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, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween...

49 degrees - 9:58 pm - raining...

Hope your Halloween was spooktacular!  ~ Godzilla & Witchy Woman

Trail To The River...

53 degrees - 10:25 am - raining...

Our property has hills and canyons, so a large portion of it is inaccessible.  There is a large five acre plateau (which is where we are building our home) that drops steeply down into the canyon to the river and then back up to the other side to another plateau.

Even though we have owned this place 2005, I have yet to be down to the river or to the other side of our property.  Tony has been down to the river, but it is a very steep climb/slide down.  So he has started to work on a trail so we will have access to the river.  He only has a few hours into this project, but it’s a good start!

the trail starts along the south property line

Tony's been using the excavator to clear the trail

uncovered another snag from the fire that
burned through the area over a hundred years ago

also found an old tree stand

uncovered some old cedar blocks from when our
 property was logged years ago

Tony's making the trail the width of the excavator - when's it's all done, we
should be able to drive down to the river

the end of the first day of work, and the start of the first switchback

all this work, just to have access to this hidden section of the river!
 Another project to be continued...

Monday, October 29, 2012

Mountain Beaver...

53 degrees - 2:31 pm - overcast, and it's temporarily stopped raining...

We have had numerous “what was that?” moments here on the mountain.  Yesterday was another one of those moments...

Driving home last night, a small critter ran across the road and was briefly caught in the glare of the headlights.  It’s not the first time I have seen this large guinea pig looking creature here on the mountain but I have never been quick enough, in the few times that I have seen it, to get a picture.  After asking several people who live around here, I was told it was a... Mountain Beaver!?  I had to Google it, because I still didn’t know what it was.

This species is the only living member of its genus, Aplodontia, and family
Aplodontiidae.  (Source:

It turns out that a Mountain Beaver is an interesting but little known mammal unique to the Pacific Northwest.  Its range falls mostly to the west of the Cascades, from northern California to southern British Columbia.  First described by Lewis and Clark, the mountain beaver remains rather obscure, even here in the heart of its range.  It is primarily nocturnal and is seldom seen.  Even though its name is Mountain Beaver, it’s not really a beaver.  It’s a rodent.  In fact, with a lineage traced back 40 million years, the mountain beaver is our oldest rodent.  It has several common names including aplodontia, boomer, and ground bear.

A few entrances to a mountain beaver's burrow.

Walking around the mountain, we’re always seeing these clusters of holes on slopes or small hillsides.  I have always wondered which little critter they belonged to, and it turns out they are the Mountain Beaver’s burrows.  Since they rarely travel far from their burrows, which can have anywhere between 10-30 entrances, this is probably why they continue to escape the camera.

I am happy to add another animal to the ever growing list of animals seen on our mountain.

Monday, October 22, 2012

We Got A Dusting Of Snow...

35 degrees - 9:21 pm - raining...

I honestly didn’t think we would get a dusting of snow this early but today we had a white fall wonderland for a few hours before it started to melt away.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

First Snow of the Season...

37 degrees - 10:00 am - foggy, raining with scattered snow flakes mixed in...

Yesterday was the first snow of the season.

I like to take pictures – lots of pictures.  When I download all my photos, I save them with the date followed by the picture number (like this: 102112 001).  It has been a great way to keep track of what’s been happening up here on the mountain - like all the first snows of the seasons...

Since we have been keeping track, this is the earliest snowfall we’ve had here on the mountain.  I wonder if this is any kind of indication as to what kind of winter we’re going to have... hmmmm...

Friday, October 19, 2012

Questions and Answers...

46 degrees - 8:12 pm - raining...
Wow!  I have mentioned numerous times what our “living conditions” are while we are building off-grid.  But it wasn’t until these two posts {click here} and {click here}, that the comments and questions really started coming in.  We get a few comments and questions posted on our blog but for whatever reason we get way more that are emailed to us.  So I thought I would share a few of the questions and comments that we have gotten lately...

I LOVE your blog and am just fascinated by it.  I just don’t
understand why you only have 25 followers!  Where do you
blog from?  How are you able to connect to the internet?  If
you have internet, doesn’t that mean you’re on the grid?

We have 25 “official” blog followers and a whole lot more “unofficial” blog followers.  As of yesterday, our blog views were up to 24,253.  You have to have a gmail or yahoo email account to officially follow the blog.  For some, it’s just easier to add our blog to their “Favorite” list than open another email account.
I blog from my home.  Just because we live off-grid doesn’t mean that we cannot have internet.  {click here}  To us, the grid means the power, water, sewage, and waste grid.  We don’t have any of that.
Would you say that one’s first rural off-grid experience is
where you make all your mistakes, but learn a lot?

