Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Christmas Tree - Fisherman Style

Merry Christmas to all our friends and family! This has been a busy time of visiting with relatives and friends. Both daughters were in town, and with boyfriends, there was a revolving door of comings and goings! After retrieving some boxes from storage at another house, we did get some decorating done. Now that we've downsized houses (done before the girls returned home), we don't have room for the tall, large diameter tree of Christmasses past.

Our little tree gives us the opportunity to showcase ornaments representing George's favorite pasttime - fishing. Every Christmas we've given our favorite fisherman one or two ornaments. Soon he had enough for a small tree at his office. Now "his tree" has become "our tree" and graces our living room.
The red lantern is fitting with the outdoor theme. The garland has wooden beads with wooden bobbers regularly spaced. Do any of our Lakeview Cottages friends recognize this carved fish? This fish is the kind that are on our cabin key rings! You can get them at the Shaver Lake gift shop across from the hardware store.
One year, George asked for a fishing vest for Christmas. OK, I did get him the life size version! I am thinking that real flies and lures would make nice ornaments on our tree.
The fish on the hook in this ornament is about the size (when enlarged to full scale) of our average fish caught at Huntington!
The fish on the end of this line is "bearly" big enough to take out of the lake! Collecting fishing ornaments has been a fun effort for our whole family. Some friends have surprised us by finding the "perfect" ornament for George.
Was Santa really "born to fish?" Actually, I think the guy in the next photo was born to fish!
What were we born to do? This holiday season and closing to the old year give me a chance to reflect and consider my purpose in life. I think about the many gifts and blessings I've received. I think about how I am giving back. I ponder God's greatest gift and how the star leads us to Him. What were you born to do?

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Versatile Packing

When you visit Lakeview Cottages, you get a cute vintage cabin in a fabulous setting. The cabins have personality and are clean, but are very simple. The guests make the cabins their own for the week or two weeks they are mountain cabin dwellers. Some guys come up to the lake, throw their sleeping bags on the made up beds, fill the refrigerators with prepared food, then hit the lake for 24/7 fishing. Other residents really move in - with wall hangings, special dishes and appliances, rugs and lamps! It is fun to see the cabins take on the personalities of each current guest.

Being simple cabins, there is not much furniture or storage. There might be a bedside shelf, but no bedside table. Since I like a place for my book, reading light and other necessities, I set out to find a bedside table that could multi-task, be inexpensive, rustic, and not take up lots of room in my car.
My solution is borrowed from my college days when everything I owned fit in a '62 VW bug. Crates are great! You can pack them, then at the destination, unload them and stack them into shelves. Since they're used for carrying supplies they take no extra room in the car. My college age daughter combines them with 1x12 boards to create longer shelves. The crates in the top photo are from Michael's. These crates are a little sturdier than the ones sold at Joann's.

Cindy, in Cabin G, found this sectioned box at ----. It stands on end to fit a narrower wall space.
I also use plastic storage bins to transport and store my cabin linens and supplies. They don't look quite at home in our rustic cabins, but they do make a great shelf for holding a suitcase off the floor.
When you're packing for your mountain getaway, look for containers that are spacious and can be put to use when you get to the cabin. I recommend using versatile crates. (George says, "Be crative with crates!")

Monday, November 24, 2008

This Little Light of Mine...

I love those little lights glowing on our porch. They are just so friendly! Mark took this photo from Cabin G on October 10, 2008 (now you see why we don't extend our rental season). Some of the regulars at the cottages (both summer time guests and owners) bring little white lights to put around their porches. Not only does this provide soft lighting while enjoying the lake view at night, but it lends a bit of individuality to "your" cabin. Putting up unique lights also tells others a little about your personality.

Mark and Cindy (Cabin G) put up quilting star lights around their porch. Cindy is an avid quilter and can often be seen at Lakeview piecing quilt tops on her vintage green Singer Featherweight! I 'd like to find some motorcycle lights for Mike (Cabin E) and tie dyed t-shirt lights for Jim & Annie(L)! Hmmmm, more essential shopping for the cabins!
George spends his early morning and daylight hours down on the lake fishing, but in the evening, his trout lights cast a cheery glow on Cabin F. OK, most people who see the lights from the road think that the lights are chili pepper lights, but that's just because the trout are rainbows and have a pink side to them. We found these lights at the Forest Service camp ground check in office and gift shop. They had other lights, too. Below is George's "stringer" of plastic fish. It takes two strands of the novelty lights to go around the front porch.Porch lights (sold as patio lights) can be found in all different themes. The firefly and old lantern lights would be great on our porches. Target has many styles and they're not expensive. Porch lights are friendly and mark the cabin as "yours." They are like a welcome sign. They don't take much room, so pack them in next summer and let your light shine!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sing Around the Campfire

So we're driving up to the lake early this morning. It was a beautiful morning and had been two long weeks since we had been to Lakeview. George says to me, "I love the mountains!" Thinking of a common (to us) camp song, I reply, " I love the rolling hills!" We couldn't think of the next line, but we both remembered the fourth line: I love the daffodills, and of course the refrain: boom de ada, boom de ada.... and we were off singing the round as we drove up the four lane!

