Monday, September 29, 2014

Easy Chicken Tetrazzini Casserole

Lately I've been cooking casseroles to share with our good friends Helen and Ed. I make a big batch with enough for Wayne and I, plus some to share.  Saturdays while Wayne is watching football at the condo I cook and visit with our friends. I started with this Campbell's Soup recipe. If you need a smaller portion, check it out.

Easy Chicken Tetrazzini Casserole

5 chicken breasts cubed and cooked
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion chopped
3 cloves garlic minced
3 stalks celery diced
1 bell pepper diced
2 cups mushrooms sliced
2 cans condensed Cream of Chicken Soup
1 can condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 cup cream (or milk)
1/4 dry sherry or white wine
3 tomatoes peeled, seeded and diced
2 cups spinach steamed and chopped
salt and pepper to taste
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1-pound package of spaghetti cooked and drained
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese

Cube 5 skinless, boneless chicken breast pieces and cook them in boiling water. Set aside.

Saute onion, garlic, celery, pepper, and mushrooms in olive oil. Add soup, cream and wine. Cook on low.

Steam spinach (or use one package of thawed frozen spinach). Squeeze out as much water as possible and slice into smaller pieces. Peel and seed tomatoes and dice them. Add spinach and tomatoes to the sauce mixture.

Season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and thyme (or your favourite spices). Add cooked chicken and cook on low.

Cook spaghetti to al dente. Drain and rinse with hot water. Add spaghetti to the chicken and sauce mixture and blend thoroughly.

Transfer the cooked ingredients to a 9X12 inch baking dish, or several smaller ones if you plan to freeze them for later use. Sprinkle the top with grated cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until it is bubbling and the cheese is browned

Here's dinner ready at the Lutz condo on a USC football Saturday. At the Maithus house, the bigger casserole is being enjoyed by all. -- Margy

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Aerial Yellowjackets

Aerial yellow jacket nest on granite wall.
What's a summer BBQ without a few uninvited guests.  They come dressed in their yellow and black jackets, ready to dine on your hamburger. I'm not talking about Cousin Willy and his kin. I'm talking about those pesky yellow jackets.

Here in BC, the aerial yellow jacket (Dolichovespula arenaria) is a common summer visitor. Warm spring weather awakens mated queens from their winter roosts to find a likely spot for a new nest.  Aerial yellow jackets build large conical structures out of paper they produce by mixing saliva with chewed wood, much like paper mache.

The beginning of a new nest.
Typically nests last only one year. All of the activity ends when fall weather turns cold. Workers and males die off and only the mated queens survive. This makes late summer and early fall the worst time for encountering wasps. Their population is the greatest, and foraging for natural foods becomes more difficult. That's when they turn to human sources, creating conflicts.

Tools for a hidden nest under the cabin roof.
The good news is that yellow jackets aren't aggressive unless they or their nests are threatened. Accidental encounters can create dangerous situations. Individuals with allergies to wasp stings must take extreme care. Multiple stings can also cause medical emergencies.

John helping us get rid of a hidden nest.
This year we had two nests. The easiest to eradicate was on Wayne’s writer’s retreat boat. A heavy spray of wasp killer in the cool of the evening took care of them. The ones that moved into the space under our roof were harder to reach. John gave us a hand and went up a ladder, sprayed the spot with a heavy dose of poison, and sealed the opening with moulding to prevent future colonies.

Last week I did a stupid thing. A yellow jacket flew into our ocean crusing boat. He crawled behind a curtain, so I squished him between the window and cloth. During his death throes, he gave my finger a sharp sting. It was like a hot needle and the after effects included a prolonged stinging followed by a dull ache for about six hours. I stuck my finger in a bowl of ice water and used that treatment on and off for about an hour. I was fortunate. My finger didn't swell. You can be sure I'll think twice before I take on a yellow jacket again.

Camera Critters Thanks for visiting my Camera Critters post this week. For more great animal pictures click here. -- Margy

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Wood Ashes to Deter Onion Maggots

Each year I grow onions in my float garden. It's one product I can "preserve" without much effort: grow, pull, dry, hang, and use.

