Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Float Cabin Living: What about a bathroom?

Former outhouse with a view.
When we purchased our float cabin it was 420 sq' downstairs with a 200 sq' sleeping loft under the peak of the roof. That's more than amble living space, but it didn't include "indoor plumbing."

In 2011 we traded in our trusty outhouse up the hill for a 6'X10' bathroom with a composting toilet. The view isn't as great, but the convenience is appreciated. Instead of climbing four flights of stairs, we walk into another room. No rain, no wind - how civilized.

John during construction.
John, who built our cabin, did the construction. He framed the walls, tied in the new roof, made the old window into a doorway, added a window in the guest room, and gave us a side porch extension. He's a jack of all trades and worked mostly by himself.

Bathroom construction was a big project. Here's how it progressed:

Under Construction - Ed's video
Up Goes the Frame - walls
Site Supervisor - roof beams
Save That Nail - rain delay
Night Watchman - John and Bro
Toilets and Telescopes
Bathroom and Porch Addition Nears Completion

Non-electric Sunmar composting toilet.
We chose a Sun-Mar Excel NE (non-electric) compost toilet. It has its own solar panel and 12-volt battery to run a small exhaust fan to eliminate odour and help with composting. A handle turns the drum to mix the compost. An air circulation pipe rises above the roof line with a built-in rain deflector. The capacity works for two of us and are very pleased.

Our tub now in a real bathroom.
Our bathtub has been in the downstairs storage room for several years. Now it's part of a real bathroom. The tub, however, isn't connected to hot or cold water. Our tub is a cold weather luxury. In the summer, our natural swimming pool is all we need for a cooling swim.

Heating bath water.
We heat water on the wood stove. I fit four large pots on the surface at a time. We add cold water, and there's enough for a nice soak or soaping. And there's nothing like bathing with a friend to save water.

Bathroom storage.
The bathroom gives us additional space for storage. A shelf built by John holds towels and toilet supplies, a recycled $1 end table holds toiletries, and a commercial pantry kit on sale for $49 provides space to store my canning jars in a cool place away from the sunlight.

What a difference an indoor bathroom and extra space makes when it is used wisely. And the new covered side porch was a huge bonus. 

The new side porch and bathroom addition.

You can read more about float cabin and off the grid living at in Wayne’s Coastal BC Stories  including Up the Lake, Farther Up the Lake, Cabin Number 5, Off the Grid and Off the Grid: Getting Started have lots of chapters about our cabin life on Powell Lake.

Thanks for visiting part of my world this week. For more great posts from Our World Tuesday, click here.

And also a meme called Through My Lens by Mersad.

And Tuesdays with a Twist at Stone Cottage Adventures. -- Margy

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Red Currant Jam

Last year I planted a small bare root red currant. This year it’s grown considerably and developed clusters of berries on previous year’s branches. I was surprised at how many. Last week they all started to ripen at once.

I’ve tasted a few and found them too sour to eat raw. The label said they make good jelly, wine and preserves so I thought I would try.

Removing seeds in a food mill.
Red currants contain a lot of seeds, they’re edible but I didn’t want them in my jam. I washed the tender berries then warmed them in a saucepan while crushing with a potato masher. Still warm, I processed them in a food mill to remove the seeds.

Half seeds, half pulp.
From two cups of mashed berries I got one cup of pulp and one cup of seeds to be discarded.

I added one cup of sugar and one tablespoon bottled lemon juice to my one cup of juicy pulp. Because the berries are tart, no pectin was needed.

Cook until jelled at 220 degrees Fahrenheit.
I heated the mixture to a rolling boil and kept it bubbling until reaching 220 degrees Fahrenheit (the jell point). Because I was using a small pan, it was hard to keep the thermometer away from the bottom so I backed it up with the cold-water test for jelly.

Result, one half pint of jam.
I prepared two half-pint jars and my small water bath canner, but in the end I only got one half-pint jar of jam.

I chose to use it as refrigerator jam. Maybe next year I’ll get a bigger crop to make enough to put up for the pantry.

I'm pleased with the taste. It's a tart tang, but not sour like the raw fruit. The label on the bare root stock was right. The fruit does make a good jelly or preserve.

Do you grow red currants? How do you like to use them?

Hop on over to the Not So Modern Housewife and see some great ideas for homesteading and simple living.

Want more ideas? Try Nancy's Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop.

Head over to Blogghetti for Happiness is Homemade to see more recipes, crafts and DIY projects. -- Margy

Monday, July 09, 2018

Float Cabin Living: What Do You DO?

Sometimes it's hard to find time to just relax.
What do you DO with all your time? There's never ENOUGH ! We love to be at our float cabin on Powell Lake, but there are lots of things that keep us busy in Powell River like clubs, civic events, quadding, hiking and boating. But of all our activities, we love being at our cabin best.

