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, January 27, 2013

Weeknights And Weekends...

8:57 pm - 32 degrees - 6+ inches of new snow and still snowing...
 
Now that winter has descended upon us and the days are short, the work on the house has slowed down to the few hours of daylight on the weekends. 
 
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 have 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 being 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.  Since we are doing everything ourselves and out of pocket, progress on the house is slow and seems to come in spurts. 
 
We have learned a lot along the way with a lot of shoulda’, coulda’, woulda’s.  As you can see by the pictures from our first two years on the project (we are now on year seven), we sometimes do things a little backwards.  Although our home is not finished yet, we are still having fun and enjoying this phase of our off-grid adventure, even though we do hit the occasional speed bump.  {click on the photos for larger viewing}
 


















A Miserable Week...

9:53 am - 32 degrees - 1+ inch of new snow and still snowing...

It’s been a looong miserable week.  We’ve all been sick with a horrible bug that just won’t go away (I’ll spare you all the gory details)!  Tony missed work all last week, and the kids missed almost a whole week of school.  The kids were both well enough to go to school on Friday, but that day brought a different kind of misery.

Friday morning driving down the mountain to pick Jack up from preschool, I noticed my rig was making strange noises when I tried to turn right.  Then it started pulling really hard to the left and didn’t want to turn right.  I made it to school but when I parked there was a horrible smell and smoke.  It turns out that I broke the front driver side strut.  That is one of the main components of the front suspension – without it the weight of the vehicle would collapse down onto the tire.  Tony was amazed that there wasn’t more damage.  So Jack and I spent the day running errands with my dad, while Tony spent the day running around trying to find parts and get my rig up and running again.

 
I’m glad that week is over!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Timber...

2:17 pm - 53 degrees - gorgeous warm winter day...

Back in August Tony had a DNR (Department of Natural Resources) Fire Forester guy come out to look at our place and let us know how we would fare if a wildfire came through.  {click here}  Before he left he gave us a bunch of information on how to make the defensible space around our home even better.

Going through all the paperwork he gave us, a little extra research online, and talking about what we still needed to do around our house, we decided to apply for a permit to clear a dozen or so trees and underbrush.  After numerous phone calls and emails, five months later we have a wood permit in hand.  This will give us our ideal defensible space around our home (and an extra bonus of more sunlight in the winter months).

So in addition to finishing up the screenings (yes we’re still working on that) {click here}, Tony has now started to fall a few trees.
  
 
 
 
Tony's using his Stihl with the 32" bar
 
 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Monday, January 14, 2013

Apple Tartlets...

4:19 pm - 26 degrees - foggy and snowing...

I love the simplicity of this apple tartlet – it looks bakery-special, but it’s easy to put together.  The only real project with this recipe is making the caramel, which can be made days, and up to 2 weeks, ahead.  It just needs to be warmed to a pourable consistency just before serving.  {Shhh... you can always use a prepared caramel sauce if you want to make life even easier.}


~Apple Tartlets~
(Caramel Sauce)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 Tbsp butter
(Tart)
1 sheet all-butter frozen puff pastry dough (thawed)
2 apples, peeled
1 Tbsp melted butter
4 tsp sugar
Flaked sea salt

To make the caramel sauce, put the sugar in a 2-3 quart heavy saucepan and place over medium heat.  Cook the sugar until it melts into syrup, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon (NOT a metal spoon, which will get very hot and burn your hand).

Once the sugar is completely melted, let it cook undisturbed until it’s amber-colored.  Lower the heat and very slowly dribble the cream into the pan.  The mixture will bubble up intensely so be careful.  When the bubbling subsides, bring the caramel to a simmer, whisking until any hardened lumps melt back into the sauce.  Remove from the heat and stir in the salt and butter until smooth.  If you end up with a few stubborn pieces of hardened sugar, you can strain the sauce into a heatproof glass measuring cup.

Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.  Roll the puff pastry on a lightly floured surface to flatten slightly.  Cut out 4 5-inch diameter circles with a pastry cutter or use the upside-down rim of a small bowl.

Transfer the circles to an ungreased baking sheet.  Cu the apples in half and remove the core.  Slice each half crosswise into thin slices, keeping them together as you slice.  Unfurl the slices onto each pastry circle, fanning them in a circular pattern to cover the dough.  Brush with the melted butter and sprinkle each with 1 teaspoon sugar.

Bake 15-20 minutes, until the apples are tender and the edges of the tarts are putted and golden.

Reheat the caramel to pouring consistency if it has cooled, and spoon some sauce over each tart.  Sprinkle with a little flaked salt and serve warm.

You’ll have more caramel sauce than you need for the tarts, but it will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks to use in any way you like.

~ Enjoy!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Looking Back...

32 degrees - 1:15 pm - snowing...

It’s hard to believe that I’m writing about the holiday season in past tense already, where did 2012 go?

Both kids are back in school, the holiday dust has settled, and life on the mountain has returned to our version of normal (complete with getting snowed in and school closures).  Now is the time to reflect and hopefully get back into a routine of some sorts. 

Some are thinking about New Year’s resolutions, others may be happy with their life and decide to continue living their own status quo, but right now I’m spending time thinking about the past.  I feel that remembering where we’ve been is important to making sure we are moving forward on the path we want to be on.  Have decisions and actions we’ve chosen over the past year helped us to live the life we want?  Have they moved us closer to goals we’ve set for ourselves?



Three very significant events and changes that happened at our off-grid home sweet home on the mountain this past year, things that most people take for granted, were huge milestones for us...

1 – We got an inverter!  This was the first (and very expensive) piece of our off-grid power system {click here}.

2 – We got water!!  No more having to haul water from town, this was a very happy moment {click here}.

3 – We got a working in-door toilet!!!  This was by far the most exciting (and appreciated) thing that happened up here on the mountain this past year {click here}.
 
“The tragedy of life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal.  The tragedy lies in having no goal to reach.”  ~ Benjamin E Mays

Monday, January 7, 2013

Weather Page...

40 degrees - 9:39 am - raining, 27+ mph wind...

Once the snow hit, I have been getting a lot of flak for my lack of weather posts.  People just really want to know what the weather is doing up here on the mountain.

So in response... I have added a ‘WEATHER PAGE’.  I will try to regularly update this page, so check back often.


Look for this in the column on the right, it will take you to our WEATHER PAGE.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Cold Bitter Wind...

23 degrees - 9:30 am - blue sky, sunshine, 67-72 mph wind...
 
It’s 23 degrees outside, but with a 67-72+ mph wind it feels like -1 degree outside.  I could put up with the cold, honestly I could, but this wind is just killing me!  Fighting with doors to either open or close them.  Trudging over cold ice and snow, trying not to fall down or be blown away.   Bitter wind chapping our lips, biting our faces and making its way through the ten layers of clothes to chill everyone to their very core...it’s a bit depressing.  It is a gorgeous blue sky sun shining kind of day and that darn cold bitter wind is keeping everyone inside.
 
I Googled 'Wind Chill Chart' to find out what the wind chill factor was...burrrrr!
 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year - 2013...

24 degrees - 10:39 am - clear gorgeous morning, 15-25+ mph east winds, and one frozen water pipe...


the view this morning

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