Sunday, October 28, 2012

Happy Halloween

In the spirit of all things spooky and ghoulish, we’re bringing back the recipe for our favorite Halloween treat – Severed Fingers. They’re dreadfully delicious.

Bake them … if you dare.


Severed Finger Cookies
1 cup butter, softened 
1 cup powdered sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 ¾ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
Slivered almonds (for bones)
Sliced almonds (for nails)
Red icing gel (for blood)

In large bowl, add butter and sift in powdered sugar; beat well. Beat in egg, almond extract and vanilla. Sift in flour, baking powder and salt, mixing to combine (dough will be a little crumbly).  Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes until well chilled.

Preheat oven to 325°. Working in small batches and keeping the remaining dough in the refrigerator, roll a heaping teaspoonful of dough into a finger shape. Smaller is better here, since they puff slightly while baking. Work quickly to form the knuckles (I like to exaggerate the knuckles so they really stand out). Then use a toothpick to create the wrinkles and add texture to the “severed” end. Press an almond slice firmly into the nail area and stick a slivered almond into the other end. I like to chill the full cookie sheet again before baking.

Bake for 20–25 minutes or until set and only slightly light brown on the edges. Let cool on cookie sheet for 3 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Immediately lift the nail, squeeze a dollop of red icing gel underneath and press gently (be sure to add enough so it oozes out). Add small amounts of red icing gel to the “severed” end.

Adapted from

Happy Halloween from the crew of Bella Star!

PA270196Captain Morgan and Gretel party it up on m/v Andante in Seattle last night

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

How to Prevent a Lightning Strike

By Aaron

Finally, we have found a 100% effective way to prevent lightning strikes on sailboats.  We have researched the wire brush dissipaters, lightning rods, and all manner of equipment being sold to boaters.  But I’ve stumbled across a secret the marine equipment manufacturers don’t want you to know about.  A few months ago, the crew of SV Knee Deep gave me a couple Lego guys.  Since I don’t have any other Legos, I wasn’t entirely sure what to do with them.  Then it hit me.  A simple, undeniable truth that should have been obvious for decades.

FACT:  There have been no recorded incidents of sailboats with Lego guys glued to the masthead being struck by lightning.  EVER.

After this epiphany, Nicole hauled me up the mast, and I installed our two Lego guys.  One is a cop, the other appears to be a sailor or criminal.

The naysayers will tell you that Lego guys are not effective at preventing lighting strikes.  They’ll say things like, “That’s like saying attaching a Barbie to the leading edge of your keel will prevent groundings.”  But where is their research?

After 4 days of research and several lightning storms passing directly overhead without incident, I can conclusively say that the Lego guys are 100% effective at preventing lightning strikes.


Since our previous VHF antenna was vaporized by lightning, I decided the first Lego guy would be most effective if he was standing at the base of the new antenna and holding onto it.  The other Lego guy is guarding the anemometer, although I suspect one Lego guy at the masthead is sufficient to protect the entire vessel.  Traditionally, Lego guys installed at the masthead should be facing the starboard side so I made sure to epoxy them in the correct orientation.

I’m so glad we no longer have to worry about being struck!  Many thanks to Mickey and JP for helping us solve this problem for good.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Outbound Golfito, Inbound Seattle

By Nicole

MP900382896When I tell you that we’re getting ready to leave this warm, tropical paradise for the (presumably) gray skies of Seattle, you may at first be like, “WHY?” What the hell?” “Are you people crazy?!” But just wait a minute. Take a deep breath. The reason is simple. We need a little vacation.

Despite how it may seem, what with our posts of zip lining and snorkeling and sailing and the perpetual cocktail hour, this is actually our real life. We take out the trash, clean the toilet, do “home” repairs and follow a pretty regular routine, especially now that we’re chained to the dock. As fabulous as life may be, sometimes you just need a change of scenery, a hug from your mom and a giant cup of hazelnut gelato.

So what are we most looking forward to doing on vacation?

  • Spending time with family and friends (of course!).
  • Savoring foods we’ve missed (like Thai, raspberries, chocolate malts, onion rings, Hale’s Cream Ale, broccoli, gelato, good wine and donuts). Also Aaron wants Taco Bell and Scotch. Any predictions about how much weight we’ll gain? And is it weird that I’m craving roasted broccoli?
  • Enjoying the fall weather, even if it’s rainy. I miss crisp mornings, apple cider, sweaters, pumpkin patches, Halloween and autumn leaves. Oh, and pumpkin spice lattes from Starbucks.
  • Seeing movies without subtitles. But really just seeing any first-run movie will do (with Red Vines!).
  • Shopping. Yes, even Aaron is keyed up about it. The selection! The variety! The low prices! I’m overwhelmed just thinking about it (in the best possible way).

The greatest part about a vacation, though, is having a marvelous time and then returning, refreshed, to your real life (especially when, in your real life, you live aboard a sailboat in Costa Rica). Seattle, get ready … the crew of Bella Star is inbound!