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.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Glimpse Into The Wild...

51 degrees outside - 7:55 pm - partly cloudy as the sun goes down...

Wild Bleeding Hearts grow everywhere up here

black bear taking a stroll through the lower part of our backyard

Siberian Miners Lettuce {it's edible}

Great Hedge Nettle aka Cooley's Hedge Nettle {no they don't sting}

"What are you looking at?"

pair of young bucks walking around the yard - "I'm still watching you."

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Our First Year Living Off-Grid…

43 degrees outside - 12:40 pm - overcast...

This weekend marks our first year of living off-grid. 

Six years ago we decided to look for some property where we could build a home.  One weekend we went out for a drive in the mountains and saw a ‘Land for Sale’ sign.  After looking at the property several times, we sold our home and purchased 22 acres, off-grid, up in the mountains.  It was only 31 miles to a major airport, half hour drive to town, had a phenomenal view of mountains and valleys, no man made structures in sight other than two radio towers way off in the distance, nice flat to semi-rolling build site for our new home, great new neighbors… we were sold.  The whole off-grid thing was not something that we had been looking for but would be kind of fun and different, so why not.

In the beginning we thought we were pretty prepared.  We had just built a house two years ago and thought we could figure it out and do it again, but build it ourselves this time.  It didn’t take long for us to realize that we weren’t as prepared as we thought.  Everything has taken longer than planned and cost two to three times more than planned.  We have also had to work around the weather.  So needless to say, our home that we thought would take 12-18 months to build, is taking considerably longer to build.  But it is all part of the adventure, right?

Now, after our first year’s plunge into off-grid living, we stand a bit humbled and wiser by the experience.  We don’t have a television but we do have a computer with internet; we have to wash the dishes by hand; go into town to do laundry; air dry the wet hair instead of using a hair dryer; if we want electricity for anything, we have to go outside and turn on the generator; and we still have to go on the almighty treasure hunt in the storage where the majority of our belongings are kept.  This may not sound like much fun, but it really puts things into perspective and makes you appreciate the little things in life that normally you take for granted.

We are living the dream, but it is not the romantic dream we originally had planned.  It is the get-tough dream.  It is the realization that we can do anything!  We have learned that we are responsible for ourselves.  Those things worth having are worth working and waiting for.  We have learned contentment.

And yes, we do live the dream… just look at what we see out our windows…




  


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Logging Off-Grid - Helping Our Neighbors...

41 degrees outside - 10:03 pm - cloudy...

Our neighbors have been documenting their off-grid homestead project with YouTube videos.  Yesterday, Tony was helping them work on clearing their driveway and building site by doing some logging.  Here is the YouTube video link showing the guys at work...

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Chicken Coop Progress…

49 degrees outside - 5:50 pm - cloudy...

We have finally picked out the location for our chicken coop.  It’s just a short walk from the front of the house; near the driveway where there is a large, gorgeous Huckleberry bush growing out of a stump.  The coop will be on the other side of the Huckleberry bush so you wont see if from the driveway.  We will also be planting more Huckleberry and Blueberry bushes around two sides of the coop. 

Now that the site has been picked out, the coop layout, excavation and construction can begin!  We really have to hurry and get that coop done because those chickens are getting huge!

location picked out for our chicken coop - still needs a lot of excavation work

stump with Huckleberry bush growing out of it

Firewood...

49 degrees outside - 5:44 pm - cloudy...

The firewood cutting for this coming winter is underway.  We are going to have a minimum of eight cords and hope to have the majority of it cut and split in the next couple of weeks so it will be ready to dry over the summer. 

fallen and limbed trees ready to be cut and split

falled and limbed trees ready to be cut and spit
I will do a more in-depth post about the equipment and process of how we are getting our firewood once I get a chance to take some more pictures.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Lemon Poppy Seed Hand Scrub...

47 degrees outside - 9:20 am - overcast...

With kids being sick, working out in the yard and washing our hands a thousand times a day, I wanted something to help my dry hands and ran across this hand scrub at The Little Red Farmhouse.  So yes, I was a copycat and made myself a batch.  Ohhhh my hands felt so nice and soft after using this fabulous hand scrub so I just had to share it with you.


~Lemon Poppy Seed Hand Scrub~
1 cup Olive Oil
2 ½ cups Sugar
Juice from 2 Lemons
1 tsp Poppy Seeds

Mix up the ingredients in a bowl, then put it into a pretty jar with a cute label.  ~ Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Another Day of Stump and Snag Removal...

57 degrees outside - 7:41 pm - a beautiful day...

digging the snags out with the excavator...

...so the bulldozer can push them over

the root ball of the burned out snag that has been dead for over 100 years

another stump that has been dug out and is just waiting to go

curious deer who were just running in the trench around the snag
but I wasn't quick enough to get that picture

Monday, May 9, 2011

Stumps Be Gone...

44 degrees outside - 9: 37 pm - we have been rain free for almost 24 hours...

Tonight during Caitlyn’s ballet class she lost her first tooth and boy was she excited!  For me it was one of those aha moments.  As I watched Caitlyn proudly showing off her tooth, I realized once again how fast they grow up and that my baby girl isn’t a baby anymore.  I have to admit that underneath my smiles I was a little sad, yet at the same time excited for this important childhood moment of the first lost tooth.

