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.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Some Mountain Fun...

28 degrees - 7:12 pm - clear cold night with 10 mph east wind...

Today my parents, sister, niece and nephew came up to play in the snow...and what a perfectly gorgeous day for it!  Here’s a glimpse at the fun we had...

Our gorgeous view out the back of house.

Tony was giving rides on the snowmobile...

...the kids LOVED it!...

...and so did the littlest of the group!...

...when we weren't going for rides, there was some
sledding and snowball fights going on...

...along with some slipping and falling...

...and a sneak attack or two (the kids didn't fall very far from the tree)...

...and the fun filled day ended with a beautiful sunset.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Date Nut Cookies...

32 degrees - 11:36 am - 2-3 feet of snow (depending on where you are) and still snowing...

Several weeks ago I stopped by a friend’s house who was in the middle of a baking spree.  She was just finishing up one of her favorite recipes – Date Nut Cookies - a recipe that she had gotten from her mother.  They smelled so good that I just had to try one, even though I’m not a big nut person, I fell in love.  These little cookies are simple, traditional and, more importantly, full of delicious flavor!  I asked for the recipe and just had to share it. 


~Date Nut Cookies~
2 cups brown sugar
½ cup Crisco
2 eggs (room temperature)
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup chopped dates
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl cream together the brown sugar, Crisco and eggs.  Add in the vanilla, baking powder, salt and flour, mixing well.  Finally, mix in chopped pecans and chopped dates.  {Note:  The finer you chop the pecans and dates, the less chunky of a cookie – which is how our kids like them.}

Once you have a nice stiff dough, roll out and cut cookies out with a cookie cutter.  Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until a nice golden brown.  Quickly remove from pan to cooling rack.

~ Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Simple Trip To Town...

32 degrees - 10:48 am - between 18-20 inches of very wet snow and it’s still snowing...

...isn’t so simple.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again - I don’t like driving in the snow!  Well maybe I would if it wasn’t on a one lane curvy mountain road (that’s skirting the edge of the mountain in numerous areas) with a 100+ foot drop off most of the way.  Which let me tell you can be extremely nerve wracking when you’re rig goes sliding towards that drop-off.  You can see from previous posted pictures {click here} that there isn’t a guard rail or anything to stop the rig from going over.  So maybe I would like driving in the snow if it was flat, and I knew that I wouldn’t be going over a cliff.

Besides the nerve wracking drive itself, there is always the very real possibility of getting stuck.  So when there’s snow on the ground, before I ever head out, I always make sure that I have a snow shovel, tire chains, extra food, blankets, snow shoes, and snow gear for everyone in the car.  It’s always better to be safe than sorry.  Since we were both coming home late last night, Tony and I even waited for each other before heading up the mountain just to make sure that we both got home okay. 

So as you can see, a simple trip to town usually isn’t so simple in the winter time.  That’s why we’re all staying home today... well at least Caitlyn and I are.  Tony and Jack hopped into the tractor to go blow some snow.  While Tony was putting the chains on the tractor, I was roaming around taking pictures...




Tony's putting the tire chains on the tractor.



Caitlyn and Tabby

And the boys are off to go blow some snow.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Orange Juice Cookies...

30 degrees - 7:23 pm - partly cloudy...

Do you find it interesting that orange season (at least for navel oranges) is now?  I do because when I think orange, I think summer.  Yet these tangy little cookies have been a Christmas tradition for as long as I can remember.  And this year was no exception.

These cookies are best when made while oranges are in season since they use the rind of the orange.  They are light and refreshing with a nice burst of orange flavor and are a nice option from the regular holiday goodies.  Also, the smell of orange zest makes your kitchen smell wonderful!
 

~Orange Juice Cookies~
Cookie Dough:
2 Tbsp orange juice
1 cup shortening
1 teaspoon orange rind
½ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon soda
½ cup granulated sugar
2 ½ cup all-purpose flour
1 egg, beaten
½ teaspoon salt
Frosting:
2 cups powdered sugar
Remaining orange rind
Remaining orange juice

1 large or 2 small oranges are enough for cookies and frosting.  In a large bowl combine shortening, orange rind, brown sugar and egg.  Mix well.  Add all other dry ingredients and mix well.

Roll in wax paper and chill for 1 to 2 hours.  Cut chilled dough into ¼” slices.  Place on cookie sheet and bake at 350°F for 8 to 10 minutes or until a light golden brown.  Place on wire racks to cool then frost.

Enjoy!

Winter's Here...

33 degrees - 1:37 pm - snowing...

When we woke up this morning, everything was covered in a blanket of white.  I snapped some picture around the house and my drive down and back up the mountain this morning...




Our road is so pretty in the winter time...


Logging in the snow.


Had to wait for the Fellerbuncher to move... then the truck... then
the log truck... it's busy up here on the mountain today.

Came around a corner a saw a different Fellerbuncher working his way up.

This corner was just logged.  I came down and had a moment of not knowing
where I was - it looks that different. 
It now looks like a really scary corner in the fog and snow.