Campfire songs are a big part of our history. George used to play the guitar and sing with the campers up the hill at Camp Keola. I remember the songs I learned in Girl Scouts, then sang at church camp when I was nine. There's something about a group of people gathered around the campfire singing songs together. Sometimes the "play list" is structured, sometimes it's just whoever can remember the words, leads.

What makes a song, a campfire song? I cherished my campfire songbook from my youth, but, like my youth, it has disappeared. When my kids were little I bought the Wee Sing Around the Campfire book & tape (now its called sing-a-longs). I looked up campfire songs with a Google search and found a list of 50 songs - few of which I considered "campfire songs." So what is a campfire song?

The words need to be known by most of us, or they need to be easy to learn. Generally the song needs to be accompanied by the guitar - which means basic chords. While sometimes we accompany with the harmonica, that's hard to play and sing at the same time. I soon realized there are different categories of campfire songs - usually based on the group of campers. There are scout camps, church camps, mixed age general publilc camps, same age camps. So, if you'll help me, let's make some lists of all time favorite campfire songs. Please make a comment, and if I know it, I will add your song to the list.

Scout Songs: Ash Grove, Kookaburra, Kum Ba Yah, White Coral Bells, Taps,

Basics: Clementine, Down In the Valley, I've Been Working on the Railroad, Oh, Susanna, Reuben & Rachel, She'll Be Comin Round the Mountain, Swing Low Sweet Chariot

Rounds: The More We Get Together, Make New Friends, One Bottle of Pop, Boom de ada, Row Your Boat, Sarasponda, The More We Get Together,

Folk Songs: The Hammer Song, Where Have All the Flowers Gone?, Puff the Magic Dragon, Michael, Row the Boat Ashore,

Church Camp: Rocka My Soul, He's Got the Whole World, I Lean, Arky Arky, Three Jolly Fishermen, Love Love, It Only Takes a Spark, They'll Know We are Christians by Our Love, River of Life, Dem Bones

Silly Songs: Sippin Cider Through a Straw, The Boarding House

70's: Anything John Denver (Grandma's Feather Bed)

Whoa! This list is going to take a while! I can just hear Keola Lifeguard, Art singing all these fun songs. I can even hear the campers shouting out "Arky, Arky!" It makes me smile and brings back such great memories. So, the next time you're by the campfire, why not suggest a song? It will bring the group together (hopefully) and be one of the highlights of your camping trip.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Let There Be Light ....Pulls

Our vintage cabins don't come with much internal wiring. Our one bedroom cabins have light switches at the doors to the bedrooms. The two bedroom cabins have sockets with pull chains. The first photo shows the basic fixture (on our front porch) with an extension cord attached - that's it for outlets! I think it's funny to have the modern corkscrew light bulb in the old socket. The pull chain is classic lake - driftwood tied to package string.

Indoors we can get a little more classy. In honor of our resident bald eagles and osprey, I found an eagle pull from Home Depot.

Looking for a unique, relevant pull chain became a fun obsession while we were on vacation this sumer. I found the rowboat at the fishing supply store in Bridgeport, CA (on Hwy 395 north of Mammoth)

Cindy (Cabin G) found a cabin accessory store in Clovis. The western star (lone star, marshal's star) belongs in this rustic setting.

Her mountain cabin has resident bear!

The cool thing about collecting light pulls is that they are an inexpensive and easy to install cabin accessory. I wonder if we can find enough different pulls to have unique pulls for each cabin. Let me know where I can find other mountain themed pulls. What a fun way to yank someone's chain!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Going Without or Making Do

No microwave, no coffee maker, no hairdryer, no TV…. What kind of life is this? A return to the “dark” ages? To me it is a relaxing vacation in a cabin that was built in 1913. It doesn’t mean that I don’t have light or electricity. It does mean that I don’t have so many lights and that there is only one electrical outlet in each room of the cabin. It also means that if everyone has their microwaves going at the same time, the cabin at the end of the line may experience a “brown out.” It also means that I get to try some things I haven’t done in awhile. It means that I can show my children the way we used to do things at Grandpa’s house.

Most of us in our 50’s and older remember our first microwave. For me it was entertainment – we “exploded” hot dogs in it. Now it’s a standard fixture in our kitchens and offices. Can we cook without it while we’re on vacation? How will we pop our popcorn? How will we heat up water? I love Lakeview’s three burner gas ranges. First thing in the morning I get a pot of hot water going on the burner. That heat takes the chill off the kitchen and gives me ready water for tea and drip coffee. I love using my big griddle over two burners to make pancakes. Have your kids ever seen you pop popcorn on the stove top, shaking the pan back and forth?

Maybe this vacation is the time to show them! Need a cake for a birthday celebration? Try the “Easy Bake” range top oven shown in this blog. Out at Lakeview’s outdoor cooking station there is a range top oven that works very well – feel free to give it a try. Another advantage to not bringing electric kitchen appliances to the mountains is that I have more room on my kitchen counter!

