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.

Monday, November 16, 2015

First Snow...

5:42 pm - 34 degrees - rain/snow mix...

Yesterday was our first snow of the season.  The kids were really hoping that it was going to stick but it didn’t.

On our way home from school today it started snowing again.  The squeals of excitement started immediately, right along with the wishes that it would stick this time. 

Unfortunately I don't think we'll be waking up to a white wonderland in the morning since the snow level is supposed to jump up to 8,000 feet tonight.

Here are some pictures from previous years first snowfalls.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Grouse. It’s What’s For Dinner...

10:22 am - 51 degrees - foggy, windy, and raining...

Hunting for wild game to put food on the table used to be a part of everyday life – for some it still is.  Hunting may not be for everyone, but it’s a part of our lives.  Hunting is simply harvesting wild food, and we only harvest what our family will eat {click here}.

Tony hunts for deer and elk every year – one deer and one elk will put enough meat in the freezer to feed our family for a whole year and be able to share some with family and friends.  In fact, as I sit here typing this blog post, Tony and Jack are out deer hunting.

In addition to hunting large game, Tony also hunts upland birds, just not as often.  As our kids get older they want to go hunting with him more often, so this year he took them grouse hunting.

Grouse are small upland birds that range over most of the United States and southern Canada.  They are not usually very big, somewhere between a quail and a pheasant – undressed a grouse will normally range anywhere from a pound to around three pounds, give or take.  So for a family of four, a minimum of four is usually recommended.

Many feel that when it comes to upland birds – grouse is the best as far as flavor goes.  Grouse tastes similar to pheasant, it’s not gamey, and does have some similar “chicken flavor” but it is not nearly as bland as chicken and has a different texture. 

Here is a simple and delicious way to prepare grouse...

 ~Grouse Nuggets~
4 grouse, cleaned and cut into ¾” cubes
Salt & Pepper
2 eggs, beaten
Italian bread crumbs
Olive oil

After you have your grouse cleaned and cubed, get out 4 small bowls to make an assembly line.  In the first bowl pour some milk.  In the second bowl pour some flour and season with salt and pepper.  In the third bowl beat two eggs.  In the fourth bowl pour some bread crumbs.

Dip grouse cubes into milk, then flour mixture, then egg wash, and then bread crumbs.  Do this to all the grouse cubes.

Warm a non-stick skillet with ¼” deep of olive oil on medium-high heat.  Fry until golden brown, about 5 minutes, turning often so they won’t burn.

Serve with honey, Ranch, BBQ or whatever sauce you like.

- Enjoy!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Lava Canyon Trail #184...

12:27 pm - 59 degrees - blue sky and sunshine...

Yesterday was our Girl Scout troop’s family hike.  I wanted to pick a hiking trail that no one had hiked yet and was fairly kid friendly.  So I picked the Lava Canyon Trail #184.

Here we go... 2+ hour drive to the Lava Canyon Trailhead!

The Lava Canyon trail is a three-layer hike, each layer a little more challenging than the previous, through a stunning canyon carved into an ancient lava layer. 

The rock formations in Lava Canyon are remnants of a Mount Saint Helens lava flow that coursed down the Muddy River’s valley several thousand years ago.  The basalt lava fractured into a honeycomb of pillar-like columns as it cooled.  When the river then cut down through the flow it carved waterfall chutes and left free-standing lava towers.

Later stream debris buried the formations until Mt St Helens erupted again on May 18, 1980 when the heat destroyed Shoestring Glacier, triggering a massive lahar (mudflow) that swept through the area at over 100 miles an hour, washing everything out but leaving a lifeless, mud-caked landscape in its wake. 

Nature finds its own way of recovering what is lost.  The transformation at Mount St Helens is amazing; what once was a barren landscape of destruction is now bursting with new growth.

The unique Lava Canyon trail wanders through this geological phenomenon in a beautiful way.  The views around every turn are amazing!  In addition to the breathtaking views, you also get to climb metal staircases, cross bridges, and climb ladders.

A sign at the trailhead marks the three-sections like a ski map – green for “easiest”, blue for “more difficult”, and black for “most difficult”.  Since our fun lovin’ group of 26 people, had an age range of 4 years old to 60+ years old, we choose to only do the first two sections which is a 1.3 mile loop with a 300-foot elevation gain. 

