Cabin Life


The weather is wintery and the snow is deep so it’s time again for a glimpse at life in the our cozy ski-in rustic cabin at ABR in Ironwood, Michigan. While everyone else has been suffering through the trials and tribulations of the polar vortex in the U.S., we’ve been hunkered down in the coziest spot possible with no need to drive and no need for electricity in these arctic conditions. Throw in a sauna every night (complete with outside ventures to cool off) and it’s the only place we would want to be right now, regardless of the frigid trips to the outhouse.


Check out ABR’s trails system and conditions report, it’s been a good year.



Entertainment comes in many quiet ways in the cabin: compact art supplies, crossword puzzles, and choosing one’s essential oil for the day.

Here is the apothecary for the cabin—good for the skin, lungs, and many times I’ll use a few drops on my Buff to inhale while skiing.

  • Eucalyptus and Do Terra’s ‘Breathe’ for clearing the sinuses and using in the sauna
  • ‘On Guard’ for general support and keeping away colds
  • Lavender to help sleep and to soothe burns from the wood stove
  • Wintergreen, Spearmint and Arborvitae for the buffs or sauna
  • Oregano for any hard core infections
  • Osha for lungs
  • Turmeric for inflammations
  • Hemp muscle rubs for muscle relief (for obvious reasons)
  • Adorable candles for brightening our evenings so we can see what we’re eating


photo by Coleen Sullins



The expanding refrigeration system.

We started years ago with one insulated bag that could be set outside occasionally to cool down and it worked fairly well for the types of food we brought. With three people for two weeks we’ve become more luxurious using multiple bags and freezer packs to keep things chilled. The handy cool draft by the door also helps to chill the chill-bags. These days an entire bag is for hearty veggies—kale, cabbage, brussel sprouts and carrots seem to withstand quite a bit of temperature abuse and be totally edible.

The outdoor freezer-cooler holds meals for the next few meals and we replenish it from the frozen items in the cooler stored in our vehicle parked at the warming cabin. Some meals were dehydrated by Coleen in her kitchen, but for many we’re revisiting my catering meals frozen into cabin portions—a handy perk of being the catering business. Other years we’ve worried that our frozen meals for the entire ABR trip would thaw in the car…but this year with the arctic blast and multiple days of subzero weather that has not been a concern. The aquavit is tucked safely into the chill spot, ready for hygge moments in the evening.





Heating the meals is a routine of the day. It’s hard to cook food from scratch on a wood stove like this—the cabin dwellers would be roasted out of the space if one was keeping it at cooking temperatures—but it’s perfect for reheating prepped dishes. Simple one-pot wonders are ideal, here we have two pots going and the teapot to heat the dishwashing water. A tiny cast iron skillet is ideal as a heat-absorbing trivet to help regulate food temperatures—we can set our one-or-two-dish-wonders on the stove with a little water and resting on the trivet, then ski into the woods and come back to a steaming meal in a warm cabin.


A few of our meals for this year’s cabin trek:

  • Swedish Meatballs & gravy, rutabagas & mustard
  • Indonesian Chicken Noodle Soup
  • Cajun Chicken Sausage & Rice, steamed broccoli
  • Cubano meats & Polenta, brussel sprouts
  • Kielbasa and Sauerkraut, squash, applesauce
  • Hungarian Mushroom Soup, pate & crackers
  • Smoked Lamb & chickpea masala with rice
  • Cottage cheese pancakes (pre-made then frozen) with local maple syrup
  • Turkey with green salsa, pintos and quesadillas
  • Red Sauce with spaghetti squash, salad



We really do appreciate all the texts from people concerned about us being smack in the middle of this chill, but we’re faring pretty well :-)



Scott’s pre-trip engineering project of a few years ago was to create two of these ingenious drying racks and now we take them everywhere. They’re hung in a handy spot so the warm stove air dries the gloves, hats and buffs in record time.

Dry clothing is essential to having a good experience and a smile on your face in cold weather: cotton kills, and wool, silk or microfiber rock it. We have multiple sets of clothing in case things aren’t dry by the afternoon ski…and because we’re up here for 12 nights so the atmosphere can get a bit ripe.



The Big Entertainment of the Day—watching the Pisten Bully groom the trail in front of the door. Not many skiers out today because of the state-of-emergencies declared in many Midwestern states, so this morning we got a little personal visit from the groomers.




Yeti chats with Doug and Pigheart.

Note the Hobbit feet on this balmy -22 morning.



More cabin adventures next week…


Photo by Coleen Sullins 


“And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.”


~ John Muir






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