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, June 30, 2012

One Crazy Week...

56 degrees - 9:35 pm - raining...

This week has been go, go, go and we didn’t even get anything done on the house.  Here is a quick recap of the week... on top of the normal work and home stuff there were three trips to Les Schwab (one rock and two nails), ballet dress rehearsal and ballet performance...

Caitlyn's third ballet performance (she's the one facing the camera)

...14+ hours on the weedeater, getting ready for Caitlyn’s 7th birthday party, baking and decorating 8 dozen cupcakes...


...party location change due to rainy weather, and finally having a successful birthday party with 67 guests...whew! 


(p.s. - the marshmallow shooters were a HUGE hit with both kids and adults!)

The crazy week is now over, and it is time to get focused back on the house.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Saturday Evening Post…

58 degrees - 8:08pm - blue sky with scattered clouds...

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…


Hubby:  (9:23 am) “When you’re done, come outside and I’ll let you use the weedeater.”
Me:  “You’re actually going to let me use it?!  I’ll be right out!”
Hubby:  “This is how it works... ... ...”  (goes on to explain how to use a weedeater)
... ... ...
... ... ...
... ... ...
Me:  “Babe!  It died, I think it’s out of gas.”
Hubby:  “Use this gas can... ... ...”  (shows me where the gas can is and how to refill it)
... ... ...
... ... ...
... ... ...
Me:  “Babe!  The string is all gone.  Can you put more on for me?”
Hubby:  “You pop this cover off... ... ...”  (shows me how to resting the weedeater)
... ... ...
... ... ...
... ... ...
(quick lunch break)
... ... ...
... ... ...
... ... ...
Me:  (4:50 pm)  “Babe.  My arms are done.  I cannot weedeat any more.”
Hubby:  “Then stop.  Don’t want to use up all your weedeater fun in one day.”
Me:  “My hands and arms feel funny.  They feel like...”
Hubby:  “...their ringing?”
Me:  “Yeah.  I’ve been at it all day, and it doesn’t even look like I’ve done very much.”
Hubby:  “It’s not the fastest thing out there.  It’s looking good though.  Another full day and you should be all done.”
Me:  “Hmmmm...”

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Play Time...

67 degrees - 9:41 pm - calm quiet night...

Today the kids and I decided to put this pile of boards together.
So this morning it looked like this...

...and by the time Tony got home it looked this.


We did get a little help from our neighbors (thank you!!!).
They came down and helped me put the legs and second floor up.

Just look at that happy face!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Projects...

67 degrees - 8:39 pm - in a period of the last hour or so, it has gone from blue sky with scattered white puffy clouds to windy with solid dark storm clouds...

I have been working on the little sitting area -
making rock wall, and transplaning plants like crazy!
You can see some before pictures here.

I have finished all the rockwalls for the sitting area.

I just need to transplant a few more plants, get my wooden bench swing,
then gravel the sitting area, and it will be done!

This is the view from our bedroom...

...and this is the view from the sitting area.

While I have been busy moving rock and transplanting plants - Tony
has been busy falling, moving, cutting, splitting, and stacking firewood.

Saturday Evening Post…

67 degrees - 8:20 pm - in a period of the last 45 minutes, it has gone from blue sky with scattered white puffy clouds to windy with solid dark storm clouds...

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…


Dad:  (sends email with picture of a play fort)  “Jean, do you think the kids would like something like this?”
Me:  (reply email)  “Yea, they would love something like that.”
Dad:  (calls)  “Can you meet me at 11?”
Me:  “Yea.  Why?”
Dad:  “You have to help me pick up that play fort.”
Me:  “Really?!?!  I’ll be there.”

After several hours of unbolting boards, unscrewing boards, loading boards, hauling boards, unloading boards...we now have several piles of boards just ready to be reassembled.  And boy are the kids excited!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

We Are Stalling...

57 degrees - 7:07 pm - beautiful day...

I have mentioned before how we are not rich, we do not have boatloads of cash, and we are not able to buy everything new.  We are an average single income family.  My husband works, while I stay home with our two young children.

I have also mentioned before how we are kind of doing everything backwards, with a lot of shoulda’, coulda’, woulda’s being learning along the way.  That was not intentional, that is just how it has turned out.

What do I mean by ‘doing everything backwards’?  Well, the second floor is further along than the first floor.  More accurately, the first floor doesn’t exist yet...our home kind of looks like a one level on stilts.  Now you understand what I mean by doing stuff backwards.  Instead of building from the floor up, we are building from the roof down.  Once again, that was not intentional, that is just how it has turned out.

So far it has been slow going, and now it is even slower.  We are still doing stuff around the house, just not in it.  We are still gathering firewood, and working on the yard, and a few other random things here and there, but that is about it.  We are stalling.  We are stalling until we can come up with the money for our next big purchase...a poured concrete slab with radiant-floor heating.  Once we get this, then there will be another huge building spurt!

Normally, concrete radiant floors are installed before framing of the building begins (but for whatever reason, we are doing things differently).  A radiant floor system pushes heated water from the boiler by way of tubing laid within a pattern beneath the floor.  In particular systems, the temperature in each and every space can be controlled by governing the flow of hot water by way of each and every tubing loop.  The floors use the thermal mass and conductance of concrete to spread heating and cooling and maintain a constant, even temperature.  Rather than heating the air, radiant floors warm objects.

Fundamentally there are 3 varieties of radiant floor heating systems: electric radiant floor systems, hot water or hydronics radiant floor systems (we’re doing this one), and radiant air floor systems (the heat is carried by an air medium).  Every one of these three varieties may well be broken into smaller groups based on the type of installation: those that make use of the big thermal mass of a concrete slab floor or gypcrete concrete spanning a wooden subfloor (these are named “wet installations”) and the ones where the installation of the radiant floor tubing is located in amongst two layers of plywood or attaches the tubing underneath the completed floor or subfloor (“dry installations”).

Radiant heating has a number of advantages: it is more efficient than baseboard heating and usually more efficient than forced-air heating because no energy is lost through ducts.  The lack of moving air can also be advantageous to people with severe allergies.  It is a silent and inconspicuous operation – there’s no hum or whistle of a forced air system and you don’t see any vents.  Hydronic systems use little electricity, a benefit for homes off the power grid (like us), or in areas with high electricity prices.  The hydronic systems can also be heated with a wide variety of energy sources, including standard gas- or oil-fired boilers, wood-fired boilers, solar water heaters, or some combination of these heat sources.

Last, but certainly not least... aesthetics, uniqueness, and ease of maintenance are a few more reasons why we want to do a stained concrete with radiant heat flooring system.  Concrete can be so uniquely designed or so naturally colored that it blends seamlessly with other elements in a room – oftentimes, you don’t even realize it’s a concrete floor you’re standing on!  Another desirable feature is the ease of maintenance.  Not only are polished concrete floors easy to clean, requiring only occasional damp mopping or buffing with a neutral pH floor cleaner, they also hold up extremely well to heavy foot traffic. 

Take a look at some of these gorgeous floors – can you believe they are all concrete!





Sunday, June 10, 2012

Aussie Chicken...

58 degrees - 3:30 pm - beautiful day...

I am always looking for new recipes to try and ways to “spice up” plain old chicken breasts and this one is awesome!  This recipe is very similar to a chicken dish served at a local well-known restaurant, and a friend of mine was kind enough to share it.


~Aussie Chicken~
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded to ½ inch thickness
Seasoning salt
6 slices bacon, cut in half
¼ cup regular mustard
1/3 cup honey
2 Tbsp mayonnaise
1/2 tsp dried onion flakes
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
2 cups shredded Colby Jack Cheese

Sprinkle and rub the chicken breasts with seasoning salt.  Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook bacon in a large skillet until crisp.  Remove bacon (do not discard grease).  In a small bowl, mix the mustard, honey, mayo and dried onion flakes. 

Sauté chicken in the bacon grease for 3 to 5 minutes per side, or until browned.  Move chicken to a 9x13 pan.

Apply the honey mustard to each breast, then layer with mushrooms, bacon, and shredded cheese.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes, or until cheese is melted and chicken is done. 

Serve with honey mustard sauce.
 
~Honey Mustard Sauce~
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp regular yellow mustard
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4cup honey
1 Tbsp dried onion flakes
1/2 Tbsp lemon juice

Mix the mayo, mustards, honey, onion flakes and lemon juice together in a bowl.  Cover and chill in refrigerator overnight.  Serve with chicken.

--- Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Animal Babies...

48 degrees - 9:55 am - blue sky, patchy white fluffy clouds...

I am just amazed at how many twins are born up here on the mountain...there just has to be something in the water.  We have been very lucky to have twin fawns born in the yard every year.  So each year, we get the amazing opportunity to watch those cute little babies grow up.




This morning we had a new treat!  On the way home from school, Jack and I saw a black sow with her twin cubs!  They didn’t stay around very long, but oh they were so cute!  I just love seeing all these animal babies.



The View From Our Window...

47 degrees - 9:11 am - blue sky, patchy white fluffy clouds, on and off showers...

momma doe nursing her twin fawns

Monday, June 4, 2012

It’s Bath Time...

51 degrees out - 9:55 am - cloudy and drizzling...

That’s right... it is no longer tub time, it is now bath time! 

This may seem like a very little thing, probably because most people take it for granted, but I just cannot express how excited I am to finally have a useable bathtub!!!

Tony's installing the Moen 1 1/4" brass trip-lever tub drain
assembly that we got in oil-rubbed bronze.  Yea!!!

For the past two years, we have had to drag out a red tub, put it in front of the fireplace, haul and heat water, bathe the kids, haul the tub outside to dump it out, haul it back in, dry it out, and put it away.

Caitlyn's first tub bath two years ago.

Yes we still only have cold-n-cold running water that is not yet on tap, so we will still have to heat and haul the water.  But you just have no idea how excited I am over the idea of not having to use the red tub anymore!!!

After 2 year of the red tub...
I will never ever take one of these for granted ever again!!!


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