The first “easy” section is a paved ADA path that leads 0.4 miles to an overlook, but it gets more challenging when the pavement ends. 

The second “more difficult” section was definitely not as kid friendly as the first section since parts of the path are very close to cliff edges, and the steep wet rock was extremely slippery.  There are signs everywhere stating that over the years, there have been fatalities from hikers getting too close to the edge, slipping, and falling into the raging creek and waterfalls below.  Even with all the warning signs, the second section includes the 125-foot cable suspension bridge, so we continued on.


The 125-foot cable suspension bridge can be an intense experience for those who are not comfortable with heights.  You can turn around and hike back if the bridge just isn’t your thing.  Even though a few people in our group do not love heights, I am happy to say that everyone crossed the bridge!

The swaying cable suspension bridge was AWESOME!!!

125-foot Cable Suspension Bridge!!!

After we had all crossed the bridge we looked for and found our first Geocache of the day! 

Geocache Hot Lava GCG632 - Found it!

At this point we continued around the loop and back to our cars. 

Below the bridge, for the more adventurous hikers without small children, you can continue downstream where the trail drops more dramatically and sometimes leaves hikers exposed.  Eventually, the trail arrives at a point where hikers must descends a dizzying 30-foot ladder if they wish to continue.  A bit further down the canyon, a 0.2-mile spur trail visits (via another ladder) a lava outcrop viewpoint called The Ship.  Turn around here for an uphill return to your car.

After we completed the hike, we headed out to find our second and last Geocache for the day.  This one was an EarthCache at a lahar viewpoint with Mt St Helens in the background.  The photo does not do it justice.  It was beautiful, and a wonderful ending to the fun day.

Geocache Lahar Viewpoint GC3Q2XY - EarthCache, Found it!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Saturday Evening Post…

8:19 pm - 48 degrees - clear night...

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}
Me:  “Bear just ran across the road in front of my car, 20-25 feet!”
Me:  “Saw 7 deer, 3 elk, 1 bear, and a ton of grouse all in one day!  Love living in the mountains!!”
Mom:  “Did you get any photos?”

Me:  “No.  When I'm outside I usually don't have a camera on me.  When I'm in my rig, most of the animals are so quick I don’t have time to grab a camera before they disappear into the brush.  Need to hook up a dash cam on my rig and constantly keep a camera on me.”

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Fall Is Officially Here And Winter’s Not Far Behind...

10:37 am - 59 degrees - scattered clouds...

Yesterday was the first official day of fall.  Autumn.  Autumnal Equinox.  Fall. 

Whatever you call it, it’s officially here.  Not that I need an actual date to tell me what I already knew, for the past several weeks we’ve been watching all the trees around us turn.  The leaves are changing from green to multi-colored hues of red, orange and yellow as they fall to the forest floor below.  The mornings are getting darker and there is a little nip in the air.

As the summer temperatures wind down many of us look forward to everything Fall has to offer, and with it some of my favorite things... scarves, boots, pumpkin flavored everything, hot chocolate, warm days and cold nights, crisp air and hoodies.

With Fall also comes the beautiful orange glow of the season.  Things take on a different view, vibrant colors become more subdued, the flurry of summer activities start slowing down and preparations begin for the colder months ahead.

The cooler temperatures and rainy days are on their way.  That means that old man winter is just around the corner - winter could be here in just over a month and a half.

Before the snowflakes start to fall (which is usually sometime in mid November) we need to finish hauling, splitting and stacking firewood; clear the ditches along the driveway; service the snowblower; service the snowplow and Dodge truck; service our daily rigs; stock our rigs with extra blankets, jumper cables, a tow rope, shovel, snowshoes, and some snacks and activities for the kids (just in case we get stuck for whatever reason); stock the pantry; and try to complete as many other outside projects on the house as we can before the weather turns nasty.

There’s no denying that there are some headaches that come along with winter, especially when you live in the mountains.  It snows in the mountains, its part of the allure for most of us living here... fluffy white stuff to play in through the crisp (hopefully sunny) winters.  

