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23 February 2018

Flashback Friday | Cooking Without A Fridge: A Week On Our Boat In New Zealand

 

Flashback Friday takes place on the last Friday of the month. The idea is to give a little more love to a blog post you've published before that maybe didn't get enough attention, or is something you think is still relevant or even a something that you really love and want to share again.

Many thanks to Michael d’Agostino for starting Flashback Friday and inspiring me to go back and revisit some of our earlier blog posts.


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This is a flashback to when we lived and cruised aboard our 26' sailboat, Rainbow's End, in New Zealand. She was a great little boat, but one of the things I really like about our new boat, Tickety Boo, is that fact that she has a fridge. We managed fine cooking without a fridge in New Zealand, but it's so much nicer to have a fridge, especially when it comes to keeping your beer cool.

{This post was originally published in March 2014. You can find the original post here.}  


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When we first decided to start cruising full-time on our 26’ sailboat, I thought one of the biggest challenges would be living without a fridge. Yes, that’s right -  we don’t have a fridge on board. We don’t have an oven, a dishwasher or a laundry machine either. This is a very low-tech boat and certainly a long, long way from living on land. But, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised that living without a fridge isn’t really a problem at all. And just to prove it, I thought I would share a week’s worth of our meals to show you the types of things we cook and eat.

One of my “inspirations” for preparing to cruise full-time has been Lin Pardey’s The Care and Feeding of Sailing Crew. In her book, she describes the meals she made each day on a passage that they took from Asia to North America, along with some handy tips and tricks. So, like all good idol worshipers, I decided to imitate her and I’ve been recording what we eat in our log. When I looked back to pick a week of cooking to share, I made a few observations:

  • We eat a lot of pasta. Which you might not think is a bad thing, but I only make it one or two ways.  

  • Tortillas are a godsend when you don’t have an oven and easy access to store bought bread. 

  • Cooking experiments don’t always turn out. 

  • Some things that I’ve made, even a dog wouldn’t eat. 

  • Those are the days you think to yourself, “I wish we could order a pizza to go just now.” But you can’t. Because you have no cell phone reception and you are far, far away from a pizzeria.  
  • We could definitely do better on that whole 5 a day thing. But that was probably the case before we moved onto the boat.  

Tuesday, 3 March 2014 (Bay of Islands) 

Breakfast – nada 
Lunch – rice & bean burritos and cheese quesadillas 
Dinner – pasta 

Usually, I’m a big believer in eating breakfast and demand to be fed pretty much first thing after I wake. But, since we’ve been out cruising, I find that we often eat much later at night then we did on land as we’re either anchoring someplace new or have been out exploring an island during the day. Or, I just can’t be bothered to cook until the sun goes down. So, I find that there have been quite a few days where we’ve skipped breakfast and quickly got the boat ready and headed out to our next destination. This was one of those days. 

For lunch, Scott likes to play a little game I call “Salmonella Roulette”. I heat up last night’s dinner – which has been sitting out without refrigeration – and he happily eats it. So far, he hasn’t gotten sick. So while he had leftover vegetarian rice and beans burritos, I settled for a cheese quesadilla.  

For dinner, I made my specialty – Ellen’s pasta with red sauce. Simple to make. You chop up an onion, a green bell pepper/capsicum, a couple of cloves of garlic and some sun dried tomatoes. Sauté them in pan with some olive oil. Add in a can of tomatoes, some olives, chili flakes and black pepper. (If you’re using a plain can of tomatoes, add in some salt and sugar too.) Turn up the heat and get everything talking to each other. Then turn off the heat for 10 minutes and let the pan sit. Turn the heat back on briefly, then turn off again. This is how we try to minimize how much LPG we use. Oh, the fun and games on a boat. Cook some spaghetti, add the sauce and voila – you have dinner. Even better if you add in some salami and cheese. 

