Needing Less Doing More

Tag: futral

Nila Girl’s “Gourmet” Galley #3



A spoonful of inspiration.

A simple supper.

Please note the “ “ around “gourmet” in the title of the Nila Girl’s “Gourmet” Galley blog entries.  These “ “ act as a disclaimer so that you will not expect each entry to be a life changing work of art.  Far from it even.  Sometimes I would like to report on what we eat when the cookey does not feel like cooking.  What goes on in Nila Girl’s galley when we have spent the day freedive training and only have enough energy left for the most basic meal?

It is my job to feed the family.  Only on the rare occasion can I complain my way out of this essential duty.  In the same rare way that Ren can convince me to get out of bed, get dressed and dinghy Oreo over to the beach for his pee-pee, way before I am ready to move; I can con Ren into making up some vittles for us.  When I will not cook and he will not be convinced to take over, we resort to our family smorgasborgs.

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Smorgasborg has always been one of the author’s favorite meals. Ren is easy and quickly adapted to this simple pleasure.

Smorgasborg supper is a long standing lazy supper tradition passed down to me from my family.  Mom, Dad, Corey and I would gather around a kitchen counter, armed with knives, cutting up cheese, pickles, pepperoni and sometimes olives.  We would take the cutting board, now loaded with the recently cut goodies, into the living room and make toppling towers with the bits of food stacked too high on top of saltine crackers.  We never called the meal smorgasborg, we just called it “crackers and cheese”.  The name, smorgasborg, is unique to Ren and myself.  The simple meal/snack of goodies was expanded to include bananas, raisins, sun dried tomatoes, leftover bits of fish, simply EVERYTHING from the fridge.  We add and add to our own cutting board until it resembles a veritable smorgasborg, a plentiful buffet fit for a king.  We know the meal is fit for a king because we tried it out on King Oreo.  He approves of smorgasborg night mostly because we must drop more food on the floor as bits of overcrowded food are pushed closer and closer to the edge of the cutting board with every swipe of carrot through blue cheese dressing.  As I scoop up a handful of raisins and pair them with a couple of green olives I taste the pungent cheddar cheese and salty pepperoni of my past.  I enjoy the flavor until my tastebuds are assaulted with the conflicting tastes of raisins and olives.

Funny how food does that.  It becomes the bookmark by which we remember past experiences or the vivid tastes of food for the first time.  Something about taste and flavors sends signals to the brain, singeing memories into our psyches to be recalled at the next bite.  You may taste bitterness every time you eat scrambled eggs, recalling the harsh words your parents screamed right before their divorce as you sat by, eating scrambled eggs and ketchup.  A cheap hot dog made perfectly with ketchup, mustard and too many raw onions (that you will not doubt regret later) may conger up memories of running around with your teammates at the ball park growing up.  Waiting, and eating hot dogs, before your game began.  I will never eat pasta fagioli again without thinking of my Papa and the last meal I remember eating with him, pasta fagioli he had made, cluttered with bright green peas.  Tacos were a favorite in my family.  We ate tacos often but still not enough for my taste.  I remember sometimes running out of sour cream and substituting mayonnaise on our tortillas.  I secretly loved the mayonnaise substitution.  Not a tear was shed by me when we ran out of sour cream.  For some reason, I did not transition from a sour cream to mayo user in my adult life.  I use the obligatory sour cream on my tacos like everyone else, except I long for the mayo…or the taste of childhood.  As I sit here writing, I am also in the process of making burritos for lunch.  Maybe today I’ll use mayo.

Smorgasborg (Futral-Chapman Style)

Ingredients we used during our last meal:

2 eggs fried sunny side up.  Ren accidentally broke two eggs while unloading our grocery bag so we cooked them up and added them to the board.

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup bananas

1/2 cup green olives

2 cups lightly fried potatoes and carrots (in olive oil)

2 squirts blue cheese dressing

2 squirts Sri-Racha magic red sauce

Cut all ingredients and serve on a cutting board.  Limit cooking, this is lazy supper, remember?  Smorgasborg must be communal eaten off the cutting board, preferably with the hands.  Forks or chop sticks may be used if absolutely necessary. 

*Get creative with the ingredients.  Include anything that is on the verge of spoiling.  This avoids food waste and makes the smorgasborg interesting.


NOTE: I never measure amounts when I cook and guessed all the ratios in the recipe above


Christmas in The Keys

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Sweet Christmas card made by our buddy, Caleb Jimenez.

Pictured left is a homemade Christmas card made by freedive student, Caleb Jimenez.  He even included the perfect number of weights on the bottom of the weight belt (silver squares at bottom of card).  Thanks Caleb!

