Tuesday, November 20, 2018

USC Basketball Sports-cation

USC Galen Center basketball court.
Wayne and I enjoyed lots of USC basketball last week on our fall sun and sports-cation. Because Wayne's a USC alumnus, we plan trips around their sports events.

Both men and women play home basketball games at the Galen Center. It's a great venue for basketball, volleyball, concerts and other shows.

The Galen Center is freeway close and parking is easily accessible just after the Exposition Blvd. exit off the Harbor (110) Freeway.

We fly to Los Angeles International Airport and take a cab. It costs about $50 one way plus tip. That's cheaper than renting a car and paying parking. A bonus, most cabs have transponders to use the freeway express lanes which really cuts down on travel time and headaches.

USC women's basketball at the Galen Center.
Now that we live up north, we stay at the USC Raddison. that's right next door. There are several eating establishments within walking distance including The Lab Gastropub. We also take our mobile meal kit and go to Trader Joe's at USC Village to get breakfast items, salads and snacks for room meals.

We enjoy both men's and women's basketball. Last week we saw one men's game and two women's.

It was pre-conference so good tickets were easy to get. We especially enjoy women's games because the crowd is more supportive, and the women perform as a unified team, each player working with her peers to do the best that they can.

"Our bench" for sun in the USC quad.

In between games we grab some of that wonderful Southern California sunshine to revitalize our tans and spirits. The location of choice is the USC quad where we can student watch while we read our Kindles.

Wayne multitasking watching football and basketball live,
Last week was the annual rivalry football game between USC and UCLA. It was at the Rose Bowl this year so we didn't attend.

But we did experience the on-campus pep rally and the duct tape wrapped mascot statues.

 This year SC was successful is spray painting the UCLA bear on their campus, but Tommy Trojan and Traveler survived unscathed.

USC mascots before and "under wraps".

Vacations are great for so many reasons. What are some of your favourite destinations and activities?

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

Monday, November 5, 2018

Float Cabin YouTube Video Reaches Over One Million Views

Back in 2012, I sent pictures and video clips about off-the-grid living in our float cabin home to Kirsten Dirksen in Spain. She has a YouTube channel that focuses on tiny homes, simple living and other interesting topics.

A look at the YouTube page with our 1,000,000+ views.

Kirsten took the raw images I sent and put them together into a video for her channel. Little did I know that the video she created would become so popular. This week it just crossed the 1,000,000 views mark.

In case you haven't seen it yet, here it is. You can view it right here or go to YouTube for a larger version.

Thanks Kirsten for sharing our story with so many people.

Do you want to learn more about our float cabin home and off the grid living? Visit the Powell River Books blog or check out some of the books in the Coastal BC Stories series.  -- 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. -- Margy

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Cowboy Candy Pepper Relish

Jalapeño peppers on my plant.
I follow the Safe Canning Recipes Facebook page and have been inspired to try new things. On their blog there are tested recipes, including one for something called Cowboy Candy, sweet pickled jalapeño peppers.

Last year I made traditional Cowboy Candy. Then I read a Facebook post about someone who diced her peppers to make it into a relish. This week I gave it a try with the last of my jalapeño and Anaheim chili crop.

Cowboy Candy Pepper Relish


3 pounds jalapeño peppers
2 cups 5% cider vinegar
6 cups white granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
3 teaspoons granulated garlic
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper


You can use any variety of pepper from mild to hot. Since I was using up my crop, I didn't have 3 pounds. The end result was three half pints rather than nine.

The last of my pepper crop ready to be diced.

Using gloves to protect your hands, slice off and discard the stem ends. To make the relish version, dice the peppers.

Use gloves, it really helps.

Bring the vinegar, sugar, turmeric, celery seed, granulated garlic and cayenne pepper to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Bring syrup to a boil.

Add the diced peppers and simmer for exactly 4 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer peppers to clean, hot jars. Fill to 1/4 inch from the rim.

Bring the syrup back to a full boil. Boil hard for 6 minutes. Ladle the boiling syrup into the jars over the diced peppers. Insert a knife to remove any air pockets. Add more syrup if needed to maintain a 1/4 inch headspace.

Spoon the diced peppers into hot jars and boil the syrup.

