rarely represent realistically
most meaning whittled away
and poorly placed
*refound, written in 2001.
sadly structures rarely represent realistically
rarely represent realistically
most meaning whittled away
and poorly placed
*refound, written in 2001.
Right now we are living in a primitive dry cabin. It does have electric, but no sink set up. Most dry cabins have a bucket to empty beneath an unplumbed sink, and a spigot tank on top to use as a faucet. Since we don’t have even a basic sink set up, or a stove, or an oven, I have to change gears when thinking of making a meal! A small toaster oven, a single element pot and a crock pot are my main resources.
Living this way really brings to surface how AWESOME crock pots are! With very little mess or prep I’m able to make a whole lot of good healthy food.
Fortunately we have a great u-pick farm nearby, and though I was a bit late in the season for picking, I still got some great local farm fresh AK produce. In addition, my boyfriend got a caribou this season, which we just finished processing. There’s meat in the freezer! Yippee!! So, as always, this recipe is a result of some goods I had on hand. Enjoy!
Crock pot on High for first 1-2 hrs, then Low until you are ready to eat.
(Can be ready within a few hours, but some veggies like turnip may still be a bit firm)
Water- 2 in.
1 turnip diced
1 crushed beef ramen w/ seasoning
1 caribou roast chunk
(place turnip, and ramen in crock pot with a few inches of water, then I stand the roast up in the middle and put future ingredients around it)
1 radish diced
1 carrot (rounds)
1 turnip diced (2nd one)
1 crushed chicken ramen noodle and seasoning
1 diced apple
3-4 C summer squash cubed (and rind & seeds removed)
Add all this to the crock,
White wine and Kombucha for some more taste sensation (fill to level of veggies, above for more soup like, less if more stew like)
On top of everything:
I added ground mustard, oil from marinated artichokes, some marinated artichokes, and roasted garlic.
And of course, taste as you go, adding whatever other spices you feel like!
Sometimes moving is just a motion
Sometimes meaning lasts just a moment
Sometimes monotony is just a mirror
Reflecting the mindless motions we make to give meaning to moments.
Recently we moved to a dry cabin that did not even have a sink set up. We did rectify that situation as soon as possible, but in the meantime we had to come up with creative solutions for dish washing. Since we now keep our dishes to a minimum to reduce clutter and dish load, it also means we have to each wash a single bowl and plate basically every meal. Without a stove top, or running water, or a sink! I came up with a multi- purpose solution. I had gunked up the crock pot making a delicious turnip, radish, apple, moose, summer squash concoction (which I should also write about soon, before I forget the ingredients!).
I poured water into the crock pot, put in our bowls and silverware and turned it on low with some dish soap. Within a few minutes warm water and a scrub brush turned out clean dishes in seconds. Then I scrubed the now submerged crock pot walls as well and Voila!
It was a fun project to help a friend problem solve and remind her of how special she is~
I have a good friend whose parking space at school was always taken because she has to travel between schools. In Alaska this is a big deal in winter because there are a limited number of spots that have plug ins that interior Alaskans mush have to heat up the oil pan, engine block and battery blanket to keep our cars chugging through down to -50 F temps. So while she was away to a conference celebrating the wonderful Librarians of Alaska, I wanted to do a little to show how much the people right here appreciate all she does to keep us revved up to visit the library.
I had some wood pieces that had been cut flat on one side but left bark on the back. They had been tunneled through under the bark by some critter (spruce beetle?) so my first job was to remove the rest of the bark and the debris from their chewed up tunneling. It actually makes beautiful designs so I didn’t mind.
Then I sanded down both the front and back sides and realized I could also handsaw off a few bumps from limbs gone by. Luckily my boyfriend had a power hand sander that worked great. I love painting so I whipped up a design in pencil then painted it on (as seem on featured image). Once that dried I applied a layer of shellac, and (pressed for time, as she was due back) I didn’t wait quite the full 4 hours recommended before adding another layer.
