Some people may not know what off-the-grid or off-grid means, so here it is --- The term off-the-grid
or off-grid refers to living in a self-sufficient manner without reliance on one or more public utilities.

Off-grid living is no longer a one room log cabin in the woods. It's energy independency.
You don't have to rely on utility companies, you create your own power.
Today, there are more than 180,000 off-grid homes in the US.

Friday, March 20, 2015

First Day of Spring...

1:12 pm - 60 degrees - overcast...

Wow, what a day!  The first day of spring, started off with a rare total solar eclipse and it will end with a supermoon!  What a way to start a new season.

  

Berry Garden...

12:47 pm - 59 degrees - overcast...

Just imagine walking outside your door and picking fruit from your berry patch to enjoy with breakfast in the morning, or whip up a berry pie, or can delicious jams and jellies!  Ooooh the possibilities!

Having my own berry garden has been a dream of mine for a very long time – since I was a little girl actually.  Whenever we would go to our Grandma’s house, one of our favorite things to do was going into the backyard and eat the fresh strawberries and raspberries that she had growing back there.  Fresh berries straight off the vine are just delicious!

To start my berry garden I have Reka blueberries, Honeoye strawberries, Caroline raspberries and Anne raspberries.  These are all winter hardy varieties, which is what we need since we’re somewhere between zones 5 and 6.

I purchased four Reka blueberry plants and planted them yesterday.  Reka’s are an early season blueberry variety bred in New Zealand.  It’s one of the fastest growing and most adaptable varieties.  They have a great flavor too.

I planted the blueberries along the south side
of the fire pit area.


Ollie didn't think I should be planting
blueberries at that time.

I purchased twelve Honeoye Strawberry plants, but I think I need to go back and get some more.  Honeoye’s combine winter hardiness, high productivity, good appearance and color, together with an excellent, firm, large-sized berry.  The berries are easy to pick and produce high yields over a long berry season, making it a very consistent berry producer.  They also freeze well.

I haven’t planted the strawberries yet because Tony hasn’t had a chance to make me some planters.  Instead of planting them straight into the ground, I wanted to try planting them vertical. 

This is what I want Tony to make for me so I can plant my strawberries.
{photo source: wonderfuldiy.com}

A friend gave me a wheelbarrow load of raspberry starts which I believe are Caroline Raspberries.  They are a large berry, with a rich, full and intense raspberry flavor, and they freeze well.

I just ordered 5 Anne Raspberry starts since I couldn’t find them anywhere locally.  I discovered these delicious golden raspberries last year at a local farmer’s market and fell in love.  Anne’s are a sunshine-colored berry that has a unique sweet taste unlike any other raspberry.  Some say it’s like crossing a raspberry and a green grape, while others describe them as having a hint of apricot flavor.  Anne’s excellent size, appearance, and very sweet flavor make it an excellent addition to any berry garden.

Anne Raspberries
{photo source: scenichillfarm.com}

I haven’t planted any raspberry bushes yet because I still have to figure out where I’m going to put them and then I need to make a trellis of some sort for the bushes to grow on.  Not sure what style of trellis to make yet though.

{photo source: oocities.org}
I bet you can guess what I'll be working on this weekend... berry planters and a trellis.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

We Have Power...

11:55 am - 63 degrees - gorgeous day...

I am beyond excited to finally be able to say... we have power! 

It has taken a long time to get to this point - reliable 24 hour power.  The end of May will mark 5 years living off-grid with only a generator for our occasional power needs.

For the past several months, after Tony got home from work, he would go straight to work again on our “control room”.  Some concrete, framing, plywood, insulation, sheetrock and the room under the stairwell was enclosed to house our power system.





Once the control room was enclosed Tony was busy making battery cables, connecting the 16 deep cycle batteries together, connecting the batteries to the inverter, wiring the inverter, numerous trips to different stores to get parts, and several phone calls to Magnum Energy to get questions answered.  






There are still a few small details that need to be finished or worked out, but for the most part... our battery bank and inverter are finally hooked up and working!

Last night was the first time we were able to turn on a lamp without having to run outside to turn on the generator first.  It is amazing how exciting it is to be able to turn on a simple lamp.  

This morning, as I'm tying out this blog post on our desk top computer that is being powered by our own power system... I am in awe of my amazingly awesome husband who I believe can do anything and is Superman in our children's eyes.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Elk Crossing...

8:45 pm - 38 degrees - drizzling...

Stopped to watch the elk cross the road.  I love off-grid mountain living!



Sunday, February 22, 2015

Driveway Repairs...

6:57 pm - 36 degrees - windy...

The lower section of the driveway has been in need of repair for some time.  That section has not had a good ditch line due to all the large rock.  Repairs have been delayed because we needed to get a larger excavator to dig through the rock. 

After the last heavy rains the driveway was almost impassable. 

 





The rain finally stopped and the ground dried up enough where Tony and a neighbor were able to do some repairs to the driveway.




The driveway is looking much better now, but still needs a few loads of rock.

  

Cookie Season...

6:29 pm - 36 degrees - windy...

I apologize for the lack of posts lately.  But whew, life off the mountain has been busy this past month and a half. 

On the mountain I am an off-grid stay-at-home mom.  Off the mountain, I am the President of the Booster Club (similar to PTA) at our children’s school and a Girl Scout troop leader to 18 amazing young ladies.

So why have I been extra busy lately?  Have you started to see colorful boxes floating around your home or office?  If you haven’t, you soon will because it’s Girl Scout Cookie Season!

We have been busy making lots of cookie posters.


 Picking up, sorting, and delivering cookies.


