Celebrating gratitude has never been better than the time my family and I decided to try Thanksgiving on a houseboat.
I woke up Thursday morning to something delicious baking in the oven, the marvelous aroma wafting through the houseboat as I roused to the solitude of Shasta Lake on Thanksgiving.
I looked outside and soaked in the view – I’m on the water! I realized how quiet it was outside, the lake was all ours. It seemed that my family and I had the whole place to ourselves. The fish were pretty much the only thing making wrinkles in the water. In the afternoon that would change, as we decided to make splashes of our own by using the waterslide. But for the morning I just slipped into the hot tub and welcomed the morning with a delicious cup of coffee and allowed the bubbles to stir around me.
From the hot tub I viewed the beautiful fall colors, watched wildlife stir, and savored the quiet.
A few of the benefits of Thanksgiving on a houseboat didn’t come to me until I went on the trip myself. Consider a few of my notes:
1. Turkey and pumpkin pie was provided: it was a great help to have those staple items already bought, waiting for us when we arrived.
2. We still had the option to bake the turkey the traditional way: we did have the option, but we opted to grill it. A pie in the oven and a turkey on the grill was the way to go!
3. Avoiding the traditional dishes that I don’t like: For example, we conveniently roasted all of our marshmallows over a bonfire Wednesday night – that meant no marshmallows to make Aunt Kim’s baked sweet potatoes!
4. Don’t need to do the dishes: Let me explain – Of course there are a complete set of dishes on board to use if you do so choose, and the dishwasher is available to clean most of them… but a houseboat trip gave us the excuse to not use our fine china and to opt instead for ‘oh-so-fine’ paper plates.
5. No unexpected drop-ins: I don’t know about you, but during the holidays we get many a neighbor, friend and relative (the one you try to avoid) who walk in unannounced, which can be fun most of the time. However, it is amazing to have the break from the people you didn’t plan for.
6. We could still watch the big game on TV all afternoon – Dad would have survived without watching the Big Game on Thanksgiving, but he would have been grumpy! If we decided to endure Dad’s grumpy mood we could have hid the remote (ahh, just like home).
All in all, the oven is on standby for your pies, the grill is primed for your turkey, the water is patiently waiting, and your crew will be hungry after a day cruising on the water. The vote is in – enjoy your Thanksgiving, the houseboating way!
Celebrating Halloween on a houseboat is a splendid alternative to the average night full of trick-or-treaters. This is Part II of the 2-part Halloween blog on houseboats.com. Part I of this blog gave you ideas for Halloween on a houseboat with kids. Part II gives you ideas for a Halloween party on a houseboat without kids. So grab your Halloween décor box and come aboard!
Location, Location, Location
The most important part of planning a Halloween party is location. Location controls many things including the date and time of the party, ambiance and how many people to invite.
Well, you have the best location there is – a houseboat! A houseboat is a cool spot for a Halloween party, one that your friends and family will be talking about for years to come.
After you set the location, its time to decorate the space. The next most important part of throwing a Halloween party is, yep, you guessed it – décor! With ‘adults only’ attending, the décor and theme can turn a little hair-raising at times. Some themes to go for include Funeral-chic, Gothic Charm, Haunted Mansion or a simple style of all black décor with a pop of color. Try some of these spine-chilling décor ideas:
1. Wicked Window: Halloween is not complete without creepy windows! Luckily our houseboats are covered in windows to decorate. Use candles, spider webs and plastic spiders. Get creative!
2. The Pickled Face in the Fridge: When the image of the head is placed in the curved jar full of water, it provides the spooky illusion of a decapitated head in a jar of preserving fluid.
3. Terrariums: Fill recycled glass jars with spiders, cotton ghosts, or moss and branches from the shore to make Halloween terrariums.
4. Eight Legged Cake: Spookify the popular ‘cake ball’ fad by adding legs.
5. Candy Corn Centerpieces: Using old bottles, spray paint, candles and candy corn.
With spider webs scattered around the galley, it’s fun to add to the “Haunted Mansion” feel by having a fire roaring in the fireplace. Play classic scary flicks on the television in the background – such as “Halloween”, “Psycho” or “Dracula”. Mute the movie and play some spooky music on the houseboat’s surround sound to make the party even more over-the-top.
Eat, Drink & Be Scary
One of the most important things when throwing any type of party is food and drink. Depending on which model you choose for your party, check with us to make sure you’ll have the appropriate cookware for preparing what you’ve planned. We provide most of what you’ll need, so your list of what to bring is sure to be a short one! Plan your food and drink accordingly.
