Tuesday, December 31, 2019

5 Favourite 2019 Powell River Books Blog Posts

Each year I enjoy sharing blog posts from throughout the year that were favourites with my readers. Here are the top 5 for 2019 in order. Click the titles to read the complete posts.

1. 5 Acres and a Dream by Leigh Tate:  I enjoy reading books written by people, especially women, who homestead or live off the grid. Leigh's homesteading book was both engaging and helpful at the same time. And I continue to follow her blog.

5 Acres and a Dream: The Blog link.

Related post: Becoming Wild by Nikki Van Schyndel who also participated on the History Channel's Alone: The Arctic this year,

2. Back Up the Lake:  In late March we finally got back to our float cabin home after a two month stay down in the States for our Rental RV Road Trip and an extended period in Bellingham. Coming home is always such a wonderful feeling.

Our Powell Lake float cabin home.

Related post: Remembering a Fierce Winter Storm recounts the story of a massive storm during my first solo visit to the float cabin in 2001.

3. Spring Garden Update: After an additional six weeks in the States, we got home in late May. There was just enough time to prepare my floating garden and containers on the cabin deck for planting.

Preparing the floating garden for late spring planting.

Related post: Renewed Raised Bed Floating Garden tells how John replaced rotting cedar sides and decking to refurbish my garden float.

4. Coastal BC Plants - Indian Pipe: As I discover new and interesting British Columbia plants, fungi, insects, animals and birds, I write about them on my blog. Click the links to see the posts.

Related post: Cabin Journal: Beds, Bugs and Birds. I also write and draw illustrations in my cabin journals.

5. Summer Cruising Part II:  Last summer we went out in our Bayliner 2452 on the chuck (ocean) several times. The Strait of Georgia is a very popular cruising spot and it's right on our doorstep.

Halcyon Days at sunset with the Refuge Cove store in the background.

Related post: Annual Boat Maintenance at Valley Marine to get our boat ready for winter storage.

2019 was a very good year for us. We hope yours was as well. -- Wayne and Margy

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.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

A Family Christmas Tradition: Norwegian Yule Kaga

Grandma was born in Norway. Her family immigrated to the States when she was a little girl. There's very little of my Norwegian heritage left except a few Christmas foods. One  is Yule Kaga. It translates as Christmas cake, but it's bread.

Grandma made it every Christmas, then it was Mom's turn. Now it's mine.

Mom's recipe file had two cards, one in Grandma's handwriting and one in Mom's. Using them I created a recipe for a single loaf.

Norwegian Yule Kaga

Scald milk then add butter and sugar.

1 cup milk (scalded)
1/4 cup butter (melted)
1/4 cup sugar
1 pkg active dry yeast
3 tablespoons lukewarm water
1 egg (beaten)
3 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup raisins
Activate yeast in warm water.
1/2 cup citron
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamon


Scald the milk. I had to look this up. Bring the milk to almost boiling then allow it to cool slightly. Add the butter, sugar, salt and cardamom and let the mixture continue to cool until
Add egg and yeast to cooled milk.

Dissolve the yeast in lukewarm water (100-110 degrees). If the water is too cold, the yeast won't activate. If it is too hot, the yeast will be killed. Stir occasionally. The yeast gets bubbly, releasing carbon dioxide gas, the stuff you need to make bread rise.
Beat mixture then add half of the flour.

When the milk mixture is cooled, add the dissolved yeast followed by the well beaten egg. Beat the whole mixture until everything is fully incorporated and smooth.

Then add 1 1/2 cups of the flour. Beat thoroughly. I used a wire whisk but this could be done with an electric mixer.
Mix in the raisins and citron.

Add the raisins and citron and blend together while the dough is still in a liquid form.

Add the remaining flour a little at a time. At this point I switched from the whisk to a large wooden spoon. At the end, it was easier to mix the last of the dry flour in with my hands.
Add remaining flour slowly.

Turn the dough out onto a floured board. Knead for 8-10 minutes until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. Work in any citron and raisins that escaped.

Place dough in a large greased bowl. I used soft margarine. Roll the dough over in the bowl to get some of the margarine on top of
Knead on a floured bread board.
the dough to keep it from drying out. Cover the bowl. I used plastic wrap covered with a tea towel. Grandma's recipe card called for a damp cloth.

Let the dough rise in a warm place for about two hours, or until double in size. Mine took one and a half hours in front of the fireplace.
Let the dough rise in a warm place.

Punch the dough down and form it into a round loaf.

I used 9-inch cast iron frying pan for my round loaf.  I lined it with parchment paper and moistened the top of the dough with cooking oil spray. Loosely cover. I used plastic wrap again. 

Form a loaf and let it rise.
Place the dough in a warm place and let it double in size again (about 45 minutes).

