchen – Everything is Better with Butter -I couldn’t agree more and this post contains ideas for getting creative with butter flavours. Add herbs, or make it sweet, butter can be so much more than just plain old butter.

Rossandra White – There’s a Goat in Them Hills – Goats, weird and cute at the same time. We once had a stray goat rock up at home in suburban Brisbane, it was a neighbours pet from a few streets away. True Story.

The Simple Life – The Many Uses and Benefits of Epsom Salts – Wow, after reading this I’ve got to get me some epsom salts.

Well there you go folks, some interesting reading to get stuck into. Let us know what you think. And if you write a blog you think we should read or follow a good one and want us to check it out then speak up and leave a comment below.  Have a great week all!

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Boat bonding

Posted in: Uncategorized on Saturday, June 15th, 2013

It’s finally happening, the boat and I are bonding, we’re becoming friends.

While my best ‘people’ friends and I would bond over drinks and meaningful conversation, laughter and hugs, for my boat and I bonding has been a different and somewhat slower process. To my surprise it has taken place through acts of physical labour. Through physical expressions of devotion.

I’ve been living aboard her now for close to a year and have been dutifully cleaning and looking after our living space each day. But it’s not been until I’ve actually picked up some tools and done some real maintenance that I’ve started to feel a bond developing with our boat. I feel more protective of her, and I feel more pride. I sweep her decks with love, and accept the chips in her paint and feel sorrow for her that she cannot yet feel the wind in her sails. I know that she’s not the newest or grandest boat around. She has her foibles like the rest of us, but through these small acts of improvement and repair I’ve come to feel pride in the fact that she’s our boat. Besides some of the newest and grandest boats around here sit lonely in their berths for months at a time. At least Tygress has people, and a ships cat to be with her each day and give her life.

Those who own boats, live on boats or sail on them will know that it is completely possible to form a deep and affectionate bond with them.  They are almost living things in my opinion.  The respond to the wind and water and are constantly in some form of motion. While a house stands fast against the elements, unmoved by wind or rain, boats roll with the punches, sometimes literally. Unless it is totally calm, a boat is always making some form of sound. Whether it be her mooring lines creaking, water gently lapping at the hull, fenders rubbing, wind through the rigging, she is always talking to you, communicating with you. After a while you learn to recognise the sounds she makes to let you know something is not right, when she is in distress.  Most of the time though, the sounds are simply happy, contended ‘I’m a boat that still floats’ sounds.

Regular readers, dear friends and followers will know that we’re in the process of having all of our windows replaced and the hatches serviced. As I’m home during the day I’ve been helping the contractor get the work done. Mostly that entails cleaning off the old silicone after the windows have been removed. It’s a messy and at times, hard job to do. But it’s one of the few times I’ve been able to contribute something more substantial to improving Tygress, other than my usual ‘housework’. And despite the dirty hands and constant worry i’m going to break the boat, i’m really enjoying it. I do at times feel like a fish out of water using power tools but i’m proud that I’ve had a go and done my best. As for the contractor, well dear readers, that is another story.

 

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From the Galley: Mexican Chicken Stew

Posted in: From the Galley on Friday, June 14th, 2013

 

Mexican Chicken Stew from Woman's Day Cheap Eats

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 8 chicken drumsticks (1.2kg)
  • 1 Large red onion (300g), sliced thickly
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 fresh long red chillies, chopped finely
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 4 medium tomatoes (600g), chopped coarsely
  • 1 cup (250ml) chicken stocik
  • 1/3 cup loosely packed fresh oregano leaves
  • 420g can kidney beans, rinsed, drained
  • 1 medium yellow capsicum (200g), sliced thickly
  • 1 medium green capsicum (200g), sliced thickly
Method
  1. Heat half the oil in a large saucepan; cook chicken, in batches, until browned all over. Heat remaining oil in pan; cook onion, garlic, chilli and cumin, stirring, until the onion softens.
  2. Return chicken to pan with tomato, stock and 1/4 cup oregano; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, 30 minutes.
  3. Add beans and capsicums; simmer, uncovered, 20 minutes. Divide stew among bowls; sprinkle with remaining oregano. Serve with sour cream, if desired.
Notes
  • Our local IGA didn’t have any yellow capsicums so I used a red one instead. They also didn’t have any fresh oregano and we haven’t got any growing in the boat garden so the dish went without. I would have substituted basil because we have a lot of that, but I just didn’t think it would work with the recipe.
  • I’m not a big fan of very spicy/hot dishes so I only used one chilli but I think two would’ve been okay.
  • I browned the chicken in a large saucepan as per the recipe but if I did it again I would use a non stick fry pan to brown the chicken and add the chicken to the saucepan after. Sometimes trying to cut down on the washing up just leads to chicken getting stuck to the bottom of the pan and oil spitting up at you.
  • I served this stew with rice because in my opinion stew without rice is like drinking coffee without sugar.