Wipe the rims with a damp paper towel and cover with two-piece lids to finger tightness. Process half-pints or pints for 10 minutes in a water bath canner. Begin timing after the water reaches a full boil. After the time has expired, turn off the heat and let the jars rest in the canner for 10 minutes.

Remove jars with canning tongs and let them rest undisturbed for 24 hours on a cooling rack. Then check seals, clean the jars with a damp cloth, remove the rings and label.

Three half pints of Cowboy Candy relish and one jar of sauce.

If you like hot condiments, this is the one for you. If you have extra syrup, you can process that as well. It’s good brushed on BBQ meats.

Have you ever made Cowboy Candy? What do you think about making it like a relish? They say it's easier to serve that way with crackers and cream cheese. I can't wait to try mine after a few weeks of letting the flavours mellow. -- Margy

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

October Sailing

Motoring out looking for some wind.
We've had an amazing run of warm sunny days this month. October is usually more erratic, but with a stationary high sitting over the Pacific Northwest we've had some amazing weather.

We decided to take our 19' O'Day Mariner daysailer to town on the weekend rather than our Hewescraft. We knew it would take longer, about four hours if we sailed tacking the whole way (which we didn't), rather than 25 minutes in the powerboat. But the thought of all that warm sunshine helped us make the decision.

The beautiful maples on the hillsides turning to fall yellows and orange were a bonus.

Colourful maples on the south side of Goat Island.

The next day we used our spinnaker to get a push. We made better time and had to motor much less. We got two thirds of the way before the wind shifted. We took the sail down and used the outboard kicker to get us through First Narrows and back to our float cabin home.

Wind in the spinnaker taking us home.

What has your October weather been like? There've been some terrible hurricanes, storms and snow. I hope you didn't had to endure any of those. -- Margy

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Who is for Margy

Starting my cityfolk life.
Wayne and I used to be what he calls "cityfolk" in his books. I was born and raised in Compton, California. You don't get much more cityfolk than that. When my parents were young, it was a small town. Mom's family were farmers and Dad's ran a corner grocery store. They each were the first in their family to go to college, and both became teachers. Now my small hometown has been swallowed by the urban sprawl emanating from Los Angeles. There's nothing rural about it any longer.

Daddy's girl hiking in Lassen National Park.
Because both of my parents were educators, summer vacations were for camping trips, many up the coast to British Columbia. I learned to love the outdoors and fished alongside my dad. Mom, Dad, and I (I'm a spoiled rotten only child) hiked, went to ranger talks, and learned lots about nature. The seeds for my future life were planted.

Principal of Erwin Elementary School.
Following in my parent's footsteps, I went to college and become an educator. I taught kindergarten like Mom and then became a school administrator like Dad. Those were great years.  I met Wayne, and we found we had lots of common interests. That's been one of the strong points in our marriage. He taught me to fly, and we purchased Piper Arrow 997.

997 in her original paint in Baja California.
We traveled far and wide in 997 to places like New York, Cancun, James Bay (the tip of Hudson Bay), and the Arctic Ocean. Many years included camping under the wing of our airplane in British Columbia.  On a trip in 2000, we discovered Powell River, BC. We returned in 2001 and discovered Powell Lake with its unique floating cabins.

That was the moment we started the transition from cityfolk to a new way of life off the grid.

We had to learn new skills for our new off-the-grid lifestyle, and quick. That's where our good friend John comes in.

Our float cabin at Hole in the Wall on Powell Lake.

We bought his Cabin #3 at Hole in the Wall, and we lovingly say "he came with it." John has remained our friend and patient mentor.

After taking early retirement from our careers in education in 2005, Wayne and I wanted to spend more time in all seasons at our float cabin home.

The solution was to become Canadian permanent residents in 2008. That decision evolved into becoming Canadian citizens in August 2018. Dual citizenship has lots of benefits for us in both countries.

Powell River, BC, from the Texada Island ferry.
You never know what life has in store.

Wayne and I never want to go back to our cityfolk roots. The slower pace in a small town like Powell River fits us.

We spent years looking for a place to retire. Like many things in life, the solution found us. Are you looking for a small, safe, forward thinking place to live? Take a look at Powell River.

