I’m moving…

…my blog, that is!

 I won’t bore you with details, so I’ll simply share that for the past few years I’ve been publishing posts on a platform that doesn’t work well with Google, and I’m a Google Photos kind of girl.

The poor integration means that blogging and sharing photos takes many steps, and because of that I just haven’t posted as often as I’d like.

So I’m jumping ship over to Blogger, which is Google-owned, and you can now find me at saltysweetlove.blogspot.com, an homage to my old site and my new passion for the salty sailing life.

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Please come visit me there, I’d love to have you continue following along!

My favorite things

Happy 2017! To kick off the new year, I wanted to share a few of my favorite things. These are productw I’d buy again in a heartbeat, no questions asked, because they consistently perform. In fact, in many cases, we re-purchased these items for our “home away from home” (aka the boat) because we couldn’t do without them.

Jojoba oil (pronounced ho-ho-ba) 

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I started using jojoba oil about a decade ago, and it’s one of the only personal care products that I’ve consistently used for years. It’s light, unscented and very moisturizing. In winter, I add a few drops to my daytime face lotion, and at night I pat it on top of my night cream to lock in the moisture. In a pinch, it works well as a makeup remover and for dry hands and chapped lips.

Voluspa Candles

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I first found these candles at Anthropologie, but they are sold at many places and are now pretty much the only candle I’ll buy. Voluspa candles are made from coconut wax, not paraffin or soy wax, and come in lightly perfumed fragrances. These candles are low smoke and, unlike many other candle brands, you can burn these for hours without having to worry about an overpowering scent or burning smell. The scent pictured above is my favorite.

Face cleansing oils

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Face cleansing oils became popular a few years ago, and ever since I tried my first one, I’ve been hooked. Despite their gentle nature, cleansing oils do an amazing job of melting away makeup – especially hard to remove eye make; they work better than any other cleaner or eye makeup remover I’ve ever used, and I no longer wake up with dark rings of leftover mascara around my eyes. In fact, since finding cleansing oils, I have thrown out all my eye makeup removers.

If you wear light make up, a cleansing oil may be all you need. Since I wear eyeliner and multiple layers of mascara, I follow up with another light cleanser (Purpose facewash) after washing off the oil just to make sure my face is squeaky clean.

I’ve tried all of the brands above and each works very well, but the Tranquil Cleans Off Oil from Mac is my favorite.

Mr. Heater (Buddy) Portable Heater

mrheaterbuddyOur sailboat has a heating and cooling unit that runs off 30 amp electricity, but in early spring and late fall, when we are at anchor with no access to shore power, we lack the power capacity to run our heating unit (or a space heater on DC power).

This little propane heater (whom we affectionately call Mr. Buddy) pumps out a surprising amount of heat and works very well to take the chill out of the air in the morning or at bedtime. The indoor-safe heater runs off of a 1-pound propane cylinder and lasts about 4 hours on high or 6 hours on low. (It gets so hot in our boat with this heater, we usually run it for 30 minutes at a time and then turn it off.) We always run the heater with a window cracked open, but the unit does come with a built-in low oxygen alarm and turns off automatically if it’s tipped over.

After enjoying the warmth of our heater, our friends bought and use the smaller Little Buddy version on their power boat (and the company also makes a size larger than ours).

Ceramic knives

knivesI first came across these Kyocera ceramic knives at Crate and Barrel, but I ended up purchasing this perfect set of three from Amazon for the boat (it comes with a large chopping knife, a mid-sized serrated knife and a small peeling knife…in my opinion, the three most important knives). Everyone who uses these knives on the boat raves about how well they work; they are the sharpest and best knives we’ve ever bought (even better than our more expensive Wüsthof set at home).

The only downside to these knives is that because they are ceramic, they can break if dropped and do stain if you leave pigmented foods on them for too long before rinsing (such as beets), but a swipe of lemon juice helps get rid of the stains.

Philips Sunrise Alarm clock 

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This sunrise simulating alarm clock is an investment, but Nick and I think it’s worth every penny. The clock uses a natural light to gradually wake you up each morning, starting with a low warm, orange glow all the way to a bright, white light. In case the bright light doesn’t wake you, it also has options for five natural wake-up sounds (we chose chirping birds). We love this alarm clock, especially for dark, winter mornings, since it is a much more natural, pleasant way to start the day (compared to a buzzing alarm clock).