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Native Beauty

Posted in: Photography on Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

 Australia has a wide variety of flowering native trees, two that can be found along the foreshore are the Golden Penda and Flowering Gum. Below are pictures of their gorgeous flowers in full bloom.

Pink gumnut and golden penda flowers

 

Beautiful on the tree and in the vase.

 

Brightening up the salon in my hand painted vase.

 

These native trees flower prolifically and are popular with birds.

 

 

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Stuffed

Posted in: Food for the Soul on Sunday, June 9th, 2013

“There is more stuff in the world then ever before. Stuff you can touch. Stuff you can think. Stuff you can use and consume. Stuff you can know with all your senses. The growth of stuff is out of control. It is now being creatd by means of an unstoppable, exponential chain reaction. Stuff has become a major threat to freedom and happiness. It destroys nature and peae. It steals time and space. It fouls beauty. It is relentless, virulent, invasive and addictive. Stuff makes you exhausted and mad. There is too much stuff! The following common statement can be taken very seriously: ‘I’m stuffed and the world is stuffed’ ” ~ Michael Leunig ‘Wild Fragments’ Penguin Books ISPN 0 14 300353 4

Having downsized our life to fit in a 34ft boat I can agree with this sentiment. There is too much stuff. We had too much stuff.  Stuff we had accumulated over a decade of working, wanting, spending, working, wanting, spending. Rinse and repeat. It’s so easy to get stuck in the cycle of consumerism. Big brands, the media and anyone with loud enough voices tell us we need, so we buy and in order to buy we work and rack up debt.  It’s only since I stopped did I realise how little sense the whole system makes.  It’s designed to keep us distracted.  Distracted, fat and happy, sated on the honey of our consumerist society.

Now don’t mistake me for a nutty, anti-government, ‘bring-down-our-capitalist- overlords’ hippie. I’m not by a long shot. I still want stuff, usually these days it’s boat stuff, but the desire for shiny things, shoes and pretty clothes remains with me. It’s just with less money i’m forced to evaluate whether I really need the things I want. Most of the time I don’t. And surprisingly to me I’m happy with out them.

I think in life as with make-up, perfume, accessories and colour blocking, less really is more. Less stuff is better for us and its better for the environment.

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From the Galley: Bacon and Butter Brussels Sprouts

Posted in: From the Galley on Saturday, June 8th, 2013

Vegetables I didn’t like growing up; beans, peas, broccoli and brussels sprouts. I disliked brussels sprouts most of all. I would painstakingly pick out all the peas from dinner and trade my broccoli with my sister for her carrots. It was a fair deal and everyone was happy. Beans I tolerated.

Vegetables I now enjoy as an adult; beans, peas, broccoli and brussels sprouts. Who’d of thought it? And what’s not to enjoy when you add three other things I love, butter, bacon and onion.

This is a recipe I cobbled together in my head after reading a bunch of other brussels sprouts recipes involving bacon and butter. It is by no means an original but it sure is delicious. It’s quick and easy and makes a lovely side to steak and mashed potato or simple no fuss meal on it’s own.

Buttery Bacon Brussels Sprouts

Ingredients

  • 200g Brussels Sprouts
  • 4 short cut rashes of bacon
  • 1 small brown onion, frenched
  • 1 unhealthy large chunk of butter, I was aiming for 2 tbsps
Method
    1. Heat a medium sized frying pan over medium heat, add butter and swish around until it melts.
    2. Add the bacon to the pan and fry until it starts to crisp around the edges. Add the onions and stir until beginning to soften.
    3. Peel the outer leaves from the sprouts, chop the small stalk off and slice in half. Then once the onions have started to soften add the halved brussel sprouts and fry for approximately 8 mins or until you’re happy with their softness.
    4. Season to taste.
    5. Enjoy! 

If you try this recipe we’d love to hear from you…

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