My family loves to cook at the campfire every evening. Cooking fish outdoors is easy and doesn’t leave any odors in the cabin. Whenever we have our campfire going, I like to bake our potatoes in the fire – oil them, salt them, wrap them in aluminum foil. We generally wrap up sliced vegetables, add butter, onion and seasonings and place them in the fire too. Do you remember “hobo meals” from your scouting days? What a great way for the kids to help with dinner preparation.

I also have more room in the bathroom because I leave my hair dryer and curling iron at home. The mountain air is very dry and it takes no time for my hair to dry. I am on vacation – so no curls in my hair. Bad hair day? That’s what caps are for. As an added bonus, the hat keeps the sun off your face.

There is electricity in the Lakeview cabins. There is even an outlet, but you may need to look for it. The two bedroom cabins have an outlet in the light socket of the bedrooms. I do recommend that you bring an extension cord ( or two). I love to sew at The Cottages.

I plug in my 1942 Singer Featherweight, an additional light, and my travel iron and get to work. It is great to work on a favorite hobby with the lake in view.

A TV at the cabin while you’re on vacation? There’s no reception. One group with a lot of kids made do with dvds on their laptop computer. Another group brought a projector and projected dvd movies on a makeshift screen out doors. That was a memory maker. But better than passive entertainment, pull out the games. The Lakeview Cottages office has playing cards and board games. Teaching our daughters to play Hearts while we were rain-bound one vacation is part of our family history. The process was particularly noteworthy because one or the other daughter ended each round throwing herself down, in tears, on the bed, vowing to never play again. They did play again, and still do, and game playing is part of our family tradition.

Traditions and vacations just go together. Because it’s a time away from the everyday routine and every day “stuff,” you have the opportunity to try new things or even go back to old things. Use your time in a vintage cabin to make your own traditions. Many of those traditions will be based on what you make do with, or do without on your family vacation in the woods.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Popcorn - Not from a microwave

There was more popcorn in this pot, but we ate plenty!
Since I've been thinking about stew pots and our fabulous three burner gas ranges, I've also been thinking about warm, fresh popped, popcorn! When you're not using your 6 qt. stew pot for the "Easy Bake Oven," pop popcorn in it! It's big enough to hold plenty of popcorn to get you through that game of Pinochle! This is Mark's recipe he got from one of the other guests. Heat 1/2 cup oil in the bottom of your pot (while you search for the lid because you're going to need it.) Put one kernel of corn in the oil. When the kernel pops, add 1/2 - 3/4 cup pop corn kernels. Cover and shake over the burner. Keep those kernels moving in the pot or you will have a permeating burn smell in your cabin and one hard-to-clean pot on your hands! For kettle corn, add 1/2 cup sugar when you add the kernels. When popping is done, dump the glazed corn into a paper bag with some salt and shake it up to break apart the clumped pop corn. Mark hosted us to popcorn as a mid-morning snack! Thanks, Mark!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Susan's "Easy Bake" Brownies

Brownies are yummy anywhere. They are especially yummy when camping in the mountains and you don't have an oven. What to do? We've got three gas burners, but no oven. I can improvise - here goes...
The Oven
You need: Cast iron skillet, 6 nuts – threaded hexagonal, Stew pot, small pot or aluminum baking pan that fits inside stew pot.
Set nuts in a circle in skillet, pre heat on low flame. Oil small pot or aluminum pan and add ingredients to be baked. Set smaller inner pan on ring of nuts in skillet. Turn stew pot upside down and cover inner pot. This lets inner pot bake with hot air surrounding it. The inner pot does not come into direct contact with the flame. Adjust flame. Time varies. Check frequently, but remember that every time you open the oven, you let out the heat.

The Brownies
I used Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Brownie Mix (20 oz). I measured the contents and split in half to make a half recipe. I cut in half all ingredients except the egg. I used 2-3/4 Tbs water, 2-3/4 Tbs butter (for the oil) and a whole egg. The box gave directions for high altitude. I disregarded these – the whole egg provided extra liquid, I did not add extra flour. Mix with a spoon, pour into prepared “inner pan” of stovetop oven. Adjust flame. Time varies. Check frequently, but remember that every time you open the oven, you let out the heat. Recipe calls to bake about 40 minutes. I baked for about 45 minutes on a very low flame. How sad burnt brownies would be. Serve warm! These would be even more awesome with whipped cream (in a can – Even I’m not going to whip it by hand, I am on “vacation.”) or ice cream (home made – bring your own freezer- have the kids hand crank it)

The base of the "oven" is a cast iron skillet with metal hardware used to lift the baking pan off the direct heat.

I used half a boxed brownie mix.

The brownie batter is in the baking pan - a sauce pot with the handle cut off.

The "oven" is actually a stew pot inverted over the cast iron skillet.

Finished product! Yummy for 4-6 people for lunch or dinner dessert.