Here are some links for more information:
If you have any questions, please leave a comment or use the link in my profile to my email address. -- Margy

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Reading the Pacific Crest Trail

I like to follow themes in my pleasure reading. One theme was climbing Mt. Everest. I could never do that in real life, but I could experience the adventure through published accounts and memoirs.

Lately, I've been reading about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. It's something I could never do, even in my youth, but through reading I can do anything.

Many authors mention John Muir's classic My First Summer in the Sierras. I found mine at the Cozy Corner used bookstore in Ferndale, WA. It's also available for free legal download at the Project Guttenberg website.

John Muir was a Scottish immigrant. In 1849 he came with his parents to settle in Wisconsin. John always had a wanderlust spirit, but an eye injury in 1867 inspired him to take long cross-country "walks" and sailing adventures. In 1868 he sailed into San Francisco and made California his home base.

Not long after his arrival, Muir walked through the San Joaquin Valley and up into the high country of the Sierra Nevada range herding sheep. In 1911, he used his journal of the that trek and summering in the Yosemite valley as the basis for his book, My First Summer in the Sierras. The book is filled with detailed descriptions of his natural surroundings and is illustrated with his own photographs and drawing.

John Muir was instrumental in getting Yosemite set aside as a National Park, and was one of the founding members of the Sierra Club. The John Muir Trail (JMT) through his beloved country was named in his honour. From Mt. Whitney to the Yosemite Valley it runs mostly in conjunction with the Pacific Crest Trail .

I was inspired to read Muir's story after references to it were made in other books about the Pacific Crest Trail. If I had it to do over again, I would start with his classic work.

I came to California 100 years after Muir landed in San Francisco. I came in a different way however, I was born as a second generation Southern California native. I vividly remember camping in Yosemite Valley before there were numbered sites and reservations. I remember ranger talks and watching the Firefall from Glacier Point. When I was older, I remember standing in the meadow to watch President Kennedy ride by in a motorcade. Here's a video taken by another family on that special day.

Other books about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail I've read include:

Wild by Cheryl Strayed.
Click here for my review. Of the three books, this was my first and favourite. The movie version of Wild with Reese Witherspoon that followed wasn't as good as the book in my estimation.

Thru-hiking Will Break Your Heart: An Advrenture on the Pacific Crest Trail by Carrot Quinn.
Click here for my review.  Carrot is an unusual individual that is blunt in her approach to life and writing style. She sought out hiking the Pacific Crest Trail to give her life more purpose.

Girl in the Woods: A Memoir by Aspen Matis. 
I didn't write a separate review for this book.  Like Wild and Thru-hiking, this memoir is about a woman who suffered trauma and used the grueling hike to find her way in life. Aspen's descriptions of her past and trail relationships were even more graphic than Carrot's.

Do you like to read books about similar topics or themes? What are some of your favourites? -- Margy

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Food Security and Becoming a Locavore

The annual Fall Fair celebrates food security.
Food security is more in the news these days, especially in small remote towns like ours. Locavore is a popular word to describe participating in the local food movement.

The Powell River Food Security Project works to ensure that everyone, especially vulnerable people, have access to the foods they need to stay healthy and thrive. To help get the word out about home gardening, they host the annual Edible Garden Tour.

Garden Club members share information at the Fall Fair.
The Powell River Garden Club supports home gardening with monthly meetings to share ideas and listen to guest speakers.

The Powell River Farmer's Market provides local farmers with the means to get products to local consumers. At the end of the growing season they highlight local efforts at their annual Fall Fair. In addition to Saturday and Sunday seasonal markets, there are others in the region, some during winter.

It's difficult for me to get the the farmer's markets. My solution to food security is a kitchen garden at my floating cabin home. Some items produce year round, but my main harvest starts in June and lasts through October.

My floating garden with four raised beds and a solar watering system.

My garden floats on the lake. It has four raised beds that I use for crops like beets, carrots, kale, chard, broccoli, onions, garlic, lettuce, spinach and herbs. It's amazing how much you can produce in 160 square feet.

Container gardening in blue barrels.
To increase my growing space I use containers on the decks. 55-gallon plastic barrels cut in half make great growing spaces for plants like blueberries, red currants, rhubarb, tomatoes and potatoes. Smaller containers work well for peppers, eggplant, zucchini, winter squash, beans, peas and more herbs.

August and September have been a time of plenty. We eat most of our produce fresh, thus reducing our dependency on grocery store items.

