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S/V Mari Hal-O-Jen
Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
The Loveliness of Taking Meals Outdoors
June 4, 2007, 1:28 am

The Picnic

We brought a rug for sitting on,
Our lunch was in a box.
The sand was warm. We didn't wear
Hats or shoes or socks.

Waves came curling up the beach.
We waded. It was fun.
Our sandwiches were different kinds.
I dropped my jelly one.

~Dorothy Aldis

Welcome to the 25th Loveliness Fair! Are the skies clear outside your kitchen windows this Monday morning? Are the birds calling joyfully? The well watered flowers are blooming madly here and we are eager as can be to be outside with them as soon as our feet touch the ground in the morning!

Lisbet, who is looking smashing this week at Joyful Chaos, agrees! Two of her little ones enjoyed oatmeal in jewel-toned bowls on the veranda in Mother, it is such a beautiful morning!

Alice, one of the most beautifully creative women I know, shares a must read post, Picnic Time, at A Number of Things wherein she shares a very practical and very lovely printable for planning picnics as well as several dainty, yet utterly useful items from her well stocked picnic basket.

Marjorie, who scatters the most amazing photos throughout Lettres de mon Moulin, shares A Woodland Picnic Feast with us today. She inquires, "Do you have a party coming up? Make it a picnic! Eating en plein air adds an indescribable pleasure to a meal. Fresh sardines grilled over an open wood fire, succulent figs plucked from the tree, wild grapes harvested from forgotten arbors along the shore, handfuls of still warm blueberries and tart, icy lemonade - all taste better out doors."

Cheryl, who usually quietly expresses herself at My Thoughtful Spot has written a A Monkey Poem that simply begs to be chanted as loudly as can be! It brought a wide grin to my face with it's sprightly rhythm.

Dawn, who will be hosting a Late Spring Field Day this Thursday, shares a few Alfresco Memories to alleveate the unseasonably chilly and wet weather she has been experiencing at By Sun and Candlelight!

Jennifer, who speaks the truth in An Afternoon Tea in the Garden, reminds us that "Summer fruits are much more enjoyable when eaten outside in the June garden. The ripe peaches were warmed by the sun and the iced tea was perfectly refreshing on the first day of truly hot weather. " She chose the most beautiful Music and Entertainers for the tea with her daughter at As Cozy As Spring.

Roxie, at A Natural History Home shares her homey spot in the great outdoors. In Taking Meals Outdoors she states, "We truely are an outdoors family be it meals or as you see much lounging seems to go on as well!"

Suzanne, has made Gladdest Hours one of the most inviting outdoor areas I've ever seen. How has she done this, do I hear you asking yourself? She will set your questioning mind at ease by telling you that It's all about the tables!

Phoebe has shared a delightful tradition, White Light Dinners, with us. She writes:
My favorite thing about having a backyard is the possibility of white light dinners in the summer. The first time we did it, it was a very sudden and spontaneous occurrence. It was at the end of a very long ordinary day, and that day was at the end of a long string of days like it. My husband had been perfecting his technique of cooking inexpensive steaks on our outside grill, and it suddenly occurred to me to go out side, to stay out there and eat and to just bring the baby and the highchair with me. So out I went before reason could convince me otherwise. We sat together in chairs at a little table we had sitting on our patio for plants mostly, but our plates fit on it, and the baby seemed happy enough with the change of scene. Eating 'al fresco' is one of the finest pleasures in life! Why not enjoy it on a regular ordinary day? As we sat, we realized we needed fewer insects and more light, so we lit the citronella candle and came up with the miraculous idea of stringing white lights around the patio. As quickly as it was done, our back yard and our evening and our dinner turned into a romance. A vacation. A place of peace and inspiration and joy even. I think we may have had a bottle of wine. Or maybe the soft summer night air and the little white lights sparkling around us just made made it seem worthy of a bottle of wine in my memory.

We finally had our first white light dinner in our current backyard at our new house. It was just as spontaneous as the first time we did it. I just saw an opportunity and sprang for it. The kids were playing outside, the sun was about to start setting behind the trees, and there was a card table. We set the card table in the grass beyond the patio and the crape myrtle trees. I was making an extremely easy dinner of pesto pasta and garlic shrimp and I had a bottle of wine. Out to the card table it went. Plastic plates for the kids at their little table and real white stoneware dishes at the 'big' table. my parents who live across the street graciously assented to dine with us. I lit sandalwood sticks to scare off the mosquitoes who are also so fond of that hour of the day, and we lit a torch of citronella oil as well. When my Dad arrived, he had the honor of stringing the white lights between the two crape myrtle trees for our very first white light dinner. We could only see the lights as the sun set lower and lower, but they added a magical quality to the air as their white contrasted with the deepening golden pink of the air around us. Sitting out there on the green lawn with the children playing and the wine bottle on the table and the sparkle of lights in the trees around us, we could easily have been a big family on hillside in Tuscany. It has always been a secret ambition of mine to become such a family. Now all I need is a pergola adorned in grapevines.