While that was drying I moved onto the post portion. Her husband supplied me with a small 1x 1 that was perfect for the job. I first tried sawing but was shown this handy chisel tool and away I went carving one end of the post into a piercing point. This was actually pretty fun.
To attach the post to the sign I wanted to make a third piece that would attach to both the sign back and the post. So using some scrap sheet metal from her husband, I used a tin snips to cut out a piece to fit.
Clamping the post in an anvil, I used a small hammer to shape the metal around the post on three sides. The remaining metal would lay flush to the sign. My boyfriend showed me how to make dents with this punch to start the screws easily.
Then after the shellac wasn’t sticky to the touch I screwed it to the post using the metal bracket I had made. I’m sure there are lots of other solutions you could make up for this connection. This was just what worked out easily for me. I also left more of the post above, because it was winter time and the sign would then stick only in the snow. In spring she may want to shift the sign further up on the pole when more of it would be driven down deeper into the dirt.
But this is it for now. She said it worked great for keeping her spot free and didn’t have a problem again until she took the sign down when the snow melted and the ground was still thawing. It was a fun project to help a friend problem solve and remind her of how special she is~
Only for the curious
I was recently asked for tips from someone who was going to be trying out the dry cabin lifestyle. It is a big change to go from the option of having streams of hot water flowing with the twist of a wrist to hauling every ounce of water you will use to your home under your own power.
Dry cabin living is not for everyone, this was my first tip. I think most people have a gut feeling if it is something they feel capable of tackling. It requires, by sheer demand of exerted energy, that you form a much stronger understanding of your relationship with water. When I first started living dry in 2009, I don’t think I realized how much it would change the way I think about water.
Tip 2: Each person pick a plate, cup, bowl, spoon, fork, & knife that are uniquely identifiable and stick to those items. See 170121: Dry Cabin Minimalism Marriage This really keeps you accountable for your own mess and in the rhythm of washing things before eating again, to prevent the “dish mountain”. (We do have 2 cups each, but just because one may wander upstairs or stay bedside and then we still have an option without tracking through the house. One is a french press thermos so we can drink hot things, and the other just a glass of our choice)
Tip 3: Do your dishes right after/ during cooking/ eating. When the food is still moist on the plate or pan, it takes much less water to clean (also takes less time because you aren’t attacking stubborn food crusties.)
Tip 4: Most people will have a sink, and use Aquatainers, https://www.amazon.com/Reliance-Products-Aqua-Tainer-Gallon-Container/dp/B001QC31G6 because you can lay them on their side to be a faucet just by opening the valve. The underside plumbing of the sink gets cut off so it will drain into a 5 gal. bucket. (if you live in a warm climate you can set up a more complex drainage system, but here in an Alaska winter water would freeze if you try to divert it out of the house, and just form a gigantic ice mound… can you tell I tried it? ;))
Tip 5: CHECK THE BUCKET OFTEN. You need to make sure you are emptying the catch bucket once it gets around half way full. When you are new to dry living it’s best to add an extra catch tray to set the bucket in, until you get used to internalizing that check as part of your water habit. The Aqua tainers hold 6-7 gal and the bucket only 5… you see the dilemma.
Tip 6: Stay Aware of your remaining water. I keep about 5-6 Aquatainers at my other place. (I will talk more about the water system in my current cabin in a follow up post) When I’m down to my last jug full, I take the others all at one time to go refill. We are fortunate here in northern AK to have such good water. I can fill from a friend’s outdoor tap and get great fresh drinking water. In Fairbanks there are actual water stations to fill, and my boyfriend can put 6, six gal containers upright in his hatchback and the hose has a stop valve so he can fill them all without even taking them out of the car. More amazing is that we can get 36 gallons that way for 50 cents. Yeah, sorry, you won’t find that deal just anywhere. People in Fairbanks who have such good water set ups that you can barely tell it’s a dry cabin have 400-500 gal tanks in the bed of their pick up trucks to fill and just pump it out at home… luxury dry cabin living :). Those places often have gravity fed water and full water heaters and showers.
