Facebook

25 May 2016

Wordless Wednesday | The Panama Canal


Wordless Wednesday is supposed to be about posting a photo without any words. But, I'm a rule breaker, so here are a few words:

1 - I love the free table at our marina. You can score some really great stuff, like nautical charts.

2 - Big ships go through the Panama Canal. Little ships too. Maybe one day, we'll take our little ship through the canal and head back to New Zealand. Or, maybe not.

3 - It costs a lot of money to transit the canal. I wonder if you get a discount if you wear a Panama hat when you go through the canal?

What words does this picture bring to your mind when you look at it?

Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - pop by and say hi!

23 May 2016

Tea Towels & Secret Handshakes | The Moody Owners Association

I love tea towels (or dish towels in Americano). There's nothing quite as comforting as a pile of freshly laundered and neatly folded tea towels. I don't know why, but they make me feel like I can cope with anything that comes my way.

Okay, maybe they wouldn't be much help in sorting out a broken diesel engine or surviving an alien invasion from outer space, but they're awesome at wiping up spills. I'm klutzy. I spill things all the time. And, if the aliens ever do invade, I'm pretty sure I'd spill my glass of red wine absolutely everywhere in all the excitement and then I'd turn to my stack of trusty tea towels to save the day.

The previous owners of our boat left behind quite a few tea towels. They're nice enough and are up to to the task of cleaning up wine spills, but they lack any real pizazz. So, you can imagine how excited I was when fellow Moody 346 owners, Guy and Sylvia from Pura Vida, gave me this awesome tea towel, when they were at Indiantown Marina a few months ago.


This is a very special tea towel, honoring the 30th anniversary of the Moody Owners Association or MOA (complete unrelated to the Moa Preservation Society, which Scott and I founded a few years ago.) Guy and Sylvia told us that it would be well worth joining MOA. When Karen and John of Pascal, another Moody 346, popped by Indiantown Marina for a visit a month or so ago, they also mentioned that it would be a really useful group to join.

Who am I to argue with my fellow Moody 346 owners, especially ones as nice as these guys? So, we forked over £20 (around US$29) for an annual membership and joined hundreds of fellow Moody yacht owners in this exclusive organization. 

Only Moody owners can join, which makes it kind of neat. You feel like you're part of a special club. I had hoped there was a secret handshake that Moody owners gave each other which signaled something like, "Greetings Sister, I shake your hand in Moody solidarity." But, when I shook my fellow Moody 346 owners' hands, they were ordinary handshakes. Good, solid and firm handshakes, but pretty ordinary. 

Then I realized it was the tea towel that sets Moody owners apart, not a secret handshake. That's how you know a fellow Moody owner when you see one - it's the tea towel. Of course, you'd probably find their tea towel on their Moody yacht, but the tea towel is what really confirms it. 

Now, I just have to figure out what to do with my MOA tea towel. It seems too special to use for the actual drying of dishes and wiping up of spills. Maybe I'll turn it into a fabric bag which I can store clothes and bedding in, like my bloggy pal Melissa at Little Cunning Plan recently did. 

Well, that's enough for now. I need to put a load of laundry in. I've got a pile of dirty tea towels that need washing. For some reason, there's red wine stains on a bunch of them. Completely unrelated to an alien invasion. Oops. On the bright side, those Spartan green fleece slipcovers I made last year see resistant to stains.

Do you belong to any clubs or organizations? For those of you with boats, have you ever met the owners of your sister ships? 

Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - pop by and say hi!

20 May 2016

Around The World In 80 Books | Update #7

 
I've just finished up another couple of months of the Around the World in 80 Books challenge. It's been a while since my last update as I was wrapped up in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge during much of April. I also found myself reading a lot of cozy mysteries, which unfortunately were all set in the States, so I couldn't use them to tick off any countries for this particular challenge.

The idea of the challenge is to read books set in 80 different countries, effectively exploring the world from the comfort of your armchair. Since my last update, I've read books set in six more countries – Germany, Greece, Grenada, Iran, Nigeria and Sweden.That makes a total of 35 books since I started the challenge. 45 more to go!

You can read more about the challenge here, as well as check out Update #1, Update #2, Update #3, Update #4, Update #5 and Update #6.