What do we do when we're up the lake? Here's just a few:
    • Weather Watching. Unlike the city, we are more aware of changes in weather. Our HDTV sliding glass door gives us full view day and night. Plus, Wayne has all his "weather toys" to follow the trends.
    The author at work.
    • Writing. Cabin life generates stories and a unique space for Wayne to write. I write grants in my consulting business and this blog about off-the-grid living.
    • Reading. There's nothing better than a warm sunny day on the deck or a cold winter night by the fire to enjoy a good book. Wayne is a scifi fan and I like local books and memoirs. Using Kindles with built-in reading lights makes night reading so easy.
    The Hewescraft parked at home.
    • Boating. The cabin floats on Powell Lake, so there's lots of places to explore by boat and kayak. For local jaunts we like to use our 14' tin boat. Our 22' Hewescraft makes lake travel safer.
    Snowshoeing up Chippewa Main.
    • Hiking. Loggers have built many roads to their timber lots along the lake. On weekends or when logging isn't active these make excellent hiking trails. In winter, boots can be exchanged for snowshoes. The Sunshine Coast Trail can be accessed from Powell Lake in several locations.
    • Fishing. Whether it is from the cabin deck or trolling, fishing is fun. Every summer night fish tease us by jumping inside our log boom. But, oh, are they wily fish.
    Enjoying the backcountry.
    Of course, there's taking a sunbath on a warm summer day followed by a swim in the lake. Nothing feels better than that!

    So, as you can see, the question should have been -- How do you find enough time to do all that you do at the cabin?

    Thanks for visiting part of my world this week. For more great posts from Our World Tuesday, click here.

    And also a meme called Through My Lens by Mersad.

    And Tuesdays with a Twist at Stone Cottage Adventures. -- Margy

    Friday, July 06, 2018

    Float Cabin Reflections

    Summer is a wonderful time to live up the lake in a float cabin.

    Heading out early in the morning I ltook a picture. When I looked at the result I was pleasantly surprised how the sunshine, calm water and boat wake ripples made a lovely image.

    Today is Sky Watch Friday. Go to the Sky Watch Friday website and you'll see sky photos from all over the world!

    A new meme is All Seasons. Stop by and take a look.

    Shared with Your the Star at Stone Cottage Adventures.

    Stop by Weekend Reflections for more great photos from around the world. - Margy

    Saturday, June 30, 2018

    Coastal BC Animals: Chipmunks

    Joining the birds for a snack.
    Up the lake at the cabin we have a pair of chipmunks that visit our float cabin almost daily.

    If there is food in the bird feeder they stop by for a try to get their share. Consequently, the Juncos have to go without for a few days between fillings.

    If the feeder is empty, they boldly come on the deck to see why we aren't attending to their needs. Many forest critters like to eat my crops growing in pots and containers on the decks. At least the chipmunks are polite about not digging into our growing food supply.

    Visitors from Powell River report that there are few chipmunks left in town. They surmise that the growing gray and black squirrel population may be pushing the cute little guys farther into the bush.

    Chipmunks can be distinguished by the stripes on their face and back. Their colouring is yellowish to brownish gray with black and white stripes. Often there is a reddish cast to their sides.

    Chipmunks are very energetic and agile. We see them climb the nearly vertical granite cliffs next to the cabin.

    There are four varieties listed for BC. I'm not sure which kind come to visit us. It might be a Red-Tailed. Can you help?

    Here's a link to a good (and free) manual for identifications: An Identification Manual to the Small Mammals of British Columbia.

    References: BC Adventure (online) and Nature Canada (online).

    Thanks for visiting my post this week. I'm linking up with Camera Critters and Saturday's Critters. Check them out for more great animal pictures. -- Margy

    Thursday, June 28, 2018

    Cabin Cooking: Chocolate Chip Muffins

    Making my own tulip muffin cups with parchment paper.
    Wayne and I will be going on quad camping trips and boat cruises this summer. I like to prepare foods in advance to make meal preparation easy. Here's a recipe for yummy muffins from Kraft Canada that pack well and eat even better.



    Mix dry ingredients first.
    • 2 cups flour
    • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 3/4 cup chocolate chips
    • 1 egg
    • 1/2 cup oil
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 3/4 cup milk
    • 1 tsp. vanilla


    Mix wet ingredients and sugar.
    Heat oven to 400ºF.

    Combine first 3 ingredients in large bowl. Stir in the semi-sweet chocolate chips.

    Whisk the remaining ingredients in a separate bowl until blended. I will increase the sugar to 3/4 cup next time because I like a sweeter muffin.

    Adding the wet to the dry mixture.
    Add the wet mixture to the flour mixture and stir until moistened. Don't over mix or the muffins will turn out tough. The batter should be lumpy not smooth.

    Spoon into muffin pan cups coated with cooking spray. I also used squares of parchment paper in each cup.

    Filling the muffin cups.
    Fill each cup until it's three quarters full.

    Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.

    Cool the muffins in the pan for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire wire rack and cool completely.

    Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

    The recipe is for a dozen muffins, but with my smaller pan I got fifteen. Store in a sealed plastic bag or container for best results.

    Muffins ready for our quad camping trip to Goat Lake.

    Do you have any favourite foods to take on vacation trips to make meal preparation easier?

    Hop on over to the Not So Modern Housewife and see some great ideas for homesteading and simple living.

    Want more ideas? Try Nancy's Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop.

    Head over to Blogghetti for Happiness is Homemade to see more recipes, crafts and DIY projects. -- Margy