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.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Hunting For The Perfect Christmas Tree…

50 degrees - 8:03 pm - clear, dark night sky...

It’s tradition.  On the weekend after giving thanks, we head out into the woods to find the perfect Christmas tree.  Over the years, through trial and error, we have the hunt almost down to a science.  Of course it has to be a Noble Fir - according to Tony there is no other kind.  It has to be within a foot of the ceiling (we have 11’ ceilings) and be full throughout (or as full as a Noble can get) - according to me there is no other kind.  And thankfully we both agree that it can only have one ugly side that can be hidden against the wall.  The goal is to search out this perfect Christmas tree and out do last year’s tree every time.

This afternoon we took a break from the holiday house hopping to go look for this perfect tree.  I can’t exactly remember when this tradition began, but growing up in the Pacific Northwest, taking the family up into the mountains to play in the snow and look for the perfect Christmas tree, is just something we always did.  Now that our family lives in the mountains, we just walk out the front door and go for a little hike…

off to find the perfect Christmas tree!

time to do a little trail blazing

Caitlyn and Jack found this Charlie Brown tree that didn't quite make it home

had to take a picture of the beautiful view from the upper landing

Tony: "Hey Babe, how about this one?"  Me: "It's perfect!  I'll take it!"

…and tada!  We have found the perfect 10’2" Christmas tree!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Saturday, November 19, 2011

More Snow Pictures...

29 degrees - 8:29 am - snowing...

{we currently have 12 inches of snow}

{Update:  30 degrees - 4:44 pm - few scattered clouds...}

Some family came up to play and enjoy the snow with us and what a great day for it too!  The mountain and the sun were playing hide and seek all day long, and the snow was perfect for making forts and snow ball fights.

Tony cheated and got the walk-behind snow blower out and doused everyone

Jack: "I am King of my castle!"

Friday, November 18, 2011

It’s Snowing…

31 degrees - 4:52 pm - snowing...

This morning we woke up to a white winter wonderland.  It had started snowing during the night and by 7 am we had 6 inches of snow.  The kids stood at the window in awe staring at the white blanket of magic that covered everything in site.  The squeals of excitement started and the insistent begging to go outside and play quickly followed.  Unfortunately the snow play will have to wait until this weekend since Caitlyn had to go to school and Jack and I were running errands in town all day.

On the flip side of things, we also have the broken snow blower blues.  The blower is on the tractor… the chains are on the tires… and the PTO shaft is broken at the u-joint outside the blower box.  Our neighbor is having a replacement part overnighted and hopefully this will get it up and running again.  No matter what, we have to keep the driveway open or we risk getting snowed in.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

It’s Raining… No Wait, It’s Snowing…

34 degrees - 4:48 pm - slushy rain...

The past several days it has done nothing but rain.  The sky has been overcast, making the days dark and dreary.  Today the rain turned to slush, then the slush turned to snow, and then it would turn back into rain again.  It has been doing this all day long.  It’s just too wet and not quite cold enough for the snow to stick, although there are some very small patches of snow here and there. 

Tonight he temps are supposed to drop, so who knows… we might be waking up to a white wonderland in the morning.

in the past 48 hours it has rained 6.08 inches making the creek rise considerably

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Where Has The Time Gone…

33 degrees - 12:49 pm - blue sky scattered with white transparent clouds…

I cannot believe that November is already half over!  I just realized that there are only 9 days until Thanksgiving, 39 days until Christmas and 50 days until Jack’s third birthday!  Where has the time gone? 

I have barely started my Christmas shopping.  Still trying to get all the Thanksgiving Day plans in order.  Trying to make sure everything is marked on the calendar… holiday parties, ballet performances, school concerts, etc…  I really need to start thinking about what to do for Jack’s third birthday party before that sneaks up on me as well.  And we are supposed to have a crazy winter this year…?  I really need to get on the ball!

The wind is already bitter cold and the snow is supposed to be back by Thursday.  This is all just a reminder that winter, along with the holiday season, are knocking at our door and telling me to hurry up!

the view this morning of the snow capped mountains

Time is a brisk wind, for each hour it brings something new… but who can understand and measure its sharp breath, its mystery and its deign?  ~  Paracelsus

Saturday, November 12, 2011

What is Pinterest?…

35 degrees - 10:00 am - foggy...