****

THE BOOK THIEF by Markus Zusak | Germany

The Book Thief is one of those bestsellers everyone raves about, has won all sorts of awards and I'm sure Oprah has a copy on her nightstand. For some reason, I often hesitate to read popular books for fear that I'll be disappointed. I worry that it might be a bit like the popular girl at school. Sure, she's pretty on the outside and everyone wants to be her friend, but shallow is her middle name.

But, I happened to have a copy of The Book Thief  and it ticks off Germany from the list, so I went ahead and read it. Turns out it's not only popular, but good. Kind of like a cheerleader with a heart, brains and a quirky sense of humor. Just goes to show you that you shouldn't stereotype folks, including the popular girls.

Set during World War II in Munich, The Book Thief tells the story of a girl, Liesel Meminger, who steals books, her foster father who plays the accordion, a Jewish man who comes into their lives, Nazis, and my favorite character, Death.

Death tells the story of Liesel and her friends and family, offering interesting tidbits along the way, like his favorite color of sky - chocolate. See, Death likes chocolate - he can't be such a bad guy after all.

The question is, what color will everything be at that moment when I come for you? What will the sky be saying? Personally, I like a chocolate-colored sky. Dark, dark chocolate. People say it suits me. I do, however, try to enjoy every color I see - the whole spectrum. A billion or so flavors, none of them quite the same, and a sky to slowly suck on. It takes the edge off the stress. It helps me relax.

You can find out more about The Book Thief on Goodreads.


THE OLIVE GROVE by Katherine Kizilos | Greece

I found The Olive Grove on the book exchange at my marina. I don't normally read travel memoirs, but this was one of two I read over the past couple of months. The author is a Greek-Australian whose father fled Greece during the civil war and emigrated to Australia. She returned to Greece several times, living in her father's village and traveling around the country. The Olive Grove tells the story of her travels when she went back in 1995.

There are several themes interwoven throughout the book such as the relationship with her father and his views towards his adopted country of Australia and his birthplace, the disappearance of rural villages and its impact on Greek life, the plight of Albanian immigrants and what it means to be Greek.

To be honest, this was one of those books that I struggled to get through initially. But, because of my self-imposed rule to finish all books I start during this challenge, I soldiered on and, in the end, was glad I made it past the first third of the book. I enjoyed the author's insights into Greek culture, as well as her other observations on life - such as this one on talking while you walk.

There is much to be said for talking as you walk. What you say is not the sole focus, so the pressure to perform - to impress - is off. If the conversation lags or is strained, the silence falls naturally enough; the compensations of landscape and exercise fill the vacuum. Listening can also be easier on the hoof. Expressions of pain or amusement remain private: no-one is looking at you. And if a story sends you spinning into a reverie so that, on emerging from the eddy of your thoughts, you find you have nothing to say, well, then it doesn't matter. The walking takes over.

You can find out more about The Olive Grove on Goodreads.


AN EMBARRASSMENT OF MANGOES by Ann Vanderhoof | Grenada

An Embarrassment of Mangoes was the second travel memoir that I read over the past couple of months and I loved it from start to finish. The author recounts her and her husband's escape from the rat race and sailing throughout the Caribbean. Even if you aren't planning on buying a boat and cruising the Caribbean islands, this is still a great read about a couple's courage to live their dream and enjoy life to its fullest.

There are a number of Caribbean islands that she describes in the book, but I decided to tick Grenada off with this book as a fair bit of the memoir covers that island. Plus, our boat (S/V Tickety Boo) has been to Grenada with her previous owners and spent hurricane season there, so I have a particular interest in the area.

I love the tone of the memoir - you feel like the author is telling you stories about their adventures over a cup of coffee or a tropical rum punch. And, I love the fact that she and her husband made the effort to get to know the local people, unlike some cruisers that they met along the way.

“To our surprise, though, we’ve discovered that not all cruisers are as determined as we are to get involved in island culture. Some aren’t only ignoring local events and music, they’re still eating much as they did back home. ‘They’ve got bigger freezers and more money than we have,’ Steve says, ‘but I’ll bet they’re not having as much fun.’”

You can find out more about An Embarrassment of Mangoes on Goodreads.


BRIDES OF BLOOD by Joseph Koenig | Iran

Crime, suspense and post-revolutionary Iranian society is a recipe for a fascinating novel. In The Brides of Blood, Darius Bakhtiar, the Chief of Homicide for the National Police, investigates the death of a young woman found on a bench in Tehran and, in the process, becomes embroiled in political and religious intrigue. The course of his investigation takes him to guerilla training camps, Evin prison, where torture is routine, inside the Komiteh, the paramilitary group who enforces their particular brand of the Islamic code, and into the midst of drug smuggling rings.

