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, February 28, 2011

Back To The Basics With Cooking...

30 degrees outside - 7:16 pm - snowblower is broken again and it is still snowing...

I absolutely love to cook, or I guess I should say bake, so I am really excited that my dad just picked me up a couple of new cookbooks - ‘The Old Farmhouse Kitchen’ and ‘Romancing the West’ both by Frances A Gillette.  All of the recipes look absolutely delicious and I cannot wait to start trying them out!  I have already started going thru putting post-it notes on the first recipes that I want to try.  Have to do something while we are snowed in!

It's Still Coming Down...

30 degrees outside - 5:50 pm - 3+ feet of snow and still snowing...

a Huckleberry bush hiding in the snow

workbench under 30" of snow

{Update:  30 degrees outside - 7:33 pm - 3+ feet of snow and still snowing...}

Tony called at 5:15 pm to tell me he was about 10 minutes away, but if he wasn’t home by 6 pm to call our neighbor and send him down with the snowblower to dig him out.  6 pm rolled around and Tony still wasn’t home so I called our neighbor and found out that the snowblower had just broken.  Our neighbor then snowshoed down to the excavator to see if he could use that to clear the road and met Tony who was snowshoeing his way up the hill.  It is now 7:30 pm and Tony has just made it home.  It isn’t the first time Tony has had to snowshoe his way home from our gate, which is just under ¾ of a mile all up hill.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

What A Crazy Week...

33 degrees outside - 7:36 pm - 15-20 mph winds and snow showers...

This past week has been a crazy one.  Everyone has been sick and is finally at various stages of recovery.  This past week has also brought several winter storms that have come through dumping quite a bit of snow.  After the little bit of rain we had today, the snow has compacted down to about 21 inches. 

Today was spent running around town filling up portable propane tanks, filling up gas cans for the generator, and stocking up on groceries in preparation for the possibility of getting snowed in.  We have another winter storm warning for tonight and tomorrow with the possible accumulation of another 2 to 3 feet of snow.  They are also expecting strong winds, which may cause blizzard conditions. 

This current winter storm warning may or may not happen or we may see 3 feet of snow or 3 inches of snow.  Either way, it’s best to be as prepared as we can for whatever the weather brings.

Monday, February 21, 2011

President's Day Weekend...

34 degrees outside - 6:30 pm - cloudy, quiet night...

What a waist of a four-day weekend!  Everyone in the house ended up getting sick, so all our plans for the four-day weekend went undone. 

Even though Tony is still feeling under the weather, tonight he ran out and cut a load of firewood (one of the projects that was on the list of things for this weekend).  We were down to only a couple rows of firewood, we have about 8 inches of snow currently on the ground and the weather report for this week shows a possible accumulation of just less than three feet.  So we are going to need more firewood. 

It's no fun trying to cut firewood in the February snow while your sick.  Tony swears that he will have all of next years firewood cut by Memorial Day Weekend so that is can season in the sun all summer.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

It’s Snowing…Again…

32 degrees outside - 8:58 am - cloudy and snowing...

Every season brings its own form of beauty, as once again we woke up to a white winter wonderland.  Standing at the window with a cup of hot cocoa as the hushed rustle of gently falling wispy snowflakes hit the ground is a memorable sight and sound to behold.

According the weather report we are supposed to have an entire week of snow.  Our kids LOVE the snow.  Love to sled, love to throw snowballs, love everything about it.  I just hope there are a few days where the sun comes out long enough so the kids can go out and play.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Old Man Winter Is Back...

32 degrees outside - 8:05 am - snowing...

7:43 am - snow is back and it's still snowing outside
8:30 am - stopped snowing and the sun is coming out

Monday, February 7, 2011

Time to Get Creative...

35 degrees oustide - 10:27 am - high wind gusts of 66 mph, on and off rain/snow mix...

We have been living off-grid for almost nine and a half months now.  It has definitely been an adventure with its ups and downs; thankfully there have been a lot more ups than downs.  February is a tough month.  It is around this time every year that I am done with winter.  Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot that I truly love about the snowy season like watching the snow fall while nice and cozy inside, snowmen and snowballs, playing with the kids, walks in the woods and the list goes on.