Tip 7: Get a teapot. This is the water heater for a simple dry cabin. Better than a pot because you have better control for pouring. I mix boiling and regular water in a dish pan with my dish soap and usually put some more on to boil while I wash in case I need a second round. It’s also good to have a drain catch as the less food breaking down in the bucket the less smelly it will be.
Tip 8: Paper Towels are a good friend. If you cook with cast iron, and even some other, a good pass or two with a paper towel will be effective in cleaning out a freshly used greasy pan. Lots of plates and things I swipe first with a paper towel to save on work that would otherwise require a lot of water. Also if you have a pan with things stuck on, much better to add a little water and put it back on the stove to soak off than to apply more and more water trying to scrub it.
Tip 9: Outhouse. These are surprisingly simple. Make sure your pit is deeply dug, and the housing over the top is well built, I can’t give advice on that as mine was in place when I got my place, but it’s lovely. I set up a small cupboard outside to set up an aquatainer, soap dish and hanging towel.. (I will have to take pics and post them on here some day). If you don’t want another water station, always easy to wash hands back at the kitchen sink. I like to have an extra one outside just for the ease. Best not to put toilet paper down the outhouse pit, as this just wastes unnecessary space. I keep a bin for used tp and incinerate it in the wood stove every now and again.
Tip 10: Catch water. I have some buckets to catch rain water off the gutter, just for using on plants etc. There are much more advanced systems for this, but you get the basic idea, utilize your available water if possible.
Tip: 11: Friends/ Solar Shower/ Colander/ Mug/ Tea pot. I would like to eventually make a heated shower system. But for now in terms of showering in winter I either go to a friend’s house, or just wash my hair etc with a mix of hot/cold water poured through a colander over my hair over the sink for a few rounds to wet, sham, rinse, cond, rinse. Again I keep the kettle going in case I need more. In summer time I use my solar shower It’s surprising how little water it actually takes, and I have shoulder length hair. I have a nice spot outside on the land out of sight. I love being out in the sunshine for a shower.
Dry cabin living can be done in many places, but it is not always simple to source water affordably if you don’t live near friends or a metropolitan location.
If you have any questions feel free to write me. Since I’ve been living dry since 2009 it’s hard to think of all things one may wonder.
The multi block teams only have three days to complete their sculptures, and this year it was in the -40s F while they worked. That’s what I call dedication to your art form.
Although these sculptures are now well on their way to melting, I would like to share a few of my favorite ice carvings seen this March in Fairbanks, Alaska at the 2017 International Ice Sculpture competition. There are a number of categories in which people may compete. There is single block competition, multi- block, children’s, and amateur divisions.
The image here is a close up of the cage and key part of a phoenix sculpture. I am so amazed by how even they are able to do the widths and curves. Just blows me away.
The bee here is also part of the single block competition as was the image above. This sculptor did such a great job with proportion and texture, which was definitely not true of all the sculptures I saw.
I think this is supposed to be Trump, looking up at Lady Liberty. My friend thought perhaps he was supposed to be pondering immigration… (A multi block piece)
The multi block teams only have three days to complete their sculptures, and this year it was in the -40s F while they worked. That’s what I call dedication to your art form. This piece below is a close up from another multi block piece, you will see a soaring bird in a later pic that was also from this sculpture. I am amazed at some of the concepts that are designed for the contest, not all achieve their desired results, but this fetus in the womb was very well illustrated.
One of the last pieces we saw, but one of my absolute favorites was this hummingbird that was being worked on by the man in this picture. I could hardly believe it when I saw that he was carving this for the amateur competition. Personally, I think it was one of the most beautiful and elegant pieces of the entire park.