Yes, you make a lot of mistakes as you go.  We have had quite a few shoulda’, coulda’, woulda’s along the way.  But, mistakes are part of the process.  It has also been a very humbling process.  {click here} and {click here}

How do you do dishes? Or laundry? 
How do you take showers?
Our friends and family joke that we are camping or glamping (shorthand for glamourous camping or luxury camping) in our home because we live off-gird and still don’t have running water in the house. {click here} and {click here}

Do you have a well or water catchment?

We have a standard water well and an artesian well (which is our main source, it was horizontally bored into the mountain about 40 feet) with a cold water storage tank.  {click here}

Do you work or your husband? 
How did you get such a huge house without work?

My husband works for a local municipality while I stay home with the kids.  All the work that has been done and is being done on our home is done on week nights and weekends.  We are also funding this entire project out of pocket, which is the main reason why it is taking us so long.
We’re going the house in phases {click here} – phase 1 is the main house which is 2,592 sqft; phase 2 will be the garage with a second floor great room and enclosed breeze way connecting the two buildings, not sure on the sqft of that yet.
How much snow do you get up there on your
mountain?  How many months of the year do you
have snow on the ground?
Up here on the mountain, snow is on the ground for about five and a half months of the year.  As for how much of it we get…well that’s hard to say.  Several years back we had 14+ feet of snow at one time, which was also the most snow anyone could remember ever having up here.  But, honestly we don’t know.  Thanks to the wind, it’s pretty difficult to measure snowfall.  As the wind blows, snow drifts – so it can build up in places and diminish in others.  This year we are going to try to get a better idea by trying several snowfall measuring procedures (check back later this year – I’ll do a post on it).  In the meantime you can take a peek at some of our snow pictures from previous winters.  {click here} and {click here} and {click here}

You must have huge pantry if you live so far out. 
Do you grow all your own food?  Do you have a root cellar?

Our home isn’t completed yet, we’re still in the building process, so I currently only have about 12 feet of panty shelf space (3 shelves, 4’ wide).  When our home is completed, we’ll have a walk-in pantry which still isn’t nearly as big as I would have liked.  We don’t have a root cellar, but Tony has tossed around the idea of building one.  I told him I wanted the house done first though.
No we don’t grow our own food.  We have mapped out a garden (in several different areas – looking for the most sun), but our actual growing season is so short up here that we are now looking at building a smaller garden with a larger green house.  We would really like to be growing our own food, but we just haven’t gotten around to it yet.  Life keeps happening and the garden/green house keeps getting put on the back burner.  Even though we aren’t growing our own food yet, I do can a few things several times a year and Tony does go hunting to put meat in the freezer.  {click here} and {click here}
Keep the questions and comments coming, we love hearing from you!

Taco Ring...

50 degrees - 4:46 pm - foggy and drizzling...

My family loves this recipe.  The original recipe comes from The Pampered Chef Busy Mom’s Cookbook that I bought at one of the gazillion Pampered Chef parties that I attended in my early 20s.  However, I will admit that I do love my round pizza stone.

I think you will find that this will become a favorite of yours (it’s soooo easy) and of your family’s (because it’s so darn delicious).
~Taco Ring~
2 pkgs. Crescent rolls
1 pkg. taco seasoning
½ small onion, finely chopped
1 ½ lbs lean hamburger
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1 chopped tomato

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Fry hamburger and onions separately.  Add taco seasoning to hamburger according to directions.  Mix hamburger, onion, cheese and tomato together.  Place crescent rolls on pizza stone.  Triangle point of crescent rolls should be facing out.  Place hamburger mixture on crescent rolls and fold crescent roll over meat and tuck under.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve with salsa or sour cream.  If you want to make it look really impressive, take a green bell pepper and cut off the top, scoop out the insides, and place in the center of the taco ring.  Fill it will salsa and surround it with sour cream.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Fall Is Coming...

55 degrees - 4:07pm - light rain...

The nights are getting colder, the mornings are getting darker, the wind is starting to howl and the rain has returned.  As the weather starts to change, I am getting excited that fall is fast approaching.

As much as I love the lazy summer months (even though our summers seem to be very busy and very short), I have to admit that I am happy fall is here.  Yes, I enjoy all the Northwest rain, listening to it hit the metal roof while I am inside all warm and cozy and I love the occasional thunderstorms.  I love the crispness in the air, the brilliant colors of the changing leaves, and the fall scent outside.  I love it all!

a small glimps of the rainbow of colors here on the mountain

Today while I have been all warm and cozy inside cleaning and getting organized for fall...Tony has been outside getting wet and dirty working on the drain field and firewood. 
Tony's working on the drain field while his dad and Jack supervise.

What can I say, we’re behind in firewood this year.  Normally by now we would have already had anywhere between eight to ten cords of firewood cut, split and stacked – that gets us through the cold months, which is about 10 months of the year.  Currently we only have enough firewood for about three months, and it’s not even stacked yet.  Guess I’ll be stacking firewood this week while the kids are in school.
Tony and his dad have been cutting, splitting and hauling firewood for the
past several hours - they did just under two cords today.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Plumbing {More Gravel & Dirt Work}...