While I enjoyed The Brides of Blood as a hard-boiled crime novel, what I particularly liked was the insights into daily life in post-revolutionary Iran.

“Ghaffari’s small single-story house was set behind an ivy-covered wall in a neighborhood near the Azadi monument in the western part of the city that had not changed in twenty years. Its four rooms were furnished in the old style with cushions and pillows on the floor, which were layered with Hamadan carpets that had been in Ghaffari’s mother’s family for generations. A low table in the living room supported a twenty-seven-inch color television and a vase containing a single dog rose. The door was opened by a little girl in a floral-patterned indoor chador who ran into her father’s arms and was covered with kisses. Over Ghaffari’s shoulder she eyed Darius as though he were a child molester. Shahla was nine years old, the legal mature age for a female, and thus was obligated to wear the veil.”

You can find out more about The Brides of Blood on Goodreads.


I DO NOT COME TO YOU BY CHANCE by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani | Nigeria

This was another book that I might have put down after the first couple of chapters if it wasn't for my rule of finishing every book I start during this challenge. I'm glad I stuck with it. It turned out to be hilarious and fascinating. I Do Not Come to You by Chance tells the story of Kingsley Ibe who, as the eldest son, takes on responsibility for his family when his father passes away. Unable to find work in the field that he trained for at university, Kingsley become involved in his uncle's business in order to provide for his mother and siblings.

While his uncle, Cash Daddy, has a profitable business, there's one problem - it's based on scamming mugus (patsies) through Nigerian 419 advance fee scams. You've probably heard about these types of scams or maybe even been contacted by one of these dodgy characters yourself promising a very large sum of money if you help them with a transaction to release money that they can't access. It was fun to read the emails that Kingsley and his colleagues sent to their targets, as well as see how he struggles to reconcile himself to his lucrative "profession."

Dear Friend, I do not come to you by chance. Upon my quest for a trusted and reliable foreign businessman or company, I was given your contact by the Nigerian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. I hope that you can be trusted to handle a transaction of this magnitude...Sometime ago, I deposited the sum of $58,000,000.00 cash (fifty eight million USD) of my late husband's money in a security firm whose name I cannot disclose until I'm sure that I can trust you. I will be very grateful if you could receive these funds for safe keeping. For your kind assistance, you are entitled to 20% of the total sum.

You can find out more about I Do Not Come to You by Chance on Goodreads.


DEATH ANGELS by Ake Edwardson | Sweden

I went from reading a book about sweltering Nigeria to reading one about freezing cold Sweden. Death Angels is the first in the series of Inspector Winter crime novels. In this book, Inspector Winter investigates a series of related murders in London and Gothenburg which leads him into the dark world of the porn industry and snuff films. It was an engrossing read, although the subject matter was rather unpleasant at times, and I'd happily read another one of the author's books.

To be honest, I don't know much about Sweden, although I've been there, so I was interested in the descriptions of various characters, including that of the division chief, Sture Birgersson who comes from Lapland.

Birgersson was a Laplander who had wound up in Gothenburg by chance, not design. Unlike everyone else from northern Sweden, he didn't go back and hunt in the fall...Birgersson had the peculiar accent of someone who'd grown up in a mining district near the polar circle and spent his adult life in the hustle-bustle of a European metropolis.

You can find out more about Death Angels on Goodreads.

****

If you're participating in the challenge too, I'd love to hear what you've been reading. Even if you're not doing the challenge, let us know what books you've been enjoying lately. If you're interested in participating in the challenge yourself or just looking for some book ideas, check out this list of A to Z suggestions from Book Riot.

COUNTRIES READ TO DATE: Algeria, Australia, Azerbaijan, the Bahamas, Bolivia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Brazil, Canada, China, Cuba, England, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Haiti, Iceland, India, Iran, Ireland, Japan, Kenya, Mali, Mexico, Nigeria, North Korea, Norway, Russia, Samoa, Scotland, Slovenia, Sweden, United States, Vietnam and Zimbabwe.

Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - pop by and say hi!

18 May 2016

Wordless Wednesday | Too Much Wine May Lead To Weirdness


I know Wordless Wednesday is supposed to be about posting a photo with no words to explain it, but I can't help myself - here are a few words:

1 - One of the nicest and most surprising presents ever.