Wednesday, 5 March 2014 (Bay of Islands) 

Breakfast – egg & cheese breakfast burrito
Lunch – nada 
Dinner – chili bean spaghetti with griddle bread and pepper jelly 

Even though Scott is our full-time skipper, he generally makes our breakfast. Technically, I should be doing that given my complete lack of useful contribution to sailing. But Scott is a real sweetheart so he does it. Either that or he is worried I’ll mutiny. His specialty is egg & cheese breakfast burritos. Another simple dish – make some scramble eggs with cheese. Heat up some tortillas in a frying pan with some olive oil. Combine. Yummo.  

Tortillas are fabulous little creatures. They live happily in their plastic pouches for months until you’re ready for them. We use a lot of them as bread is hard to find or is way too expensive to buy and we don’t have an oven to make our own. Tortillas are a regular feature in our repertoire. Unfortunately, they are made with white flour so the nutrional value is probably negligible.  

For some reason we skipped lunch. I was probably unhappy about this. But dinner made up for it as I made my only other pasta recipe – vegetarian chili beans served on spaghetti. At this point, we only had two tortillas left and lacked any other substance which resembles bread, so I made some skillet bread with rosemary and garlic to go with dinner. I found a jar of red pepper jelly in one of the cubby holes which we spread on it.  

Thursday, 6 March 2014 (Passage from Bay of Islands to Whangaroa Harbour) 

Breakfast – leftover skillet bread 
Lunch – leftover chili bean spaghetti & crackers with peanut butter and smoked mussels 
Dinner – pretzels, salami, cheese & crackers 

We had an early start to make our way up north to Whangaroa so we got the boat underway and then ate leftover skillet bread in the cockpit. It was okay. Pancakes would have been better, but they didn’t seem to be on offer. 

We stopped off at the Cavalli Islands at lunchtime to wait out the tides so that we could get into the Whangaroa Harbour (when you have a strong tidal stream vs. 10 hp engine, you wait). Scott played “Salmonella Roulette” again and finished off the leftover chili bean spaghetti. He offered to share. I looked at him like he was a madman and refreshed myself about what to say on the VHF if he got really sick and I needed to call for help. As usual, his tummy is made of iron and he was just fine. To top off his spaghetti, he had some crackers with smoked mussels. I was content to just have crackers and peanut butter – a meal which I personally think is a cruiser’s best friend. 

When dinner time rolled around, I decided to call a general strike in the kitchen and said, “I’m not going to make dinner tonight!”  Scott looked at me, rolled his eye and said, “Fine, I’m not going to skipper the boat anymore.” We stared at each other for a good ten minutes and finally realized no one was going to give in. So we settled for a smorgasbord of pretzels, salami, cheese and crackers. I’m not sure there was any winner in this particular battle of wills.  

Salami and cheese are a couple of our staples on the boat. I’ve found a great salami which doesn’t require refrigeration. Once you open it, you just have to eat it within 30 days, but that really isn’t a problem for us. It is a great little protein solution – we put a little in my famous red pasta sauce and have it for snacks. Cheese also doesn’t seem to require refrigeration but that might just be the New Zealand climate. It doesn’t get very hot here and we happily leave a block of Colby cheese in a container and put it in all sorts of things.  

Friday, 7 March 2014 (Whangaroa Harbour) 

Linner - grilled cheese 

For some reason, the only think I marked down in our log was grilled cheese. I’m pretty sure that wasn’t what we ate for breakfast. But I think we had them for a late lunch/dinner combo – what we like to call “linner”. When we were in Whangaroa town, we went to the general store. The thing about general stores in New Zealand is that prices are rarely marked on anything. Usually, I ask how much something costs. This time, I just took a load of bread up to the counter, the woman sized me and my American accent up and said, “$6.50, please.” This is the most we have ever paid for a loaf of bread here. I want an oven on my next boat so that I can make my own and not be held hostage to the general stores.  

So with our very expensive bread, we had some lovely grilled cheese sandwiches with onions and garlic granules sprinkled in for good measure. This wasn’t one of our better days when it comes to getting your daily dose of fruit and veg. 