The picture below is just focusing on how the nature around was transformed through the lens of ice. This carved sphere inverted the woods around it, and was strikingly effective in it’s use of simplicity.
One of the single block sculptures is shown in the detail below, the entire dragon was done, but I cropped the image down to show you more detail. The single block competitors I believe are limited to one to two sculptors.
This single block sculpture shows a bit of the international feeling of the event. There were multiple teams of Asian carvers, and some Russian and Scandinavian I noticed. It’s amazing that people travel half way around the world to be outside carving in arctic temperatures.
Another globe I really loved was this one below that looks like spikes were all joined together, somehow more clouded in their appearance and then having a clearer sphere around them. Not sure how it was done, but it turned out great. (just a small detail of a larger piece)
The bear head here gives you an idea how molten the ice can look when carved by an experienced carver. The union of great sun or lighting can really affect the pieces. It was surprising to feel the carved ice on some of the mazes and sculptures that were placed throughout the park for a more interactive experience. It didn’t feel wet at all, just very smooth, a unique touch experience, I really loved the feel of it. There are also a lot of ice slides built for kids to use, and little sculptures for them to climb… in addition to the official sculptures that are hands off. It would be a great place to go with small kids in the winter, tons of spaces to explore and have fun.
I can’t begin to image how this carver was able to create such a thin sheet of ice for the wings and texturize it without having it shatter into a million pieces. But there in lies the art of ice sculpting. This was also a single block piece.
This single block sculpture of what I think is a carnivorous plant I took mainly for my cousin’s son, who has a healthy obsession with these plants lately. Thought he might like to see this larger than life sculpture of something he loves. Hi Seth!
And last but not least, just a simple bird soaring in the sunshine. If you would like to attend this cool competition in the future or just learn more about it. Feel free to visit http://www.icealaska.com/www/en/
My most favorite moment can be seen below as 4 time winner and reigning champ Dallas Seavey spent his two minutes right before his starting bell by taking a moment with each of his dogs.
For only the third time in the 45 years since the inception of the Iditarod race, there is too little snow in Anchorage to start the race. So lucky for me, this year they started in Fairbanks, and I got to see the action up close. You can visit my channel to see video footage of some of the mushers at the start and right before they get to the start. Here is real video of mushers at the start in 2017. One of my favorite bits was seeing the dogs as their excitement builds right before they hit the starting line. My most favorite moment can be seen below as 4 time winner and reigning champ Dallas Seavey spent his two minutes right before his starting bell by taking a moment with each of his dogs. He got back on his sled with just 5 seconds to spare. I didn’t watch all the mushers in their final pre-moments, but this one was pretty great.
It was really fun to see how differently the mushers choose to arrange their sleds and prepare.
Lots of people come out to cheer on the mushers, not just here at the start but out on the rivers and at towns all along the route.
My first vantage point was at this picture above. I was right at their first downhill turn where they can start to pick up speed. Mushers need to be careful controlling their sleds so they don’t tip or run into the crowds of people.
After watching the first mushers head out, I walked closer to the official start point, where mushers hug their loved ones before heading out on a long and dangerous adventure.
The dogs are so excited to get running
and we all LOve Alaska!
It’s fun to see everyone come out and support the efforts of these mushers who love their dogs and carry on the spirit of the first great race, where lives were saved.
I forgot there are no lights so we hung our headlamps and Taylor even fashioned a shade over his to disperse the light using one of our beloved Orikaso folding camp bowls.
This past weekend we skied 5.7 miles to a remote DNR cabin we’d reserved out by the Chena Hot Springs in Alaska.
The last time I did something like this was in 2007, my first winter in Alaska. That time it did not end so well. I arrived to a tiny cabin full of skies and people I didn’t know and quickly realized my “winter gear” of a wool vest and wool skirt were not pro gear for the 11 mile (one way) ski up and down steep terrain. They had special names for the “type” of cc ski we would need for this adventure. I had gotten mine a month before at the Play It Again Sports shop in town for about 30 bucks (poles and all)…needless to say someone winded up coming back on a snow machine for me long after everyone else had glided smoothly to the cabin and were busy warming up.