2 - Undoubtedly, it will lead to more weird posts like this one.

3 - Who is Charles Shaw?

What words does this picture bring to your mind?

Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - we'd love for you to pop by and say hi!  

16 May 2016

A Fair Maiden's Quest For A Filter Of Fuel & Magical Boat Spells

Thank you Graphics Fairy for the wizard image.

Let me just apologize now. I had some wine with dinner last night. Here’s the problem when you have a glass of wine, the voices in your head become very convincing. “Go on, Ellen,” they said rubbing their imaginary hands together, “Take that boring story about changing a fuel filter on your diesel engine and turn it into a whimsical fairy tale. Everyone is going to love it!”

I had another sip of wine, mopped up the rest of my spaghetti sauce with some bread, decided the voices in my head were right - it was a brilliant idea - and this is the result. You might want to have a glass or wine while you read this - it will probably make more sense that way.

****

Once upon a time, there was a fair maiden with mousy brown hair named Ellen who grew up in tiny hamlet near the Great Lake of Erie. It was a peaceful childhood. She frolicked in the brisk air, playing in the creek during the summer and building snow forts during the long winters with her younger sister, who had lovely flaxen hair which she secretly coveted.

She was surrounded by loyal companions who taught her the value of friendship, tolerating the quirks of others and the necessity of daily allergy pills. Sunny, a beautiful black and white longhair who suffered postpartum depression after her kittens wouldn’t stay in their box and then spent her remaining days sitting in a corner and wondering where her life had gone wrong. Alice, a petite tabby, who, although ladylike in appearance, suffered from terrible gas. And Scamper, a feisty tortoiseshell, who had been possessed by a demon which caused her to hiss and brandish her claws whenever anyone approached too near.

She was tutored in the fine arts of algebra, Ohio history and English literature. While there were times that she questioned the importance of knowing that there are 88 counties in the Great State of Ohio, how to use a quadratic equation and deciphering the ancient text of The Canterbury Tales, she came to have faith that this arcane knowledge would serve her well in the future.

As she came of age, she went off to pursue more arcane knowledge in the capital of her country’s land, learning about important things like the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, fungible currencies and structural-functional theory. Later she met and married a prince from the kingdom of Dakota du Nord and traveled overseas to faraway islands with him. Their life was full of good fortune and happiness. She thought she was the luckiest girl in the world.

Years later, she found herself living on a boat in the middle of a swamp filled with alligators, turtles and fish. They reminded her of her loyal companions of childhood. The alligators were like Scamper – feisty and threatening at times. The turtles were like Sunny – they kept to themselves and retreated into their shells to ponder their lives. The fish were like Alice – sweet and good natured, but stinky on occasion.

She lived happily with her new friends of the swamp until one day a terrible tragedy befell her. An evil sorcerer cursed her boat’s Great Machine and caused it to stop working. Each time she tried to start the Great Machine, it would refuse to fire. She could hear the evil sorcerer cackle every time the Great Machine made sputtering noises. Without the Great Machine, she wondered, how would she move her boat when Mother Nature's winds were absent from the skies?

The Great Machine was a menacing creature made out of chunks of metal and rubber gaskets. Normally, it was locked away behind a door in a dark chamber in the middle of the boat, where it feasted on large vats of oil and diesel soup and muttered to itself about injectors and glow plugs.

One day, she worked up her courage to open the Great Machine's chamber and look upon it. She stared at the Great Machine and sighed as she recalled her studies as a young maiden. If only her tutors had taught her magic instead of algebra, she would be able to revive the Great Machine, but, alas, she was helpless.

In despair, she searched the boat high and low until one day she discovered a book of magic spells written by a great wizard himself, Sir Nigel Calder - The Encyclopedia of Magical Boat Incantations. Sometimes it was referred to as the Boatowner's Mechanical and Electrical Manual, so as to disguise its true nature from those who were ignorant of the magical nature of the watercraft who travel the seas. Sir Nigel was a truly clever wizard - a name like the Boatowner's Mechanical and Electrical Manual would be so dull and boring to the average mortal that they would never bother to open the tome's pages and discover the magical spells it contained.

Sir Nigel was so powerful of a wizard that he called the Great Machine by its true name – the Darkly Dangerous Diesel Engine. She herself didn’t dare speak its true name for fear that she would be beset by another curse, like water leaking from the stuffing box. She read through the magic spells by candlelight, while drinking glass after glass of wine, desperately seeking a spell that would remove the curse from the Great Machine and allow her to take her boat back out to the sea.

