Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Saying Good Bye to the 80s!

Yesterday Christmas came early. Waiting for me on the doorstep was a box filled with the new interior cushion covers. The dark and depressing 1980's hunter green interior upholstery will soon be nothing but a memory as it is replaced by lovely cream colored, sueded microfiber. This should not only brighten up the interior but it should be able to take all the abuse the kids can throw at it.

Even Mark was made a bit sad by the dark interior'
 I opted for a light, neutral color as I get bored easily and this will coordinate with whatever crazy accent fabric I want to use for portlight curtains and throw cushions. I'm making the curtains and pillows myself as it shouldn't be THAT had even for a Non-Stewartite as myself. The pillows will actually be used for storing extra sweaters, etc so they are not merely decorative but useful too.

Thanks to Spence Upholstery for doing such a great job and beating all the other quotes by at least half! It was easy - just mail in the old covers to serve as a pattern, Joe made fabric recs based on usage, pick a fabric and go. They have done exterior cushions as well so if you aren't pressed for time and prefer quality workmanship at an affordable price talk to them. I have a theory that the closer to the water you get the more the costs increase. They are in Indiana. Lots of corn. Lots of Pigs. Water? Not so much.

Kitty approves of the softness of the fabric as she took great delight in rolling around in the covers. She gave it its first test as she smeared her crumb stained face all over it. Everything just wiped off of it, even the butter on her fingers I missed before unleashing her on the covers.

 I can't wait to get these on the boat. I'll have to be a bit patient as Mark still has the salon ripped apart to do the wiring but this is one big item off of my list. I can not begin to tell you how much I hated the green interior. All that was missing was my mom in big hair sitting on the settee with ceramic geese scattered about and I would have instantly been transported to my childhood. So long 1980's! Can't say we'll miss you around here..

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Breaking the Law

 I am fairly certain the first rule in the "How to be a successful criminal" handbook would be to never create photographic evidence of your crime. Since I did not read that book, I have broken that rule. Here is evidence of my crime. A photograph of laundry hung out to dry in our back garden on the HOA forbidden laundry line.

File this under " Reason #432 I need to cast off the dock lines before I lose my ever loving mind." Out here in the suburbs the Home Owners Association has deemed it despicable to hang laundry out to dry as it might offend the sensibilities of the neighbors. Never mind that no one can see this unless they are peering over the fence, or that we live in the freaking subtropics where the one thing we are assured of is sunshine or even that the community likes to brag about how environmentally conscientious they are. Hanging laundry out is verboten.

 These are the same brainiacs who sent out a notice telling us to restrict watering of our lawns due to the drought then followed it up with a letter 2 weeks later letting me know my grass was not green enough. I sent them a response letter with several green paint chips from Home Depot asking what color green I should paint my lawn.

Since I am a Devil May Care Ne'er Do Well and since I think sleeping on cotton sheets dried in the sun is something bordering on sinful luxury I did it anyway. Mark has an aerial laundry thingee that he loves so much he brought it with him from Scotland. We have a secret support tube installed in the garden with a little screw cap to keep water out. I can sneak out the aerial, get it set up and hang laundry on it dry it and take it down again faster than Mrs. Kravitz can call the HOA stormtroopers.

Cruising and seeing beautiful locations, meeting new people, trying new things and just sailing will be a wonderful experience, but do not discount the joy I will feel in living in a less oppressive, though less exquisitely manicured environment. I am all for rules when it benefits society but stupid rules- well I could do without them. I create enough stupid all on my own thanks very much.

Tonight we sleep on illicitly dried sheets. Sometimes being bad just feels really good...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Rinse. Repeat.

This is a shot of my favorite places to spend an early morning on Galveston Bay. This shot has absolutely nothing to do with what is going on with the boat and refit just now. This is because we have spent the last few days installing our new galvanic isolator and the photo of that would look something like this:

Yeah. I thought a bench on a dock at sunrise was a better choice as well. For those who want to know, its a Guest 30 amp galvanic isolator which along with our zincs should help protect Ceol Mor from stray current.