You could also try some easy Halloween themed punch, such as the Ghostbuster, Rotting Pumpkin or Dragon’s Blood Punch. To add to the creepiness of these drinks place some Vampire Fangs and Floating Hands in the cups and bowls. And the party will not be complete without some Brain Hemorrhage shots!
Make it a costume party!
Scary costume or fun costume, Halloween on a houseboat is not the same without dressing up. According to Mashable, the top costumes of 2014 are Maleficent, the evil faerie from 1959’s Sleeping Beauty, and a Bavarian men’s costume, which is popular for Oktoberfest, and is reused for Halloween.
If someone happens to forget their costume, it would be good to have some masks ready. Masks are easy and still count as a costume! Just visit a site like mrprintables.com and print out a few for your forgetful guests.
Your guests are bound to have the best time ever celebrating Halloween on a Houseboat.
Have A Hauntingly Delightful Halloween! Boo From The Crew at houseboats.com!
Halloween on a houseboat? How in the world can you make a “summertime” event Halloween-esque?
Celebrating Halloween on a houseboat is a splendid alternative to the average night full of trick-or-treaters. Part I of this blog will give you ideas for Halloween on a houseboat with kids. Part II will give you ideas for Halloween on a houseboat without the munchkins.
When you first arrive on the houseboat, it may be fun to have the kids help spookify it! Most kids love arts and crafts, and creative décor will help set the mood for the
exciting adventure of houseboating on halloween. Some great DIY décor ideas include:
- Glowing Eyes: Made with old toilet paper rolls and glowsticks. Hide them around the galley, main salon, deck ….or even in the wilderness outside! (Just be sure to retrieve them later of course!)
- Lawn Ghosts: Poke a styrofoam ball through the top of a garden stake and cover it with white fabric. Great for kids to have the freedom to put the ghosts where they decide.
- Hanging Bats: Made with black craft foam, googly eyes and fishing line. Kids can hang them wherever they see fit!
- Paper Mice: Cut out these Martha Stewart templates and paste them on the stairs.
- Glass Jar Luminaries: You can apply acrylic paint with a sea sponge, wait for your base coat to dry, and then either use paint, Sharpies, or paper to add your embellishments to the mason jars. Just add a glow stick or electronic candle!
With the houseboat all spookified, the activities can begin!
Tricks and Treats
Most obviously, the best part of Halloween is the candy! However, there are other delicious treats you can have the kids help make. Candy Corn Pretzel Hugs, Candy Pretzel Bones, White Chocolate-Covered Strawberry “Ghosts”, Marshmallow Pops, and for the health nut, a Spooky Fun Fruit Tray with clementines and bananas.
Have a scary movie marathon
If the kids are old enough, pop in a creepy flick and shut off the lights. Relax (as best you can with a scary movie) and grab a blanket for hiding when things get too bloodcurdling to handle. Of course, some scary movies aren’t suited for younger kids. So skip the Saw series and put in a Halloween favorite like “Hocus Pocus”, “The Nightmare Before Christmas”, “Halloween Town” or “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown”.
Have a pumpkin-carving contest
Everyone can get into pumpkin carving! Are your kids feeling creative, or even competitive? Put everyone’s skills to the test by challenging the kids to a pumpkin-carving contest. Cleanup can be easy with some old newspapers on the deck, or out front on the beach!
Tell spooky stories by the campfire
Grab a flashlight and some blankets and head out to the bonfire. Roast some marshmallows to make s’mores and throw in some candy corn and orange sprinkles to be more festive. Tell your best scary story sitting lakeside on a crisp fall night next to a crackling fire. See who raises goosebumps first!
Tune in next week for Halloween on a Houseboat – Part II!
This week houseboats.com has chosen the winner of the 2014 e-newsletter contest. The winner of this contest gets a FREE houseboat vacation!
So without futher ado, this years winner is….
Mike H. from Mendocino, CA!
Congratulations Mike! Enjoy your FREE houseboat vacation!
How to enter
You may be asking yourself: How can I enter this simple contest?
Mike won his free houseboat vacation by opting into houseboats.com’s e-newsletter mailing list. You can opt-in to our e-newsletter mailing list on any page of our website!
Look down and to the right on your browser window.