While Caitlyn and I were at her ballet class, Tony and Jack were home in the excavator working on stump removal.  When we first looked at this property back in 2005, we really had to use our imaginations because the property was a solid wall of brush, trees and stumps.  After many long hours of clearing away all the Salmon Berry, Vine Maple and Alder it uncovered dozens of old growth snags and stumps left over from the Yacolt Burn of 1902, which was the largest forest fire in recorded Washington state history.
 
our driveway - before and after

 
Even though these stumps and snags have been dead for over 100 years most are still solid wood.  This makes for an extremely difficult removal.  After many hours of excavator and dozer time we finally hd a clearing large enough for a build site and a buffer zone for any potential forest fires.  Years later we are still finishing up the removal of the last of the stumps.

 
 
one of the snags that we are keeping just because it would be
extreamly hard to remove it and it looks kind of neat

another neat lookin snag that we are keeping

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day...

41 degrees outside - 11:16 pm - raining...

For me, Mother’s Day is a time of celebration for Moms, and everything they do for their families throughout the year.  It is a time of breakfast in bed, family gatherings, and crayon scribbled “I Love You’s”.

Yes, some days the sacrifices of Motherhood seem to outweigh the laughter.  But then Caitlyn will whisper something in my ear that just makes me crack up… or Jack will come give me a big hug and tell me he loves me… or the kids will actually spend an hour playing together sharing their toys.  And then I am thankful over and over again that I get to be their mom. 

my Mother's Day gift with a handmade card from
my daughter (along with a beautiful bouquet of
my favorite flowers from my husband and son)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Kids Handprint Stepping Stones…

44 degrees outside - 11:56 am - cloudy...

What grandmother wouldn’t want their grandchild’s handprint?  For Mother’s Day our kids are making handprint stepping stones for their Grandmas.  A good Mother’s Day craft needs two simple ingredients to melt a mom’s heart: a child’s handprint and their homemade touch.  This idea has both!  It’s also a fun kid project and a great keepsake.

I bought two reusable 12-inch round stepping stone molds at the local craft store along with some letter and number stone stamps.  I mixed up some concrete and poured it into the molds.  After letting the concrete set up a little, the kids had fun squishing their hands into the concrete mix.  They got to do this several times since the first two tries the concrete was still a little to wet and their handprints disappeared. 



After they made their handprints and washed up, next came stamping their names and date into the concrete.  Now they have to dry for 24-48 hours and they should be ready just in time for Mother’s Day on Sunday.

Note:  If you're looking for stone letter stamps and/or round stepping stone mold {click here}.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Caramel Apple Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting...

43 degrees outside - 10:24 am - foggy and still raining...

Our daughter is turning six at the end of next month so I have been trying out some new cupcake recipes that I want to make for her party.  A few weeks ago I tested this recipe that I found online and they were very easy to make and were delicious!  Since then several people have asked me for the recipe so here it is…


~ Caramel Apple Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting ~
2 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1 ½ cups brown sugar   
½ cup pure maple syrup
2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
4 eggs
6 Granny Smith apples, peeled & grated

Line 24 muffin tins with paper liners and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

In a large bowl, whisk together, brown sugar, maple syrup, melted butter, and eggs.  Stir in grated apple, and then fold in the flour mixture.  Using a ladle, divide the batter evenly among the muffin tins.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the center cupcake bounces back when touched.  Let cook completely.

When they have cooled, use a melon baler to scoop out a small amount of cake from the top of each cupcake.  Fill with a teaspoon of caramel, and top with frosting.  Instead of making my own caramel, I used Marzetti Old Fashioned Caramel Appledip.


~ Maple Cream Cheese Frosting ~
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temp.
4 cups powdered sugar
8 oz cream cheese at room temp.
3 Tbsp pure maple syrup
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Mix all ingredients together with an electric mixer until smooth.  If the frosting is a little too rich for your taste, just add a little bit of lemon juice to counteract the richness.

--- Enjoy!

Wildflowers & Wildlife on the Mountain...

44 degrees outside - 9:05 am - raining...

amongst the beautiful native wildflowers sits this single bunch
of non-native daffodils

American Robin

Turkey Vulture

Not sure what this bird is... 

Black Tailed doe

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Making My Own Chicken Coop Sign…

46 degrees outside - 7:12 pm - rain has finally stopped, the sun and blue sky are peaking through the white fluffy clouds...

Every chicken coop needs a sign, so I am going to make one.  I have a design in mind and have already found some weathered and warped boards that resemble old barn wood.


I painted one board white and the other board black.  Then I created my design/layout that I was wanting in MS Publisher and printed it out.  Next I cut everything out and traced it onto the painted boards.  Then all I had to do was paint in between the lines.  The whole project only took me a couple of hours and I am very happy with how they turned out!  The only thing I have left to do now is put a final coat of polyurethane on.



Now if I only had a chicken coop to hang them on…  We are waiting for the ground to dry out a bit before we start building.  Can’t wait!!! 

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