Thank you for joining me this day for the Loveliness of Taking Meals Outdoors! It is my hope that your time here was enjoyable and you will find inspiration. My heart is filled with gratitude for the lovely and patient women who participated in this Loveliness Fair and especially my sister, Vanessa for the images you see here today!

Please mark your calendars, the next Loveliness Fair will be held by Paula at A Catholic Harvest in honor of Fatherhood on June 18th!

Let us find ourselves enjoying life to the fullest this seson by embracing the loveliness of the outdoors, even at mealtimes.
As Okakura Kakuzo wrote so memorably a century ago in the
Book of Tea,
"Meanwhile, let us have a sip of tea.
The afternoon glow is brightening the bamboos,
the fountains are bubbling with delight,
the soughing of the pines is heard in our kettle. "

Living Lives of Loveliness
Now accepting entries...
for the Loveliness of of Taking Meals Out of Doors!!!
June 2, 2007, 11:10 am

This has become one of my favorite times of the day. A bracing cuppa java and the local paper on the porch as the scent of jasmine wafts by on the breeze! This particular paper still features a great Food section one day of the week. Would you believe I cut out my first recipe from this paper as a child? Amazing how little things change in this area after so many years!

Details on submitting an entry for the Loveliness of of Taking Meals Out of Doors here. Please help spread the word!

Living Lives of Loveliness
Upcoming - The Loveliness of Taking Meals Out of Doors
May 29, 2007, 11:39 am

My, my! Have we been busy! Hiking, Kayaking, Biking, all in this lovely mountainous region of our country (oooh, my legs! Florida is rather flat you know! LOL!). However, all this outdoor activity does not stop when mealtime rolls around. Some days a granola bar and an apple are quickly handed out with a water bottle while still astride our bikes, while other days finds us spreading our striped picnic cloth and laying out quite the feast!

Have you moved outdoors for the summer too? With the lovely weather we've been experiencing how can one resist the call of the Spring birds and remain inside? Would you consider sharing your favorite (or not so favorite - ants?!?) aspects of dining out of doors with us?

On June 4, I will be hosting the Loveliness of Taking Meals Out of Doors here at the S/V Mari Hal-O-Jen. Please send submissions to lettso3 AT yahoo DOT com. This will be my very first time to host such a wonderful event and I'm quite excited!

The information I will need with your submission:
1. your name
2. your e-mail (not to be published)
3. your blog address
4. your post URL
5. a brief summary of your post or photo/entry

One does not need a blog to participate, if you have a photo or two, I would love to include them! (I love photos!)

A review of a book that inspired you would be great, as would recipes! (I love to collect recipes nearly as much as I love photos!)

Do you have secrets to share like how to build a smokeless campfire for S'Mores? Or perhaps the best ever method for making S'Mores? We are big S'Mores fans around here.

Is there one particular spot that you look forward to all winter long? And when you finally bite into that perfect sandwich while underneath the spreading bows of a blossoming cherry tree you know that summer has arrived!

Just a few ideas to spark your imagination, in the next few days Marianna and I will be taking many of our meals out of doors as we head for a brand new to her ocean - The Pacific!

Living Lives of Loveliness
Do Sailors Garden?
Jennifer at
May 6, 2007, 3:03 pm

You bet we do!

Walk any dock in a marina near your home and I'll bet you'll find evidence of gardeners afloat. Small pots of herbs in the cockpit are de riguer, an aloe plant in a sunny porthole, or seasonal potted plant like poinsettias or lilies are quite common.

In the past I've had pots of marigolds, peppers, a tomato every year, lots of herbs; I've babysat (plantsat, I guess!) gorgeous herbal pots for neighbors; I've had a gardenia, I've killed off African Violets in the head (too hot) and enjoyed a Primrose in the winter months. My husband endures (endures is the key word) all this with infinite patience.

The only time he drew a line was the very first year we were aboard when I hung two flowerpots off the davits. I didn't even know what a davit was at that point and since there was not a dinghy hanging from them I just hooked the hangers from these two bee-yoo-tiful pots right through the pulleys and they cheered up the aft end of the boat mightily. They cheered up the marina mightily too, everyone who walked by that afternoon was in a giggly humor. You could hear them chorteling all the way down the dock. Except my husband whom I heard from clear up in the parking lot using a wide variety of salty language. Needless to say the pots didn't stay on the davits very long.

But this year was different. I actually received a broad, sweeping go ahead from the captain of the S/V Mari Hal-O-Jen to buy two large flower pots for the end of our dock. Why the change in heart? His flip-flops blew off the dock one day and only one was found. Something had to be done.

So a trip was organized to the mainland for a visit to a large chain store that has decent prices as our Mom and Pop joints didn't have the proper pots. I found exactly what we needed, two large square pots that filled the end of the dock perfectly. With locally purchased dirt and plants Marianna and I had a fabulous afternoon planning and arranging and finally, planting the pots.