To preserve some for winter I've canned jam, pickles and relishes. I've hung onions and garlic, dried herbs, stored potatoes and saved seeds. Beets, carrots, broccoli and kale will stay in the garden for winter harvesting. Later I will pressure can the last of my potatoes and carrots.

Fresh carrots and potatoes.
Each year I have one plant that's the best. This year it's my Scarlet Nantes carrots.

I usually get small ones since my float garden has shallow beds. But this year they are huge! The larger ones must be reaching all the way down to the bottom of the bed where it meets the lake water. Maybe that's why they are so large, they have a steady supply of moisture when days are hot.

Does your town have a food security project? How have you become involved? Do you have a kitchen garden?  I'd love to hear about your experiences. -- Margy

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

A Summer Retrospective

I know, summer isn't over until September 22, but with Labor Day come and gone, and kids going back to school it seems that way.

Wayne and I both used to teach. He was a professor at Mt. San Antonio College and I was an administrator (formerly an elementary school teacher) in Mountain View School District. Every year I still get my back-to-school "nightmare."

We both retired early to enjoy float cabin living on Powell Lake in Coastal British Columbia. Now summer is a seasonal word for us rather than vacation time.

That doesn't mean summer isn't busy. Here are some of the highlights from this year.

We've had lots of visitors. We kicked it off by inviting members of the Powell River Garden Club to see my float garden. In July, Kurt arrived from California in his Husky. His wife Leslie joined him for a few days including a stay at the cabin. Then our friends Dave and Marg brought three grandkids (and their dog Crystal) to spend a few days with us.

Sometimes we like to get away. The nearby chuck (ocean) is a good spot. Our shake-down trip was to nearby Texada Island. Other adventures included Heriot Bay, meeting Kurt and Leslie in Campbell River, a four day upcoast cruise, and another four day cruise to Johnstone Strait. We tried salmon fish but haven't caught one yet.

Life isn't all play. Wayne pressure washed our cabin decks. A major project was to remove our stairs and shed to comply with the water lease. John was a big help so we repaid him by towing his new shed. Dave installed a pole for our Xplornet satellite dish. We are also cutting and storing firewood. That's a job that will continue for some time to come.

When we are home on Powell Lake, we use it for some amazing recreation. To name a few, riding our quads on the many logging roads and trails, fishing for trout, sailing in Wayne's 19' O'Day Mariner daysailer and camping with our barge after the quads have been offloaded. There's also hiking, swimming and just relaxing with a good book.

Gardening is a big part of my summer. Garden Club members came up in three groups of seven to visit. It was so much fun for everyone. Both of my Dracaena spike plants bloomed. It has been a very good year for my flowers, fruits and vegetables, but watering has been a challenge with all the hot days.

We eat most of the garden produce fresh, but I enjoy preserving some things for winter. This year I made jam, dill pickles, relish, diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. My home grown red currants made a tasty jam. I found a food mill at the thrift store that has made canning much easier. I also dry and store onions, garlic and potatoes.

It's been a very good summer for us up the lake. How was yours? -- Margy

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Self Contained Mobile Meal Kit in a Bag

A self contained Mobile Meal Kit in a bag.
Earlier on this blog I described a mobile meal kit we take on airline trips to use when we want to eat meals in our hotel room.

For camping trips it's nice to have a more inclusive kit so I created self contained Mobile Meal Kits to use for barge camping with our quads, camping in our own airplane and traditional car camping trips.

I've put several kits together for each purpose because they're so economical.

You can fit quite a lot in a small shoulder bag.
I start with a thrift store bag with zipper pouches to help organize the contents.

For meal simplicity, we don't include pots or pans. Camp BBQ meats supplement deli entrees.

There are only two of us, so I fill the kit with sets of two: plastic plates, plastic cereal bowls, plastic drinking cups, and plastic coffee mugs. I also include one larger plastic bowl to share salads.

Plastic bags keep things organized.
I organize and store all of the contents in a Ziploc plastic bags.

For utensils we take two steak knives, two soup spoons, two forks, one serving spoon, a multipurpose can opener, clothes pins, and a nut cracker (just in case a tasty crab crosses our path or to open some of those tricky drink bottle caps).

