Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Mr. Heater Big Buddy Propane Heater

Our Hewescraft docked beside our float cabin.
It may not be officially winter yet, but traveling in our 22-foot Hewescraft Ocean Pro up and down the lake can get pretty chilly.

We chose not to pay extra to have a heater installed when we purchased the boat. With an outboard motor it would have been quite expensive for a separate heading system.

Instead we use a portable Mr. Heater Big Buddy propane heater.  It comes in several versions based on state and country regulations. Of course, we have the Canadian model. We secure it with straps at the front of the boat for convenience and safety.

The heater can run on one or two small one pound propane canisters that are installed internally. The heater can also run on more economical 20-pound propane tanks. Safety features include an oxygen depletion sensor and tip-over shut-off features. It will heat up to 450 square feet, but also keeps our boat toasty warm for those winter runs.

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. -- Margy

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Christmas Shopping Suggestions


And get special pricing at Amazon on two of our popular Kindle titles!

Off the Grid
Coastal BC Stories

From the Coastal BC Stories series by Wayne J. Lutz, Off the Grid lets you know more about what it's like to live off the grid. We were true city-folk when we bought our cabin, but have learned how to generate our own power, use propane for appliances, maintain a kitchen garden, live in harmony with nature, and exchange our hectic lives for a more simple lifestyle. If you've ever dreamed of living away from town in an off-the-grid cabin, you'll enjoy reading Off the Grid.

Click here for your special Kindle price.

Across the Galactic Sea
First Contact Science Fiction

http://www.amazon.com/Across-Galactic-Sea-Wayne-Lutz-ebook/dp/B00AR6AOLCDescription: Spaceship Challenger is on mankind’s first galactic voyage using a high-tech blend of space jumps and cryogenic hibernation. Captain Tina Brett leads her ship towards the ultimate goal, first contact with alien intelligence, until a navigational glitch changes everything. Then there's a mutiny, or is it something more? Six individuals on an epic journey for the good of mankind.

Click here for your special Kindle price.


Click here if you need a Kindle or a free Kindle App.
Both books are also available in print format.

Happy Holiday reading from Wayne and Margy

Thursday, December 01, 2016

8 Seed Saving Tips

My floating garden.
Growing flowers and vegetables is a good way to enhance your environment, and control the sustainability and quality of the foods you eat. It can be very economical, but not free. Everything costs from seed to harvest.

Cliffside potato patch built with compost.
To decrease my costs and dependence on commercial products, I’ve started making some of my own gardening supplies. The first was creating compost from my clippings and kitchen waste. Living in a place without land and minimal soil that one practice has saved me lots of money and energy in hauling heavy bags up the lake.

8 Seed Saving Tips

The next thing I tried was saving seeds. Some efforts have been successful, some not so much. Here are some of my hits and misses.

Snow peas drying on the plants.
Snow Peas

This was my first and most successful experience. I’ve annually saved seeds from my plants for over five years without any deterioration in the quantity or quality of the successive crops.

Beans dried in the pods.
Scarlet Runner Beans

Saving these seeds can have two benefits. You can replant the following year or store them for consumption in soups and chilies. I only planted my saved seeds once and did have a meager crop the following year. Now I only save them for eating.

Rains didn't let the beans dry on the plants.
Kentucky Wonder Beans

This is the first year I’ve grown this type of pole bean. I’ll have to post an update next year about whether it is a hit or miss. The dried beans are pretty small, not as good for storing and eating as the Scarlet Runner Beans.

Cleaning tomato seeds for drying.
Tomato Seeds

Two years ago I processed and dried tomato seeds to save. I planted them in small pots for sprouting the following year without any success. Letting tomatoes self seed and sprout the next spring has been more successful. I let them get several inches tall and select the best to transplant to my new tomato patch.

Millions of seeds to save.
Scarlet Nantes Carrots

One year I couldn’t pull my carrots so they remained in the ground for two years. At that point they went to flower and seed. I saved the seeds and tried to plant some the next spring. It was not successful and I hate to waste time limited garden space to an unknown.

