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Thursday, July 28, 2011

The 12 Egg Key Lime Soup

Okay... it was supposed to be a welcome home yummy for the family when they returned from their 12 day trip to Arizona. I was super excited to see my kids and husband and I wanted everything to be perfect. So, of course - it wasn't.

The first pie was PERFECT! I made a graham cracker crust, mixed the fresh squeezed lime filling, and the meringue topping was gorgeous. I popped the pie in the oven to brown the meringue and at that moment was filled with admiration that I had done such a fabulous job. However, as I removed my masterpiece, the lip of the pie plate caught onto the rack and my beautiful pie did a triple somersault before it committed suicide inside the over and all oven the floor. (There is no photograph of the disaster because as I was having a nervous breakdown, Bailey the helper cleaned up the mess. I know I should be grateful.)

Key Lime Pie #2: In case you're wondering, it is really important to keep the bowl of egg whites FAR AWAY from the bowl of pie filling. That way, you are less likely to put the right ingredients into the wrong bowl. Another batch of key lime pie was ruined. Bailey was disappointed there wasn't anything to clean up.

#3 may be a charm for some... not for me. My last pie took twice as long to make because I was taking every step very slowly, talking out loud to myself, and measuring four or five times to make sure I was concentrating. I was so happy with the final product, although my meringue was a bit flat and the center of the pie belly danced when I wiggled it. At least it looked edible.

The family was thrilled - until I cut into the pie and it caved in. I grabbed a large serving spoon and ladled the runny mess into bowls. I offered up soup spoons and called it Key Lime Soup. It was tasty. The recipe below is fail-proof (unless you're me). If you do it right the first time, you won't have to use 12 eggs.

KEY LIME PIE - (makes one 9" pie)
1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
4 eggs, separated
1/2 cup lime juice
1 teaspoon grated lime peel
1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter
2 Tablespoons sugar
9 Tablespoons melted butter
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated)
1/2 cup sugar
Green food coloring (optional and I opted not to use)

Combine graham cracker crumbs, 2 Tablespoons sugar and butter in a small bowl. Press into the bottom and sides of a 9" pie pan. Bake in preheated over at 350* for 10 minutes. Cool thoroughly.

Beat egg yolks lightly in a bowl. Blend in condensed milk. Fold in lime juice and peel. Tint filling with green food coloring if you desire. Pour into cooled crust.

Beat egg whites until foamy. Add cream of tarter and continue beating until white peaks form. gradually add the 2 tablespoons of sugar. Beat until stiff peaks form. Spread meringue over top of pie Bake in preheated oven at 450* for 5-8 minutes until the meringue begins to brown.

Chill pie completely before cutting.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Home Alone

hot spots
Yes, it's true. Jim and the kids left me in Mexico to visit Dad in Arizona. Someone has to look after the dog and the cat. The dog has broken out in 'hot spots', an ugly and painful bacterial skin infection caused by the moisture in the air. Did I mention we're in the tropics where the humidity is as heavy as a blanket??? Therefore, Bailey is carried up and down the companionway twice a day for potty breaks. I better see some toning in my arms for all the trouble. She is on antibiotics to kill the bacteria and spends most of her day making grunting piggy noises while she sleeps soundly on the cushions in the air conditioning. Life is hard.

The family took a bus (the TUFESA Mexican bus line) all the way from Mazatlan to Phoenix. The cost was about $108US per person one way. Jim found a cheap car in AZ and is driving it back. We figure we'll have several trips back and forth to the states for parts. Our radios need to be replaced, the compass is broken, etc... It's always something.

And the exciting news for Tim is that he passed his driving exam and now has a temporary license. Congratulations!

My time has been quiet. Nice and quiet. Except for the piggy grunt noises coming from the dog.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

What Every Boat Needs

This machine would solve major problems for many cruisers out there. I want one.

Tools aboard seem to go missing far more than I care to admit. Jim and Tim have given many expensive offerings to the greedy sea god, including our beloved Shop Vac. I can honestly say, on the other hand, that I have never donated more than a clothespin or two to Neptune. In fairness, I'm the one that loses tools inside the boat. And Carolyne really should make a habit of offering up far more of anything of hers that she has stuffed up in her bunk, though I'm sure none are tools.

In addition, our hungry bilge has gobbled a few. Several have been loaned out never to return. Some left in the dinghy and forgotten were discovered later - rusty and crusty. Even with spares aboard, we're amazed how we often can't find what we're looking for.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Another Great Feature of Cruising

Cindy, Justine, Brianna and Bob
It absolutely amazes me. We have met several people who know other cruising friends of ours that cruised together years ago.

In our most recent case, Bob and Cindy O'Brien, along with their daughter Brianna and friend Justine, flew down to Mazatlan from Canada to sail their trimaran Sequill to the Baja side. The kids hit if off immediately and I rarely saw hide nor hair of my children for a couple weeks: either they were hanging out all day in the Cold Room here at Marina Mazatlan, they were visiting friends at El Cid, or they were taking up the main salon aboard Hotspur and Jim and I had to go elsewhere.

