Thursday, December 31, 2015

Margy Meanders through 2015

This is the first full year for my Margy Meanders blog. It isn't as busy as my Powell River Books blog, but this is my place to share things not related to off the grid living. Here are a few of the highlights from the year in the form of most visited posts.

Chris, owner of Cozy Corner Books and Coffee

Cozy Corner Books and Coffee in Bellingham, WA, is a favourite used bookstore of mine. They have coffee and other yummy things to drink and nibble. You can enjoy your latte as you browse the stacks, or relax by the fireplace. And that's not all. They also have a Children's Imagination Area and free games.

Flying over Puget Sound.

Flying to Chehalis Airport in Oregon takes a little over an hour from Bellingham. We used our GPS to fly the RNAV (GPS) RWY (Runway) 16 IFR approach to descend through the low cloud layer. We broke out below the clouds right at the minimums. We were the only airplane in transient parking.

Seattle Mariners at Spring Training.

Baseball Spring Training in Phoenix is an annual event for us. This trip we took in three Cactus League games. Because we have a link to the State of Washington, we chose to attend Seattle Mariners games.

Rocky cliffs on Chuckanut Drive.

The Chuckanut Drive Loop goes from Bellingham to the Skagit Valley and back. All along the drive there are spectacular views. This is particularly true south of Larrabee Park. Turnouts are available to stop for pictures. There's also trailhead parking for a variety of Chuckanut Mountain Trails. Some trails allow mountain bikes.
The Silo SciFi series.

Wayne is an avid science fiction reader and writer. I enjoy reading some of the first contact and post apocalyptic scifi books he buys for the Kindle. Hugh Howey is a successful author in the world of independent (self) publishing. We thoroughly enjoyed his trilogy of books including Wool, Shift, and Dust that come together to form the Silo Series.

Airport Camping on Orcas Island.

Orcas Island Airport (KORS) is one of our favourite airplane camping spots is in the San Juan Islands of the Pacific Northwest. When we fly to Orcas, we like to walk the well marked trail to the village of Eastsound for dinner.

Tasty Chicken Tetrazzini.

Chicken Tetrazzini is a large casserole that you can share with family and friends. This pasta dish is easy and inexpensive. Have leftover chicken, it's even better.

Painter's Lodge Oceanfront View

Painter's Lodge in Campbell River, BC, is located right on Discovery Passage. It's well known for fine accommodations and dining. We were too lake for dinner, but had a wonderful breakfast in Legends. There's also the Tyee Pub for lunch, dinner and drinks with a view.

Parchment paper for baking.

Parchment paper saves the day. Perfection! The bread slid out of the pan without any cracking or breaking. And the paper peeled off leaving a nice flat surface for slicing.

Everest books and films.

Everest was a big thing for us this year in film and books. Wayne and I went to see the movie Everest when it was in town. It depicted the 1996 disaster for two guided climbing parties trying to summit the 29,029 foot peak.That led us to read a number of books by expedition participants.

Ste. Marie in Port Moody.

The Ste. Marie is Wayne's new sailboat. Wayne and Bill (the former owner) went for a sailing lesson at the Reed Pointe Marina in Port Moody, BC.

The Goodyear Blimp over USC.

The LA area Goodyear Blimp base is in Carson. When I lived in Torrance and drove to my teaching assignment in Bellflower, I passed the blimp twice a day. On rare occasions, I got to see a takeoff or landing. This is the 90th anniversary the Goodyear airship program.

I hope 2015 was as good to you as it was to us. -- Wayne and Margy

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Crispy Sourdough Breadcrumb Topping

I made a batch of Mac 'n' Cheese for dinner last night, but I didn't have any potato chips to crumble on the top. Wayne and I really like it that way.

Rather than go without a topping, I decided to use what I had on hand. make a crispy sourdough breadcrumb topping. It would work for any casserole that calls for a crispy top.

Crispy Sourdough Breadcrumb Topping


1 1/2 large slices sourdough bread
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
Garlic powder to taste
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons butter


Tear fresh sourdough bread (including crusts) into small pieces into a bowl.

Blend in Parmesan cheese, garlic powder and salt.

Melt butter and drizzle over bread slowly, mixing as you go go coat the small pieces.

Bake at 250°F for 45 minutes or until crispy and golden. Stir every 15 minutes.

Use immediately as the crispy topping for you Mac 'n' Cheese or other favourite casserole.