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 40-50 minutes or until golden brown. Test by tapping the top with your finger. It should have a hollow sound when it's done.

Remove the bread from its pan
Bake until golden brown.
and cool completely on a rack. If you like a crispy crust, store it in a paper bag. If you want a soft crust, store it in an airtight plastic bag. 

For me, Yule Kage is not complete without gjetost cheese on top. The brand I find in the States is Ski Queen.

It's a semi-hard cheese made from whey, milk, goat milk and cream.  It has caramel colour, has a unique flavour, and melts in your mouth. It always reminds me of going to Grandma's house for Christmas.

Cooling and ready to eat.

I couldn't wait. I cut a slice, toasted it with butter, and topped it with gjetost. Closing my eyes I could feel my family enjoying Christmas and New Years morning with me once again.

Do you have any traditional holiday foods that make you feel connected to your heritage?

Hop on over to the Simple Life Mom 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 Tasty Tuesday to see more recipes, crafts and DIY projects.

Posting to Friday Favorites at Condo Blues.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

"Chasing Smoke: A Wildfire Memoir" by Aaron Williams

Wayne and I are on a Snowbird RV Adventure in California (click here). We've driven through smokey haze as strong winds drove flames through tinder dry foothills.

British Columbia's fire season typically runs from July when the forests dry out through October when fall rains arrive.

Chasing Smoke: A Wildfire Memoir by Aaron Williams (Harbour Publishing, 2018) seemed an appropriate reading choice considering what was happening around us.

Aaron Williams was a BC firefighter with the Telkwa Rangers from 2006 to 2014. Chasing Smoke focuses on the 2014 forest fire season, his last.

Ash layer along Powell Lake shore.
The last major fires along Powell Lake were in 1915 and 1918. We found evidence of the ash layer while digging on shore near our Powell Lake float cabin.

Goat Island disappeared in the smoke.
We do get thick smoke that blows west over the coast range from fires in BC's interior. Everywhere, firefighters and other first responders are putting their lives on the line for all of us.

Through his memoir, Aaron takes us through a summer of preparing for and fighting forest fires. You meet the Telkwa Rangers and learn how they work together to contain some of BC's worst fires like the Euchiniko Lakes fire, the China Nose fire, and two tours on the Chelaslie River fire that became the third largest in BC.

Training begins in May with a Rookie Week for the new recruits, some of whom are students looking for a summer of adventure and a way to earn money. Not an easy way for sure.  In telling the story, he gives you a good feel for life at base camp, in camps where firefighters stay during fourteen-day deployments and on the line fighting and mopping up after fires. Life is filled with highs and lows, and a lot of camaraderie in-between. Here's an informative video by CBC's The National.

As the fire season winds down, so does Aaron's career. You don't know what will happen next, but you do know that he will become an author with a strong voice and the ability to carry a tale to it's end.  

Chasing Smoke is available online at Harbour Publishing and Amazon. It's also available in bookstores and Kindle format.

If you want to read about BC fires from the perspective of people living through them, here are two recommendations. One is written by an author I've become acquainted with, Chris Czajkowski. The other she co-authored with a friend who lived through the same fire.

Wildfire in the Wilderness is by Chris Czajkowski (Harbour Publishing, 2006). You can read more about his amazing woman on her blog, Wilderness Dweller. The book tells about the life Chris lived in a remote cabin/resort she built called Nuk Tessli and how she lived through and was evacuated from her wilderness home during the Lonesome Lake fire of 2004.

Captured by Fire is co-authored by Chris Czajkowski and Fred Reid (Harbour Publishing, 2019). In 2017, fire returned to the region at Kleena Kleene and Colwell Lake. By now, Chris was living in an off-the-grid homestead. She and her friend, Fred Reid, also a homesteader, both refused to evacuate during the massive fire. The book alternates between their stories about how the fire affected their lives, homes and how it was fought.

There's also 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. -- Margy

Saturday, November 09, 2019

Wayne and Margy's Snowbird RV Adventure Update

Wayne and I planned for months for our first Snowbird road trip in the RV we purchased last April.

This time of year it gets darker, colder and wetter at our float cabin on Powell Lake. Sun and warmth are calling. Just like the geese, we are migrating south.

An early November departure was perfect to beat snow and ice in the pass between Oregon and California, and we skipped winterizing our RV. That was a win-win.

We picked a Forest River Sunseeker 2250 specifically for this adventure. We like the small size for maneuverability and easy parking. It's been a perfect rig for us even on long trips.

The overall 24'4" length of the Sunseeker packs in a lot of living space.

We've planned a three part trip.