In the case of the O'Briens, they were here 14-15 years ago and cruised with cruising friends of ours (who were also here then, too): Diane and Evan (currently on Ceilydh) and Stuart Littlejohn (who aligned our engine in La Cruz) and Deanna Littlejohn (who we met when their daughter Coral had her Quinceañera this spring).

We went to dinner with the O'Briens one evening while the kids stayed aboard Hotspur and made pizzas. I showed them all where the fire extinguishers were located. Smart. I didn't show them where all the cleaning supplies were. Dumb. Just kidding... they were wonderful. Can't wait to see the O'Briens again.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Gel Ice Pack Recipe off the Southbound Group

We are fond followers of the Southbound Group, a Yahoo cruisers group that is chock-full of information and good ideas, especially focusing on the west side of North, Central and South America. Discussions range from safety tips to what bus is best to take from here to there. If you are cruising south, the Southbound Group is worth checking out:  

Remember-  if you reply to a comment on the Southbound Group to delete the previous message content that is attached to your message before you hit 'Send'. The Moderators do a good job of cutting through the crap and they really appreciate it when they don't have reply posts containing the  exact same message dangling off your responses.

I found a great little recipe on the Southbound Group submitted by s/v Evenstar. If you're out in the middle of nowhere and you run out of your 1-time use packs (or they get smashed and become unusable), here is a fabulous option. Of course, it's better to have them handy BEFORE you need them. Here is what Evenstar had to say:

On several occasions a 'gel' ice pack was needed
while cruising. The following is a recipe to make
your own gel ice pack:
- 2 large ziplock bags (sliding locks bags 
tend to leak. Try not to use them)
- Rubbing Alcohol
- Water
- Duct Tape
1 part Rubbing Alcohol
2 parts water
Fill ziplock with alcohol and water. Bleed out all the air
and seal the ziplock. Put full bag into the 2nd bag. Seal
with duct tape and place in freezer. *** More water will
make it more firm. More alcholo will make it more slushy.

S/V Evenstar

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

June 2011 Cruising Budget

I knew that June would be ghastly. I am not surprised... we spent as much as we did living in the states for one month. Since this was expected, we're not shocked... just dismayed. I broke out the month of June a little differently this time so you can get a microscopic view of our damage. I want to cry just looking at the numbers.

Here are our unplanned expenses totaling $1,866:
Jim's surgery: $1,520
Computer: $346

Here are our expected expenses, but not spent every month totaling $696:
Meri's Bloodwork: $98
Air Conditioner: $188
Lockbox: $38 (annual)
Insurance: $186
Gift: $151 (2 birthdays + a CD we wanted)
Bowling: $10
Movies: $25

Here are our normal, ever day expenses totaling $2,035:
Groceries: $393
Dining: $196
Transportation: $31
Laundry $15
Beer: $105
Clothing: $9
Home Improvement: $45 (new bed sheets + Home Depot crap)
Extra Tips: $10
Mail: $79
Phone: $15
Marina: $955 (this was from La Cruz - actually spent in April but not on statement until this month)
Boat Fuel: $182 (ditto from line above))

Below are charges that were sort of kind of but not really expected. We get charged a small fee for using the ATM - that's expected and I usually lump it under MISC. The wire transfer fee is also expected, but we use that option very rarely. The blasted foreign transaction fees are new... never had them before on this credit card. Infuriates me!!!! So Dear Wells Fargo, we will not be using your crappy card anymore. I have just applied for and been approved by a travel friendly company - and I not only don't get charged foreign transaction fees, but I get airline miles! (Meri sticks tongue out and blows loud raspberry).

Crappy Bank fees totaling $93:
Bank fees: $60 (foreign transaction)
Bank fees: $13 (ATM)
Bank fees: $20 (wire transfer)

This leaves us with a grand total of $4,690 that we spent in June. Somebody bring me a bucket!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Latitude 38

Full sun coverage in Cabo
Interesting article in Latitude 38 about cruising budgets was written this month. Hotspur is mentioned. To see it, go here and we're on page 36.

And, we're mentioned again on pages 113 -115. My photo on page 115 (in the red floppy hat and red shirt) is a perfect example of cruisers coming together - in cruiser co-op fashion - to help each other out. Thanks Alan and Barb on Native Son! Also, my serious commitment to extreme sun coverage while spending a summer in the Sea of Cortez. Too bad I left my signature red, floppy hat on a bus in Mazatlan.
Hauled out in La Paz
It looks like we're the wealthy cruisers in the article - we average less than $2,000 per month for two adults, one teen and one tween, a dog and a cat. Many folks are cruising on less than we are. I will make this statement: cruising costs can be cut substantially... and I do mean substantially... by staying out of marinas.

2009: we averaged $1,450 per month and hardly ever stayed in marinas
2010: averaged less than $2,000 per month to live in Mexico (but this doesn't include a buy/sell boat swap, serious boat repairs for 5 months, and major boat equipment purchases... because that is not a 'cruising' expense - that is a 'what it costs to buy a boat and get it ready for cruising' expense.)
2011: we have averaged so far $2,400 a month. This year we have stayed primarily in marinas, Jim has had surgery, we have made upgrades to the boat, and we've taken a couple of inland trips this year (it's about time!). We are also working on our websites to help generate more income... thus, the marina with internet and things for the kids to do while we're working.

We have our three year cruising expenses itemized here: