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, March 31, 2012

Ranger Cookies...

35 degrees - 11:17 am - snowing...

I grew up on these cookies.  Anytime we would go over to Grandma’s house, her cookie jar would be full of them.  As a mom, I can appreciate how nice it is to bake something and not have someone in the family say “oh, I don’t like that”.  At the same time, I can see how frustrating it is to try to make cookies when everyone is trying to eat the dough.

Personally, I blame the corn flakes.  There is just something about the soft dough and crunchy flakes...which of course led to the threat.  The threat that has been passed down through the generations.  The threat that as a child caused you to pause for a moment, just a moment, before you threw caution to the wind and ate that big spoonful of dough.  “If you eat raw cookie dough it will make you really sick.”  I’m pleased to announce that I never had any such trouble from eating any cookie dough.  Actually, I’m really please about that.

Ranger cookies have a lot going for them.  They’re quick and easy to make.  They’re delicious.  Most important, it’s the best tasting cookie dough that you’ll ever find!  A cookie that tastes great before it’s even a cookie...that’s when you know you are dealing with something really great!

So here is Grandma’s recipe for Ranger Cookies – hope you like them as much as we do.

~Ranger Cookies~

½ cup shortening
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup quick cooking oats
1 cup wheat flake cereal or rice cereal
1 cup chocolate chips

Mix all ingredients well.  Drop 1” balls of cookie dough onto non greased cookie sheet.  Bake at 375°F for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.

--- Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Building Spurts…

40 degrees - 9:07 am - cloudy...

Too often, we balk at doing the very things that could give us the life we want.  Too often, the fear that we are incapable causes us to make excuses... “no time”... “no money”... “no clue what I am doing”.  The obstacles seem great, the provisions slim.  We talk about “making do”. But that doesn’t mean settling – it means expecting more and better from ourselves.

When we bought our property in late 2005, we had grand expectations.  I had it in my head that things would happen by a certain time.  They didn’t.  Since then, we have had to alter our expectations a bit.  That doesn’t mean we are settling, it just means we are having to wait a little bit longer for our dreams to come true.

We are not rich, we do not have boatloads of cash, and we are not able to buy everything brand new.  We are an average single income family.  My husband works while I stay home with our two young children.  All of the work put into clearing the build site and building our home, is done on weeknights and weekends.  The majority of the funding for this crazy project is coming out of our pockets a little at a time.

So far it has been slow going with lots of shoulda’, coulda’, woulda’s being learned along the way.  Since we are doing everything ourselves and out of pocket, progress on the house seems to also come in spurts. 

The past several weeks we have been busy with making supply lists, ordering supplies, and picking supplies up for our next big building spurt.  You will just have to keep checking back to see what we are up to next…

snapped this picture yesterday - it was so gorgeous outside!

{P.S. - Sorry for the lack of posts lately.  We were having some technical difficulties – the internet was down.  It happens.}

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Saturday Evening Post…

40 degrees - 11:08 am - sunny and windy...

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…

{as we are driving home in the snow…}
3-year-old son:  “Deer!”
Me:  “Where?”
3-year-old son:  “Right back there!”
Me:  “Oh I missed it, but good eyes Jack!”
3-year-old son:  (all proud of himself for spotting the deer)  “Thank you Mom!”
Me:  “Your welcome.”
3-year-old son:  “What do you see Mom?”
Me:  “Hmmm… I see snow.”  (trying to keep my eyes on the road because I don’t like driving in the snow)
3-year-old son:  (very serious)  “Good eyes Mom!”
Me:  (laughing)  “Awh, thanks sweetie.”
3-year-old son:  “Your welcome.”

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

First Day Of Spring...

37 degrees - 9:19 am - 50+ mph wind gusts with pouring rain... a cold, windy, wet and soggy one here on the mountain.  Residents across the U.S. are experiencing everything from record heat to tornadoes to massive snowstorms.  After all the snow we have been getting lately and are supposed to be getting the rest of the week, it is hard to believe spring is officially here. 

snapped this picture yesterday during a brief pause from the falling snow

At precisely 1:14 am this morning, the sun passed directly over the equator, marking the vernal equinox (where day and night are nearly equal in length) and the start of spring.  That’s as simple astronomically as it gets, but that of course is Mother Earth’s sign to awake from her winter slumber – which is no small thing.

The changeover from winter to spring actually occurred last night here in the Pacific Time zone, according to ‘The Old Farmer’s Almanac’ and ‘’, which also noted that it’s the earliest vernal equinox since 1896.  Wow!  Usually the magical moment happens later on the 20th or even on the 21st.

Now that the official start of spring is here (even though it may not look like it when I peek out the window), it holds the promise of new life, blossoming flowers, warmer temperatures, being able to open the windows and let the fresh air blow through, and swapping my muck boots for flip flops!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Fresh Basil-Wrapped Cheese Balls...

32 degrees - 9:12 am - foggy...

Combining the creamy richness of gorgonzola and mascarpone, the salty bite of Parmesan, and the fresh green flavor of basil, these cheese balls are a new twist on an old favorite.  My sister and I discovered the recipe a few years ago and it quickly became a favorite of ours, they are delicious!

~Fresh Basil-Wrapped Cheese Balls~
½ cup mascarpone cheese (4 oz)
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese (2 oz)
1/8 tsp pepper
24 fresh basil leaves, 2 to 2 ½ inches long

Mix cheeses and pepper until blended.  Cover and refrigerate about 30 minutes or until firm enough to shape into balls. (Note: If mascarpone cheese isn’t available, you can replace it with either 3-oz package of cream cheese, softened or 4-oz softened mozzarella.)

Shape 1½ teaspoons cheese mixture into a ball.  Roll slightly to form an oval, about 1 inch long.  Place on wide end of basil leaf, roll up.  Roll leaf and cheese between fingers to form an oval. 

Serve immediately, or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until serving but no longer than 2 hours.

Note: These are great paired with cherry tomatoes.  You can keep any remaining cheese spread in the refrigerator for 1 day.

Pre time is about 15 minutes + chill time of 30 minutes = delicious cheese balls in 45 minutes!  Gotta love it!


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Crafts For Kids – Snow Painting...

32 degrees - 4:13 pm - cloudy...

The flurry of snowflakes has temporarily stopped so I took full advantage and got to do something that I have wanted to try out for a while now... Snow Painting!  And the cooped up kiddos loved it!

I can’t claim this as my own idea but I can tell you that if you aren’t apart of Pinterest then you really need to get on there!  It is a great resource to get a TON of good ideas, like this one.  (Don’t know what Pinterest is?  Click Here)

What You Need:
- plastic squeeze bottles (spray bottles would probably work also)
- water
- liquid food coloring
- snow
- excited kids

All you have to do is fill the bottles with water and add some food coloring until you get the desired color you want, then take them outside and let the fun begin.

The Month Of Expectation...

30 degrees - 12:32 pm - snowing...

March is the month of expectation, when there is as much light as darkness and a sense that life is shifting from one expectation to another.  Many wonderful things occur this month – Daylight Saving Time, St. Patrick’s Day and the wearin’ o’ the green, First Day of Spring, and the return of the little chirping birds.

March is also a month of considerable frustration – we are at the latter part of winter and spring is just around the corner… yet the weather is still so changeable and sometimes even violent, that up here on the mountain much of our time is still spent indoors.

Regardless of the date on the calendar, today is feeling very much like winter.  Since last night, we have had another foot or so of snow fall and it’s still coming down.  Once again, everything is covered in a thick blanket of white.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Spring Is In The Air...

46 degrees - 12:39 pm - another beautiful day...

We have had a couple of glorious days recently that have felt tantalizingly like spring, with that perfect combination of new warmth and lingering chill, and just a hint of sweet fragrance in the air.

Even though the snow is slow to go away, there are signs that spring is on its way from the new huckleberry buds to the tiny green onion sprouts in our mini herb garden. 

These past few days have just been a little taste of what’s to come because I know more snow is on its way before spring truly is here on the mountain.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Off-Grid Homestead…

52 degrees - 8:19 pm - clear night sky...

I had no idea when I started this blog that the homesteading movement would begin as a small wave that would turn into a very large one like it is now.  More and more people are jumping on board and realizing the need to be more in control of their world by growing their own food and getting more self-sufficient.

Back in the days of our great-great grandparents, “to homestead” meant to go out and claim some land, make improvements on it and the land would be yours.  But in the more recent years, the word homesteading has come to mean more than just one’s home and land, but instead it represents a lifestyle.  A back-to-the-basics lifestyle.  A lifestyle of self-sufficiency, sacrifice, hard work and satisfaction.

When we bought our property we joked that we were “homesteading it” (as in the 1800’s) – because we haul in our water and go outside to use the bathroom.  The idea of the “modern homestead” never really entered our minds… we were just thinking of the quality of life for our family.

We wanted ample room for our kids to run and play, to build a tree fort should they want or whatever project they dream up.  We want them to be outside and enjoy all that mother nature has to offer.  To spend the days with dirt between their toes, playing make believe in the yard, and being outside from nearly sun up to sun down, doesn’t that sound like a wonderful childhood?

We want our children to grow up gardening and raising animals.  We feel that it’s an important element of life that is missing from our modern lives.  Being able to get your hands dirty, to work the earth, to raise and care for animals; they will have an appreciation for those things and a deeper sense of gratitude.

We want our children to learn the value of work.  We want them to have a strong work ethic – to work hard and honestly.  We don’t want them to be afraid of work or afraid of working hard.  That fear only leads to the feelings of entitlement which seems to plague our society today.

We wanted to remove ourselves somewhat from the hustle and bustle and busyness that we experience in our fast paced society.  Granted, we are plenty busy around our “off-grid homestead” building our home, but that busyness will keep us at home rather than pulling us away.

We want to be together.  We will be working together, sacrificing together and enjoying our lives together.  The family is the most important unit in society so why should we all be going in different directions?

Though we didn’t purchase our land with the intention of becoming part of the modern-day homesteading movement, we are quickly falling in love with the idea as we continue to explore options for our property.

Off-grid homesteading will be a simpler life, although not necessarily simple.  We feel it is the right type of lifestyle for our family and we are working hard to make our dreams of off-grid homesteading a reality.

What are your dreams for your family?  Why are they important to you?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Garden Dreaming…

29 degrees - 9:52 am - cloudy...

This time of year, what could be better than sitting in a comfy chair, warm and snug inside with nearly a foot and a half of snow blanketing the backyard and looking through new seed catalogs, dreaming and planning for the new season of growth?

I’ve started flipping through those shiny, colorful pages full of pictures of ripe fruit, veggies and herbs, and pouring over tiny type.  A new growing season is like a clean slate – the chance to start over… and it all starts with the seed catalogs!

Last year our garden was a flop.  The snow hung around until almost the end of April and we just had too many other projects on our plate to get around to the garden.  So in the end, we ended up doing a mini garden with only a few herbs (kids choices). 

this was the extent of our garden last year - green onion and sweet basil

So after such a non-existent garden last year, I have really high hopes for our garden this year.  Our project list is still really long, but I am determined to have an actual garden this year!  With the way the world is these days it seems to be less of a lifestyle choice and more of a necessity.

We are looking to make the “right” decisions and “optimize our prospects for success”.  So far we have the location of the vegetable garden picked out (finally!).  It will have to be completely fenced in to keep the deer and other critters out.  We will be making raised plant beds with graveled pathways in between.

Now that I have flipped thru the catalogs and made my ‘Garden Wish List’, it is time to plan out the garden.  What grows best next to each other (aka Companion Planting)… how much do we really want to grow of that particular item… how much space with everything need… etc…

‘Garden Wish List’ for this year:
Blueberries, Carrots, Corn, Cucumbers, Garlic, Green Onions, Lettuce (several varieties), Parsley, Potatoes, Pumpkins, Raspberries, Red Onions, Rhubarb, Strawberries, Squash, Sweet Basil, Tomatoes, Walla Walla Sweet Onions, and Zucchini.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Gorgeous Day On The Mountain…

38 degrees - 7:20 pm - clear...

The majority of the day was spent outside enjoying the nice weather and having some fun in the sun.  Here are some pictures from today...

Caitlyn and her snowbaby

Jack - King of the Mountain
(or rather king of the snow covered Huckleberry bush)

Tony breaking up the ice on our driveway

Caitlyn and Jack dressing up the snowgirl

Grandma and Grandad came up for the afternoon
and the kids were showing Grandma how to snowshoe

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Saturday Evening Post…

37 degrees - 8:26pm - clear...

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…

3-year-old son:  “Good morning mom!  Can I go outside and play in the snow now?”
Me:  “Not yet Sweets.  We need to have breakfast first.”
3-year-old son:  (very upset little man) “Ahhhh Mom!”
6-year-old daughter:  “Dad said that he would take me for a ride on the snowmobile this morning!”
3-year old son:  “Me too!  I ride the snowbiel too!”
Me:  “No one is doing anything until after they eat breakfast.”
{Pancake Breakfast...}
6-year-old daughter:  (very excited) “Breakfast is over!  It’s time to ride the snowmobile!  I want to go really fast!”
Hubby:  “Jack go stand by the window and you can watch and then it will be your turn next.”
{Tony and Caitlyn out on the snowmobile – got up to 14 mph…}
6-year-old daughter:  “That’s too fast!  Slow down!  I wanna go home!
{Tony and Jack out on the snowmobile – got up to 32 mph…}
3-year-old-son: “Faster Dad!  Faster!”

{What we learned from this morning… Caitlyn can sometimes be a big talker, and Jack has his daddy’s love of machines gene.}

Friday, March 2, 2012


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