Part 1 - We left Bellingham on November 4. For 43 days we explored and camped our way from Washington to Southern California. In mid-December, we put the RV into storage in Southern California, went to USC for basketball and then flew back to Bellingham for a break. You can reading about this leg of our trip by visiting my Margy Meanders Blog and scrolling down.

Part 2 - starts in early February when we fly south to pick up our RV. We'll drive to Arizona for more exploring and a stay in Tempe for Arizona State University softball. Are you seeing a trend here? College sports? In late February we'll store our RV in Tucson then fly back to Bellingham for a second break. You can keep up with us by visiting my Margy Meanders Blog.

Camping in public parks gives you more privacy and nature.

Part 3 - starts in late March. We'll fly to Tucson to pick up our RV for the final leg. There'll be more ASU softball before heading back north. We hope to make it to Oregon State University for more softball, and anticipate arriving back in Bellingham in mid to late April, after all of the freezing weather has passed.

Private RV parks offer more amenities and full hookups.

Does this sound complicated for a relaxing winter vacation? Maybe, but we aren't the kind of Snowbirds that like to stay in one spot. Our good friend John says we live a complicated simple life. But that's the way we like it.

Come along with us at my Margy Meanders Blog to see what's happening on our Snowbird RV Adventure. I'll write posts along the way when we have Internet. I hope you enjoy our trip as much as we do. -- Margy

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Annual Boat Maintenance at Valley Marine in Powell River

Valley Marine boat services in Powell River.
Winter is a good time for annual boat maintenance. The shops are less busy, and long months of inactivity are hard on boats. Having ours in top shape makes us confident it will be ready whenever the weather is good.

Our Bayliner 2452 called Halcyon Days needed to be scheduled for annual winter maintenance, so we asked Jeff Munro at Valley Marine to arrange for transportation from our moorage in Powell River's North Harbour to his shop in Paradise Valley.

This week Jeff called to let us know everything had been completed. He met us at our storage hangar and backed Halcyon Days right into her spot. Now that's great service!

Jeff backing Halcyon Days into her hangar winter storage spot.

Here's Halcyon Days all tucked away for the cold, wet, windy winter months. Looks like she'll have lots of good company and a great view.

Halcyon Days will have protection and good company all winter long,

Halcyon Days will be back in the water in May, ready for new adventures like the ones in Wayne's books Up the Strait, Farther Up the Strait and Up the Inlet (shameless plug).

Thanks Jeff and Valley Marine! If you are in need of excellent boat maintenance and repair services, give them a call:  

Valley Marine
3407A Padgett Rd
Powell River BC,
Phone: 604-485-9257

They also have boating supplies, shrink wrap service, storage and an upholstery shop onsite.

Say "Halcyon Days" sent you. -- Margy

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

Also posting to a meme called Through My Lens by Mersad.

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

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Remembering a Fierce Fall Storm

Our float cabin in 2001.
Storms in fall and winter are the worst. Low pressure systems build in the Gulf of Alaska, swoop down Vancouver Island, cross the Strait of Georgia, and head up Powell Lake. With the lows come rain and high winds. It's the wind that causes the worst damage.

Our first boat.
We bought our cabin in Summer 2001 and had several weeks of wonderful weather. The next Thanksgiving (the U.S. kind in November), I got a week off from work and went to Powell River on my own. The weather was partly sunny for my boat trip up the lake. Good thing, I'd never driven a boat alone before. Thankfully, John rode in formation to make sure I made it okay.

Stiff leg at low water.
After a few nice days a storm moved in. The rain was heavy and strong winds made the cabin jerk forcefully back and forth on her ¾” steel cables anchored to the cliff. On the backwards swing, the stiff leg (a log that prevents the cabin from hitting the cliff) bounced off the rock, sending reverberations through the float and into the cabin. With daylight, everything calmed. Whew!

Cliff anchor bolt with cable needing replacement.
The next evening a new low slammed into Coastal BC. The steel cables and their anchor bolts had been weakened the previous night. Just after dark, the wind blown motion of the cabin ripped a steel cable free. With the greater range of motion and stress, another cable snapped. With each gust of wind, the cabin swung far out into the lake, only to snap back, causing the stiff leg to ram into the rock wall.

Adding a second anchor cable for future storms.
The motion was constant and nerve wracking. The lake wasn’t safe to navigate, so there was no way to leave. To say the least, it was a very long night. Fortunately, the remaining cables held and I could talk to Wayne (still in California) via our satellite phone for moral support. You might think a night like this would have scared me away, but I love the cabin, and knew John built it skookum (strong) to be safe in all kinds of weather.

You can read the whole story in Up the Lake and learn how I got the nickname Frontier Jane. If you have a kindle or e-reader, Up the Lake is free from Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords, and many other online e-book sellers.

Thanks for visiting part of my world. 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