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Merry Christmas Ren!

To preface this entry you must know that, until today, we have been docked in Big Pine Key at a friend’s house since December 14th.  Our longest dockage yet.  A great pair of family friends, Mr. Duncan and Mrs. Lee Dawkins gave us permission to dock at their home.  While there, for a week and a half we had access to their scooters, home, everything!  It was a wonderful reprieve from the boat, especially for Oreo who really relishes his “pee on everything” time.  Which doesn’t come often enough while traveling.  We will never be able to adequately thank the Dawkins for their hospitality.

The first Christmas ever spent away from my family was…you guessed it…this year, on Big Pine Key.  Well, I suppose the word family encompasses more than my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and brother these days.  Now that I have a husband, Oreo and in-laws there’s plenty of family to go around.  Tnis doesn’t absolve my nostalgia for missing the Futrals badly.  I’m not ashamed to admit, I cried.  Christmas in the Keys includes warm weather (no white Christmas this year) and no shopping (a plus on a fixed income).  Instead, Ren and I spent a good bit of time hunting the elusive, barely legal lobster in the bays surrounding Big Pine Key.  After exhausting all of our lobster hunting resources, we managed to surface with two lobsters the entire week and a half we were in the Keys.  Needless to say, the overflowing lobster Christmas Eve dinner I had planned was lobsterless.  This could’ve been a problem (until we realized it didn’t matter at all) since the entire menu I had planned really depended on lobster as the centerpiece.  What is it they say about eggs and one basket? 

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Christmas wouldn’t be the same without our travel friendly Charlie Brown tree.

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Good bud, Kolt Johnson and Ren during a Christmas visit.

We didn’t spend the holiday completely alone, the three of us.  The “Big Chapmans” came down for a four day excursion.  The “Big Chapmans” consist of my father-in-law and his wife.  Mr. Frank and Mrs. Paula added the family element to our tropical Christmas.  Despite the slow paced Key-sey (everything is a bit tackier in the Keys, read: Keys-ey) holiday, ours was not without a little bit of obligatory family tension.  All tension was dissolved the first night with a bit of rum, some Will Farrell re-runs and X-Factor (the popular Fox talent show).  Our buddy Kolt Johnson and his family also came down to Big Pine in search of the Christmas lobster.  Kolt has been abroad for several years now and catching up with him is becoming increasingly more difficult.  It was really great to have the opportunity to spend quality time with him.  We even got to go hunting together, which is what spurred the friendship to begin with.  Mr. Ken Johnson, Kolt’s Dad, took us all out hunting in his boat one afternoon.  We also had the chance to have a few “family” meals together.  The only thing missing was our other buddy, Bruce.  Bruce, Kolt, Ren and I have become pretty good buds over the years.  What makes better family than friends? 

It was a bit harder than usual to get into the Christmas spirit with the common Keys theme of kissing dolphins (ugh), tropical fish and pastel colored everything.  Sent with the in-laws by Mom was a Charlie Brown Christmas tree.  We set the perfectly sad little tree up on the kitchen island and surrounded it with Christmas cards from family and friends.  Both of our mothers sent boxes of cookies with Mr. Frank and Mrs. Paula.  We received the cookies four days before Christmas and have managed to eat all but about five.  We have to save the last five because if we eat those, all of our worst thoughts about our lack of self-control will become reality.  We will have proved ourselves to be the gluttonous pigs we always thought we were.  Those five cookies will sit and get stale before they are ever chucked down the gullet.  We have to maintain control out here.  WE CAN’T LOSE CONTROL!  Sorry for yelling.  Also arriving with the Big Chapmans were bits and pieces of our lives left behind in our haste to get on the road…ahem…water, back in November.  Evolve Freediving t-shirts (for sale, email, a few pieces of exercise equipment (made for me by Don Kimball, thanks Don!), two fresh blocks of parmesan cheese (my mother has Italian roots),  Italian bread, our mail, etc.  These were all welcome Christmas presents until last night when we had to load all of our new treasures into the boat.  Which we did, complaining the entire time.

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The “Big Chapmans” down for a visit!