Not to long after that we were orange tagged for cluttering the docks with unneccessary items, items which must removed pronto. Darn Navy, have they no aesthetical values buried away in their collective hearts?

So this year we have what is fondly becoming known as "The Front Porch" residing on the bow. Various deck chairs and cushions have found their way up there under the Sunshade at different times. It is a great place to read or write letters or enjoy a sunset. The odors of Basil and Thyme floating on the humid evening air thrill me to no end. I'll be estatic when my lavender blooms!

Thank goodness those two pots just wedged in alongside the anchors, it would have broken my heart to discard them! As it is the plants have flourished with the addition of the shade during the heat of the day. Well, except for the cucumber Marianna chose, it looks pitiful.

Don't you think? It is covered with small yellow flowers that never do anything. Nope, not one sign of a cuke have we seen. So I think that even though three vines are in our little "hill" we must have managed to end up with three girls. I'm just about ready to rip them out and replace them with chives. Opinions, anyone?

Living Lives of Loveliness
Loveliness of Advent
November 28, 2006, 10:12 pm

Have you made plans for Advent this year?

With Advent fast approaching, (this Sunday!!) Marianna and I knew we had to make our wreath soon! I usually use a traditional (fake) evergreen wreath that was built on a wire base with holders for candles. The first Advent on the boat found it sitting in the cockpit on an improvised table. When the isinglass sides were dropped and the candles lit, it was magical! We've repeated this cockpit tradition each year since, though the wreath is really much too big for any table on board and the taper candles blow out much too frequently in the sea breeze.

This year I decided we really needed a much smaller wreath that could sit on either table with us as we eat without getting needles in your mashed potatoes. Real or fake, needles are still an unpleasant surprise!

Back in October,
Dawn had a wonderful idea for a Homemade Advent Wreath that she posted at O Night Divine. Ever since, I've been ruminating on this delightful idea and as you will see, I kept her basic formula. Just tweaked it a tad, substituting with items found and items available to us.

To make our wreath, we used a round mirror, Blu-Tack, Seashells and tiny votive candles. It was very easy to assemble and turned out very secure actually. Marianna has turned the whole wreath upside down and shaken it and nothing happened! Of course, if it was knocked about things would dislodge but if the boat was plunging about that much, I seriously doubt it would be out and lit!

The wreath is pictured with the tiny votives that were aboard, and though I am hoping to find purple and pink votives, I could always wrap the candle itself in the wider giftwrap ribbon that is common in every grocer's stationary aisle. I think the candles and the ribbon will be exactly the same width!

My family will use the traditional Blessing and Prayers for the Advent Wreath which are quite lovely and are what I remember from my childhood.

Other plans for Advent? Last year I discovered the TeachingMom Advent Calendar, and plan to visit it daily again. Other inspiration will come I am sure through this Loveliness of Advent Fair! I'm keeping the planner open...
Thank you Jenn for hosting this Fair! Make sure you stop in at her blog and be prepared to be inspired!

Living Lives of Loveliness
Galley Dockside vs. Galley Afloat
August 13, 2006, 7:26 pm, S/V Mari Hal-O-Jen

A strong cuppa is a required beverage on the S/V Mari Hal-O-Jen, but the differences in how that brew comes to be while dockside versus afloat is significant.

At the dock, with its 120 volt AC power cord, we prefer to utilize our Krups Cappuccino Maker to brew and froth the perfect mug. The rack of stainless glasses gleams above the hanging silverware. The refrigerator chills the half and half while the microwave is available for reheating. Baskets of alliums and fruits are handily accessible. Plates, bowls and spices are stored behind the large black sliding doors. The smaller, higher doors hide square storage containers of sugars, coffee, tea, and other non-perishables. Behind the wooden door is the water system for purifying drinking water. Our dockside galley may sport a fragrant candle below our wall of shells, seaglass and coral.

Anchored or sailing, the galley looks quite different. The Cappuccino Maker has been replaced with a fiddled alcohol stove. It rests in the sink incase a tack or jib goes wrong or more commonly, a large power boat wake hits us 45 to 90 degrees to our course. A pan of water and French Press complete the much needed Go Juice set-up. The glass mugs are stored safely away, replaced with a broad bottomed stainless steel mug. The hanging silverware has a band placed around the handles and if the seas kick up, they will be placed in a hold. The basket on the counter can be placed inside the unused microwave in rough weather. The gleaming glasses have been fiddled in place; note the wood slat in front of the rack. To eliminate the incessant rattle of metal glasses, neoprene coolies are slid over the alternate wine glasses. The open flame of the candle has been replaced with a red light that will not ruin the night vision of the one on watch.

Our Galley is adaptable, able to care for a crew or fuel a festivity. Most often it is called upon to nourish our nearest and dearest. In any mode, it is its useful, yet elegant, simplicity that lends itself to the task.

Living Lives of Loveliness

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S/V Mari Hal-O-Jen
Who: Capt. Hal, Jennifer, and our daughter Marianna, a great photographer!
Port: Boca Chica
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