Seed potatoes ready to grow in a barrel.
Seed Potatoes

Technically not seeds, but the eyes of sprouted potatoes are all you need to start a new crops. I’ve been doing this for so many years that I don’t know how long it’s been since I purchased seed potatoes. I like to grow Yukon Gold potatoes. They keep well in winter storage. I dig them in fall when the plants die, eat them until about February, then let them sprout for planting in April. Next to Snow Peas, this is my greatest success.

Marigolds in pots on my deck.

Deadheading Marigolds is a constant process from spring to fall. I save heads and let them dry then pull off the petals once dry. Each flower produces a large amount of new seeds. During the summer, I just push drying heads into the soil to fill in spaces or plant new garden areas. With plenty of moisture they are easy to grow. I do buy few flower sets in April to give me some early colour in my deck planters. Marigolds help deter garden pests. I also use dried crumbled flower heads (including the petals) to sprinkle over plants in the garden when I have an aphid problem.

Pretty flowers and free soothing tea.

Probably the hardest part of saving Chamomile seeds is keeping them from reseeding on their own. Each tiny daisy-like flower produces a prodigious amount of seed. I love Chamomile tea so started growing some three years ago. Since then I’ve been regrowing it in the same pots and around the bases of larger plants. There’s plenty from several pots for some tea and garden seed.

What are some of your seed saving successes and misses?

Hop on over to the Not So Modern Housewife and see some great ideas for homestead and simple living.

http://nancyonthehomefront.com/Want more ideas? Try Nancy's Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop.

Hop on over to The (mis)Adventures of a "Born Again" Farm Girl for more simple ideas for your home or homestead. - Margy

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Enlarging our Log Boom

The log boom before.
Over the last two years we’ve undertaken several major projects to improve the quality and safety of our float cabin.

Our most recent improvement project was to add more logs to the protective log boom on the south side of our cabin. This boom protects us from wind waves and wakes from passing boats.

Swells break on their outer surface, calming the water that enters the area next to our cabin.

Moving the logs with our tin boat.
When we bought our cabin, the boom was only two logs deep. Over time, we added a new log here and there.

But this fall, we added two complete rows. Now we have a substantial barrier to make our floating home safer.

A local logging company was selling old boom logs that had been used to corral and move logs on the ocean.

John poling the logs into place on the boom.

When they were no longer useful for that purpose, the retired logs were dragged up on shore where they dried out and became more buoyant.

Wayne and John chaining the logs together.
We went together with another cabin owner to purchase and share the logs.

Our good friend John helped us with the installation.

Each log was towed into place and attached with chain to the neighbouring log. The result was a boom of logs linked together both lengthwise and crosswise. That way they float as a unified group.

John and Mike secure the anchor to the boom with heavy rope.
The last step was to drop an anchor to hold the logs away from the cabin. Our barge and our good friends John and Mike came in handy for that step.

The log boom after, more substantial and safer.
Now when the wind blows, or the boats roar, we can float a little easier in our cabin up the lake.

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. 

It’s time for “Outdoor Wednesday.” Click HERE for more outdoor pictures. -- Margy

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Making Yogurt in a Thermos

I enjoy yogurt for breakfast and on fresh fruit, so I went to my cookbook library to learn how to make it. While most people are going digital, living off the grid makes print books a valuable resource.

Thank goodness people send their old cookbooks to thrift stores for me to find. Two resources gave me what I needed: Stocking Up by Organic Farming and Gardening and my trusty Fannie Farmer Cookbook.

Using a wide mouth thermos is a simple way to incubate yogurt. I found one at my favourite thrift store for $1.75.

Ingredients from Stocking Up:

1 quart milk (regular or skim)
¼ cup commercial plain yogurt with active cultures

That’s it. Pretty simple. Since I could only incubate three cups, I reduced the recipe proportionally.

Tips say: Use milk and starter no older than five days. Use your last batch as the new starter, but it can weaken over time. After 4 batches, start over with a commercial yogurt.

Whisk milk while heating to almost boiling. Cool to lukewarm (105-115°F).

Tips say: If milk is too hot, it will kill the yogurt bacteria.

