Cheesy Veggie Bacon Soup

Cooking has bcheesy veggie bacon soupeen a major, major challenge since our move to the houseboat. There are sundry reasons, most of which are purely logistical, and I’ll write a post detailing some of those at some point.

However, one thing that does work when everything is aligned, is the crock pot. Unless it’s dirty. And my tiny galley is a mess making clean up unbearable and I just take us to the local shop for donuts… (and yes. I do that. Gut-achingly shameful and delicious. That’s me.)

(Check out this slow cooker. It has a damask pattern! When you’re living small, it’s awesome for appliances to be useful AND decorative!)

ANYWAY… I threw this together in hopes it will be done by dinner. It should be super yum and filling. I call it:


You’ll note that I’m not big on measurements because I am sort of not awesome at following rules… Use what you have. This could be done vegan, vegetarian, and semi-paleo too.


celery (I used about 5 full-size stalks cut into large chunks)

carrots (I threw in 3, 4, 8?? handfuls of baby carrots)

broccoli (I used about a 1/2 bag of florets from Costco)

onion (I used a medium one, chopped into chunks. A nice pile of dehydrated onion would work just fine too.)

bacon (I used those bacon bits from Costco. I seriously love those. I bet I used a 1/4 cup or so? A smallish handful? I just dumped it out of the bag right on top. I’d think 3-4 strips of bacon, crumbled would work too if you’re more cook-y than I am.) (Ok, I know I said above this could be done vegan/vegetarian. The obvious thing is to just leave this out. The other obvious thing is to use one of those faux meat products. I’ve not used one, so I don’t know. But, it’s an option.)

Better than Bouillon (chicken flavor) (This stuff is awesome sauce. The wad I dumped in was more than a tablespoon and less than a quarter cup.) (For vegan/vegetarian opt for a vegetable broth – or just season with herbs/spices that you like)

half & half (3/4 of a quart or so?) (sub out coconut or almond milk for another option. I’ve used both VERY successfully for creamy soups. I just had all this half & half that was going to expire, so I used it. Heavy whipping cream would be awesome too.)

butter (6 tablespoons and I only know that because it was marked on the stick!) (To vegan- or vegetarian-ize, use coconut or avocado oil)

shredded or chunked cheese (whatever was left in the bag. I’d shoot for at least two cups since I want the fat and protein for satiety.) a  


Throw all of the above in a crock pot. Add a couple cups of water. You may want more. I probably will but I wanted it to see how thick it would be. I like a thick soup on these damp days.

(And it’s damp. I’m typing away on my little mini-laptop and it’s raining steadily and softly outside – perfect type of day for a movie or good book – or… in my case, a blog post!)

Anyway, I’ll thin it up if needed.

Cook on your preferred setting. I did high for 4 hours. I’m not a Queen of the Crock Pot like my friend Theresa. So, I don’t know if this will cook more quickly or more slowly. I’ll check it in a couple of hours.

Taste it for seasoning and add salt, pepper, oregano, lemon grass.. whatever your sweet little palette desires. When it tastes yum, you can serve it chunky or you can do what I’m going to do: puree the life into it.

I have this awesome Kitchenaid immersion blender. It’s red like the one in the link. I love it. I pureed sweet potatoes yesterday and today with it. It is definitely a crazy-awesome tool for any small space dweller! Anyway, that soup will be so smooth and delish!!




In which I discuss heating our tiny floating home

The boat is about 200 square feet inside.

We currently heat with an infrared electric heater from Costco. The boat came with a small oil burning heater called a Monitor (similar to the link to give you an idea) and with a diesel Dickinson stove. I took the Monitor out to make room for another bunk. Neither the Monitor nor the Dickinson was hooked up when I purchased the boat. Either would make for a much better heating experience than the electric, but both require a significant amount of work to get going. The Dickinson needs a fuel tank installed and connected to as well as a stack/chimney. Because the roof is not finished on the boat I cannot install the stove pipe. No ventilation means no burning. Dickinsonsdickinson are very popular on commercial fishing vessels and basically set the standard for marine heat. While they are amazing stoves, I’d love to replace it with a propane stove that would be more easily controlled for cooking instead of being primarily for heat.

UPDATE: Our infrared heater had a little, ahem, issue recently. A little popping sound, a little burning smell… Yeah. So, we were two days without heat in early October. (Note, my youngest son had used a pair of dog nail clippers on the cord of the heater just days after we purchased it. The “fix” didn’t last, causing things to overheat. So, I don’t think it was a problem with the heater, but with a damaged cord.) I had a backup heater, one of those oil-filled radiant type, but the switch was broken. That darn thing was in our way all winter and summer and to find out it was broken was aggravating! Space is such a premium! A friend and former co-worker came to the rescue with a nice Bionaire heater. I had looked at it at Costco and considered it hard.  I don’t know how it will do when things get in the teens and single digits, but it’s doing ok in the 30s and 40s! How awesome that I”m saved some cash by a friend’s goodwill!

How much of the year is cold?

Alaska is pretty vhow cold does it getaried in climate. I am in the Southeastern portion of the state which is really similar to British Columbia or western Washington. It is pretty warm in comparison to the Interior areas of Alaska. But, in general, snow starts falling toward the end of October and stops in March or April. It is not a constant snow. Lots of wind and rain during the fall and spring. Our first below freezing temperature is predicted for this Wednesday, October 1. That is the low, not the high. Freezing “highs” will be in November typically and last through February and into early March.