Saturday, 8 March to Sunday 9 March 2014 (Passage from Whangaroa Harbour to Kawau Island) 

Saturday

Breakfast – eggs & toast 
Lunch – grilled cheese w/salami 
Dinner – peanut noodles 

Sunday 

Breakfast – toast & breakfast burritos 
Snack – pretzels and coke 
Dinner - pasta 

While I have done a teeny bit of night sailing before, this was my first official night passage – it took us 30 hours and 45 minutes to sail 119 nautical miles from Whangaroa to Kawau. We didn’t actually know that we were going to do it until later on Saturday when we realized that it was miles and miles from an anchorage and it was getting dark. And then Scott suggested we just carry on to Kawau.  

I was glad that we had breakfast that morning, as it turned out to be a very long two days. Because we had bread, toast featured in our breakfast, along with some scrambled eggs. Lunch on the first day featured more grilled cheese with the added bonus of some salami thrown in. For dinner, I decided to make peanut noodles for a couple of reasons – it only requires one pan to boil the pasta in and it tastes just as nice cold as it does warm so we could eat it throughout the night.  

On the second day, Skipper Scott made us breakfast using up the last of the bread for some toast along with some of his famous breakfast burritos with the last of our tortillas. Everything just tastes better when you haven’t slept. Once we got to Kawau, we celebrated with some coke and pretzels and then I topped off the evening with spaghetti and red sauce. One thing you have to love about Scott is that he will happily eat the same thing day in and day out. Which is fortunate as I make the same thing day in and day out.  

Monday, 10 March 2014 (Kawau Island to Islinton Bay) 

Breakfast – cheese & salami omelet & scrambled eggs 
Lunch – peanut butter, smoked mussels & crackers 
Dinner – pasta 

Because we were out of tortillas and bread, we had a “low carb” breakfast of eggs. I had mine plain and scrambled while Scott went all out and put cheese and salami in an omelet. Lunch we the usual cruiser’s special of crackers with peanut butter for me and smoked mussels for Scott. And of course, what would dinner be without my usual spaghetti and red sauce pasta dish. I’m nothing, if not creative.  

So there you have it, a glimpse into a week eating and cooking onboard Rainbow’s End. I’m guessing that job offers won’t be streaming in for me to be a chef aboard a super yacht? But in the end, as long as the skipper’s belly is full, that’s all that counts. 

Could you live without a fridge? Or, if you don't have a fridge, what are your go-to recipes? 

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21 February 2018

Wordless Wednesday | Farming On A Sailboat


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

1 - What, you think the blog post title was misleading? Were you expecting pictures of fields of wheat and corn growing on the deck of our sailboat? No, this is "farming" cruiser style by growing sprouts.

2 - One of my friends has a sprouter which I've been fascinated by. I finally broke down an ordered one, along with a sampler back of seeds, on Amazon. What would we do without Amazon? Oh, yeah, that's right, we'd have more money and a lot less stuff.

3 - It's actually quite easy, and tasty too. Now, we'll never suffer from a lack of fresh greens while we're out cruising.

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

For more Wordless Wednesday fun, click here

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19 February 2018

The Call Of The Luddites Beckons, Or Technology Sucks

Sometimes, technology sucks. A couple of nights ago, a loud beeping noise interrupted my sleep. Here’s what ran through my head:

“Am I about to die from carbon monoxide poisoning?”

“Has the Dalek invasion started?”

“Is a garbage truck backing up into my boat?”

Turns out it was none of these things. My computer was just suffering a catastrophic failure. Which, I guess is *marginally* better than an invasion by the Daleks.

I think the fan is broken, causing it to overheat. I’ve ordered a new one, but it won’t be here until later this week. Hopefully, that solves the problem.

Then my cell phone became infected with some sort of bug. I thought I had that sorted, but it happened again. I’ve tried something else. Fingers crossed it works, otherwise I’ll have to reset the thing back to factory settings.

All of this had made me realize two things:

1 - I’m way too dependent on my computer. 