We haven't been moving forward on the wiring this week because of the isolator install as well as the need to rebed a port light. A port light that has already been rebedded. *sigh* Apparently we did not get quite enough compression on it. So despite being carefully installed with butyl tape our first rainfall in forever gave us the information we needed, namely, that we needed to rebed that portlight once again. So out it came and was once again rebedded. Hopefully, this does the trick this time. The only thing worse than having to repair stuff is having to redo it immediately because you didn't get it quite right.

Now about that wiring....

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Road tripping

  I made a last minute decision to head to Annapolis, Maryland to ostensibly see the big boat show but really I wanted to see some friends. When my great parents said that keeping the big girl so she didn't miss school would be no issue, I started loading up the car. Kitty and I would make it a road trip of almost 3,000 miles round trip. Mark was supposed to fly in to meet us but work prevented him from coming so it was just me and my wee co-pilot for 9 days.
The drive would normally be accomplished by me in a straight shot of 24 hours but since Kitty can handle around 550 miles a day before she howls in protest, it took us quite a bit longer. Kitty became adept at checking into hotels, meeting new people and going with the flow. I became adept at eating at nothing but Cracker Barrels on the road. When you have a kid who can't eat gluten and is picky, CB is your friend. She happily ate green beans, mashed potatos, carrot and a little bit of chicken every. single. meal. I didn't even eat one single burger as my ordering was limited to what I could split with my tiny, fussy eater. They also have lots of sparkly, shiny kitsch to look at, which toddlers find highly entertaining.

All in all, it was a great trip. We saw friends from Majestic and Patience Two who are all wonderful, wonderful people and very dear friends.  We met friends from Anything Sailing, SV Wildest Dream and the Puzzled gang.We hung out on their respective catamarans and got to experience agoraphobia. We went to the boat show and saw the equipment we needed to see in about 30 minutes (thank goodness. I never need to go to another boat show ever). We saw the leaves changing. We had such a wonderful time, just me and my wee one. Being able to spend time with just my little girl was a gift. She and I have never had such a long time alone. It made me fall in love with her all over again. We came home to Maura and Mark, having missed them terribly and hugged them and just drank them in. It was perfect.

We didn't have time for a sail but managed to go for a chug on Patience Two on the Magothy river. I could learn to love catamarans

Kitty's favorite thing to do is wave and say "hi" to everyone. People in restaurants, hotel lobbys, rest areas and cars driving by.

Kitty wanted to run with the big kids from RV Puzzled, Zach Aboard and Tig and Serena.

I am 100% over boat shows. Just too crowded for my tastes.

Mary from Patience Two
made this, which is the coolest stack pack ever. Not only is is purple(win!) but the super cool waves are made from phirtex so any water drains. You will not be seeing anything similar on Ceol Mor unless I can bribe Mary into making us one...

Chuck and Mary of Patience Two's back yard view. Kitty and I stayed with them for a few days and got to wake up to this view....

Not a brilliant shot cause we were driving at a good clip but that is a cockatoo behind that wind screen. that big burly biker kept tucking his head under the screen to nuzzle the bird. Awesome.

                                                 Eventually, my wee girl did actually sleep.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Scratching the itch...

I'm not ignoring the blog, I'm off having a wee adventure so I have something interesting to say. I'll be back later this week with a write up and photos but for now I'm off scratching my wanderlust itch with a bit of a road trip. I have to say, it feels really, really good to watch the miles just roll on by. More to come but for now, there is a shower and a lumpy hotel bed in my future and I am looking foorward to both!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Royale w/ Cheese Report- Stomps Burger Joint Bacliff, Texas

 You've spent all day sweating it out as you work in the hot and cramped bowels of your boat. You are tired. And hungry. What to do? Get in the car, hitch a ride, take a 3 mile hike South on Hwy 146- whatever it takes to get to Bacliff. Why would you skip all the glittery, close at hand boardwalk restaurants of Kemah to ensconce yourself on a hard bench in a tiny, over crowded building? You would do this because you want a really great burger and a cold beer at about half the cost of what is available in Kemah. You do this because Stomp's Burger Joint is worth the trip.

