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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
Advent Begins!
December 2, 2007, 7:22 am

The most anticipated time of the year has begun!

In celebration Marianna and I broke out our fine china, which just happens to be a cast iron teapot - LOL! - perfect for this sailing vessel in a way that delicate Wedgewood or Spode would never be.

After blessing the Advent Wreath we lit the first candle and sat down to a lovely plate of cookies, the highlight of which were the Pocky Sticks. Hal came aboard and helped devour the box, having not had any since his last stint in Korea.

Each year we make our own Advent Wreath, last year we made a tiny little wreath out of 4 Scallop Shells set on a mirror. Mary M. traced the awesome symbolism of that wreath for us in the comments box and it has now become one of our favorite things that I'm always meaning to pull out on certain feast days like the Baptism of Our Lord or Saint Brigid (who has shells on her cloak) or even when we talk about Pope Benedict XVI. Have you noticed his Papal Coat of Arms? A nice big Scallop Shell is featured front and center.

But this year the vote was cast for a nice "traditional" wreath which we managed to pull together from a Martha Stewart candle ring, Pier 1 votives, black electric tape and no lavender or rose candles!!! We'll make do with the same votives we used last year, but I can tell you one crewmember is keeping her sharp eyes peeled for the appropriate colors!

Speaking of appropriate colors ... I'll leave you with one last girly photo for this joyous season!

Happy Advent!

Our Faith
Barracuda Tang
November 30, 2007, 6:43 am

Marianna's best find while swimming in our beautiful blue backyard was a very nice Dive Knife.

It had minor corrosion but nothing a little action with a Miracle Cloth wouldn't clean up.

So has the intrepid explorer had to use it to fend off any Sharks, or heaven forbid! Barracudas???

No, the task it is used for most frequently is carving mangrove roots into bows and arrows!

Food for Braces
November 28, 2007, 1:01 pm

We are becoming quite the soft foods connoisseurs on this boat, Smoothies for Breakfast, Mac and Cheese for Lunch and Soups for Supper!

We've tried many soups and stews in our quest to find satisfying suppers for all, those of us with braces and those without. The best chowder we've sampled so far is a highly adaptable one from Better Homes and Gardens.

1 cup celery, thinly sliced and leftover from Thanksgiving relish tray
1 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup flour
2 14-oz. can veggie broth
1 lb. refrigerated diced potatoes with onions
3-1/2 cups milk
* 12 oz crabmeat
* 14 oz artichoke hearts, coarsely chopped
* Handful of fresh basil

To make the basic Chowder, cook up the celery in the butter and oil, adding flour gradually after celery is tender. Slowly add broth stirring constantly to avoid a lumpy chowder. Add the potatoes and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in milk and add the crabmeat and artichokes. Just before dishing out stir the fresh basil in.

Now rather than the last three *star* ingredients the original recipe suggests adding 8 oz of cooked salmon, one red sweet pepper and a dash of dried red pepper flakes or 8 oz of cooked chicken and 1 cup of peas and carrots with a handful of oregano or tarragon.

Marianna and Veronica are driven crazy by the fact that I use a recipe as a point of inspiration more than a rulebook, unless I'm baking, of course! I kinda see what they mean here, I tried really hard to write down the chowder as I cooked it last night and comparing it to the BH&G recipe you'll find it slightly different. I didn't go crazy adapting this time, just increased the broth and milk and so the flour, too. Added olive oil to the butter to prevent overbrowning of the butter (my theory), doubled the potatoes to correspond to the increased liquids, besides who wants half a pack of potatoes kickin' around the fridge? I'm still trying to clear out the fridge from Thanksgiving!

On that note, I'm thinking of putting all the leftover turkey in the bottom of the crockpot with the gravy splashed over it. Then topping it with a layer of corn and sealing it with a batch of mashed potatoes for a Shepherd's Pie a la Slow Cooker. This is one of Marianna's fav dishes now too, so easy to eat! I never thought about how many foods would be so very difficult to eat with braces, even sandwiches and wraps are out since she can't bite! She has developed a very dainty rip-it-to-pieces-with-my-bare-hands technique though because there are certain foods where a knife and a fork just won't do.

So she tells me.

I'm all at Sea with this Recipe!
Last Autumn Gasp
November 27, 2007, 1:49 pm

On this beautiful Autumn evening I wanted to post what may have been the best thing we baked for Thanksgiving - Acorn Cookies!

A little more complex than many of my recipes in that you'll actually need an oven, if you can believe it! But still worth while, really! I promise it is totally worth borrowing an oven at a friend's home or even heating up your very own kitchen for these delectable treats.

Roll out your chosen Sugar Cookie Dough, ours came in a tube from the grocers, so much easier to carry a tube to a borrowed oven rather than Flour+Sugar+Baking Soda+Salt etc...

Grab a plastic cup. Give it a squeeze to shape it from a circle to an oval. Cut out oval sugar cookies.