I was on fire working on >>Bodies in the Boatyard<< (the second book in my Mollie McGhie sailing mystery series), but without a computer, I’ve come to a standstill.

2 - The Luddites may be onto something. 

Technology isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Maybe I should just write the old-fashioned way, using pen and paper?

By the way, I’m typing this on an old iPad my mom gave me. It’s a real pain, so if I’m slow to respond to comments or visit your blog, that’s why.

Have you ever had technology problems? Ever been tempted to become a Luddite?




17 February 2018

Saturday Spotlight | Around The World In 80 Books, Update #15

In addition to the usual blog posts every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday about our travel adventures and day-to-day life living aboard a sailboat, I also occasionally post on Saturdays, focusing on things related to writing such as cover reveals, book launches, reviews, interviews with authors etc. So if you're a bit of a book nerd like I am, check in on Saturdays - you never know what might pop up.
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Remember when I started that "Around the World in 80 Books" challenge? The one I was so gung-ho about, but then never finished. Yeah, I had completely forgotten about it too until my mother reminded me about it. So, while we're land-locked and working on boat projects, I thought this would be a good time to start ticking more countries off of the list.

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 five more countries – Cambodia, Hungary, Italy, Singapore, and South Africa.

That makes a total of 75 books since I started the challenge - only 5 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, Update #6, Update #7, Update #8, Update #9, Update #10, Update #11, Update #12, Update #13, and Update #14.

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GRAVE SECRETS by Kathy Reichs | Guatemala

Grave Secrets is part of the Dr. Temperance Brennan series, which you may know better as the inspiration for the TV show, Bones. In this book, Dr. Brennan is working in Guatemala as part of a team of forensic anthropologists investigating the "disappearance" of villagers (women and children) in the 1970s who were brutally raped and murdered by members of the army. While in Guatemala, she is asked to assist in the investigation of the disappearance of four young women in recent months and see if the remains found in a septic tank are related.

I enjoyed Grave Secrets because of its focus on forensic anthropology (I studied cultural and linguistic anthropology), as well as its focus on contemporary Guatemalan culture and the dark period in Guatemalan history when countless Mayans were slaughtered.

"People filled the lobby, wandering, praying, drinking soda, slumping or fidgeting on wooden benches. Some wore housedresses, others suits or jeans. Most were dressed in Solola Mayan. Women swathed in striped red cloth, with burrito-wrapped babies on their bellies or backs. Men in woolen aprons, gaucho hats, and wildly embroidered trousers and shirts. Now and then a hospital worker in crisp white cut through the kaleidoscope assemblage."

You can find out more about Grave Secrets on Goodreads and get your own copy on Amazon


THE LAST FRIEND by Tahar ben Jelloun | Morocco

As I got down to the final ten books for this challenge, I was struggling to find books to tick off the remaining countries on my list, so I was delighted when I discovered the English translation of The Last Friend. The author is a well-known Moroccan writer who has been short-listed for the Nobel Prize in Literature. The Last Friend is about the changing nature of friendship between Ali and Mamet over the course of thirty years, which ultimately leads to betrayal. The story is told from the perspective of both Ali and Mamet, as well as from that of one of their friends. The plot twists and turns had me engrossed right to the end. 

"A city of seduction, Tangier lashes you to its eucalyptus trees with the old ropes left by sailors at the port; it pursues you as if to persecute you; it obsesses you like an unrequited love. We talked and talked about Tangier. We knew that without our city, our lives would be meaningless."

You can find out more about The Last Friend on Goodreads and get your own copy on Amazon.


THE WARSAW DOCUMENT by Adam Hall | Poland

The Warsaw Document is a spy thriller set during the Cold War. Quiller, a British Intelligence operative, is sent to Warsaw to "save detente" while anti-Soviet sentiments are smoldering. Although, I'm not a huge fan of this genre, The Warsaw Document was a good read which held my attention. I particularly liked how the author captured what the feel and mood of Warsaw might have been like at the time, and the impact that the Soviet presence had on the Polish people.