Had to wait for the Fellerbuncher and trucks to move again.  They're being
very patient with me going up and down the mountain numerous times a day.

Jack: "I LOVE THE SNOW!!!"

... and Jack is off to go play in the snow!!!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Snow...

33 Degrees - 9:55 am - gorgeous outside...

The past few days it has been snowing out.  The snow hasn't been sticking around the house and it was to foggy out to see the mountain and how much snow it had gotten.  Well today is absolutely gorgeous out, so I had to take some pictures of the snow mountain top.



Sunday, December 9, 2012

Christmas Cards...

37 degrees - 11:36 am - lightly raining...

Yesterday we took advantage of the falling snow to snap a few pictures of the kids.  I really liked this picture, so I turned it into our Christmas card for this year.  With some added wording, a little computer magic, and off to Costco it goes to be printed.  For under $8, I have custom photo Christmas cards and I'm happy that one more item gets checked off my holiday to-do-list!

Friday, December 7, 2012

More Firewood, More Screenings...

35 degrees - 5:00 pm - windy and raining with snow mixed in...

This past week and a half has been all about firewood and screenings.  During the day, Tony’s dad has been bringing up load after load of screenings (a type of fine round gravel), which Tony has been spreading out getting the main floor of the house prepped for our concrete radiant floor.  This will be the gravel base, then we’ll put in a vapor barrier, lay all the rebar and heating pipes...then we will finally get to poor the concrete floor!  I cannot wait until we are done with this screening phase; those little rocks get stuck on all the shoes and track everywhere!

Two dump trailer loads of screenings, just
waiting to be spread out.


When the guys aren’t dumping and spreading screenings around, they’re up cutting, hauling and splitting firewood.  We’re running quite behind this year on our firewood supply for winter, so Tony has been trying to make up for lost time.  We’ve been trying to get all this done before the snow comes...which is in the forecast for tonight and the rest of this week.
 
Patches likes to keep an eye on all the activity going on
from her safe perch on top of the wood pile...

...that as you can see is still yet to be stacked. 
I told you we were behind this year. 
 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Survival and Preparedness Plan {Food Storage}...

39 degrees - 9:01 pm - raining...

Now is the time for deliberate, rational thought and planning for becoming more self-sufficient by creating a survival and preparedness plan.  This is particularly important in today’s world where we are so dependent upon others for food and much less self-sufficient than we used to be.  This is obviously a smart thing to do, considering the importance of food and the consequences that come from the lack of it. 

True preparedness is all about balance.  Having 500 cans of freeze-dried meals but no extra stored water, for example, is a recipe for disaster since the food requires water for preparation and not everyone has a 100% reliable water source.  Firearms and ammo are also part of a well thought out survival and preparedness plan but shouldn’t take the top spot. 

Food storage is one of the first things that people begin to consider when starting their survival and preparedness plans, however, a lot of people being to get overwhelmed when thinking about how to get started and what to do first.  They have no game plan and only see it as a mountain of a project.  But it really is a simple thing to do, when you take it one step at a time.

First of all, start with the basic food that you eat on a daily basis.  These would be canned goods, basic staples (sugar, flour, cereal, etc.), bottled water and other things you keep stocked in the pantry.  Every time you go to the grocery store to purchase something you’ll be using that week, buy two or more instead of just one of that item (remember, we’re talking about pantry goods, not things that need kept in the refrigerator).  By doing this, you will slowly begin to increase the food you have and use; you want to aim for a three-month supply of food.  You must also remember to put the new cans in the back and use the older cans first.  This will ensure you are always rotating your food and minimize waste.

----------------------------------------

Here is a quick list of the top foods to stock up on...

Water --- You can never have enough water!

Wheat --- Once ground, it’s the building block for varieties of bread, tortillas, flat bread, pizza crust and more. 

Rice --- On its’ own, it’s a side dish.  Mixed with herbs and a vegetable or two, it’s a simple main dish.  It’s a great meal-stretcher when topped with, or served alongside, main dishes such as a stir fry.  {Note:  brown rice contains oils which will become rancid after six months or so.}

Dried Milk --- Without electricity, fresh milk will go bad in hours.  In an emergency situation, fresh milk will be difficult to come by unless you own a cow or a goat.  Dried milk provides not only milk to drink, but milk to use as an ingredient in other dishes.

Salt --- Stock up on table salt at your local Costco.  It’s inexpensive and has multiple uses.

Beans --- Buy canned beans and dry beans in different varieties.  They are versatile, economical and a good source of fiber.

Tomatoes --- Canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, tomato puree, etc.  Watch for them on sale and then grab a few dozen cans.  They’re the basis for salsas, soups, stews, and sauces.

Other Canned Veggies and Fruits --- These will help provide important nutrients, variety to your recipes, and have a very long shelf life.  If you can’t stomach canned veggies, try dehydrating your own or purchasing freeze-dried.