Do you have any other crispy casserole toppings to share? -- Margy

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Mushroom and Crab Casserole

Marg, my good friend in Powell River, is a great cook. She made a scrumptious casserole that really hit the spot on a cool fall evening. I asked if she would share the recipe and of course she said yes.

I made it recently to share a dinner with our good friends Helen and Ed. Now I would like to share it with you.

It's actually a lot easier than it looks.




1 small onion chopped
2 cups white mushrooms sliced
3 cloves garlic minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons spreadable cream cheese
2 cups imitation crab (or 50/50 with shrimp)
1/2 teaspoon chicken bullion crystals
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dill
sprinkle of cayenne pepper
sprinkle of ground pepper
sprinkle of nutmeg


2 1/3 cups small shell pasta
2 quarts boiling water
1 tablespoon oil (optional)
2 teaspoons salt


1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese grated
1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese grated


Saute mushrooms, garlic, onion, and olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan for 7-8 minutes until liquid is evaporated. Add wine. Simmer about 1 minute until liquid is almost evaporated. Measure flour into a bowl. Gradually whisk in milk until smooth. Add to mushroom mixture, stirring constantly until boiling and thickened. Stir in cream cheese until melted. Stir in next 8 ingredients. When heated through, remove the crab sauce from heat.

Cook pasta in boiling water, oil and second amount of salt in a large uncovered pot for 4 minutes. Stir frequently. Pasta will be slightly firm. Drain. Rinse with cold water and drain again. Add to crab sauce. Mix. Pour into a 1 1/2 quart casserole dish. Sprinkle with Monterey Jack and Parmesan cheeses.

Bake at 350 degree oven for 30 minutes until hot and bubbling. The recipe says it serves 4, but I would say more like 8 unless they are really hungry lumberjacks.

Need a dish for a holiday potluck, this one is quick and easy and a crowd pleaser. - Margy

Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Goodyear Blimp

I grew up in Southern California, and as far back as I can remember the Goodyear Blimp has been flying our skies. Last Saturday was no exception. The blimp circled the LA Coliseum throughout the USC vs. UCLA football game.

The Pilgrim was the first airship used for promotion in 1925. In the 50s, when I saw my first Goodyear Blimp, incandescent bulbs were used for nighttime text messages. They also started using them to film events. In the 60s, the signs expanded to four colours and movement.

Goodyear's fleet of blimps were soon used nationwide and internationally for filming and advertising. In the 90s, the signs went LED with lots of colours and bright enough to see in daylight. In the 2000s, computers have enabled high resolution.

The Goodyear Blimp over the LA Coliseum for USC vs. UCLA football.

The LA area Goodyear Blimp base is in Carson. When I lived in Torrance and drove to my teaching assignment in Bellflower, I passed the blimp twice a day. On rare occasions, I got to see a takeoff or landing. This is the 90th anniversary the Goodyear airship program.

Have you seen a Goodyear Blimp? Where and what did you think? -- Margy

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Los Angeles Sportscation

The LA Lakers playing at Staples Arena.
The second leg of our fall sportscation brought us to the mega-metropolis of Los Angeles.

Wayne and I are very familiar with the area because we lived here in the suburbs. I was born and raised in nearby Compton and Wayne came to Los Angeles in the early 1970s to attend graduate school at the University of Southern California. That's why he is such an avid USC fan. My dad went there as well for graduate school, so I can root for the home team as well.

USC men's basketball vs. Northridge.
Our choice of Southern California as a sportscation destination had two purposes: one was to attend USC sporting events, the other was to get some sunshine and warmth. We love our float cabin home on Powell Lake in British Columbia, but a break from short cloudy days is welcome this time of year. Plus, our tans are starting to fade.

This trip began with USC football at the University of Oregon, then followed the team home to LA. We drove to Eugene, but left our car at the airport and caught an Allegiant flight direct to LAX. We rented a car and headed to the Raddison next to the USC campus. This hotel gave us easy walking or Metro Rail access to all the sports venues.

Our Hotel Travelling Meal Kit packed to go.
Because we were staying in a hotel for an extended period of time, we brought along our traveling meal kit. We stopped at Ralph's on the way out of the airport area and purchase breakfast and dinner items for the first four days. I keep a log of which hotels have refrigerators and microwave ovens. If there's no refrigerator we use our folding cooler bag. If there's no microwave, we purchase deli meals that don't need cooking. Check it out here.

