Monday, January 09, 2023

AC/DC Portable Electric Cooler

Wayne and I are on a short winter trip to the cabin. It's quite cool, but we are staying warm thanks to our trusty woodstove

Normally, we use our propane refrigerator for fresh food, but because this is a short trip we are using ice chests.

To maximize space we are using a variety of containers. For ice cubes and drinks we are using insulated coolers with blue freezer packs. For fruits and vegetables, a plastic tub. These remain outdoors where it's cool.

Indoors for dairy, meats, cheese and condiments we are using our new knox gear (k-box) electric cooler (it also has a warmer feature that we don't need right now).

It's well insulated on all sides and the lid. The cooling unit on top runs with either a 110V AC cord or 12V DC cord and power adapter plug. 

For ease of use, we have ours connected directly to the cabin's battery bank.

It could also be used with a vehicle power port. 

The inside fan distributes cold air throughout the interior. 

It works best with pre-cooled groceries. For extra cooling, I froze large water bottles and two blue freezer packs.

One of two large water bottles I froze in town to augment cooling.

During our six day cabin trip, all of our foods stayed cool and fresh. I even had ice cubes left on the front porch for my last evening cocktail. 

The 48-quart model has plenty of room. They also have a smaller version.

I would say this has been a successful test of our short-term winter refrigeration needs. What kinds of strategies do you use on camping or off-the-grid trips? -- Margy

Shared with Your the Star at Stone Cottage Adventures. And Tuesdays with a Twist at Stone Cottage Adventures.

Hop on over to the Simple Life Mom and see some great ideas for homesteading and simple living.

And Sunday Sunshine Blog Hop at Ridge Haven Homestead.

Friday, January 06, 2023

Float Cabin Living Series: Tiny Home on the Water

Float Cabin Living Series
Tiny Home on the Water

In 2018, I wrote a series about float cabin living. Below you will find links to each of the posts. I invite you to visit (or revisit) the articles to see why Wayne and I love float cabin living so much.

Wayne and I purchased our float cabin home on Powell Lake in BC in 2001. It was the best decision we ever made.

Our float cabin fits the tiny home definition. In fact, it was featured in Lloyd Kahn's book Tiny Homes: Simple Shelter.

Our float cabin is past First Narrows at picturesque Hole in the Wall where we pay annual lease and property taxes.

Click on the links below to go to the posts. If you have questions, please leave a comment.

  1. Float Cabin Living: The Series (an overview)
  2. Does the cabin move around the lake?
  3. What is the weather like?
  4. What happens during storms?
  5. How do you stay warm?
  6. How do you get power? Propane, Solar, Alternatives
  7. Do you have a telephone, television and the Internet?
  8. How was your cabin built? Float, Cabin
  9. Why did you choose to live in a float cabin?
  10. Can you have a garden?
  11. How can you live in such a small space?
  12. What do you DO with all your time?
  13. How do you handle waste?

For more information there are posts under Float Cabin Living in the sidebar. You can also visit the website for information about my husband's Coastal BC Stories series of books. Many include chapters about cabin life and Powell Lake.

If you have questions, please leave a comment or use the email link in my profile. I always enjoy sharing about our life up the lake. -- Margy

Sunday, December 04, 2022

Book Review: "Murder Rides a Gale Force Wind" by Yvonne Maximchuk

The author/artist in action at our float cabin.
This month I'm reviewing a new book by my favourite local author, Yvonne Maximchuk. I've read all her non-fiction books about the people and places near her off-grid home in Echo Bay on Gilford Island in Coastal British Columbia. Murder Rides a Gale Force Wind is her first novel.

Yvonne is an author and artist. She's a master at capturing the beauty of Coastal BC in images and words. You can see more at her website.

Murder Rides a Gale Force Wind is set in Echo Bay, nearby islands and North Vancouver Island. If you've read any of Yvonne's other books, you'll recognize her inspiration from real-life people and places like the Echo Bay Marina and Lodge and legendary Billy Proctor.

Review of Murder Rides a Gale Force Wind

Echo Bay is a small hamlet of cabins in a protected cove cut off from Vancouver Island by kilometres of sometimes dangerous ocean. Like all small villages, everyone knows everyone, sometimes too well. Woody's lodge and marina is the heart of the community. It's usually a quiet place, except when summer boaters come to cruise the nearby scenic waterways. In all seasons, it supplies residents and fishermen with fuel, mail, supplies and gossip.

Tim is a colourful character. He's settled into being a government agent checking prawn boats for legal catches. He has conflicting love interests, Margaret an RCMP Sargent in Port McNeill on Vancouver Island, and Kit who runs a boat taxi service out of Echo Bay. There's also a tangled web of other characters from Echo Bay, the First Nations village, and recent arrivals to this isolated region.

Several story lines unfold to introduce the characters and the beautiful land and sea. They come together crashing together when a body is discovered washed up on the shore of a neighbouring island. The big question, is it murder or something else.