Add yogurt starter and gently stir until well mixed.

Tips say: Using too much starter can make your yogurt watery.

Use lukewarm water to warm the thermos then drain.

Pour the yogurt mixture into the thermos and secure the lid. Place in a warm (110°F) location to incubate for 4-6 hours. I covered my thermos with a thermal sock and placed it near the woodstove to stay warm.

Tips say: Don't move or bump or the yogurt may separate into curds. If it incubates too long it can become watery. The longer you incubate the yogurt the sourer it will get.

Open the thermos. The yogurt should be custard like. Transfer to a sealed container and refrigerate for three hours before eating.

Tips say: Yogurt will get firmer during cooling. Homemade yogurt tastes sweeter than commercial yogurt.

My first batch came out so well I made a second. I accidentally knocked thermos on the floor. The yogurt did separate. It tasted fine, I just had to stir the liquid whey back in before eating.

Do you make yogurt? What tips can you share?

Head on over to Blogghetti for the Happiness is Homemade Link Party to see more recipes, crafts and DIY projects. -- Margy

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Coastal BC Fungi: Elfin Saddle

S is for Elfin Saddle

Elfin Saddle with covered compost pit in background.
I haven't been up to my hillside potato patch since I dug them in early October. At that time, I dug a big pit and emptied my compost barrel inside. Last week I went up to add garden trimmings and saw a black mass on the ground. My first thought was a bear had come to partake of my compost. Instead, I discovered was an unusual mushroom.

A clump of Elfin Saddles, one with a stem showing.

It was an Elfin Saddle (Helvella lacunosa). It's also known as a Slate Gray or Fluted Black Elfin Saddle. It was obviously old by mushroom standards. The black irregular cap was intact, but the stem had holes and was bending over. Elfin Saddles are usually solitary. When I looked nearby I found two more.

The large mass at the side shows a stem that has collapsed.

They are often found in disturbed ground (like my compost pit). They are common in Europe, eastern and northern North America, and along the west coast. The caps can be white to blackish gray with a folded, convoluted shape (kind of like bear poo at first glace). The stem is very distinctive with long, grooved ribs and holes indenting the surface.

Another specimen in a nearby thicket, also old and collapsed.

They appear in fall after heavy rains. October for us was extremely wet with many downpours. They prefer Douglas fir forests or areas of older brush. Mine were at the edge of the forest.

A closeup of the stem showing ribs and holes.

References say it is edible, but only young specimens and if cooked. Older ones can have poisonous properties. Caution is also given to be careful in identification because it can be confused with other poisonous varieties.

Here is a video by Richard Powell discovering a patch of Elfin Saddles on Vancouver Island. He's an amateur mycologist (he studies fungi) and has a very interesting blog called 100 Mushrooms on Vancouver Island. In addition to pictures, he includes lots of videos.

And here's an interesting tale about a mushroom hunt involving Elfin Saddles (Helvellas) by Anna at Crazy about Mushrooms. -- Margy

References: The Savory Wild Mushroom by Margaret McKenny and revised by Daniel E. Stuntz (University of Washington Press, 1971), and www.MushroomExpert.com (online).

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Rebroadcast of Our Float Cabin on UNIS Television

Wayne and I were honoured to host a film team from Red Letter Films at our Hole in the Wall float cabin home in July 2014. Evelyne and her film crew including camera technician Catherine (Cat), and assistant camera tech Creighton (Crey), spent a whole day with us up the lake getting to know what off the grid float cabin living was like.

The results called Chalets de la Cote Ouest (West Coast Cottages) will be rebroadcasting on UNIS, a Canadian television channel focusing on French-speaking audiences from British Columbia to the Atlantic provinces.

Click below to go the the video link. This is a screen shot.

Our float cabin home is featured in the second segment that is rebroadcasting as follows:

or check your local listing.

It should be available (in French only) on the UNIS website after the first airing date. Click here to go to the video page and click on the arrow next to "Voir la video."

Sharing our lifestyle has been fun. This was our second televison production. The first was for Extreme Houseboats on the Travel Channel. Unfortunately this online video is blocked in Canada. -- Margy