USC vs. UCLA women's volleyball game.
The USC vs. UCLA football game wasn't until the following Saturday, so we used the week in between to watch other sports: USC men's basketball, USC women's volleyball (they won the Pac-12 title), a Laker's professional basketball home game at Staples, and the exciting USC pre-game Bonfire Rally on campus.

We also drove to Lancaster to visit Carl and Lori, friends from Wayne's teaching days at Mt. San Antonio College. Lori made us a scrumptious Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings! And we spent the night getting caught up since our visit last year. We are thankful to have such good friends.

USC Trojan football at the LA Coliseum.
Finally, it was Saturday and time for the USC vs. UCLA football game. We walked over to the Coliseum (home to the 1932 and 1984 Olympics), missing all the traffic and parking headaches. A 40 to 21 win by USC was the perfect culmination to a week long sportscation with the added bonus of some fun in the sun.

Do you ever take theme vacations? Do you like to follow high school or college sporting events? If not, consider giving it a try. -- Margy

Friday, November 27, 2015

Exposition Park Rose Garden

Cities have parks for public recreation, relaxation, and entertainment. These urban oases draw residents and tourists alike to enjoy the outdoors.

In downtown Los Angeles, Exposition Park has beautiful grounds with lawns, museums, sports venues, and a lovely rose garden. The Exposition Park Rose Garden was created in 1928 and is maintained by the Los Angeles City Department of Recreation and Parks. While Wayne and I were on our Los Angeles sportscation, we took an afternoon off to enjoy the lovely garden and spend some quiet time reading in the glorious, warm sunshine.

Do you have parks in your town? Which one is your favourite and why? -- Margy

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Crosstown USC vs. UCLA Rivalry

The University of Southern California
Do you remember high school or college days and the high spirits prior to a game with your main rival? Do you remember pranks involving mascots? The crosstown rivalry between USC (University of Southern California) and UCLA (University of California Los Angeles) has been front and center since 1916. Because the campuses are only twelve miles apart there's lots of opportunities for hi-jinks.

We're staying at the Raddison on the USC campus for the second leg of our sportscation. It's perfect for us to walk to all sports venues. It's also next to the Metro light-rail "Expo" line to downtown Los Angeles and the Staples and the Convention Centers.

But back to rivalries. During Conquest Week, the mascot statues are covered for protection. Here are before and after pictures. First comes George Tirebiter, a stray dog that became an unofficial mascot that led the USC Marching Band into football games in the 1940s.

George Tirebiter, a 1940s mascot.
George "in the doghouse" for safety.

Next comes Traveller, the white horse that has galloped in the football stadium carrying a Trojan warrior at home games since 1961. During Conquest week, Traveller gets wrapped in duct tape to keep him safe from UCLA Bruins fans.

The Traveller statue.
Traveller all taped up.

Finally comes Tommy Trojan. He represents the spirit of USC. He also gets covered in duct tape so he doesn't end up with a coat of blue and gold paint in the dead of night.

Wayne with Tommy Trojan.
Tommy Trojan "under wraps."

In addition to the protective coverings, the mascot statues are guarded 24-7 by representatives of the Trojan Knights philanthropic and school support group.

Last night there was a Bonfire Rally on the USC campus. It was closed to outsiders, but we watched from outside the fence. First came team introductions with the USC Marching Band and Song Girls.

Then it was time to light the bonfire.

When we walked through the campus earlier in the day we saw the bonfire pile and Bruin effigy that would go up in flames.

At the rally we saw the results, followed by fireworks, and bands playing until the wee hours. It's fun to return to your alma mater and enjoy the fun, even if the music is a whole lot different. -- Margy

Monday, November 23, 2015

Sportscation in Euguene, Oregon

Do you like to watch sports? High school? College? Professional? Why not combine that interest with your vacation plans. Games can be the main purpose of your trip, or an adjunct activity. Either way, taking a sportscation is a fun way to travel.

Wayne and I drove to Eugene, Oregon for the first leg of our fall sportscation.  We come here for lots of USC sporting events at the University of Oregon.

We checked in at the downtown Eugene Hilton. We like to stay here because it's within walking distance to Autzen Stadium for football, Matthew Knight Arena for basketball and volleyball, and the new Jane Sanders softball stadium that will open in 2016.