"I'd already learned how difficult it was to judge people from their behavior or even their expression: in this city the winter was not only in the streets and they were living on their nerves, the fierce vitality they'd put into their music and their wars now thrust inwards on themselves; and it was worse because the surface of their daily lives seemed still intact: they could sit here and order coffee and complain if it didn't come, and dance at the Cristal-Budapest and walk with their children in the park on Sundays. All they couldn't do was call their country their own and for these people their country was their soul."

You can find out more about The Warsaw Document on Goodreads and get your own copy on Amazon.  


AN ORDINARY MAN: THE TRUE STORY BEHIND HOTEL RWANDA by Paul Rusesabagina | Rwanda

I used to work with a woman who was in Rwanda during the time of the 1994 Rwandan genocide when 800,000 people (mostly Tutsi) were killed in the space of 100 days by the Hutus. I had seen the news coverage at the time of the Tutsi-Hutu conflict, but listening to her stories was horrifying and made everything seem so much more real. I hesitated about whether or not I wanted to read more about the atrocities that were committed, but in the end decided to go ahead and read An Ordinary Man as part of this challenge.

This is an autobiographical account by Paul Ruseabagina, the general manager of the Hotel Milles Collines, who sheltered 1,268 people on site. This book was the basis for the film, Hotel Rwanda. Ruseabagina describes how he fostered relationships with Hutu leaders in order to protect the people in his care. It was an eye-opening account and interesting insight into how such a thing could happen in Rwanda. In this passage, he tries to explain how the Tutsi came to be characterized as the enemy over time:

"The other thing you have to understand was that the message crept into our national consciousness very slowly. It did not happen all at once. We did not wake up one morning to hear it pouring out of the radio at full strength. It started with a sneering comment, the casual use of the term 'cockroach,' the almost humorous suggestion that Tutsis should be airmailed back to Ethiopia. Stripping the humanity from an entire group takes time."

You can find out more about An Ordinary Man on Goodreads and get your own copy on Amazon.


I AM NUJOOD, AGE TEN AND DIVORCED  by Nujood Ali | Yemen

Many of you may remember Nujood Ali's role in highlighting the practice of forced marriage of underage girls in Yemen. When she was nine years old, Nujood's parents arranged for her to marry a man in his thirties. She was regularly raped and beaten by her husband, but somehow found the courage to go to the court and ask for a divorce. In this memoir, Nujood shares details of her childhood before she was married off, what she endured while married, and the process of obtaining a divorce at ten years of age.

She was fortunate to have come to the attention of judges who advocated for her, and in being represented by Shada Nasser, a female lawyer. Nujood describes meeting the judges in this passage and how extraordinary her actions were:

"They both explain to me that in Yemen girls are frequently married off quite young, before the legal age of fifteen. An ancient tradition, adds Judge Abdo. But to his knowledge, none of these precocious marriages has ever ended in divorce - because no little girl has, until now, showed up at a courthouse. A question of family honor, it seems. My situation is most exceptional, and complicated."

You can find out more about I am Nujood on Goodreads and get your own copy on Amazon.

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If you're participating in the challenge too (or any other reading challenge), 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.

COUNTRIES READ TO DATE: Afghanistan, Algeria, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, the Bahamas, Bolivia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, China, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Djibouti, England, Estonia, Ethiopia, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Haiti, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, New Zealand, Nigeria, North Korea, Norway, Pakistan, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Kiribati, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, Slovenia, Spain, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Thailand, Turkey, United States, Vanuatu, Vietnam, Wales, Yemen, and Zimbabwe.

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16 February 2018

Spamageddon | Canned Meat Cook-Off At Indiantown Marina

Canned meat is a staple for cruisers, at least for those of us who are carnivores. So, when one of my marina friends suggested that we have a canned meat cook-off, I was excited. A risk-free way to sample canned meats that, frankly, I'm a little scared of buying (like Spam), and get recipe ideas? Yes, please, count me in!

We only had one rule - you had to make a dish with a canned meat. Fresh ingredients, other canned ingredients were allowed. Easy-peasy.