Burger Score- 8
Big, handformed, never frozen beef. These burgers are huge and available topped with just about anything you can imagine- blue cheese w/ wing sauce, refried beans and crushed Fritos, cream cheese and jalapenos, marinated and cooked in wine (you get the idea). They lose points for not having freshly baked buns and serving them on the cool side, which could be fixed easily.

Side Dish-7
We ordered a plate of half and half. Half fries, half onion rings. Next time we know- skip the french fries until they quit using frozen fries and up their game with hand cut ones. Get the rings. Order them double dipped. Do not think about cholesterol or fat, just enjoy the onion ring makers art because that is what they do- raise onion ring making to an art.

Ambiance- 10
While Stomp's is crowded and the seating isn't exactly comfortable and they lack an awesome jukebox  to really take it over the top I am giving them a 10. The reasons for this are two fold. First and foremost, the waitstaff here is fantastic. Mark still doesn't always embrace the American custom of tipping waitstaff for doing the basics. The staff is so helpful and friendly while not being overbearing that Mark tipped happily. This speaks volumes about the quality of the staff. When the Scotsman parts with money in a cheerful manner, you know that the service is first rate.

 I also had to figure out a way to give points for value. We had 3 huge burgers, a plate of half and half, a kids meal, drinks and 3 beers. The wait staff even gave the kids Bluebell ice cream- gratis. Our grand total with tip was $34 and change. You can not do dinner for four in Kemah for even close to that and while you would pay more, it wouldn't be half as good.

Total Score- 25
 Stomp's Burger Joint is the best burger going on Galveston Bay. We will be back.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Royale with Cheese Report

Some folks are connoisseurs of fine wine. Others can debate the merits of black versus white truffles. I am a simple gal and while others will discuss the finer points of foie gras, I'll stick with what I know. Burgers. Would I really sail around the hemisphere looking for the perfect burger? You bet I would. That's not to say I won't try conch in the Bahamas or ceviche in Venezuela or torta lingua in Mexico but I will always seek out a burger, no matter where I may roam.

In order to understand the ratings, you have to know my reference points. The best burger I have ever had was at the now defunct Pat and Pete's Blues Burger. They scored a perfect 30. 10 for atmosphere, 10 for the burger itself and 10 for the side dish. Hand formed, fat ole patty cooked on a buttered grill, artisan roll lightly toasted so it soaked up all the juices without getting soggy, topped with cream cheese and jalapenos which were put on while the burger cooked so it was all a hot, gooey chin dripping mess of goodness. Side was hand cut fresh sweet potato fries- crisp on the outside and soft on the inside served with a smoky sweetand slightly hot jalapeno gravy. Tables were adorned with butcher paper upon which rested bowls of unshelled peanuts. The floor in the 100 year old brick building was littered with peanut shells as you made your way to the Mother of All JukeBoxes- Stevie Wonder, Lightnng Hopkins, Aretha Franklin, Indigo Girls, Nine Inch Nails and Lou Reed. The beer was served at 38 degrees. Perfect.

The worst burger I have ever attempted to eat was at a roadside diner in Hayti, Missouri. Cheerless flourescent light shined down upon formica tables bereft of any adornment. The only sound the whoomp-whoomp of a ceiling fan that was badly out of balance When asked what was good, the bored and sullen young waitress said that the burgers were "okay". She was guilty of extreme embellishment, the burgers were inedible. Harder than the proverbial hockey puck, served on a  cold bun with a slab of Velveeta twelve years later I still remember it vividly. Side dish was ostensibly french fries or at least that is what the box in the freezer was labeled. Attempting to eat the so called fries was akin to chewing on wooden match sticks. They scored a 1 for ambiance because the place did have ac. That was also their grand total- 1.

So now you know the high mark and the low mark. In the future, you'll be able to find burger reviews by searching the tag 'Royale with Cheese Report'. It will be local for a while but soon enough it will be worldwide. I think its time I gave back to the blogging world and since you will never find tips on sail trim here (nor would you want to follow my lead) or step by step how tos, my little deposit in the karma bank will be to help you find what's really important- a good burger and a cold beer.