We timed our arrival to watch a women's volleyball game. We're USC fans, but enjoy watching other teams when SC isn't playing.

The Oregon women faced off against Washington, but weren't able to win over the No. 2 ranked Huskies despite an initial win in the first set. Volleyball is a new sport for us, and for this game we got excellent seats right up front and even with the net.

Several years ago we discovered a great breakfast spot, The Original Pancake House, and had to return on our way to the USC vs. Oregon football game the next morning.

There wan't time for us to get their signature Dutch Baby Apple Pancake, but anything at this popular Ducks hangout is great. Plus, it's right on the way to Autzen Stadium. Walking to the game is much easier (for us) than trying to battle the crowded streets and park.

To work off our breakfast and get to the game, we walked along the Ruth Bascom Riverbank Trail.

This popular riverside path follows along on both sides of Willamette River as it meanders through town. You can use the dedicated foot bridges and make it a two mile or so loop. Parts are paved to share with bikes, and parts are dirt along the north shore. One branch will take you right to the front of Autzen Stadium. Just follow the crowd.

Finally to the main event, the USC Football portion of our trip. We took our Coleman portable stadium seats and it was a good thing we did. We were on the shady side and the benches were still wet and cold from rain and dew the previous night.

Wayne picked these stadium seats because they are light weight, roll up fairly compact, and are easy to pack in a suitcase for our sportscation trips.

Because we were on the shady side, it was was a lot colder than the sunny side.  Even with my sweatshirt, jacket, and gloves I was chilly. At half time, I went downstairs to warm up in the sunshine and get a Dutch Bros. hot cocoa.

After a good warming, I went back to the game, but USC was a bit cold as well. They lost to the Ducks 48 to 28. Seems like we didn't bring them enough Canadian luck.

What's a vacation without lots of good food. We probably should have opted for a light dinner, but NOT. We headed over to the Cornucopia. We
had the Saturday special, a hot meatball sandwich, fries and a brew for only $12.99. Good food, USC and Ducks fans (getting along), and a funky atmosphere.

A perfect end to the first leg of our fall sportscation. -- Margy

Friday, November 20, 2015

Reed Point Marina in Port Moody, BC

The sun has set over the Reed Point Marina in Port Moody. Days end early this time of year, so Wayne's sailing lesson lasted until it was almost dark,

at least on the south side of Burrard Inlet. When we arrived, the wind and tide were in opposition causing huge standing waves that were visible from the Ironworkers Memorial Second Narrows Bridge.

But by the time Wayne and Bill were ready to sail, the wind had reduced to a light breeze in the Port Moody area, perfect for a first lesson. What a great way to explore Vancouver.

 Isn't this a great looking sailboat? You'll be hearing more about her soon. -- Margy

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Crockpot Beef Stew

I've been rediscovering some of my Mom's old cookbooks. One is Rival's Crockpot Cooking. Her cookbook and crockpot are from 1975, but they both still work very well. You can still find new and used copies at for a reasonable price.

I slightly modified the recipe for Crockpot Stew on page 26 for an easy one-pot meal.

Crockpot Beef Stew

3-4 lbs. cubed beef round steak
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2-3 carrots sliced
2 stalks celery cut in pieces
1/2 large onion chopped
2 large new potatoes cubed
1 can (4 oz.) sliced mushrooms drained
1 cup frozen peas
1 can (10.5 oz.) beef broth
1/2 cup dry red wine or water
2 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup flour

Combine 1/3 cup flour, salt, and pepper. Instead of regular salt and pepper I used a combination of seasoned salt, garlic salts and lemon pepper. Coat cubed round steak in the flour and quickly brown in oil.

 Place the beef in the crockpot and stir in any remaining seasoned flour. Add all vegetables except for the frozen peas and mix well.

Combine beef broth (I used one cup of water and a beef bullion cube), wine and Worcestershire sauce (I didn't have the Kitchen Bouquet the recipe called for). Pour over the meat and vegetables and stir carefully.

Cover and cook on low for 10-14 hours (or on high for 4 to 5 1/2 hours).

One hour before serving turn to high setting and add frozen peas. Make a smooth paste of 1/4 cup flour and the water. Stir into the Crockpot, cover and cook until thickened. I added additional water at this point to make the gravy a bit thinner. That's they way we like it.

I made some easy Bisquick biscuits and we had a hearty dinner for a cool rainy evening.

Do you have any favourite crockpot meals? Please share. -- Margy