You’ll see this box:
Simply complete the few questions and that’s it, you are automatically entered! Its that easy!
Free houseboat vacations
There are many more ways to win a FREE houseboat vacation with houseboats.com including entering the Full Pool Contest, Clean Boat Contest or Video Contest. Check out all of our ways to win a free houseboat vacation here.
Cooking on a houseboat is a different and fun experience, but where to start? Most of our guests use a collaboration system for meals and cooking. You’ve got Friday, I’ve got Saturday, etc. Depending on which model you choose for your adventure, check with us to make sure you’ll have the appropriate cookware for preparing what you’ve planned. We provide most of what you’ll need, so your list of what to bring is sure to be a short one! And keep in mind, you’ll need to bring a selection of condiments and spices to dazzle your group’s taste buds! Since summer is winding down we would like to share an Indian Summer favorite, one of our favorite delicious and easy houseboating recipes – Carne Asada tacos.
- First, you marinate the meat in a ziplock bag with salt, pepper, chile powder and lime juice. Stick the ziplock in the fridge for 4 hours.
- After the meat is well marinated, we fire up the grill with a medium-high flame. While the grill is warming up we will chop the green onions and cilantro as well as prepare the salsa and chipotle crema.
- Brush the grates with some oil to keep the meat from sticking. Grill the steak for 7 to 10 minutes per side, turning once, until medium-rare. Remove the steak and let it rest for 5 minutes to allow the juices to settle. Thinly slice the steak across the grain on a diagonal.
- Warm the tortillas for 30 seconds on each side on the grill, until toasty and supple.
- Assemble your tacos!
Delicious! If there are enough leftovers you can make yummy breakfast burritos in the morning. Two meals in one cooking session!
What about dessert? We would never forget our beloved sweets… One of our favorite desserts to make on a houseboat during an Indian Summer are grilled peaches with mascarpone and honey.
Grilled peaches with mascarpone and honey
- Preheat a grill to medium-high
- Place the peaches cut-side down onto the grill and cook until lightly charred- 2 or 3 minutes.
- Take the peaches out, cut sides up, to a grill-proof baking sheet or dish and drizzle evenly with honey.
- Place the dish on the grill and cover the grill. Continue to cook until the peaches are soft, about 5 minutes, depending on the grill.
- Remove the baking dish from the grill and divide the mascarpone evenly among the plates and drizzle with additional honey, if desired. Serve immediately.
Your easy and delicious carne asada tacos and sweet, but simple, peaches are best enjoyed out on the deck with your family and friends at sunset. You won’t forget it!
~”Food is essential to life therefore, make it good”- S. Truett Cathy~
The seasons are changing along with the colors of the trees. Smells of pumpkin spice and talk of the weather cooling down fill the air. Why not make these seasonal changes even more enjoyable aboard a luxury houseboat? Houseboating in the fall is Shasta Lake’s best kept secret. The sunshine is bountiful and with the summer crowd gone, nature and the marvels of the lake can be absorbed peacefully. So despite what you might think, houseboating during the fall season is one of the best times to be out on the water. Here are a few fall houseboating myths debunked.
Myth #1: The weather is colder
Actually, fall offers near-perfect weather for houseboating. The sun continues to sizzle and the water is still balmy. Then, once the sun goes down, the temperature does drop giving you a bit of a break from the heat, and the opportunity to sit beside a warm campfire melting marshmallows or the cozy up to the fireplace in the main cabin. Delicious!
Myth #2: The lake never slows down
The summer buzz dies down at Shasta Lake with the start of the school season. Unfortunate for them, but fortunate for you, as the weather is remarkable and the views become more and more beautiful with the changing colors of fall. The lake and marina slow down, making it easier to ‘just breathe’ and enjoy the quiet stillness. With less people on the lake, there are endless opportunities for amazing fall fishing in the morning and evening, as well as perfect water during the day for all types of watersports!
Myth #3: The lake is too slow!
If the thought of serene calm water isn’t exciting enough for you, maybe hosting a Houseboat Halloween party is! Creative types have found that throwing a Halloween, Thanksgiving or Christmas party on a houseboat is a complete hit, and only possible during fall houseboating. No one ever forgets a holiday gathering on a houseboat.
Myth #4: It’s not like I am getting a deal, right?
With the fall season, the rental rates at Jones Valley Resort drop dramatically. Did you know you can save over 40% from the peak summer rates? You can’t beat that! Without a doubt, Shasta Lake is not the “same ol’, same ol’” in the fall. Come journey our temperate, pristine waters, discover magnificent views and revel in your chosen watersports… and at lower fall rates!