So this time we took it easy. We got a slow easy start to the morning and ran a few last minute errands. We ended up hitting the trail around 3 pm and were super happy to discover it was groomed. I tried to phone for trail conditions, but the line is down on the weekends…oops. As it was the temps were mild hovering around 0 degrees. ( I know this sounds cold if you don’t live here, but remember it’s a dry cold in the interior, so that offsets things.) The outset looked like this
The granite tors were behind us and sloping hills in from each side. It was beautiful and didn’t take long to get beyond the sound of cars from the road. We saw one other skier heading in with a sled towed behind heading for Lower Creek Cabin. He must have made good time because we never saw him again. The only other people we saw were about 1.5 miles in and headed back to the parking area on two snow machines each towing a load of kids on sleds having a blast!
We got into a bit thicker trees covered in some fun, fluffy snow formations and a few small portions where it felt like being in a winter wonderland cathedral with the slim trees arching over the pathway. Rabbit tracks could be seen now and again crossing over the path.
After passing Lower Angel Creek Cabin at about 3 miles in the sun was getting low behind the hills and the conditions for skiing were a bit colder, but also smoother. There were less straight shot passes and a bit more small hills to keep things interesting. At this point I got into a bit of a rhythm, and started cruising for the cabin, trying to arrive before dark. But then I lost track of Taylor so I was torn between trying to get there fast and not being worried that he had been plowed over by a mama moose. He caught up to me and we arrived to the cabin after 6pm, thankful to find it was still a bit warm from the people who had stayed the night before. Temps around 50 degrees F inside as we set to stoking and stocking the wood in the sweet little wood stove. Fortunately people had left fire starter logs and extra wood behind so we didn’t have to start scrounging for dead wood to saw down after the long ski. We just used a small bit of fire start and saved the majority for people in need arriving to an entirely cold cabin. I forgot there are no lights so we hung our headlamps and Taylor even fashioned a shade over his to disperse the light using one of our beloved Orikaso folding camp bowls (I’m so sad this company is no longer manufacturing, they were the best!).
For dinner the plan was wild rice soup with dried ground turkey…but we tried to use turkey dried this summer for a trip to the boundary waters, and it had gone stale… so yuck! I will eat almost everything, but this did not make the cut. So instead we stuck to cookies, rum cream and fireball with summer sausage and cheese to keep us a float. The morning was better with power waffles (no wheat and some cottage cheese. I will have to have Taylor share the recipe as they are real good and filling.) We made them before the trip and froze some to just reheat on the stove and eat with homemade yogurt and some maple syrup. Luckily one of the far windows was a bit leaky and that ledge acted as fridge for a few of our sensitive food items (like the quiche we ate on the way in and out and some tuna we mixed up for seaweed rolls)
Above you can see us packing up again out bags on the sleeping platforms, (yes we did use sleeping pads for comform) and we were on the trail by check out time noon, and headed toward a relaxing soak at the Chena Hot Springs as our follow up. I was a little slower the second half of the way out but it took us about 3 hrs each way and we couldn’t have asked for better weather. No wind and mild temps. Glad we didn’t book for this weekend though, as temps dip back down to -30 today! Here’s a few pics from the ski out.
I need some outside eyes to tell me which, if any, of these are captivating.
I would love feedback on these. It’s hard for me to be objective, because somehow I see right through the photos to the moment as it had been when I took the photo. I need some outside eyes to tell me which, if any, of these are captivating. Through repeated feedback from others I hope to gain a more critical eye. These were taken on Thursday 1/26/17 a little after 4 p.m. So fun to finally be feeling the lengthening of the sun light again. Inklings of spring begin.