To set the mood Christmas Eve, none other than Bing Crosby would do.  My favorite Christmas music memories are of Bing’s low voice echoing down my childhood home’s hallway as I raced to the steps near the kitchen with my brother, Corey, to peer across into the living room where our always grand Christmas tree shone bright with multi colored lights.  I was always grateful, and still am, at my Mom’s ability to avoid the themed Christmas tree.  No all white light trees or mauve bows on our tree.  It was every man for himself as we littered our trees with lights and  ornaments of every kind.  No comparison to the Charlie Brown tree of this year but the small tree proved to be enough for us and is nestled in one of our boat lockers waiting for next year.  Since there was no lobster on the menu, Mrs. Paula and I supplemented with collard greens sent by Ren’s Mom and Mudder (Grandmother), angel hair pasta with anchovie sauce (don’t worry Mr. Frank, no anchovies in your pasta) and eggplant and squash pate with crackers.  It was different from the usual hoopla of a huge Christmas Eve supper but DAMN, it would do.  It wasn’t half bad either.  We finished up the meal with chocolate roll sent by my Nannie.  I’ll go ahead and tell you, you’ve never had anything like it.  A little “It’s a Wonderful Life” and that was a wrap. 

The Big Chapmans left Christmas morning before we checked under the tree to see if Santa came to Big Pine Key.  We said our goodbyes, sent them off, then checked  the tree.  Santa came!  He left, tackily in a brown bag, a Spanish-English dictionary, a piece of dark chocolate with sea salt and a bar of Dr. Bronner’s “magical” peppermint soap.  Ren was happy since he really wanted the dictionary and loves Dr. Bronners and chocolate with sea salt.  Santa takes notes and always surprises!  The day was spent outfitting the boat for our next adventure.  We  cleaned and organized the boat for the next leg of the race, down to Key West.  Actually, this is being written en route to Key West.  We are exactly, hold on a second….”Ren!  Ren!  How far are we from Key West?  Huh?  What?   Ok, Ok!….Ren says we are 12 miles to our entrance.  Not too shabby.  We left Big Pine Key last night to catch the high tide.  We did not want  a repeat performance of our arrival into Big Pine, where we spent about 5 hours ran aground,  waiting for the tide to shift in our favor.  We safely exited the channel from the Dawkins’ into the bay at about 9:00 pm last night.  We camped in the bay and left at 7:00 am this morning (Captain’s orders) to continue on to Key West. 

First thing is first when we get there, dunk Oreo in the water…he’s hot, poor guy.  Second thing is second, or first maybe, dunk Ashley in the water…she’s hot, poor girl.

The Biggest Injury Yet

“The First Cut is the Deepest”

-Cat Stevens

Ren suffered the biggest injury yet.  A gaping, bleeding head wound.  The injury happened as we were day sailing from Rodriguez Key south to Marathon Island.  The wind was hard on our backs.  To avoid the constant bouncing of a boat sailing downwind we decided to go a bit harder into the wind.  This put our sail position more east of south.  In order to get back in line with Marathon we would have to jibe back around and head west.  The dreaded jibe!

As our skills are improving and we begin to work with a bit more synergy we also gain confidence.  The jibe is no longer a problem for the occupants of Nila Girl.  One thing that is a problem…the cleat that grabs the mainsheet and keeps it tight.  Yep, that one, slipped, causing the mainsheet to spool out and the boom to crash over early during our jibe.

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Ren took a lickin’ and kept on tickin’…thankfully!

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I love you hogfish.

It was the mainsheet and smacked Ren on the head and pulled him over, slamming his head into the lid of our port side cockpit locker.  The lid was open for two reasons,

A. to dry the cockpit locker out 

B. to give Ren’s head something to slam in to. 

I heard a yelp and looked back to see Ren laying (meaning crumpled up in the small space behind the Captain’s chair) on the cockpit floor.  He was holding his head and didn’t say a word.  This scared me.  People who are minimally hurt cry or yell or cuss.  People who are really hurt just sit there, shocked, waiting for a limb to fall off.  He was a bit shocked.  I freaked!  I should have prefaced that last statement with this, I pride myself on my ability to stay cool under pressure.  Maybe it’s a function of training for freediving, maintaining low heart rates, or maybe it’s something I do consciously but either way, the rules did not apply to this situation.  We’re in the middle of a jibe, the captain is lying on the cockpit floor staring at me and I am staring straight ahead, at nothing.

Since I’m not here to disappoint the audience, or let Ren bleed out, I jumped into action.  I raced down the companionway into the v-berth and yanked open one of the lockers underneath the berth.  This locker contains the exceptionally well equipped first aid kit my parents put together for us.  As Mom is a nurse and Dad is a retired Naval Corpsman they managed to really hook us up.  Our friends Kerry and Steve also contributed to the kit as they are a doctor and PA, respectively.  Thanks everyone for the wonderful kit!  So, the kit is stuck in the locker between a wall and the dutch oven.  In my panicked state I did not think to simply move the dutch oven out of the way, lift up on the emergency kit and pull it out of the locker.  Oh hell no!  I YANKED and  YANKED and YANKED, trying to pull the damn thing through the wall, which never happened!  I slowed down for two seconds, pulled the dutch oven out, lifted up on the emergency kit, and lifted it out of the locker.  Then went back to panicking.

