Thursday, December 29, 2011

Stovepipe Refinishing Before and After

Wayne's been busy. One of his recent projects was to finish woodstove refinishing. In October, he did the surface with Tremclad High Heat Enamel that resists heat up to 650°C (1200°F). It's thick and covers well. Brush strokes smooth out during the drying process for a smooth finish. There was plenty of paint left to do the the stove chimney pipe all the way to its exit on the cabin wall.

As you can see, the stovepipe was in need of some major TLC. After Wayne finished painting it, he still had enough left in the can to give the stove surface a second coat. Even with daily fires since October (almost 24/7), there have been no cracks or peeling. Tremclad seems to be the perfect product for the job.

Now it almost looks like we have a brand new stove for an investment of about $10.00. Well, that and a little work on Wayne's part. - Margy

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Seaside City

The Powell River region was first inhabited by members of the Sliammon First Nation. It had everything they needed for a good life: a freshwater lake and river, surrounding forest for food and building materials, the ocean for food and transportation, and warm summers and mild winters.

By the 1880's, loggers were drawn to the pristine forests to harvest the massive old growth trees. Word got out about the wonderful natural resources. In the early 1900's, the remote site was transformed almost overnight into a pulp mill with its own company town. In 1912, the first roll of paper came off the machines and mill workers were living in brand new homes in what is now called the Historic Townsite.

By the 1930's, it was the largest paper mill in the world. Homes for the large workforce and supporting businesses spread to the communities of Wildwood, Cranberry, and Westview.

Today, seen from Malaspina Strait, Powell River rises from the sea, surrounded by mountains and forests just begging to be explored. -- Margy

Friday, December 23, 2011

Sunrise, Sunset

On the shortest day of the year, the sun cooperated and we were able to get an accurate measure of sunrise and sunset at the cabin.

Standing on our porch looking due south, this is what we saw. The sun rose above the ridge and treetops at 9:45 a.m, and it promptly set behind the trees surrounding our neighbour John's bay at 11:43 a.m.

That's a little less than two hours of direct sunlight, if it's not a cloudy or stormy day.

That doesn't make our solar system work very well. No wonder our poor batteries are struggling. When we first got our cabin, we had four hours of sunlight in winter. But the trees have grown taller in the last ten years. Good thing we have a little wind and thermoelectric power. Even so, our backup generator has to help us out. -- Margy

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Rebecca Rock

Living in Powell River we have both fresh water (Powell Lake) and salt water (Strait of Georgia) at our doorstep. That makes it a perfect place for boating, kayaking, fishing, scuba diving, skiing, and all kinds of water sports.

When I stay at the condo in town, I look straight across the strait to Vancouver Island. I can see the beacon on Rebecca Rock blinking to warn mariners of the extensive underwater (and above) dangers.

Even BC Ferries give these rocks a wide berth. -- Margy

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Freezing Nights

Official winter is almost here, but freezing nights can't seen to wait. Most of my garden plants are annuals, so I don't worry about saving them. But there were two that I felt needed a try this year.

First was my rhubarb root. It's in a medium sized pot on the transition float and I worry about it not having enough soil for protection. The other was my beautiful geraniums in the repurposed BBQ planter. I enjoyed them so much this year I thought maybe they could survive with a little help.

I used the same method for both. First, I hired the local wood rat to trim everything back (just kidding, she did it on her own.) I didn't have any mulch handy, so I used crumpled newspaper to give the surface of the soil an uneven cover, hopefully creating air pockets to keep the surface, roots, and stems from freezing.

I then covered the paper with soil to keep it in place. We get some pretty strong winds this time of year. If it works, great. I will have a head start on flowers next spring. If not, I can start all over again. The nursery always has lots of geraniums even in early spring. -- Margy

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Hulks at Work

Sunday was sunny, and the winds were gentle out of the northwest, a perfect day to take our new boat out for a spin on the Strait of Georgia. Living just above the harbour makes it easy. We walked down to the dock and off we went. We first headed out to Rebecca Rocks, but outside of the protection of Harwood Island, the swells got larger, so we decided to head over to the Hulks to see if there were any Steller sea lions at the breakwater.

You can read more about the Hulks that make up the Catalyst paper mill's breakwater here. Inside their protective circle, the mill can dock their incoming barges of pulp and outgoing loads of paper.