The winter winds may be harsh, but those who live in snowy, cold climates know there is still charm to be found in the season.  When you are relaxing in front of a warm fire or enjoying a rich meal with family, it’s easy to forget the wintry weather just outside the door.  That’s why we try to be as prepared as possible, we want to be able to spend more time enjoying the season instead of laboring outside.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Selfie Scavenger Hunt...

8:04 pm - 51 degrees - scattered clouds...

The kids and I went on a mom and me beach campout for the weekend with our Girl Scout troop.  One of the activities we did was a selfie scavenger hunt, and it was tons of fun!

I created a list of 52 items that were either on the way to the beach or somewhere around the beach.  The time limit was from Friday morning to Saturday evening.  Everyone was given a scavenger hunt list and we ran around town taking selfies with as many items on the list as we could – I must say, some of the teams, got pretty creative with their selfies.

Sunday morning all the selfie photos were totaled up and prizes were handed out.  The kids and I got 48 of the 52 items – not too bad, we came in third place and now I have a bunch of cute photos as a reminder of our fun weekend!

Laundry Day...

11:37 am - 57 degrees - scattered clouds...

While modern off-grid living might be considered the “simple life”, it is not easy!  For us, while our home is still under construction we have few modern conveniences, and the amount of work that goes into the simplest things like taking baths, washing clothes, doing the dishes, and cooking meals, is intense – especially when compared to city folk, who just have to load a machine, push a few buttons and ta-da, it’s done.

Am I complaining?  No, just stating a fact.  Here is another fact – I am not Superwoman (sorry to disappoint you).  Trying to juggle the demands of off-grid living while running two young children around to school and activities, being a Girl Scout Troop leader of a very active troop, and the President of the Booster Group (aka PTA) of our kids’ school, while my husband works in town all day – isn’t for the faint of heart.

We have often joked that we were living like ‘Little House on the Prairie’ – only in the mountains and with internet.  Although the similarities are still there, we now have one more thing that Laura Ingalls Wilder didn’t have – a washer and dryer!

I cannot express how extremely appreciative, thankful, and excited I am to finally have, after five years, a washer and dryer!  Hand washing clothes, in theory, is a great idea and sounds fairly simple – plunge and scrub, plunge and scrub - but in reality, it’s a lot of work!

Thankfully I had the option to run into town to do laundry - which is what I choose to do.  For the past five years, laundry has been done at either the local laundromat (45 minutes away) or a family/friend’s house (45-60 minutes away), and on occasion hand washed here if we were in a pinch.

If I had to hand wash all our clothes with two very active kids, who somehow manage to get completely filthy five seconds out the door, and a husband who works outside all day... I would be so busy washing and scrubbing, that I would never leave the house.

Next up on my “Wish-List” is a fridge!  But for now, I am happy in our crazy little mixed-up world of ‘Little House on the Prairie’ meets “modern off-grid”.

Friday, September 11, 2015


2:16 pm - 83 degrees - scattered clouds...

The firewood cutting for this coming winter is finally underway... well sort of.  We're just starting to haul it down to the house where we can start to cut, split and stack it.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Forest Fire...

6:10 am - 62 degrees - hazy...

The smell of smoke is thick in the air this morning.

As of 6 PM last night (the latest official update), the forest fire is burning in steep terrain in a remote area about 5 miles east of us and had blackened 45 acres.  The fire is neither contained nor controlled, but well-staffed considering how very stressed the areas resources are right now. Last night they had two helicopters working the fire along with 20 firefighting crews, four engines and three water tenders.  They had also started back burning certain areas.

We are hope they get some sort of handle on the fire today before the strong east winds start up later today and blow the fire even closer.

(photo source: Kris Leonard)
This was taken early mid day around the time the fire was first reported. 

This is unconfirmed, but it's from fairly reliable sources... The fire was started by a campfire.  Then a second fire was started when one of the first responders unattended truck (believed to be DNR truck) somehow rolled off an embankment.


Update - 4:26 pm - 90 degrees - hazy and smokey...

The fire has now burned approximately 60 acres with zero containment.  There are about 90 people working on this fire with the help of two helicopters, two bulldozers and a feller-buncher.  A brush rig and water tender have also been on scene due to the remote location.  Firefighting crews are expected to continue fighting the fire throughout this week.