Cutting boards

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While most chefs swear by wood cutting boards, I love this set of four cutting mats from Bed, Bath & Beyond. They are a great size for chopping bigger items, flexible for easily funneling ingredients into bowls or pots, and the rubber grip on the back means they don’t shift around on the counter. They are dishwasher safe and very well made; we do lots of cooking and chopping and these have held up well for several years. And having four mats available means there is always one clean to use. I liked these so much, I bought the smaller-sized four pack for the boat.

Cozyna mugs

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Nick and I carry mugs of coffee to work each day in our work bags and have struggled for years to find a good mug that stays hot AND doesn’t leak. (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cleaned coffee from the lining of my purses). We’ve had these mugs for almost a year and are still so impressed with how well they work; I’ve never had a leak and they keep drinks hot for hours. Just like everything else, we bought extra mugs to keep on the boat to keep our morning coffee warm while we are underway.

What about you, do you have any favorite items you’d recommend?

Knock knock, anyone there?

I wish I had some grand excuse for my radio silence, but the honest truth is that Nick and I simply spent our summer and fall working, traveling and enjoying our weekends on our sailboat. Alas, we are now landlocked, and I’m back to say hello and happy almost-2017!

So where did we disappear to for half the year? Well we spent almost every weekend from April through November on the water and had so much fun during our second sailing season now that we had a little bit more experience under our belts. We also had a lot more wind than last summer, which allowed us to use our boat’s engine less and get much more practice with the sails.

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I feel truly blessed to be able to spend our time on the boat, away from our hectic work and home lives. And with no TV, we simply spent our time relaxing,  talking and making plans for the future, swimming, listening to the radio and playing games. Some weekends we explored cute little waterfront towns and other weekends we anchored in a quiet cove and spent two days alone on our 400-square-foot boat, without our feet ever hitting solid ground. Somehow we never get bored of it.

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I have to admit that it hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows, and we had a few challenging experiences this year too. Strong winds all summer meant we really tested our sailing skills; I’m slowly learning to remain calm when we are overtaken by a strong gust of wind and the boat heels (or leans) heavily into the water on one side. And after dodging hundreds of crab pots, our luck ran out this summer and we snagged a pot with one of our rudders and pretty quickly came to a halt (we adjusted our sails to turn the boat and thankfully left it behind).

After a long day of sailing earlier this summer, we weathered a severe rain and thunderstorm later in the evening, which came with heavy winds from the opposite direction that we anchored, and our boat was dragged about 100 feet on our anchor. Thankfully we were pulled into deeper water and away from other boats, but on top of our exhaustion, it made for a very frightening and stressful nighttime situation.

And a few weeks later, after trying a new downwind sailing technique, we attempted to right the sails without stopping to talk and make a plan and the wind caught our sails in a not so good way (an accidental jibe, for all the sailors out there), which could have done some damage to our boat if the conditions had been worse. But through it all we keep smiling!

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Despite all those heart-racing situations, and that sailing the boat often requires us to communicate and work together and even that can sometimes be challenging, we continue to love sailing and the community we’ve found within it.

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One highlight of the summer was that we were able to sail with Nick’s family when they came to visit in May. The winds were light, but the sun was shining and we really enjoyed the day with family.

Over the Memorial Day weekend, Nick and I made the first of our furthest solo treks on the boat to date, down to the near tip of Maryland’s western shore, to Solomon‘s Island. From our marina near North Beach, Solomons is only about 30 nautical miles south (a 6-8 hour sail depending on winds), but cliffs line the shore for most of the way and once you get south of Chesapeake Beach city, if you run into weather or mechanical problems, there are no marinas or rivers to slip into and out of the open waters. Thankfully, we had a mostly uneventful trip there and back and really enjoyed visiting the area.

We stayed on a mooring ball for the long weekend and enjoyed taking the marina’s courtesy bikes to ride into town and relaxing at the pool and club house.