Today there were no sea lions. Maybe they were out foraging for food in the rich waters surrounding the Hulks. It's a known salmon fishing spot. We headed back to the North Harbour and the gentle northwest wind helped push us right into the dock. From our dock finger we can look up and see our condo on shore. What a wonderful town. Why don't you come visit Powell River? You may never want to leave. -- Margy

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Coastal BC Animals: Steller Sea Lions

Stellar Sea Lions

Each winter, Steller Sea Lions make the long trek from California to hang out in the nutrient rich waters of the Strait of Georgia. We may dream of heading south for warm sandy beaches, but not these guys.

From our condo, we can hear them barking in the early morning light.

When they aren't out foraging along the cement boat breakwater we call "The Hulks," they like to spend their days sunning on the mill pond rocks. -- Margy

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

TJ's Boat Tops Comes to the Rescue

As Grizzly in Bella Coola said, through mid-December is the worst time for storms off the Pacific with strong winds. The same is true here in Powell River. When Wayne came down the lake and checked on our boat in the harbour, here's what he found. Instead of a canvas top with side enclosures, all he could see were poles looking like tree limbs stripped of their leaves.

After securing the command bridge for several days with cover, he set out to find a place to repair the canvas enclosure. There are several in town, but Wayne chose TJ's. What a find. The workmanship was excellent, the turnaround time speedy, and the price very reasonable. A triple header!

Todd Stanhope of TJ's Boat Tops diagnosed the problem as old (1992) zipper seam stitching that couldn't hold up against the strong storm wind. Once the zippers gave, the wind had her way with the canvas and plastic sides. Fortunately nothing was really damaged. Todd's knowledge and experience helped us save our top.

If you have a boat in Powell River, or are boating along the Sunshine Coast and Desolation Sound, give Todd at TJ's Boat Tops a call.

Todd Stanhope
TJ's Boat Tops
4607 McLeod Road

Now all we need is some good weather for some happy holiday boating! - Margy

Friday, December 02, 2011

PRB on the Tiny House Blog

In 2008, I discovered a great blog about simple living in small dwellings. The Tiny House Blog is designed, written and lovingly maintained by Kent Griswold.

If you are arriving from my most recent post on the Tiny House Blog, WELCOME!! Stay awhile and see what float cabin living is all about. Some sections that you might find interesting include:

Float Cabin Living off the grid
Float Cabin Construction plans
Gardening in a floating garden
Cooking using a woodstove
Cabin Accessories handy stuff
I've written several articles about float cabin living for Kent's blog:
Our Little Cabin Up the Lake
Living on the Water
Float Cabins on Powell Lake
Float Cabin Moving Day
The most recent article, just posted today, is called "Indoor Plumbing with a Twist." It chronicles the building of a bathroom and side porch addition to our float cabin.

I really appreciate all the support Kent gives to people who are living, or would like to live, in small homes. Head on over to for the rest of my story and many more like it.

You can read more about our off the grid cabin life in Up the Lake and Farther Up the Lake by my husband, Wayne J. Lutz. More information about ordering the print, Kindle and e-book versions is available at our website www. - Margy

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Return to Steveston BC

Last weekend I went on a short return trip to Steveston, BC. I had three reasons for my trip: 1) a respite girl's weekend out, 2) a chance to meet my blogging friend Susannah from Wanderin' Weeta in real life, and 3) to pick Wayne up early Sunday morning at Vancouver Airport. Don't you just love multitasking?

I made a reservation at the Historic Steveston Hotel for Saturday night. I called them direct and was given several options. I chose the standard room for less that $75. The rooms have all been updated and of course, there are larger and fancier ones. That's my room over the word "Hotel." The rooms are upstairs. Downstairs is a wonderful cafe serving hearty breakfasts and lunches to locals and visitors alike, and a full-service liquor store. Here's a quick tour of my room.

The Village of Steveston is located at the mouth of the South Arm of the Fraser River as it enters the Strait of Georgia. It has a long history as a fishing port, with the Gulf of Georgia Cannery which is now a national historic site. It was built in 1894 followed by what was then called the Sockeye Hotel (apropos wouldn't you say) next door, Today, you will also find the Buck & Ear pub, a great place for a brew, sports TV, and food.

I met my blogging friend Susannah and her good friend Laurie out front. With the drizzly rain, we opted to go into the hotel cafe for coffee and tea. When the skies cleared, we wandered the streets looking into some of the fun shops. Steveston Marine got most of our time, then we went over to wharf to see the boats and the busy fish market.