Peanut Butter --- High in protein, whether it’s by the spoonful or on a piece of bread.

Oil --- Without oil, you’re pretty much stuck with boiling your meat and veggies, unless of course you want to cook your food on a spit over an open fire.

Dried Pasta --- Another meal stretcher and a kid-pleasing dish any day of the week.

Sugar (white) and Honey --- I’ve known women who were ready to kill when deprived of sugar for too long (me included)!

Water --- Whether you buy bottled water or try canning your own water, this is a must for any kind of survival situation.

----------------------------------------

Here is a more indepth (but still a barebones) list for food storage...
 
There are categories along with the weight in food you need. Under each category are the basics this weight should be distributed into. It is up to you how you distribute it. In the space provided before each item write the amount in pounds you have of each item.  {Note: This is for one averave adult male. For an average adult woman multiply the amounts by 0.75. For children ages 1-3 multiply it by 0.3. For children 4-6 multiply it by 0.5. For Children 7-9 multiply it by 0.75.} 
 
Grains—400 lbs
___ Barley ___ Multigrain ___ Sprouting Seeds
___ Cereal ___ Oats, Rolled Quick ___ Wheat
___ Cornmeal ___ Oats, Rolled Regular ___White Rice
___ Flour ___ Popcorn ___ Pasta Noodles

Milk/Dairy—75 lbs
___ Canned Milk ___ Condensed Milk ___ Powdered Milk
___ Dried Eggs ___ Canned Sour Cream ___ Powdered Sour Cream
___ Dried Cheese ___ Cheese Spreads ___ Powdered Cheese
___ Infant Formula (If Applicable)

Juices/Beverages—25 lbs
___ Apple Juice ___ Cranberry Juice ___ Grape Juice
___ Baby Stained Juice ___ Dried Juice Mix ___ Tomato Juice
___ Cocoa Drink Mix ___ Kool Aid

Fats/Oils—20 lbs
___ Canned Butter ___ Mayonnaise ___ Powdered Butter
___ Cooking Oil ___ Olive Oil ___ Salad Dressing
___ Margarine ___ Peanut Butter ___ Shortening

Meats (Canned, Dehydrated or Freeze Dried)—20 lbs
___ Beef ___ Beef Jerkey ___ Fish (tuna, crab, shrimp)
___ Ham ___ Pork ___ Chicken
___ Pepperoni

Fruits and Veggies—90 lbs Dried, 370 qts Canned
___ Apple Chips ___ Pineapple ___ Carrots
___ Applesauce ___ Raisins ___ Onions
___ Appricots ___ Tomatoes ___ Mushrooms
___ Peaches ___ Celery ___ Peppers
___ Berries ___ Potatoes ___ Pickles
___ Fruit Cocktail ___ Corn ___ Asparagus
___ Olives ___ Peas ___ Yams
___ Pears ___ Spinach

Beans & Legumes—90 lbs
___ Pinto ___ White ___ Nuts
___ Pink ___ Kidney ___ Sprouting Seeds

Sugars—60 lbs
___ Corn Syrup ___ Syrup ___ White Sugar
___ Honey ___ Brown Sugar ___ Powdered Sugar

Auxiliary Foods—As Needed
___ Baking Powder ___ Crackers ___ Pancake Mix
___ Baking Soda ___ Cream of Tartar ___ Pectin
___ Cake Mixes ___ Roll/Bread Mixes ___ Pie Fillings
___ Vitamins ___ Instant Breakfast ___ Gelatin
___ Cookies ___ Instant Yeast ___ Salt
___ Cornstarch ___ Muffin Mixes ___ Survival Bars

Spices & Condiments—As Needed
(any spices and condiments you regulary use)

----------------------------------------
 
Being prepared is all about doing the best that you can, where you are, and with what you have!  Preparedness is more a way of life and a perspective than a purchase or an event.  Even long time survivalists are constantly tweaking and looking for ways to improve... something!!

Here are a few pictures of some food storage pantries...





Saturday, December 1, 2012

Saturday Evening Post…

42 degrees - 11:18 pm - raining...

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…


This past weekend Tony and Jack went out in search of the perfect Christmas tree.  Two hours later they came home with one.  After I was able to get everything but the top two feet of the tree strung with lights (I need a taller ladder to reach the top of the tree), it was time for the kids to put the ornaments on. 

7-year-old daughter:  “Mom isn’t the tree looking great!”
Me:  “The tree is looking fantastic!  Caitlyn why are there chunks of tree on the ground?”
7-year-old daughter:  “I didn’t do it!”
Me:  “Jack, why are there chunks of tree on the ground?  Um...why do you have scissors in your hand?”
3-year-old son:  “I’m trimming the tree.”
Me:  “What!?  Why are you doing that?  You’re not supposed to be cutting the tree!”
3-year-old son:  “Yes I can!  We’re supposed to be trimming the tree right now!”

Apparently our son had his own idea of what “trimming the Christmas tree” really meant.

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