And now we are doing booth sales, booth sales, and more booth sales!



Of course we need to buy a few boxes for ourselves, plus a few extra boxes to make Samoa Cupcakes {click here}.


Love Girl Scout cookies and what it allows our troop to do, but can't wait for cookie season to be over.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Immune Boosting Elderberry Syrup...

9:00 pm - 43 degrees - raining...

The past week and a half has not been fun.  Cold and flu season hit our house hard this year.  We have been battling colds, flu, strep throat, ear infections, ruptured ear drums, sinus infections...you name it, and it feels like we’ve had it! 

I have been searching for different ways to help boost our immune systems because let's face it, it doesn't matter what we do - constantly washing hands, sanitizing everything, quarantine - we keep getting sick.  Uhg!

Do you know what elderberries are?  We have both red and blue elderberries here on the mountain {click here}.  I knew that I could harvest the blue elderberries and use them to make jam, jelly, pie, syrup and tea but what I didn’t realize was how good they are for you!

You can turn these tiny little blue berries into an amazing little liquid called Elderberry Syrup that is delicious and boosts your immune system, making it ideal for the cold and flu season.

Hippocrates is said to have called it his “medicine chest”, and for thousands of years it’s been revered in folk medicine for its healing properties.  Now studies are starting to confirm what tradition has long held: elderberries are a delicious and effective way to support immune function during cold and flu season.


Why elderberries?  Elderberries contain a flavonoid called anthocyanin, which has antioxidant and immune boosting properties.  They are also a good source of vitamin C, betacarotene, vitamin B6, and iron. 

Elderberry syrup has also shown to help reduce cold and flu symptoms along with nasal and sinus congestion relief.

“Elderberry syrup is a proven remedy for preventing and recovering from the flu, colds, excessive mucus, sore throats, and contains large amounts of antioxidants, potassium, beta carotene, calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin C Source”

See, good stuff!

Making your own elderberry syrup only requires a few simple ingredients and can be made in about 45 minutes, start to finish.  The result is a syrup that’s delicious (so kids easily take it), immune-boosting, and can last for a couple of months when stored in the refrigerator.  Here is a recipe...


~Elderberry Syrup~
3/4 cup dried elderberries {buy here}
3 cups water
1 cup raw honey*
1-2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger (optional)
1 cinnamon stick (optional)

1. Add water, elderberries, ginger and cinnamon stick (if you are using them) to a pot and bring to a boil.
2. Once boiling, reduce the berry mixture to a simmer.  Allow to simmer for 30 minutes.
3. After 30 minutes, remove from heat.  Using a potato masher, mash the berries (still in the juice mixture) to remove any extra juices.
4. Strain to remove the berries.  Allow the liquid to cool to just slightly warm (not hot) and stir in the honey.
5. Transfer the elderberry syrup to a jar and store in the refrigerator.

{*NOTE: Because this recipe contains honey, it should not be used by children under one.}

How much should you take?  Even though elderberries are valued for therapeutic purposes, they are a food.  They are used to make jelly, pies and wine, so there isn’t really a specific “dosage” for them.  However, here are some guidelines that have been traditionally followed:  To support immune function throughout cold and flu season children are usually given 1 teaspoon per day, while adults usually take 1 tablespoon.  During illness, the frequency increases to every 2-3 hours until the symptoms resolve.

Don’t want to make your own?  You can find pre-made elderberry syrup online {click here}.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Backyard Herb Garden...

6:55 pm - 43 degrees - cloudy... 

Every year I have grand gardening plans.  But then life gets in the way and I get distracted by things that “need” to be done instead of the things that I “want” to get done.

But this year nothing is going to stop me; I’m going to put in a backyard herb garden. 

When a recipe calls for fresh basil, I want to be able to skip the poor substitute of dried basil.  A last-minute dash to the grocery store for some overpriced wilted basil is out of the question since it would be over an hour and a half round trip.  I want to be able to walk outside and pluck a few tender leaves off of the basil plant growing in my very own herb garden whenever the need arises.

I have the location picked out that fits the basic requirements of a successful herb garden - well-drained soil that is neutral to slightly acid and at least five hours of sunlight a day.

I have the herbs that I want picked out - Basil, Chamomile, Chives, Garlic, Lavender, Mint, and Parsley.

Now I just have to figure out what design/layout I want.  Below are some pictures of backyard herb gardens I found online to use as inspiration...

photo source: megahowto.com

photo source: harfay.com

photo source: makinghomebase.com

photo source: motherearthnews.com

photo source: savingbydesign.com

photo source: twopeasandtheirpod.com

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Saturday Evening Post…

10:52 pm - 34 degrees - 37+ mph winds...

A small glimpse into our lives as we live off-grid… sort of like eves dropping.  It may be a thought, quote or a conversation; funny, sweet or sad; but it will always be true.  We will see if it resonates with you…


{messaging back and forth}
Tony:  “I hit a bird or something on the gravel road this morning.  Something big and dark hit the windshield.”
Me:  “Big Foot threw something at you!”
Tony:  “Looked almost like a big chunk of bark.  Wasn’t stopping to find out LOL.”
Me:  “Big Foot!!!”

Where Is Winter...

6:02 pm - 38 degrees - lightly scattered clouds, 37+ mph winds...

Is it really winter?  Last weekend we had temps in the mid 60s to low 70s!  This past week the temps have been in the 50s.  


The temps are slowly dropping this weekend so maybe there is hope of snow?!  Oh please, oh please, oh please!!!  It's just not "winter" without the fluffy white stuff!

Here are some pictures of winter from previous years...






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