Yvonne knows this area well.  It's been her home for many years. Her extensive knowledge of boating, off-grid living, commercial fishing, logging, painting, First Nations, hiking and exploring shows in her descriptive narration. I'm amazed at how much I have learned over the years by living in the region. For some readers, a few terms might be unfamiliar, but add to the authenticity. 

Congratulations to Yvonne on an exciting novel. You are a master of words to paint pictures in the minds of your readers.

Murder Rides a Gale Force Wind is available in e-book and print formats from a variety of online booksellers plus several Vancouver Island and Lower Mainland bookstores. Watch her Facebook page for upcoming in-person readings and presentations.

Posts I've written about Yvonne and her books:

Yvonne Maximchuk: Painter, Potter, Author and her visit to our Powell Lake float cabin

Her memoir Drawn to Sea

Books co-authored with Bill Proctor: Full Moon, Flood Tide and Tide Rips and Back Eddies


Would you like to own a piece of historic and scenic Echo Bay? Yvonne's custom, state-of-the-art off grid waterfront home is for sale. For details visit


Visit the monthly Book Review Club for teen/young adult and adult fiction over at Barrie Summy's blog.

Also shared with Your the Star at Stone Cottage Adventures.

Sunday, July 10, 2022

Growing and Preserving Garlic

Cabin life changed during Covid. Getting home for spring planting was difficult. Either we couldn't get here, or our timing was too early. In September, I cleaned my float garden, covered parts to prevent unwanted weeds, and planted flower bulbs and garlic.

At first I grew garlic in containers.

I've grown garlic for years. In the beginning, it was in small containers. I got plenty, but the bulbs were on the small side.

Now I grow it in my float garden. Garlic takes little attention. Plant cloves with the point up, mulch, water, feed periodically, dig, dry, and enjoy.

I purchase garlic bulbs good for my climate at the nursery. I also save my best bulbs for future planting.  A few bulbs go a long way. You separate the cloves and plant them seven inches apart. I plant in fall, mulch through winter and harvest in early summer.

Flower and garlic bulbs (in the front) sprouting in early March.

When the tops wilt, brown, and fall over, it's time to pull the bulbs. 

Tulips have died back and garlic approaching maturity.

If the weather is sunny and warm, I leave them on the cabin deck to dry.

Garlic drying on the deck on a sunny summer day.

After the surface of the bulbs has dried, I brush off any dirt and tie the tops of several together for hanging. Nothing goes to waste. I saved the trimmings for garden mulch.

Processing garlic for storage: Trimming and tying in bundles.

I hang them in a protected spot outdoors to continue drying. This starts the preserving process.

Garlic hanging to dry in the floating woodshed.

I leave them outdoors until the skin on the bulbs is dry and flaky. I then hang the bundles in the cabin's storage room. By this time there's no odour, and they're handy to grab for cooking.

Dried garlic hangs in our storage room ready for use.

If you live in an apartment with a balcony, or a home with limited garden space, you can grow garlic in a container and have plenty left over to share with friends and family. -- Margy


Shared with Your the Star at Stone Cottage Adventures. And Tuesdays with a Twist at Stone Cottage Adventures.

Visit Simple Life Mom for ideas about homesteading and simple living.

And Sunday Sunshine Blog Hop at Ridge Haven Homestead.

Visit Letting Go of the Bay Leaf for more Mosaic Monday.

Friday, July 01, 2022

#Throwback Thursday: Composting Without a Compost Pile

My former wire bin composter.

During the early years we had shore access. Four years ago our lease required us to remove our stairs to the outhouse (decommissioned in 2018 for an on-float compost toilet), my hillside potato patch, and my compost bin. I had to find an alternative for composting kitchen and garden waste on the cabin deck or in my floating garden.

One method I learned about is called chop and drop. Chop and drop works well for garden waste.

As plants are trimmed or removed, the residue is chopped into small portions and used as mulch in garden beds and plant containers. The majority of my composting needs are taken care of in this manner.

Cutting a plastic 55-gallon barrel in half.
It doesn't work as well for kitchen scraps because the smell can attract critters. I decided to compost kitchen waste in a 55-gallon plastic barrel cut in half. Barrels in my town cost about $40. Check nursery, building and farm stores, or use a large plastic trash can that isn't too deep.

Now that last year's batch of soil is ready to use, I'm starting over.

Composting in a Plastic Barrel
Step by Step

A kitchen compost container.
Cut the barrel in half. Drill drain holes in the bottom. Make two composters or use the other half as a planter.

Place four inches of soil in the bottom to start.

Use a kitchen compost container for fruit and vegetable trimmings chopped into pieces.

Layering chopped plant matter, Rot-It and soil.
When the container is full, spread the contents over the layer of soil.

Add garden trimmings if you have them.

Sprinkle with compost accelerator. I use Rot-It.

Moisten with water.

Add 1" of soil over fresh items.