I had just finished posting my last blog post about ‘Gravity Fed Water System {Trenching}…’ when my husband came over to see what I had written.  He was looking at the blog when he saw…

…and wondered what the heck was Pinterest?  So, I explained it to him and showed him my pinboards.  He said that I needed to do a bit of explaining on the blog because most people who looked at our blog, probably wouldn’t know what the heck I was talking about. 

Pinterest lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web.  People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes.

Best of all, you can browse pinboards created by other people.  Browsing pinboards is a fun way to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.

Before I found Pinterest, which was a few weeks ago, I had a folder in my ‘Favorites’ list titled ‘Home’.  This is where I would add websites where I found things that I wanted to get for the house, or room inspirations, or whatever.  Things that I found while scouring the web that I really liked and wanted to remember and return to.  In addition to scouring the web for home inspirations, I also flip through magazines and clip out my favorite pictures that I save in our ‘Contractor’s Binder’.  Pinterest kind of combines all of that for you.  You can have as many pinboards as you want and pin images like you like that will take you back to the original source.

Anyways, I could go on and on about Pinterest, but it might just be easier for you to check it out for yourself!  {Follow me on Pinterest} 

Gravity Fed Water System {Trenching}…

35 degrees - 9:28 am - foggy...

The past several days Tony has been working on digging a trench and laying the pipe for the gravity fed water system.  Our well requires a pump, which uses a lot of electricity, while the gravity fed system only requires elevation.  We will still have our well and pump available if needed, but prefer the simplicity of gravity.

So far, Tony has laid just over 1,000 feet of pipe, and still has about another 500 feet to go.  Here are some pictures of what he has done so far…

Isolation Valves

pulling back all the limbs and brush to make the smallest opening possible

Valve Cover for the Isolation Valves

using tie downs to hold back the limbs so the excavator can get thru

the muscle

trench has been dug, water lines have been laid, everything has been covered up
and put back - by next summer this little trail wont even be noticed

final stretch of the trench running up and along the runway (aka main driveway)

To Be Continued…

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Enchanting Chanterelle…

48 degrees - 2:04 pm - overcast...

Prized by the world’s top chefs… served in the most elegant restaurants… and you will pay a pretty penny for them at farmers’ markets.  I am talking about Chanterelle mushrooms.

While chanterelles aren’t the most prized members of the Pacific Northwest’s extensive mycological mix, the golden hue, goblet shape and delicate woodsy flavor make them irresistible. 

The enchanting chanterelle mushroom is almost impossible to cultivate and are not yet commercially grown (although researchers are trying).  They grow in a symbiotic relationship with living trees and can be found near Douglas Firs, Vine Maple, under ferns, huckleberries, salal and Oregon grape.  Just thinking about all of the conditions that have to come together to produce these mushrooms – climate, soil, the mix of trees and vegetation – is astounding.  To me, it’s magical.

Chanterelles are also the perfect quarry for beginning mushroom hunters, like us – easy to find, easy to identify and located right in our own backyard! 

Step off the beaten path in the fall forest of the Pacific Northwest and within moments, the forest embraces you: a sea of fern, crimson vine maple and Oregon grape.  The light filters through an emerald canopy of fir.  The air is hushed and fragrant.  Somewhere in the rolling, lush landscape, the quarry awaits.  A little gleam of gold marks the treasure – a plump, meaty, delectable fungal fruit… a Golden Chanterelle Mushroom.

This is our first year of mushroom hunting and it seems to get in your blood; once you do it a few times you are addicted.  It is the enjoyment of traipsing through the woods and the excitement of finding the mushrooms.  Oh, and eating them of course!   

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Oreo Truffles...

49 degrees - 1:00 pm - sunny with scattered clouds...

Have you ever tried Oreo Truffles?  They are rich, delicious, and very easy to make!  I sometimes make truffles around the holidays for the various parties, and I always get requests for copies of the recipe and more truffles.  So this year, I am getting the recipe out early, so you can make some of these for your holiday parties.