The event quickly became known as >>Spamageddon<< and the gauntlet was thrown down. Would anyone dare to make a recipe with Spam? Would any of us dare to eat it?

The event was a huge success - so much fun and such interesting and delectable dishes. I only wish I had pictures of all of the entries. But, here are a few to whet your appetite. Who knows maybe Spam is what's for dinner tonight in your house.

Spam - the meat you don't want to ask too many questions about

Who knew Spam could actually taste good?  There were three Spam entries - Spam Rice & Beans, Spam Cupcakes, and Candied Spam with Brie.


Two of these dishes even won prizes! Yes, there were prizes - more about that in a minute. But first, let's talk a bit more about these creative concoctions.

Everyone loves rice and beans, don't they? And beans and rice are staples aboard any cruising boat. Just whack in a can of Spam and you've got a meal that will keep the crew happy and well fed.

Doesn't the baked brie look gorgeous? I wouldn't blame you if you didn't realize that there was Spam in there. And not just any old Spam, but Spam candied with red pepper jelly. Add some brie, more red pepper jelly, wrap the whole thing with phyllo dough, bake, and you've got the most elegant looking Spam dish I've ever seen.

Spam cupcakes, anyone? This is such a creative dish. Make meatloaf out of Spam. Put in miniature muffin tins, top with mashed potato 'icing,' and voila you have savory cupcakes.


Chicken - tried and true, a staple on many cruising boats

Personally, I've never cooked with Spam. I rely more on canned chicken, so I was glad to see several tasty chicken entries. There was a very delicious Enchilada Soup and some moreish Chicken Salads and Spreads.



Fish - kind of disgusting

There were two fish entries - a to-die-for crab and bacon mac n'cheese, along with salmon patties served with dill sauce.


Let's talk for a minute about how disgusting salmon is when it comes out of the can. I have personal experience with this as I made the salmon patties. When I dumped it into a bowl, I was confronted with a horrible stench, skin, and bones. {Yuck, big time.} I almost decided to abandon my plans to cook with salmon, but I persevered. Once I mixed it with bread crumbs, eggs, Old Bay spice, onion, and a little bit of mayo, things looked a little bit better. And, of course, frying anything in oil helps immensely.

The Winners

We roped in a very nice (and brave) gentleman from Tattoo II to be our judge. He tasted all of the dishes, didn't discretely spit anything out into a napkin, and named winners in two categories - tastiest dish and most original dish.

*Tastiest*

1st - Salmon Patties (Tickety Boo) - that's me!
2nd - Chicken Dip (My Dream)
3rd - Baked Brie with Candied Spam (Amazed)

*Most Original*

1st - Spam Cupcakes aka Spoalf (Amazed)
2nd - Corned Beef Quesadillas (No Snow)
3rd - Enchilada Soup (Faith)

Have you ever cooked with canned meat? Any good recipes to share? Would you eat Spam?

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14 February 2018

Wordless Wednesday | Valentine's Day





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

1 - If you like free vintage, royalty-free images, look no further than The Graphics Fairy. That's where I got these cute valentines.

2 - Scott and I don't do the whole Valentine's Day thing. It's way too much pressure. 

3 - Exchanging Valentine's Day cards in elementary school was such a big thing. I remember decorating a shoe box with construction paper and lace doilies to turn it into a "mailbox" for my classmates to put their cards into.

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

For more Wordless Wednesday fun, click here

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11 February 2018

You Know It's Going To Be A Great Day When...


You know it's going to be a great day when...

...you have just enough milk left for your morning coffee.

...all the news headlines are about adorable kittens and puppies, instead of politics.

...dolphins frolic around your boat.

...nothing new hurts when you stretch in the morning.

...you've magically lost five pounds overnight and can button your jeans with ease.

...you find $40 in the pocket of your jeans.

...you do your taxes and realize you're going to get a refund.

...you finally submit your first novel to your editor.

...you forget to put sugar in your morning oatmeal and it still tastes great.


How do you know when it's going to be a great day?

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