Condiments are extras from fast food restaurants. The small sealed packets are perfect in size and can be replenished easily, 

Mr. Bucket has been with us since the 1980s.
For dish washing I use a bucket. Our Mr. Bucket folds up for easy transport.

I use camp soap and paper towels for washing and drying. That way I don't have to worry about getting towels dry before packing.

For drinking and cooking water we purchase a gallon bottles to refill our smaller drinking bottles.

A small ice chest fills out our travel eating and cooking needs.

Mobile Meal Kit for a total cost of $5.00:
  • zippered shoulder bag $2.00 at thrift store
  • plastic plates and coffee mugs at thrift store $.25 each
  • salad bowl $2.00 from Dollar Store
  • plastic cups and cereal bowls (extras from home)
  • metal utensils (extras from home)

Cost of other supplies:
  • biodegradable camp soap $3.99 (long lasting concentrate)
  • BBQ lighter $2.99
  • paper towels (free from my kitchen supply)
  • Ziploc bags in several sizes (free from my kitchen supply)
  • plastic grocery and vegetable bags for trash (free)
  • fast food restaurant salt, pepper, sweetener, condiments (free)
  • folding camp bucket (he's been in the family for years)

I now have my self-contained Mobile Meal Kit ready for our next adventure where ever it may be. Do you use something similar. What are your tips and tricks? -- Margy

Friday, August 24, 2018

Ogopogo in Powell Lake

You've probably heard of the Loch Ness Monster. Well, here in my neck of the woods we have Ogopogo. Powell Lake in British Columbia is a very deep (about 365 metres or 1200 feet) glacial cut lake. There's even 10,000 year-old trapped sea water at the bottom. No wonder a "monster" is reportedly living in its depths.

Ogopogo's most publicized sighting was in Okanagan Lake at Mission Beach in 1926. He is said to be 20 to 50 feet in length with a serpant shaped body and a horse-like head. Ogopogo has also been seen here in Powell Lake. It's was recorded in an article in the Powell River News as well as Carla Mobley's classic book, Mysterious Powell Lake.

I've had two close encounters with Ogopogo. I haven't actually seen him, but I've felt his presence. The first time was while swimming around our float cabin. I felt a tug on my toes. What else could it have been but Ogopogo "pulling my leg." The second encounter was captured on film. It was his shadow on Goat Island across from my cabin. With evidence like this, I know he must be real. -- Margy

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Cruisin' to Campbell River's Discovery Harbour Marina

Our good friend Kurt from Southern California flew up to our neck of the woods again this summer. He arrived in his Aviat Husky after a stop in Bellingham, Washington, to exchange his southern wheels for his northern floats.

That gives him the flexibility to travel far and wide, hopping from lake to lake throughout the province.

Here he comes now!

Kurt's wife Leslie came to join him for a quick vacation. Wayne and I made arrangements to meet them in Campbell River on Vancouver Island. They drove up by car from the Courtenay Airport and we took our boat from Powell River across the Strait of Georgia.

The cruise across the Strait of Georgia was smooth and the sun was shining. You can't ask for more than that. We got fuel at Discovery Harbour Fuel Sales and went to our reserved slip at the Discovery Harbour Marina

Our 2452 at the Discovery Harbour Marina for the night.

We met at the nearby Real Canadian Superstore (Walmart on steroids) and the four of us got in our Bayliner 2452 to cross Discovery Passage for dinner at April Point Lodge. Wayne timed our reservation with slack tide so the crossing would be comfortable. We had a delicious dinner on the deck with an outstanding view. If you don't have a boat, you can take a water taxi from their sister property, Painter's Lodge.

Kurt and Leslie with April Point Resort in the background.

For boaters and non-boaters alike, Discovery Harbour Marina has lots to offer.

It's a full service marina offering moorage for 300 boats from 16 to 150 feet at daily, monthly, 6-months and annual rates. There's electricity, water, washrooms with showers, laundry and trash disposal included. The adjacent Discovery Harbour Centre with lots of stores for provisioning and restaurants is a huge plus. Other services at the marina include lots of boat adventure and fishing tour operators. After all, Campbell River is the "salmon fishing capitol of the world."

Cruise on over to Campbell River on Vancouver Island in Coastal BC in your boat, car or by airline.

Then "discover" a marina with a little something for everyone. -- Margy