45 degrees - 12:02 pm - foggy and drizzling...

Earlier this week my dad brought up another load (six and a half tons) of screenings (a type of fine round gravel).  Both of our dad’s have been very helpful using their heavy duty trucks to haul up the screenings for us, so far they have brought up about 15 tons and we’re still going to need more.  We are using it to line and fill the drain pipe trenches.

Tony's hosing down the trenches filled with
screenings to try and help compact it.

Tony has also been getting everything ready to do the drain field.  This means more dirt work, more pipe and more fittings.

Once the drain field is in and everything is backfilled, you won't even know
that there is a 1,250 gallon concrete septic tank in the front yard.

To be continued...

Halloween Sugar Cookie Cutouts…

45 degrees - 10:03 am - foggy and raining...

I love Halloween!  It’s the perfect excuse to regress back to childhood; you get to dress us, watch films you know you shouldn’t because they’re scary and gorge yourself on more sweets than are good for you.

Since we live on top of a mountain and only have one semi-close neighbor, we instead go over to a friend’s home every year and trick-or-treat with their family.  Actually, it is this same friend who gave me this deliciously yummy sugar cookie recipe which I absolutely love.  {Thank you Hollie!!!}   

Besides being super delicious another thing I love about sugar cookies is –they are infinitely customizable!  So we end up making them for all the holidays, not just Halloween.  Hope you have as much fun making these as we do!

~Halloween Sugar Cookie Cutouts~
¾ cup butter
1 c sugar
½ teaspoon almond extract
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 ¾ c flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Cream together the butter, sugar, almond extract and vanilla extract.  Then beat in one egg at a time.

In a separate bowl, mix the flower, baking powder and salt.  Slowly beat the flour mixture into the sugar/butter mixture and mix until completely combined.

Chill dough about 45 minutes.  Roll out onto floured surface to desired thickness, 3-4mm is a good thickness, and cut out with cookie cutters.

Cut your shapes and place them on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.

Bake 375° degrees for 8-10 minutes. (Brown is overdone)

Remove from oven and let stand on cookie sheet 2-4 minutes.  Remove to cooling racks.  Frost the cookies when they have completely cooled.

~Cookie Frosting Recipe~
½ bowl of powdered sugar
¼ c butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
food coloring

Blend together and add extra powdered sugar or milk until desired consistency.


Saturday, October 6, 2012

Plumbing {Half Done With Rough-In}...

54 degrees - 8:20 pm - 50-60 mph wind gusts...

Today was another long and busy day on the mountain.  This morning our 1,250 gallon two compartment concrete septic tank arrived and was set into place.  The delivery driver was less than pleased with the condition of the seven mile one lane gravel road.  We always try to explain how far out we live and the poor road conditions on the way out – but no one ever seems to believe us...that is until they actually come out here.

Last night as I was typing yesterday's blog post, Tony was outside digging
 this deep hole in the dark.  This morning he was making sure that it was
perfectly level and ready for the concrete septic tank.

The tank made the journey up the mountain and was set into the hole.

All hooked up!

The workings of our
1,250 gallon two compartment seamless concrete septic tank.

After the septic tank was in, the guys got busy and finished rough plumbing the lower level and started on the upper level.  This past week the wind has been howling and today was no exception, so it made the working conditions tougher due to all the dust blowing around.

We had seven large boxes full of these things when this project started.
We are now down to only two large boxes full of these fittings.

The drain pipes for the kids bathroom and upstairs laundry room.

I am excited to say that we are just about half way done with the plumbing – almost all the drain pipes are in, next comes all the water lines.  I just love all the progress that’s being made right now!!!

To be continued...

Friday, October 5, 2012

Plumbing {Lower Level Rough-In}...

53 degrees - 8:42 pm - 53+ mph wind gusts...

We’re in the middle of another building spurt!  We have this pattern going – everything goes at a snail’s pace and then bam!  A building spurt!  I love it when there’s progress on the house!!!  I am giddy just thinking about it!  Words cannot express how excited I am about the plumbing!  I have been waiting for two and a half years for this!!!  Okay, I’ll calm down a bit and tell you what’s been going on.

The past several days after Tony has gotten off work, he has been digging, leveling, and compacting the trenches for the drain pipes.  This all has to be done before the concrete radiant floor goes in.

Today a couple friends came up and helped Tony rough-in the plumbing in the lower level (thank you!!!).  There are a few more things that need to be finished on the lower level; including getting another trailer load of screenings (which is a type of fine round gravel) so we can cover up all the drain pipe.  Once that is all done, then we move upstairs to do the rough plumbing.

In addition to all the drain pipe going in, tomorrow our 1,250 gallon concrete septic tank is being delivered and set in place.  Tomorrow is definitely going to be another busy day for our off-grid home sweet home.

To be continued...


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