The next morning it was an easy 20 minute drive to Vancouver International Airport to pick Wayne up. It was a great weekend getaway. Stop by Steveston and see for your yourself. -- Margy

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Working Boats of Steveston BC

As you can tell, I really enjoyed my trip to Steveston BC. Today I want to share about the working boats you will find in the harbour. While there are a few pleasure boats mixed in, the majority are fishing boats and tugs.

The Steveston Harbour is a bit unique. It's located in the mouth of Fraser River.

It's close to the Strait of Georgia to get tidal effects, but it also gets lots of fresh water from the river outflow. This is good for boat hulls and engines. Salt water is more corrosive. Plus, the location gives more protection during the fierce fall and winter storms we get with high winds. Here's a short clip I took from Garry Point Park.

Go on weekends during the winter or most any day in the summer and buy fresh fish off the working boats. Can't beat that for taste or price! -- Margy

Friday, November 18, 2011

Kite Buggy in Steveston BC

On Tuesday I shared about my overnight trip to Steveston, BC. While I was there, I went to Garry Point Park where the Fraser River enters the Strait of Georgia. It has a nice trail along the river and ocean's edge. In the middle is a large grassy area with an undulating surface. It surprised me, but here is what I saw.

I saw this man launch his large kite on the brisk breeze, when I looked back he was hurtling towards me. Looks like he was having lots of fun. -- Margy

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Canning: Canned Spiced Apples

With a minimal garden this year, I didn't get to do any canning. I was out of canned apples, so I decided to buy a bag at the store and use the same simple recipe from last year. To make them more to my liking, I changed the flavouring from vanilla to spices and added some red food colouring for a crab apple look.

Canned Spiced Apples

10 medium apples
4 3/4 cups sugar
4 cups water
4 cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1 teaspoon red food colouring

Fill a large bowl with water then add one tablespoon salt and one tablespoon vinegar. This will be a "bath" to keep the apples from turning brown while you get them all peeled and cut.

Peel, core, slice then put apples in the water bath. Mix sugar (I ended up using a cup less to reduce the sweetness), water, food colouring and spices wrapped in cheesecloth in a large pot and bring to a boil to make a heavy syrup.

Drain and rinse the apples. Carefully add them to the heavy syrup and cook for 5 minutes or until they become translucent. Stay just under the boiling point to prevent foaming. Spoon the apples into clean hot jars, cover with boiling syrup leaving 1/2 inch head space. Seal the jars and process in a boiling water bath for 30 minutes.

The syrup is very sweet, making the apples a good side dish or topping for ice cream. I had a lot of syrup left over and hated to waste it. It had a spicy apple flavour, so I tried putting some in 7-Up and it made a tasty fall drink. Later, I got some club soda and that was even better. Do you have any favourite fall apple recipes? I'd love to hear them. - Margy

Friday, November 11, 2011


After the storm, spots of sunshine came out over the Strait of Georgia.

Each time there was an opening in the clouds, it was like a spotlight highlighting the water and islands below. -- Margy

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Cabin Cooking: Restoring a Cast Iron Frying Pan

I've mentioned before that my favourite thrift store is the Powell River Hospital Auxilliary Economy Shop. Every chance I get, I pop in to see what's on the shelves and racks. Over the years I've found lots of "treasures." This week I scored big time. I have a regular route. First the caps, next the baskets, then the kitchen items. There on the bottom shelf was an 10 1/2 inch cast iron frying pan.

The price was right at $2.00, but when I picked it up the old oil was gummy. It felt really yucky, but I knew I could take the pan home and restore it.

I looked online and found "The Irreplaceable Cast Iron Pans." It wasn't exactly following the directions, but the first thing I did was get out an SOS pad I knew was hiding under the sink. I also grabbed the Comet even though I knew it was a drastic move. I ran some really hot water, soaked the pan for a few minutes, and then started adding some grease of my own, elbow grease.

Several soaks and scrubs got me down to a clean, smooth surface. The next step was to lightly oil the pan inside and out. Then it went into a 450 degree oven for thirty minutes.

After cooling in the oven, I repeated the oiling and baking process two more times. Now I have a clean, well seasoned cast iron frying pan that will serve me well for many more years up at the cabin. Thank you to whoever donated it to the shop. Both the hospital and I were winners. -- Margy