I plant yellow onions from sets. They grow larger and save longer.  But every year I have a problem with onion maggots, especially if I leave onions in the ground past mid-July.

This year I tried an "old wives tale" to grow some late season onions. I read that using wood ashes on the soil could help deter the pests.

Onion maggots are the larvae form of gray flies. Pupae overwinter in the soil and emerge as flies from May to June. Flies lay their eggs at the base of onions, then the maggots that hatch bore into the onion roots. This cycle repeats itself several times a year.

Crop rotation helps, but once the cycle begins it's hard to break. One organic recommendation is to apply wood stove ashes to the soil to deter egg laying. I figured it was worth a try. I sprinkled ashes over the plot for my onions. I moistened the ash to keep it in place. I then planted the onion sets. Each week I applied additional ashes until the plants were well established, and then after each rain.

When I harvested my onions there were fewer plants destroyed by maggot infestation, and over three quarters were maggot free. Of the remaining plants, many could be salvaged for immediate use by cutting away one or two invaders. I'll try it again next year with my early crop and see if the results are as promising.

Have you used any organic methods of dealing with this pest? -- Margy

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Studying the Salish Sea

Chris at the helm.
Wayne has always been interested in science. Guess that comes with being a physic major in college. One day this summer, we happened upon a University of British Columbia oceanography boat in Powell Lake. Lake? Oceanography? They don't go together. But in this case they do. Powell Lake has prehistoric sea water trapped at the bottom since the ice age.

Mark is a postdoctoral researcher at UBC.
Wayne met UBC Professor Rich Pawlowicz and started thinking about writing a book about the Strait of Georgia. Not a science text, but a book everyone could enjoy. He would use the same model as his other Coastal BC Stories books, but this time learning from oceanic experts.

Mark with a retrieved drift buoy.
Last weekend, Rich coordinated an opportunity for Wayne to go out in the Strait of Georgia with Chris (the boat driver) and Mark (the postdoctoral researcher) on the 22-foot UBC research boat. At the same time, Rich would be coordinating the project from the Canadian Coast Guard offshore oceanographic science vessel called the Tully.

Smaller drift buoy.
The days work was to retrieve and deploy drift buoys. Dropped at the mouth of the Fraser River, they quickly move around with wind, tides and river water flowing out into the ocean. GPS, satellites, and cellular Internet make intricate tracking possible.

Transferring equipment alongside the Tully.
Wayne said coming along side the massive ship to transfer equipment was exciting and scary at the same time. A large crane lowered a sling down to the hovering UBC boat. The seas were choppy, but on the lee side of the ship it was much easier to stay close without colliding.

Meeting the Tully at sea.
Next month, a team is returning to Powell Lake for continued research. We'll hook up with them again to see what is happening below the waters of our home lake.

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

Monday, September 22, 2014

TJ's Boat Tops

Fall is here and it's time to think about cooler evenings and wetter days. Last year we made a simple porch enclosure from greenhouse plastic so we could continue to enjoy our picnic table. With a propane heater, we ate outdoors most evenings. The problem was that we really couldn't see through the plastic all that well.

We decided to have a professional model made for this coming season. We went to TJ's Boat Tops in Powell River and had Todd Stanhope use our design to make us an enclosure out of outdoor rated cloth and high grade plastic. Here's the results.

We chose green to match our cabin trim. The two panels are easy to put up and take down if the wind starts to blow too strong.

Now when we sit at the table, we have a great view of the lake and Goat Island.

Todd does excellent work. If you need a boat top, something upholstered, or even a porch enclosure, give him a call to get your free estimate. -- Margy

TJ's Boat Tops
Todd Stanhope
4607 McLeod Road
Powell River, BC
(604) 414-4012

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Coming Soon: FREE Kindle E-book "Up the Inlet" on October 4

Each month I have special offers for my Kindle readers. Don't miss this exciting opportunity to get a free book about boating in Coastal British Columbia.