(photo source:

The fire is 5.4 miles East of us.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Strawberry Freezer Jam...

8:58 pm - 78 degrees - smoky, windy...

This morning we had a Jam-In!   It’s when several of us (usually my mom and sister) will get together and make a ton of freezer jam – usually around 60-80 pints. 

Today was slightly different.  I had several girls from my Girl Scout troop come up and I showed them how to make freezer jam.  We made 34 pints of delicious homemade strawberry freezer jam.  It was a messy, sticky, fun learning experience!

Girls were cleaning and cutting up the strawberries.
We had four batches going at the same time, all at different stages.

With no-cook freezer jam you get to preserve the bounty of summer without the fuss, heat, equipment, and time that canned cooked jams require.  Uncooked freezer jam is slightly different than the cooked jams.  It doesn’t have that thick, cooked-down texture and flavor.  Instead, it looks and tastes like the ripe fruit.  If you were to compare a jar of strawberry (or any other flavor) freezer jam and strawberry traditional cooked jam, I think you’d be shocked at the difference.  Regular cooked jam becomes quite dull in color as it cooks, where as freezer jam retains the same pretty color as the fresh berries you started with.

Freezer jam does have two drawbacks.  The first drawback is it’s not shelf-stable.  For long-term storage, all freezer jam must go in the freezer – hence the name.  However, if you don’t have a ton of freezer space, freezer jam can be prepared and poured into quart-size Ziploc bags.  Squeeze out the air, seal the bags and stack them flat in the freezer.  When you need more jam, just thaw a bag, empty the contents of the bag into a jar, put it into the fridge and enjoy.

The second drawback (well, not really) is our kids got so used to eating delicious homemade freezer jam that it didn’t take long before they were sticking their noses up at store-bought jam, and every other kind of jam or jelly, except for freezer jam.  I can’t blame them though because honestly we all prefer the fresh, delicious taste of freezer jams.

To make freezer jam, all you need is ripe fruit, sugar, and pectin.  That’s it!  Quick and easy and before you know it, you’ll be proudly scooping up homemade jam for toast, biscuits, scones, waffles, pancakes, crepes, ice cream, smoothies, cake filling, etc!

~Strawberry Freezer Jam~
2 cups crushed fresh strawberries
4 cups sugar
1 pkg Sure Jell Premium Fruit Pectin
3/4 cup water

Mash strawberries with potato masher or in a food processor until slightly chunky (not pureed).  Jam should have bits of fruit.  Once the strawberries are crushed to a size you want, measure out 2 cups and put into a large bowl.

Stir sugar into the strawberries, mixing well.  Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir 1 box of pectin and 3/4 cup water in a 1-quart saucepan.  Bring to a boil on high heat, stirring constantly.  Boil for 1 minute, while still stirring constantly. 

Pour hot pectin mixture over strawberry mixture.  Stir constantly for 3 minutes or until sugar is completely dissolved and no longer grainy; whichever is longer.  (A few sugar crystals may remain).

Immediately spoon jam into washed and prepared containers, leaving 1/2 –inch headspace.  Wipe rims of containers and seal.  Let stand at room temperature for about 24 hours or until set.

Store in the freezer for up to a year, or store in the refrigerator for 3-4 weeks.  Thaw frozen jam and stir before serving.

{Note:  You must measure carefully, jam making is an exact process and if you don’t measure correctly, you’ll have unsuccessful results.  Measure the exact amount of sugar, reducing the sugar or using a sugar substitutes will result in set failures.  If you want to make more than one batch, do not try to double the recipe, instead make two separate batches.  We usually have several batches, all in their own bowls, going at the same time.}

One batch will fill 3 pint jars with a little left over.

--- Enjoy!

If you are curious, here is the cost breakdown.  We always do a lot of batches at once, so this is the breakdown for 3 dozen jars of freezer jam - 36 pints (cost will depend on sales and qty purchased):
36 jars = $34.47
36 plastic lids = $8.16
12 SureJell Pectin = $46.50
25 lbs sugar = $15
24 lbs whole strawberries = $47.88
TOTAL = $152.01 (breaks down to $4.22 a jar)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...