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.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

'The Binder' (aka Contractor's Binder)...

70 degrees outside - 8:11 pm - clear night sky as the sun is setting...

Throughout this whole project of contracting and building our off-grid home ourselves, the most important thing to have (I feel) has been ‘The Binder’ (aka Contractor's Binder).  This organized binder has been a huge help and we rarely leave home with out it.  Why you ask?  Everything about our house is that binder, and you never know when you will get a call with a question or when you will need to refer back to something when running around Home Depot or Lowes.

Inside ‘The Binder’ is where we keep all the receipts, along with “Unconditional Waiver and Release Forms”.  No one gets a check, without signing one of these pieces of paper.  It gives us piece of mind and keeps them honest on what we owe them.  When building your own house, you must do this!

In the front of the binder is where the basic floor plans can be found. 


In the back, are the photos of how we want it to look when we are finished.  I have been clipping out magazine pictures for years; there is not a shortage of inspiration in ‘The Binder’.  We have been narrowing down the look that we are going for along the way as well as saving pictures of specific items that we want in the house.



In between, are dividers for house details…
 - Permits (from the county along with inspector phone numbers) 
 - Worker’s Comp & Liability Insurance of Contractors
 - Contractors & Misc. business cards
 - Quotes (or should we say Estimates that are always way lower than the final price)
 - Budget (we have refigured this along the way making changes as needed)
 - Land Preparation (water well, road, pert test, septic system, etc.)
 - Exterior Structure (roofing, siding, windows, etc.)
 - Mechanical (wood fireplace, electrical system, anything that makes the house work)
 - Plumbing (after fixtures were chosen, I made copies of their specs.  These were needed well before it was time to install them.
 - Appliances (again, specs for measurements are key)
 - Interior Finish (trim, doors, cabinets, color swatches)


Lots of details, right?  I tell you, this book is very important!  When building a house it is important to be organized, time is money and you don’t want to waste time having to search for important information.  It is also allowing us to stay focused in our decisions and create the off-grid home of our dreams.

Propagating Wildflowers…

62 degrees outside - 1:13 pm - the clouds are finally parting to allow some blue sky to show..

Even though it is technically summer…it just doesn’t feel like.  Where is the hot weather?  Why are we still getting all this rain?  Why is it still getting into the 40s at night?  Since the thunderstorm late Sunday night to early Monday morning, the weather the past two days has been fairly dry. 

Yesterday we took advantage of the dry weather and went out for walk.  The kids were little troopers walking all the way up to the top of the mountain (well almost to the top) where they took off with Tony to drive back down and I took off with our neighbor Pam to finish the loop.  On our way back down, we started talking about some of the wildflowers we were passing.  A couple of things you have to know about Pam – she is the nicest person you will ever meet; she is a true flower lover; and her yard is full of colorful native wildflowers that she has been propagating and transplanting from the surrounding area for years. 

Just in case you don’t know what propagation means – it is to create a new plant from a plant already existing.  You can do this from either collecting seeds or taking cuttings (I usually prefer cuttings, although with some plants, seeds do work better).  Most gardeners would prefer to buy their new plants at the garden center, but in some cases, they might want to consider reproducing a few plants they particularly like.  In our case, to buy native wildflowers, it can get pretty expensive and in some cases hard to find.

I have been propagating houseplants for years (they are super easy), but have never tried wildflowers before (they are a bit more finicky).  It might take me a couple of tries to figure out which way is best but I am bound and determined to be like Pam and propagate as many of the native wildflowers as I can.

My first attempt at propagating a native wildflower will be with Lupine.  Lupine is a member of the pea family, and is a wonderful old-fashioned flower.  Cuttings or division can propagate perennial Lupines. 

Lupine

I am going to go super simple on this just to see how it goes.  All I am doing is slicing the steam diagonally and putting it into water (this has always worked with my houseplants).  If this doesn’t work, my next attempt will be with some root hormone, but I am keeping my fingers crossed that this first attempt works.  I will let you know how it goes…

my first attempt at propagating Lupine

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Beach Bound...

79 degrees outside - 6:22 pm - blue sky with scattered clouds...

Every now and then we need to get away and have some fun family time off the mountain.  So this weekend we were beach bound.  One of my favorite road-trip getaways from our mountain is our family beach property on the Long Beach Peninsula in Washington State.

The Peninsula shoreline is a Washington State Highway.  Driving on the beaches of the Peninsula is a tradition dating back to the early days of the automobile.  For years, beachgoers have enjoyed a leisurely drive on the wide, hard-packed sands.  Here, you can drive your vehicle along 24 miles of accessible beach as you search for that perfect spot to get out play, explore, fly a kite, feed the seagulls or just sit back and enjoy the sites and sounds of the Pacific Ocean.

I just love the rugged coastline...

... and listening to the kids shrieks of delight
as the seagulls catch chunks of bread in mid air...

... and watching the Pelicans and Seagulls...

...and taking walks on the beach with the family!
Besides being able to drive and play on the beach, here are just a few more of my favorite things about this quaint, sleepy, coastal town…

...doing lap after hair-raising lap on the go cart track...

...buckets and buckets of fresh salt water taffy...
...and enjoying some delicious ice cream cones from Scooper's
as the smell of fresh-baked waffle cones permeates the air - yum!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Landscaping The Backyard {part 1}…

61 degrees outside - 12:12pm - cloudy...

We are up to our ears in projects around the house, one of which is laying out the backyard.  We only have a few months of the year where the ground is dry enough to move around so we are taking full advantage of the dry weather right now.  Over the weekend Tony spent the first parts of the day cutting firewood and the later parts of the day laying out the backyard.

The plan for the backyard --- you will step out the double doors onto the back patio, which will be 40’ wide x 16’ deep.  Off the patio there will be a 50’ wide x 14’ deep flower bed that will have an 8’ wide walkway down the 4’ slope to the grassy 50’x50’ backyard, which will also be surrounded by flower beds on three sides.

Now that we have established the size of the yard and laid out the location and size of the flowerbeds, which are marked with spray paint, we now can start placing some of the boulders around in the flowerbeds. 




Just thinking about barbecuing out on our back patio with family and friends, with a lush green lawn, blooming flowerbeds and a picturesque view gets me very excited... I just can't wait for it all to be done!

To be continued…

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Daisy Girl...

62 degrees outside - 9:48 pm - clear...

the lower part of our backyard is a field
of Ox Eye Daisies, which Caitlyn just loves!

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...