Click Here on October 4

for a FREE copy of
Up the Inlet

Description: Come boating up the inlets of coastal British Columbia, where the mountains drop into the sea, and lifestyles focus on self-assurance and a different sense of purpose. Follow along as we cruise northward from the Strait of Georgia, to Cortes and Quadra Islands, and beyond. More coastal cruising adventures beyond 'Up the Strait' and 'Farther Up the Strait.'  

Always free for Amazon kindleunlimited subscribers
or just $5.99 regular price.

Check here if you need a Kindle 
or free Kindle App.

If you enjoy the book, consider writing a review at
Happy reading! - Wayne

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Barn Swallow Fledglings

The skies around the cabin are quiet. There's nothing sadder than the "empty nest syndrome," even when the nest belongs to a family of Barn Swallows. The first batch of babies didn't make it, so in late July mom and dad Barn Swallow frantically made a new nest under our side porch right in view of our living room sofa.

In the June brood there were five babies, four fell to their deaths and the fifth mysteriously died in the nest. That's probably why the pair built a new nest. It's been fun watching the babies grow and mom and dad caring for them.

At the end of August, the three babies started flying. Each day they disappeared for longer periods, but returned to roost on the clothes line during the day and to the nest for the night. Mom even continued to feed them until the last day before their departure south for winter in South America.

Hopefully one or more will return next spring to raise a family of their own.

Camera Critters Thanks for visiting my Camera Critters post this week. For more great animal pictures click here. -- Margy

Friday, September 19, 2014


What a difference a week can make. Now it's cloudy and rainy, but last week we took our barge out on a warm sunny day.

Sandy beach near Dunn Dock on Powell Lake.

Rather than stopping at a logging barge ramp like we usually do, we beached ourselves on a sandy shore.

John shows us the old winch in March 2008

We hiked the shoreline looking for the old road with a rusting winch from early logging days. Winches were used to haul logs and equipment up and down the steep slopes along the shore of Powell Lake. The road was too grown over to explore in our shorts and water shoes.

We'll return another day to see if it's still there.

On the way home we used the good weather for some quad seat fishing. No bites, but I caught some really good rays.

Today is Sky Watch Friday. Go to the Sky Watch Friday website and you'll see sky photos from all over the world! -- Margy

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Coming Soon: FREE Kindle E-book "Flying the Pacific Northwest" on October 13

Each month I have special offers for my Kindle readers. Don't miss this exciting opportunity to get a free book about flying in Washington and Oregon.

Click Here on October 13

for a FREE copy of

Description: Airports of Western Washington and Oregon form the backdrop for adventures in the Pacific Northwest. Take the controls of a Piper Arrow, as your personal flight instructor leads you to out-of-the-way spots where recreational aircraft give us the freedom to pursue personal goals. Hints for cross-county and local flying, as presented by a 7000-hour FAA certified flight instructor. For armchair pilots and experienced pros, this book is an escape so realistic you’ll swear you’re airborne.

Always free for Amazon kindleunlimited subscribers
or just $5.99 regular price.

Additional FREE Kindle Day
November 2

Check here if you need a Kindle 
or free Kindle App.

If you enjoy the book, consider writing a review at

Happy reading! - Wayne

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Coastal BC Plants: Orange Jelly Fungus

J is for Orange Jelly Fungus

Take a hike in the forest and you might find some Orange Jelly Fungus.

Orange Jelly Fungus is a very appropriate common name. It looks just like orange marmalade oozing from the cracks in a log. Another common name is Witch's Butter. Dacrymyces palmatus is its scientific name. The website says it's edible, but I think I'll pass and not spread it as butter or jelly on my toast.

(Never eat a mushroom or fungus unless you are absolutely certain of its identity. There are many look-alike varieties, and some are poisonous.)
unless you are absolutely certain of its identity! ABC pictures from around the world, stop by the ABC Wednesday blog. This is the fifteenth round of the meme established by Denise Nesbitt and now maintained by a team including Denise, Roger, Leslie, and other hard working volunteers. -- Margy