After loads of sterile gauze we finally got the  gushing blood to subside.  I thought about using the Quickclot Kerry gave us but decided against it and she (and Mom) advised against using it for anything short of a shark attack (which, I decided, this was not).  So with pressure and bandaging, the bleeding subsided.  He was left with the bandage job you see above.

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Stitches or no stitches? We opted for no stitches and things ended up working out just fine.

Hours later (and not a stitch later, which I’m sure he really needed).  Ren decided his head was miraculously healed.  I’m not so sure he realized the intensity of the wound since he never saw the slice in his head.  With his healed up head, it was diving time.  Down he went, up he came and the blood started rushing again.  There was no time to tend to a head would though, there was dinner to catch (captain’s orders I assure you) so I jumped in and speared us a Florida sized hog fish.  Nice by Florida standards I assure you.  Leaving Ren with a gushing head didn’t leave me in the water at ease.  I rushed the job, got the fish then jumped back on board to assist.  This time, using a towel, we stopped the bleeding and limped in to Marathon. 

Once anchored in Marathon we SLOWLY unwrapped the wound, taking care not to peel the clot out of Ren’s head.  We got the wound unwrapped and tended to the cut properly.  Cleaning it up and rewrapping in nice clean bandaging.  Once again, we have managed to tempt fate then spit in his face.  You know what they say though, “Trick me once, shame on me, etc”  We’ll be a bit more careful from now on I suppose.

Moving In

“All endeavor calls for the ability to tramp the last mile, shape the last plan, endure the last hours toil.  The fight to the finish spirit  it the one…characteristic we must posses if we are to face the future as finishers.”


We’re going to jump ahead for a minute now in order to inform you of our current status.  We have successfully moved onto Nila Girl!!  Our official move in date was July 1, 2011.  If you’ve never tried it before, I DARE you to pack up years of your life in a house, make that two lives in a house, and move onto a 35’ boat.  It is harder than it sounds (tongue in cheek). 

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A view of the port side of Nila Girl’s salon.

Our landlubbing home was full of years of belongings that had to go somewhere.  We either had to move our stuff onto the boat, move our stuff to our parents’ houses or sell up.  We decided to do all three, oh yeah, and keep a bunch of our stuff in limbo, on a trailer at Ren’s Grandmother’s house.  The transitioning of our stuff was/is a huge pain in the neck.   I’m getting a little tinge of anxiety right now just thinking about it. 

Breathe, breathe, breathe…ok, I can continue. 

A couple of days before “the move” my parents came into town to pick up some of our “precious” items.  The things we cannot replace.  I learned that we have more precious items than I originally thought,  or we were completely unable to get rid of everything right away.  They took a lot of stuff off of our hands.  We also ditched a lot of things with Ren’s parents too.  Believe it or not, family is great for taking the things you just can’t stand to sell to a stranger.  Man, family is wonderful!!

I stayed those first few nights before “the move” on the boat alone since Ren was out of town for work.  This gave me a chance or organize the boat and put my plan into action. 

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The bow pulpit.

Plan= Writing a list of items on a copy of the boat’s blueprint.  I use the blueprint to locate items on the boat.  Thanks for the organizing tips from Jeanette Pucella on Puff!  I can’t wait to see the inside of her boat someday…and realize how unorganized mine is I’m sure. 

When I had reasonably organized the boat Ren was already on his way back into town.  The day after he returned, it was Go(h) time (We miss you Goh and Laura!).  We spent the day, with help from our wonderful, beautiful, caring, giving, selfless families moving.  I Hate moving!  Let me say that again, I Hate moving!  And yes, I used the “H” word.  The thought of moving gives me the same sensation as falling asleep at the wheel when you still have 80 miles to drive.  For the academics:


I’m probably being a little dramatic here but I find relief in the thought that if we ever move back on land, we will not have anything to move except a 35’ boat full of stuff. 

We spent the day moving and we got it all done.  Of course, moving onto a boat and getting her into ship-shape for a November departure is dynamic.  We have a list tacked onto a cork board that we see every day.  The list includes all of the things we still have to do to the boat.  Ren is doing a great job of pecking away at the list.  As of day 1 on the boat there were 28 things on the list.  As of today, just a few days over one month, there are 13 things crossed off of the list.  This may not seem like a lot of crossing off to some of you but bear in mind, we still have full time jobs right now, and are teaching a full summer of dive classes.  28 is my new favorite number!!  The boat is looking better every day and even resembles a home.  We have throw pillows and Oreo even has his own little private sleeping nook.