A cover cut to fit and a plastic mesh cage.
Cover with a porous material and surround with a cage to keep small critters out. If you live in bear country, enclose your composter.

When it's time to add a new layer, stir the ones below first.

Continue layering waste and soil until the barrel is full.

Let your composter rest with it's porous cover on for several months while the organic matter decomposes. Periodically moisten and mix to encourage the composting process.

Compost turned into rich soil in 8 months.

Your rewards will be less kitchen and garden waste going into the garbage stream, and free rich soil coming into your garden.

Do you do compost? What process do you use? Do you have any tips to add to my post? -- Margy

If you've ever dreamed of living away from town in an off-the-grid home, or in town with a simple lifestyle, you'll enjoy reading Off the Grid: Getting Started.

Smashwords ebooks for $4.99

Or go to for more ordering information.


Shared with Your the Star at Stone Cottage Adventures. And Tuesdays with a Twist at Stone Cottage Adventures.

Visit Simple Life Mom for ideas about homesteading and simple living.

And Sunday Sunshine Blog Hop at Ridge Haven Homestead.

Visit Letting Go of the Bay Leaf for more Mosaic Monday.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Float Cabin Living: Getting Started

Arrow 997 over Powell River Airport.
If you've been following my blog, you know that our home is a float cabin on Powell Lake in Coastal British Columbia.

We discovered Powell Lake and float cabins during our 2001 summer flying and camping vacation in our Piper Arrow 997.

First night at the float cabin.
Powell River had an immediate attraction for us including the opportunity for a wide variety of outdoor adventures, beautiful forest and seaside locales, a small town atmosphere, and expansive Powell Lake with its unique float cabins.

The tin boat.
We rented a 14' aluminum boat (a tin boat to us) and explored Powell Lake. After discovering float cabins, we contacted a local realtor, Harry Zroback. A long time cabin owner himself, he gave us directions to two cabins currently available.

First day inside the cabin's great room.
The first was old and cluttered. Float cabins traditionally come with everything included. The second was newer, built in 1998. It came with just the basics. That was perfect for us because the cabin would be a vacation home until we could retire from our jobs in Los Angeles.

In the summer of 2005 (we were both educators), the float cabin became our primary residence. A small condo in town provides a place for mail, washing clothes, an occasional shower and a place to stay overnight when we have late evening activities in town. 

Our float cabin home in 2022.

Since 2001 we've upgraded our float cabin to better match our lifestyle. Some of the major changes include (follow the links for more information):

    You can read more about float cabin living by selecting Float Cabin Living and Float Cabin Construction in the topic list on the right side of this page.

    You can also read about our off-the-grid lifestyle in Wayne's Coastal BC Stories series books including Up the Lake, Farther Up the Lake, Off the Grid and Off the Grid: Getting Started. All books are available in print and e-book formats from most online book sellers. -- Margy

    Hop on over to the Simple Life Mom and see some great ideas for homesteading and simple living.

    And Sunday Sunshine Blog Hop at Ridge Haven Homestead.

    Also shared with Tuesdays with a Twist at Stone Cottage Adventures.

    Saturday, June 18, 2022

    Bats, Bees and Birds

    Coming home is always fun. We were last here in winter. Now it's spring going on summer, even though Mother Nature is holding on to cold rainy weather. One exciting thing about coming home is checking for critters that return each year.

      Little Brown Bats

    Every year we have bats at our cabin. They arrive in May and stay the summer.  One of the first things I do is check a favourite roosting spot under the metal roof of the propane shed. 

    I found a Little Brown Bat had already moved in. It's probably male, because females group together under the cabin roof to raise their young. It's noisy at dusk and dawn as they wiggle out and in, but they keep the mosquitoes away. Here's the little guy under the shed roof. 

    Mason Bees

    I was worried my Mason Bees wouldn't have enough empty nesting blocks, but the enterprising bees cleaned out the old ones and are filling them up again. A few bees are still working away. My colony grew from two bees in 2015 to over 100 in 2019. 

    Sadly, I lost the colony due to a long absence in 2020. Fortunately, a few native bees got me restarted last year. I love giving pollinators a helping hand. Here's more about my bee experiences:

    Readying My Mason Bee Hotels 
    Revitalizing a Bee Hotel
    Drilling Nesting Blocks
    Building a Simple Bee Hotel
    Tree Swallows

    Two Tree Swallows flew in and out of the birdhouse on my floating garden. They arrive in mid-May, followed by Barn Swallows in June. This year the occupants are Tree Swallows
    Sometimes a pair of Violet-greens will get there first. Swallows fly all the way from their winter home in Mexico to raise families in Coastal BC. My arms get tired thinking about it.
    There are lots more critters for me to enjoy around my float cabin home. What do you like to watch where you live? -- Margy

    Visit Letting Go of the Bay Leaf for more Mosaic Monday.

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

    Shared with Your the Star at Stone Cottage Adventures. And Tuesdays with a Twist at Stone Cottage Adventures.