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“Just living is not enough. One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.” – Hans Christian Anderson
The 2 best times of year for fishing are in the early spring and the early fall, before the winter weather.
And with fall arriving this week, it’s time to grab your gear, cooler and binoculars and read over this fall fishing cheatsheet!
Why Early Fall?
In order to be the best fisherman you can be, it is best to understand why early fall is the best time for bass fishing.
To put it simply, bass fish school together in the early fall when the weather cools down. When the weather cools down, so does the water, which equals more oxygen in the lake. With more oxygen in the lake bass become more active!
Get those bass hooked!
This is the season when bass will strike at about anything you throw at them. However, some patterns work better than others.
You need to know these 3 things in order to catch premium bass:
1. Understanding the natural feed in the lake.
2. Awareness about marine plant life in the lake.
3. Knowledge of areas of the lake where shallow water is closer to deep water.
Colder temperature makes bass more active, and with more activity comes a higher energy burn, thus the need to seek more food. Familiarizing yourself with the natural forage and plant life in the lake assists in picking out correct bait and finding the bass. Bass is usually found chasing shad or other forage fish, in their normal habitat of deep water with close proximity to shallow water.
Apply what you know on Shasta Lake
The best place to start when going out to hook some bass is to locate the bait. Bass feed on the shad in Shasta Lake. The Jones Valley area offers the finest entrance to the Pit and Squaw Arms, which are considered the best areas for overall fishing.
Other common areas are located where the streams and rivers fill into the lake – McCloud Bridge, on the McCloud, and Riverview (Lakehead) on the Sacramento Arm. However, the Jones Valley area of Shasta Lake is known as the best bass habitat on the lake.
Head out from Jones Valley and look for bird feeding activity or where bait balls are pushed to the surface by feeding trout and bass.
Once you find your spot, its time to imitate the bait. We recommend using small blue and silver spoons like Hopkins “Shorty” spoons. To attract strikes, some people use rip bats through the schools.
This cheatsheet has provided you with all the information you need to catch “the big one” this fall – except patience!
Fishing is a great bonding experience to have with kids; the memories made last a lifetime. However, sometimes it is a difficult task to get kids to love something that requires so much patience.
1. Get their attention: Since kids nowadays are more tech savvy than many adults, going the internet route can really kickstart a child’s interest. fishingkids.com is a great resource to introduce your kids to the world of fishing in a manner that is informative but will also keep their attention. The website includes a glossary, characters, and many affordable books with exciting and informative information. You can also psych kids out by telling them your most exciting fishing experience. 2. Set them up: Kids love brand new gadgets! They are always way more excited about brand new gear rather than dad’s old stuff. There are many different types of kids gear available including Fishing Kids Box Sets, compasses, tackle boxes and a large selection of kids fishing poles and rods at the Jones Valley Resort store or your local sporting goods store. And don’t forget about fishing licenses if they are over 14 years old – Jones Valley Resort has those too!
3. Make it special: Fishing as a kid creates memories for years to come … if you make it a special time. Maybe the night before the fishing adventure, get kids excited by going to the store to get special snacks for when you’re on the boat, you can even keep it themed with goldfish, swedish fish, or gummy worms! Once you get home you can make the trip feel special by preparing the fishing gear with the kids while watching “Finding Nemo” or your favorite fishing movie. Making fishing seem special will make fishing feel special to kids and keep them wanting more. 4. Positive reinforcement: If a fish bites on your first fishing outing with your child, they will be hooked (no pun intended)! But if the fish aren’t biting and patience is waning, try taking a few breaks for your kids to rejuvenate. Kids do get bored easily, so add to the fun by taking an afternoon swim break and enjoying the snacks you packed with the kids. And remember, keep the pressure off and the patience up. Kids will remember this time for the rest of their lives, and may even carry on the tradition someday with their own children!
•20% off a 3 night weekend trip aboard an Escapade or Titan
•Shasta Lake/Jones Valley Resort
• Now through September 22, 2014
•Call our Reservations Dept. today TOLL FREE at 1 (877) HOUSEBOAT
•Must mention this web weekly special when booking.
Fine Print: Does not apply to existing reservations.
•Not valid with any other offer or promotion.
•Applies only to NEW bookings for 3 night weekend trips