Roll out Peanut Butter Cookie Dough. Continue with the squeezing and cutting of ovals but this time slice those PB Cookie cutouts in half and place them on top of the Sugar Cookies.

Use a fork to mash a little texture into the PB Cookie Caps and bake till golden. We thought an almond would make a terrific stem on the cap but then remembered Marianna can no longer eat nuts with her braces. If you have a Braces-Free Household though, I think an almond stem would be the perfect finishing touch!

And you better make them quick. I'm calling Autumn over on Sunday. That'll be our official start to Winter which will probably run till Valentine's Day. Maybe.

I'm all at Sea with this Recipe!
Happy Thanksgiving!
November 22, 2007, 1:15 am

Gratitude is the heart's memory.

~ French Proverb

Thanksgiving Week
November 13, 2007, 3:17 pm

Can you believe it is Thanksgiving Week already? I'm in shock.

Kids are off school down here, our local Jr. ROTC high school girl stopped by the boat today trying to drum up money for a future trip to D.C. to visit the Ro-toon-da. I asked her if she knew what that was and she said no but could I hire her anyhow? She'd wrap presents for $14.46 an hour.

So there is the first thing I'm thankful for this week, no fundraisers to visit places I can't pronounce!


I thought the above might sound a little snippy, rather than a little funny as I hoped so I ventured off into the depths of the Internet to find something else...something uplifting, you know. Blogthings came through once again with eeirily accurate results for this Irishwoman today.

You Are The Cranberry Sauce

A little sweet, a little sour - you've got the flava!

What Part of Thanksgiving Are You?

So there you have it. A little sweet, a little sour (!) but never bland!
Messing About in Boats Stole
November 7, 2007, 2:40 pm

"The mole and the water rat had been up since dawn very busy on matters connected with boats and the opening of the boating season; painting and varnishing, mending paddles, repairing cushions, hunting for missing boat-hooks, and so on . . ."

"In or out of 'em, it doesn't matter.
Nothing seems really to matter,
that's the charm of it.". .

"There is nothing- absolutely nothing-
half so much worth doing
as simply messing about in boats."

If you would like your own "Messing About in Boats Stole" take one long rectangle of a scarf and whipstitch along one side, approximately 1/3 stitched, 1/3 open for the neckline, 1/3 stitched. The second open side could be whipped closed but Marianna prefers hers open for ease in rowing.

Add one small rowing skiff, two oars and a dash of water for the perfect Kenneth Grahame inspired stole.

Please visit Dawn at By Sun and Candlelight for more Lovely Handmade Gifts inspiration!

All Hallow's Eve, the real photos
November 7, 2007, 7:37 am

Hurray! We have the photos from camera number 2 this morning! To continue documenting a fabulous All Hallow's Eve we'd have to start with Elizabeth of Hungary (hungrily) in the Kitchen.

She distributed delectable caramel brownies to poor starving Chief Petty Officers at the Mess. Yum!

While Veronica the Glamorous challenged them to vigorous games of Shuffleboard and Ping-Pong.

This photo is so Maid Marian of Robin Hood, who is playing Lady Cluck, I wonder?

And finally the photo you all have been waiting for - the pumpkins aglow!

Quick and Busy Update
November 6, 2007, 1:18 pm

I seem to have little time to write these days, work and 4 people in a tiny space suck that spark of coherent thought right out of me but I thought I'd share a few photos from last week, busy week that it was!

Pumpkin carving went swimmingly well as DOLPHINS were sighted while the carving was going on. They were uninterested in the sprinkling of pumpkin guts cast inticingly upon the waters though.

A self portrait

Mass with the Bishop in the Grotto Cemetary on All Souls Day. Our favorite part of the Mass? The homily where he was retelling the story of Bernedette at Lourdes and it began to mist rain (liquid sunshine, you know) right at the miraculous spring portion of the story. Lovely.

Then we were off to volunteer at the Tropical Gardens where the Autograph Trees are at their most spectacular right now.

There. A brief journey through one week. Many parts are missing, photos of the pumpkins lit and the costumes on, for instance, and the fact that Key West has been invaded by Parrotheads with lots of great free concerts and 5 Squadrons are flying incessently, but the fact is I have to hurry up to the Bathhouse for a shower and get to work SOON.

Stop by for a Cuba Libre if you're in town! I'll fill in the details...

Duo of Autumn Photos
October 26, 2007, 6:21 am

First up, the new and shining braces that are now an integral part of Marianna's life.

The late afternoon treat on the first overcast day of Autumn. We three can now highly recommend

*Pumpkin Spice Latte (Pumpkin pie in a cup)
*Pumpkin Hot Chocolate (yummy but hot for that little bear)
*White Hot Chocolate (like marshmellows without the bother of

chewing for Goldilocks)

Do you have a small change of season treat or tradition you look forward to?

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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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