****

Here’s the other problem with having wine with dinner. It makes you sleepy. So sleepy that you don’t want to finish your blog post. Plus, it’s way too long already. So, I’ll just leave you hanging until another day. Will the fair maiden be able to successfully cast a spell and bring the Great Machine back to life?  Or, will she herself be cursed by the evil sorcerer and trade her sailboat in for a trawler with a brand new Great Machine crafted by elves from the realm of Yanmar?

Are you a DIY type of person? Do you fix things in your house, boat or RV when they break or do you call in an expert instead?

Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - we'd love for you to pop by and say hi!  

13 May 2016

The Well Traveled Can Opener

How many can openers do you own? I own three. That doesn't seem excessive, does it? They're all top blokes. I can't imagine my life without them. Come on, let me introduce you.
 
I call this one Campbell.


Whenever I look at a can opener, it reminds me of when my mom used to make us grilled cheese sandwiches and Campbell's tomato soup for lunch. So, I thought Campbell seemed like a good name for this fellow. He’s a modern type of can opener which uses a rotating cutting wheel and a serrated wheel to slice open lids so that you can get at your tomato soup in lickety-split fashion. 

This fellow is called Billy, as in Backup Billy.


You can't see him very well because he’s sealed away in a plastic bag marked Open in Emergency. He's a more ordinary can opener than Campbell, but he still gets the job done.

I bet you're wondering why it says Open in Emergency? Well, if you live on land and your can opener breaks while you're making dinner, you’d chuck it in the trash, order some pizza and pick up a new can opener next time you were at Walmart.

But, if you live on a boat and Campbell the Can Opener breaks while you’re in a remote anchorage miles and miles from a store and the nearest pizza joint, you have a minor meltdown. Okay, maybe if you're me, you have a major meltdown.

You open all of the cubbyholes in your boat looking for something to make for dinner that doesn’t involve canned food. When all you can find is melba toast and a jar of olives, you have another minor meltdown. Then, you remember that you have a back-up can opener, wisely sealed in plastic so that it doesn’t rust. You breathe a sigh of relief, open up the bag and continue making a scrumptious dinner involving canned tomatoes, black beans and corn. Okay, maybe it isn't scrumptious, but it sure beats melba toast and olives.

I know about the whole meltdown thing from personal experience when our old can opener, Bruce, up and died on me in when we were anchored in the Bahamas. There wasn't a spare can opener to be found anywhere on board. It was pretty tragic. Then we bought a new can opener and it broke on us too. That was beyond tragic.

My bloggy pal, Jaye at Life Afloat, remembered the blog post I wrote about the tragic Bahamian can opener incident when she was in Aruba. Now, why she was thinking about me and can openers while vacationing on a tropical island is beyond me, but when she saw a can opener for sale without any moving parts, she picked it up for me.

I call it Funshi, after the fine folks at the Fung Shing Trading Company who made the can opener in China and then exported it to Aruba.


All of the instructions are written in Chinese on the packaging, except for the part that says, "Beware of sharpness. Keep out of reach of children." But, there are helpful pictures which show you how to use it, so even someone like me should be able to manage to open a can of cat food or even a beer with it.



Funshi might be simple compared to Billy and Campbell, but, because he doesn't have any moving parts to break, he more than makes up for it in reliability. Sometimes, simple is best.

After Funshi's long journey from China to Aruba, Jaye and her husband then took Funshi from Aruba and brought him all the way to me in Indiantown, Florida. This is one well traveled can opener. Maybe one day, we'll even take him back to his adopted home of Aruba or even back to his birthplace in China.

What are the top kitchen utensils that you can't imagine being without? Do you have a spare can opener squirreled away anywhere in case of the Zombie Apocalypse? 

Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - we'd love for you to pop by and say hi! 

11 May 2016

A To Z Challenge Reflections


I know you all had hoped that I was done talking about Nancy Drew. Wasn’t it enough that she had to take over the blog for all of April during the A to Z Blogging Challenge? Didn't she just teach us three things about writing? Does she really need to make an appearance yet again?

Apparently she does. Nancy is a stickler for doing things by the book and one of the things she thinks is important to tick off of her very orderly “To Do List” (written, of course, with her Mont Blanc fountain pen in a hand tooled leather bound notebook, which a grateful client gave her after solving a case involving a missing Pekinese dog) is to write a Reflections post so that the A to Z team has some feedback on how the challenge went this year and thoughts for next year.

