Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Most Wonderful of Days

I saw the most glorious sight today:

Running water! As much as I want!

After 106 days of rationed water the pipes are back in service. (We had a couple super cold November days that limited access but it was officially turned off for the season in December.) I found out the good news as I was walking to the marina office with a bag of shower supplies that I planned to leave in a locker while I went for a run. I returned my bag to the boat knowing that a long, hot shower was waiting on board.

I texted Doug with the good news, went for my run (half-marathon training does not wait for running water), and then hooked up the hose to fill the tank. I've already taken advantage of the situation by washing a load of towels on the boat. After four months without being used, I was a little wary of the washer and figured towels were the easiest items to replace if necessary. Never fear -- the towels are now clean and fluffy.

Unfortunately, this winter was not so kind to everyone. Of the 12 docks only 5 currently have water (lucky us!). I'm sure the fabulous marina staff will be working hard to fix any and all leaks in order to get everyone up and running as soon as possible.

The good news doesn't stop there -- we are using reverse cycle heat again! (For you land-lubbers, that's basically my central HVAC.) We've been using electric heat since mid-December and I forgot how luxuriously warm the regular heat can be.

Even the ducks are enjoying this change in the weather. Personally, I think they are taking this mating/courting dance a bit far. Seriously guys, since when is it cool to stand on the highest thing in the marina?

This last picture was on top of our boat. I could hear them splut-splut-splutting on top of the canvas.

Ah well, Milton may have written about Paradise Lost. I'm most interested in Paradise Re-Found.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Baking On Board

It's March 17 and we have yet another snow storm. I'd say we have a good 6-8 inches of light, fluffy snow. I thought we were supposed to beware the Ides of March not St. Patrick's Day. Regardless, I took advantage of the weather and participated in the age old snow day activity of baking.

I used to have hoards of cook books. While I had a few favorites, most of them had only a recipe or two that I liked and they sat collecting dust. The Internet is my recipe book now. Whenever I come across something interesting, I add it to my Recipes favorites folder. The cupcakes I made today have been calling to me for a couple of weeks.

Months back, I introduced readers to the galley on board. It's time to see just how small my oven really is.

The ruler gives a bit of perspective, but it's 12 1/2 inches high and 15 inches wide.
Safe to say I won't be cooking a Thanksgiving turkey any time soon. This also means that many of my old pans don't fit in the oven. So, cupcakes are now baked in silicone molds.

I was able to squish 12 molds onto my little baking sheet. They are a little shorter than a regular muffin tin so my recipe made 18 cupcakes. The second batch of only six came out a little better so I need to keep that in mind for future baking endeavors.

The molds stack and take up very little space in my cabinets. Many thanks to my mother-in-law who thought to give us these handy molds.

Okay, so the problem of how to bake the cupcakes was solved. The next issue was getting butter to warm up to "room temperature" in a 59 degree cabin. I set out a stick for the frosting but it remained just as chilled as I was. After a sad attempt at blending it soft, I put the bowl and butter-covered mixer right in front of a ceramic heater for a while.
This may be the solution for winter baking. Any chefs out there, would I have been better off putting the butter in the microwave for a couple seconds? (Obviously before it coated my mixer.)

Ta-da! A successful batch of Chocolate-Guinness cupcakes with Bailey's and Jameson frosting. √Čirinn go Brach!
The jury is still out on the recipe. The cupcakes are good but the frosting is a bit sweet for my taste. I definitely added a bit more Jameson than called for in order to give them an Irish kick -- and I recommend that if you try the recipe.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Virtual Assistance

Doug and I have been boating together for 14 years. We were also both lucky enough to be raised around boats. Therefore, we know everything there is to know about living aboard. NOT!

We have a fantastic community at our marina but there are also online forums for help.

There are Facebook groups where people can post questions or just brag about the fabulous weather at their port.

Live Aboard Boats: "Welcome aboard, this room is for all that live aboard, or hope to one day. We are here for fun, ...facts and camaraderie. The admins of the room are always available for any questions, or concerns. Disrespect, offensive or rude comment's will have you put ashore. So here is to us.. come and enjoy......"

Active Captain: "Active Captain is an online nautical resource providing marina, anchorage, hazard, and local kno...wledge data. The data is integrated into more than 20 navigation products and can be accessed on the ActiveCaptain website. There is no cost for using or contributing to ActiveCaptain."

There are Facebook pages:

The Boat Galley: "Over 600 in-depth articles featuring practical galley tips, insights and equipment recommendations."

Leap of Faith / Quit Your Job and Live on a Boat: "They gave up everything and now they have it all. Follow them as they leave the working world behind and become carefree boat bums and beachcombers. Read how one couple got rid of all their belongings, quit their jobs, and moved onto a boat."

I also follow a few blogs:

The Trawler Beach House: They have been living aboard for 17 years and have great information about various ports. I am very excited about their book that is due out in April: The Great Book Of Anchorages, The Chesapeake Bay.

Zero to Cruising: which is a blog by a couple that was new to boating and took the plunge.

I'm sure that I'm missing a boatload (pun intended) of fabulous online resources. What are your favorites?