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Another highlight of our weekends on the water and away from the city is that we enjoyed glimpses of so much marine and wildlife. Throughout the season we spotted numerous bald eagles (they are  truly so majestic), and we’ve also seen dozens of small groups of cownose stingrays swimming right alongside the boat. The Bay is also infamous for its sea nettles, a member of the jellyfish family, which overtake the warm waters during the summer months; Nick and I both got stung for the first time this summer, which results in a red, itchy patch of skin, so we are officially salty Bay sailors (or something like that).

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nettles

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We’ve also added some new fishing gear to the boat this year and have been trying our hand at trolling for rockfish (also known as striped bass), which are the official fish of Maryland (say that three times fast) and the most popular catch in the Chesapeake Bay. So far we’ve had no luck, but we plan to keep trying!

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Another first this year was that Nick and I took a week-long vacation on the boat and headed north of the Chesapeake Bay bridge towards Baltimore and Chesterton. We stayed at a marina in downtown Fells Point in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor for a few days (a lovely area close to shops and restaurants and the Oriole’s ballpark where we caught a game). We spent the rest of the time at anchor and tucked into coves; it was our furthest and longest trip aboard the boat and such a fun adventure since we had mostly great winds and weather.

The highlight from the trip was that we ended up docked right next to our teaching captain, Tom, who arrived with a new batch of sailing students. We spent an evening with them on our boat and shared our sailing stories over drinks. (I’m not sure who was prouder, us or Tom, that we were there on our own boat and actually pursuing our dreams of sailing!)

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A few weeks later we were joined onboard for the long Independence Day weekend by our friends, Nick and Jessica, who own a powerboat. Three nights was the longest we’ve had guests aboard, and I’m so happy to say that the trip was a success and we all really enjoyed ourselves.

Nick and I also made an effort this year to socialize more with those in the sailing community and joined several sailing groups as well as attended a few weekend sailing gams to take courses. We are often the youngest attendees at these events (many are retirees who live aboard and cruise the U.S. and Caribbean full time), but we enjoy the camaraderie and appreciate all the tips and advice we’ve picked up along the way.

As of last month, the early sunsets and cold temperatures means our sailing season has now ended, and we’ve hauled the boat out of the water for the winter season. We’ve been bitten hard by the sailing bug, and saying farewell (for even a few months) to our boat and weekend adventures makes us a bit melancholy. Our second sailing season has affirmed that this an activity and community that we love, and it’s been so great for Nick and me to be able to share the experiences and adventure together.

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As silly as it sounds, finding sailing has been the best thing for us, and now that we know our passion for it, it has motivated and inspired us, and helped make our next steps in life so much clearer.

I’ll end this post by saying that I have a handful of updates about other life and home happenings, and I hope to share those soon!

Happy 2017, friends!

Life Lately {May 2016}

Nick and I were so excited last month when we finally got the call from our sister marina that our boat was back in the water. A few days later we made the short one mile trip down the Chesapeake Bay to deliver Houd Vast back into her slip; we were excited to see many of the same dock neighbors from last summer and meet some new friends, as well.

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Rainy weather has kept us from doing much sailing, but it’s given us time to tackle a few more projects – like reinstalling our sun canvas, cleaning and sealing our teak decking, which had weathered and grayed last season, and replacing our entire starter and house battery bank (six batteries total!).

Teakbefore

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Nick gets kudos for doing nearly all the boat work on his own, since our first day back in the water ended with me having a broken toe.  I still have a little pain and am walking a bit slowly, but I’m back in regular shoes again!

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Nick and I are loving these ham, cheese and spinach puffs for breakfast from Eat Well; they are easy to make, are very filling, and reheat well, so they can be made ahead and eaten all week. (Vegetarians could easily substitute mushrooms for the ham).

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The lower level of our tiered backyard, also known as The Pit, and where we keep our compost bins, finally saw some action last weekend (we’ve been talking about tackling this area for years). Nick and I  defined a small space and laid down some weed blocking fabric, which we covered with leaf mulch that we had delivered from the city (and are using for another project – post coming soon!). Ultimately, our plan is to build a small fire pit down there and make it into a somewhat usable space. Stay tuned!

Backpit

Nick’s parents, sister and her husband are headed our way this weekend for a few days of visiting and fun! I can’t wait to share highlights from their trip.