So, in no particular order, here are some random reflections.

****

Just Your Normal Increase in Blog Traffic and Followers

I know some people get an increase in visitors to their blogs during the challenge and an increase in followers on their social media channels. I had a look back at my stats and, while bog visitors and Facebook followers increased during April, the percentage increase was on par with what I normally see on a monthly basis. I didn’t see any astronomical jump in numbers as a result of the challenge.

I suspect that some people who normally read our blog stopped doing so during April because Nancy Drew wasn’t their cup of tea, while new readers popped by from the challenge to take their place. Some folks may were turned off that I did a story in installments along with some thoughts on each day's letter (which made for some long posts) and never visited again, while others enjoyed the approach I took and visited more regularly. You're definitely not going to please everyone.

I did the challenge to have fun, experiment with blogging and meet new bloggers. I didn’t do it to increase blog traffic and followers, so I was happy with having a normal increase in stats. But, I think the challenge can be a great tool for some folks to raise the visibility of their blogs and increase traffic.

Pre-Scheduling Blog Posts = Sanity

Last year when I did the challenge, I had over half of my blog posts written and scheduled in advance. This year, I wrote and scheduled all of my blog posts (except Z) in advance. Honestly, I can’t imagine doing it any other way. I often get in a groove when it comes to writing blog posts and will sit down and churn out a week’s worth or more in advance (we normally publish every Monday, Wednesday and Friday), so it wasn’t all that different to churn out a month’s worth in advance.
Considering my theme was a Nancy Drew inspired short story broken up into 26 installments, it really worked well for me to write it all ahead of time in order to ensure the story flowed okay.

Also, my laptop broke towards the end of the challenge and I cannot even begin to imagine what I would have done if I hadn't had all of the posts already locked and loaded. Writing blog posts on your cell phone isn’t the easiest thing in the world.

Hats off to people who can write their A to Z blog posts on the fly. I’m not one of them and neither is Nancy.

Any Interest in Special Interest Groups?

There were seven sailing and cruising types of blogs participating in the challenge this year that I know of (you can see a list at the bottom of this post). Some of them were folks that I cajoled, conned and strong-armed into joining in the communal insanity of the A to Z challenge. I think we formed a fun community and special interest group, visiting and commenting on each others’ blogs given our shared interest in sailing, cruising, liveaboard life and a nomadic lifestyle. Hopefully, they’ll all join in the challenge again next year.

I wonder if it might be useful to have a more structured approach to special interest groups next year? I know that you can indicate what type of blog yours is on the sign-up linky, but not everyone does that (I don’t think I did) and it might not be the most user friendly way to find like-minded blogs. Of course, there are a few downsides of doing something more structured: (1) admin work required; (2) not all blogs can be neatly labeled and put into a bucket; and (3) folks might get too focused on blogs similar to their own and miss out on the opportunity to discover blogs that talk about new and exciting things they didn’t even know existed before the challenge. Anyway, just throwing it out there as food for thought.

Commenting Takes Time, But It’s Worth It

I’m thrilled with how many comments I got on the blog this year. I love it when people comment! It’s so reassuring to know that people are actually reading the blog and are engaged with it. I tried to respond to each and every comment (hopefully, I didn’t miss any) and that took a lot of time. But, it was so worth it as I discovered a lot of other fun bloggers in the process.

Of course, it’s not just about comments on your own blog, it’s about sharing that bloggy love with others. During the first part of the challenge, I visited five or more new blogs each day to check them out and leave a comment. By the end of the challenge, I have to admit, I did less of that and stuck more with the blogs that had become my faves. Having a computer that kept acting up also made it difficult to visit as many blogs as I would have liked.

****

Nancy has got an exciting new case to solve (something to do with alligator trapping in southern Florida) and Bess has whipped up some triple chocolate brownies with cream cheese frosting, which I need to sample, so that's all for today. But before I go, I want to say a huge thanks to the A to Z team! You guys are amazing!

If you want to check out other A to Z Reflections posts, just hop on over here. It's the perfect thing to do while you're having your morning coffee and snacking on a brownie.

We'll see you back here on Friday to tell you all about can openers imported from China via Aruba all the way to Indiantown, Florida. Trust me, you won't want to miss this.

Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - we'd love for you to pop by and say hi!