~ Oreo Truffles ~
1 pkg. (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1 pkg. Oreos
2 pkgs. (8 squares each) Baker’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate, melted

Set aside 5 Oreos and throw the rest in a food processor until they are finely crumbled.  Thoroughly mix cookie crumbs with cream cheese.  Form the crumbled cookie and cream cheese mixture into approximately 1-inch balls, and place onto a wax lined cookie sheet.  (For best results, put the formed mixture into the fridge for at least 15 minutes to chill while you complete the next step.)

Melt the semi-sweet chocolate squares in a double boiler, stirring frequently, until it is completely melted.  Remove pot from heat.  Coat previously formed balls with chocolate and return to the lined cookie sheet.

Throw the remaining 5 cookies in the food processor.  Sprinkle some of those crumbs on top of the still wet truffles.  Refrigerate for one hour.

This recipe will make approximately 4 dozen truffles (or maybe a little less, depending on how much of the filling you choose to sample).

--- Enjoy!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Snow Is Here...

33 degress - 9:07 am - snowing...

The snow is here and it's two weeks earlier than normal!  Is that a sign of what's to come...?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Season's First Snowfall...

42 degrees - 3:48 pm - partly cloudy...

The season's first snowfall - although it hasn't reached us yet, it gave a nice white dusting to the mountaintops.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Life Is Funny Sometimes…

43 degrees - 10:00 am - blue sky and the wind is howling...

I was thinking about our life on the mountain and how funny life is sometimes.

When Tony and I had only been dating for about 8 months, we went for a drive in the mountains.  We had found a perfect place to stop for a picnic near some rocks that just looked like they needed to be climbed, which of course I had to go and test out.  It’s funny looking back on it now, as I was standing on the top of that rock I never would have guessed that I was staring at the backside of our future property.

Back then I thought I was starting to get everything planned out, and homesteading it off-grid was not in those plans.  I am glad those plans changed, because we love it out here! 

It is nice to slow down, relax, and let things be.  To enjoy the moment while it’s transpiring.  We’ve learned to love the cloudy days and rainy days as much as the bright sunny days.  Each day is unique and necessary, for everything that's around us, which is constantly in flux while it plays out the cycle of life.  Life is beautiful!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Double Dip La Niña…

35 degrees - 10:29 am - blue sky with a few scattered clouds...

Starting in November 2010, La Niña, an anomalous cooling of waters in the eastern equatorial Pacific, wreaked havoc with weather around the globe.  It was a near record event by some measures.  By May 2011, though, the associated cool ocean temperatures dissipated, marking the end of the event.  Since then, ocean surface temperatures have remained near normal.  And for a few months, forecasters had been predicting things to remain that way for the rest of the year.

That makes sense.  After a La Niña, conditions usually hang around normal or flip to an El Niño in the tropical Pacific.  Or course, the expected doesn’t always happen.

In the winter of 2007-08, a fairly strong La Niña developed, which brought us 14+ feet of snow.  It subsided by May of 2008, and at that point, forecasters were fairly certain neutral conditions would reign for the rest of the year.  Yet in December 2008, ocean temperature suddenly dipped, throwing the eastern Pacific back into La Niña conditions.  The second La Niña wasn’t as strong as the first that year.

Despite everything, last years La Niña really wasn’t too bad.  Forecasters have been predicting a “double dip” La Niña for this year for a few months now, but the new fear is a repeat of the 2007-08 winter.

Even though weather predictions can be flawed, it is always better to be safe than sorry.  So that means that we are working double time on our winter prep!  Especially since they are calling for snow this Thursday.

Here are a few pictures from the winter of 2007-08.  Yup, that's a lot of snow!

Trick or Treat…

32 degrees - 8:36 am - cloudy...

Yesterday was full of candy and school parties, with a parent-teacher conference squeezed in.  Thankfully it didn’t rain, and the fun night ended with dinner and trick or treating with friends.

Our darling little pink ballerina and adorable roaring dinosaur had a blast!


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