Tooling Around, or, All Tied Up…

“It must be so cool! You can just take off any time you like!”

Ah, if only that were true. Let’s put aside all practical matters of basic life such as jobs and school. I do have one child attending school (the other two are homeschooled) and up until recently, I held a regular 9-5 job, and, may again.

But the short reply is no. I don’t take my boat out.

Recently I had to move my boat due to harbor work being done. My houseboat is essentially a barge. There is no “helm”. I do have a small Johnson outboard that does run, but the logistics of just moving around at will are pretty substantial.

houseboat bow






Above is the front of my boat. You can see right away how just hopping away from the dock isn’t as easy as one may think initially.

Visibility is nonexistent. It is not easily controlled if there is any real current or wind. Our solution was to run the outboard in reverse and that actually worked really well, but for just basic out and about boating, it just isn’t a safe option.

houseboat stern






This is the stern of my boat. Again, you can see how moving it wouldn’t be practical too often.

In another post I mentioned that having a houseboat gave me options for mobility that something like a trailer house just doesn’t have. And I still think that’s true. I don’t need a bunch of permitting and groundwork to be done prior to or after moving like a trailer would. If I were to move to another community, I’d probably hire a barge mover to tow me. The other option is to build a steering station and install a motor that is powerful enough to overcome some of the wind challenges.

It’s not a zippy little boat. 😉

But WHY a houseboat?!

This is a question I get often in various forms.

People’s opinions vary from thinking I’m this cool, adventurous, ooh-ah person (totally correct, by the by), to thinking I’m crazy and wacky (not totally incorrect…). But those ideas don’t really encompass the “why” of houseboat living for me and my family.

Succinctly? It’s practical. And I am a practical girl.

My little city has a housing crisis. There is a 17% homeless rate and a 3% vacancy rate. Those figures are at least 2 years old. I haven’t done any current research and those I got from a report by our local St. Vincent DePaul group. I know people living in their cars, couch surfing, staying at hotels, camping… Normal, everyday people with jobs, often with families… yes, there are definitely “typical” homeless folks. But the truth is, there just isn’t enough housing, affordable or not.

I used to live in a tiny community about 50 miles away. The home I had there was only available for the school year and income options were pretty slim there as well. So, I looked to the capital city for a job and a place to live. I knew housing would be the hardest thing. It’s very difficult to find anything for less than $1500 a month that is suitable for a family here. Purchasing a home is nearly impossible as well. A basic three bedroom, 1100 square foot house in decent condition starts in the upper 280s. It’s just out of reach as a single income at this point.

I really did not want to rent a junky place for so much money and I did not have the income potential to rent something reasonably nice. Not luxuriously nice. Just reasonably nice. I couldn’t stomach the idea of spending upwards of twenty-thousand a year on RENT. But, I totally would have if it had come down to it.

So, while I did look for rentals, because well, I had kids and needed to give them a roof over their heads, I also looked at alternative situations, such as liveaboards. I’d lived aboard after graduating from college and it was a wonderful lifestyle.

I scoured Craigslist daily for work and housing. I quickly found my little houseboat listed at twenty-seven thousand. It was a no-brainer as far as I was concerned. I laid every card I had on the table and went for broke in making the seller an offer. (I’m kind of an all or nothing sort of girl.) After much back and forth and a formal escrow agreement, he accepted my offer. I signed papers for my boat late on a Friday afternoon in March of 2013 and started my new job with the State of Alaska the following Monday. That was one crazy weekend, I tell you!

My thinking was that while it would be difficult to live in such a small space (and it is), I could be essentially rent and mortgage free in a short period of time. I hoped that I could live for at least one more year (hoping for two) on the boat saving that money to make a down payment on something else. Then, I could rent the houseboat and diversify my income.

So, while I did dream of living aboard in Southeast Alaska for over 15 years and I worked hard to make that a reality, I’d actually given up that dream long before I found and purchase this boat. Funny how our dreams can sometimes be fulfilled. This purchase wasn’t to fulfill some crazy adventure or romantic idea I’d nurtured. It was a hard assessment of reality in the locale I’d chosen to live. It was something I actually had the means to do. It was available.

There are occasionally trailer houses that come up for less than fifty thousand, but not often, and the lot rent is at least $500 from what I’ve seen. (I have a friend who has an RV that he lives in and his space rent is $500.) Moorage is just over $200 a month for me and includes water. (Lot rents usually include water and sometimes cable as well.)

And honestly, I found many advantages to this life over a trailer house. (Note, there isn’t the trailer park stigma here like there is in so many other places. Housing is so hard to find, most of us consider ourselves lucky to have a place, even more so to OWN a place.)

Trailers are technically mobile, but the reality is, most never move. My boat is actually mobile. I can move this to another coastal community and still live pretty nicely.  I can anchor up somewhere and have virtually no monthly housing expenses. I personally love, love, love the wooden docks, the smell of the tide, and the water. There’s something that appeals to my soul.

I’d love to hear from you. If you have further questions, please comment!


Welcome to Out of the Bilge!



My three bouy hammockchildren and I moved aboard a tiny houseboat in Southeast Alaska in 2013. It is an incredibly challenging way to live. This is not my first time living aboard, but it is my children’s first experience. Our friends and family have tons of questions and are often surprised by the things we take for granted as harbor denizens and what we do not. Enjoy learning about the mundane and exotic aspects of small-space and maritime living! Images are courtesy E~R~S Photography.