But with every up there is a down, and the list is growing…rationing firewood, bitter cold with a biting wind, treacherous driving, 14 hours of darkness and so on.

While I often start getting some pretty serious cabin fever by now, this year I am trying my hand at enjoying the downtime and doing creative activities that I might not otherwise have time to do.  It does feel like a guilty pleasure, like there are always more “important” things that I “should” be doing, but I also have come to acknowledge that I need that creativity in my life.

I am a very “goal” fixated person, always busying myself with the outcome.  You know Ralph Waldo Emerson’s saying, “Life is a journey, not the destination”?  Well, my tendency is to focus on the destination, often before I even start the journey.

During my downtime I have been able to read a couple dozen books, complete and publish my first genealogy and history book (genealogy is my other obsession), and started a few sewing projects with my 5-year-old daughter.  When I nurture my creative spirit, make time and space to create something, I am able to tap into such an immense sense of peace and satisfaction.  The usual nagging voice is still there…is this “worthwhile” or “should” I be doing something else.  But I am learning to ignore that voice.  And besides, creating is all about the journey.

People need to allow themselves the room to play and open up to all the many benefits of a creative live whether it manifests in writing or reading, baking or gardening, sewing or painting or whatever… how do you, or might you, nourish your creative soul?

“There are no days in life so memorable as those which vibrated to some stroke of the imagination.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, February 4, 2011

Crafts For Kids - Pinecone Bird Feeder

42 degrees outside - 9:17 am - cloudy, foggy, light rain...

Pinecone Bird Feeder
Yesterday my sister and her two children came over to visit and work on a kid’s craft.  One of the sloppiest bird-treat projects, the pinecone bird feeder, is also one of the most fun.  It combines foods that wild birds love, peanut butter, birdseed and pinecones.

Wild birds are attracted to the tiny seeds that are hidden deep inside the pinecones, which are held there by peanut butter.  Peanut butter could be considered the perfect bird food.  It is high in fat and full of protein.  These are food qualities that are important to wild birds any time of the year.  This is especially true in the winter when birds really need the boost.

To make the pinecone bird feeder, you will need: pinecones, peanut butter, birdseed and string.  My sister and I gave the kids a paper plate with a glob of peanut butter and a plastic knife to spread and push the peanut butter into all the openings.  Once the pinecone was coated in peanut butter to their satisfaction, they rolled and pressed it around in birdseed, then we tied a string to the top so it could be hung outside.
The pinecone bird feeder is one of the kid’s favorite crafts.  I like it for several reasons, it is cheap, easy to make, attracts many birds and the most important reason – it keeps my kids interested in backyard bird watching.

he couldn't resist tasting some of the peanut butter

spreading peanut butter onto the pinecone

rolling and pressing seed into the pinecone

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Family Fun – Stargazing…

46 degrees outside - 11:46 am - high clouds, no wind...

Winter Sky - View from the North
The bitter chill of a clear winter night is compensated by the fire and brilliance of the sky above.  No other time of the year offers so many bright stars and deep sky wonders so close together.  Our family loves to stargaze; after all, it’s an excuse to stay up past bedtime for the kids.

In addition to seeking out the 3,000 or so stars that are visible to the naked eye, we also search for planets by looking for star like objects that do not twinkle.  Satellites are also a rewarding find.  They move steadily and slowly across the sky, which makes them easy to spot.  If we are lucky enough, we might even catch a glimpse of a shooting star, which of course is the kid’s favorite.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Brrr, It's Cold Outside...

23 degrees outside - 8:58 am - clear blue sky, sun is shining and the wind is howling with a wind chill of 16 degrees, brrrr…

the mountian this morning
After the spring like weather last week, my husband and I can understand why the early pioneers eagerly awaited springtime.  We were able to be outside without having to put on five layers of clothes and worry about being blown away by the wind, and we didn’t constantly have to throw more logs on the fire, we actually went a whole day with out the need of a fire, and it was nice. 

ground is frozen
This week the winter weather has returned with bitter cold temps and strong gusty winds.  Yesterday we even had a few hours in the late afternoon where it had snowed but the snow didn’t stick around for long.  Last night the wind was howling with gusts as high as 56 mph. 

Can’t wait for springtime…


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