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, July 28, 2013

Bruschetta Pasta...

2:12 pm - 62 degrees - scattered clouds...

Take the tomato, basil and garlic topping usually used for bruscheta, and throw them together with perfectly cooked pasta.  It’s the perfect barbecue treat!  This salad comes from my sister-in-law and for the record it IS as delicious as it sounds!  We’ve had it several times now and we just love it and you will too!


~BRUSCHETTA PASTA~
1 pound thin spaghetti
6 plum tomatoes, chopped and seeded
2 tsp minced garlic
1 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
6-8 basil leaves, chopped
Sea salt & black pepper to taste
Freshly grated Parmesan Cheese

~CROSTINI~
1 baguette of French bread
¼ cup olive oil
1 clove garlic
 
Prepare pasta according to directions.  Follow the next steps while the pasta is cooking.
 
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Slice the baguette in ½ inch slices and arrange on a 9x13-inch baking sheet.  Using a pastry brush, brush a small amount of olive oil on each slice.  Toast for 5-6 minutes until they start to turn a golden brown.  Once removed from the oven, rub a little bit of the garlic clove onto each piece of toast.
 
Chop and seed tomatoes while bread is toasting.  In a medium bowl, toss with the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and basil leaves.  Season with salt and pepper.  Set aside.  When the pasta is done, drain and return to the pot.  Toss with the tomato mixture and top with Parmesan cheese.  Serves 4-6.
 
~ Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Off To The Mill...

8:56 am - 62 degrees - beautiful day...

While we’re working on clearing the defensible space {click here} around our house which works its way into the pond area {click here} and the new driveway/extra parking area, a number of trees have had to come out. 

For the past several months, on nights and weekends, Tony has been falling, limbing, and stacking logs – one pile to be hauled off to the mill and another pile for firewood.

Yesterday afternoon a self-loading log truck came up to haul off the first load of logs.  We’ve seen log trucks loaded up but we’ve never watched a self loader before, they’re definitely a world unto themselves.  Half truck, half machine, a truly independent aspect of logging. 

 

After the trailer, also known as a log dolly (which is hauled in a piggy-back configuration), was unloaded and hooked up, the logs were able to be loaded on.




Loading logs takes quite a bit of skill – maneuvering the large logs and getting them balanced and placed just right on the trailer.  It was really interesting to watch.  






Over the bridge and thru the woods, off to the mill he goes.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Beach Weekend Getaway...

10:09 am - 59 degrees - overcast...

I’ve mentioned before {click here} that every now and then we like to get off the mountain and head to our family beach property on the Long Beach Peninsula in Washington State.  It’s one of our favorite quick getaways (meaning 4 hours or less).

If you are not familiar with Washington State, you may be thinking that Washington is not generally known for its beaches.  Sure, it has fabulous forests, and beautiful hiking trails, with a lot of monumental mountains thrown in for good measure.  Oh, and we must not forget the many islands, lakes, rivers and streams that offer plenty of recreational fun, but beaches?  Yes, beaches.  Not too many people outside of Oregon and Washington know about Long Beach.  The quaint, sleepy, coastal town is located in Southwest Washington, which is not too far away from Astoria, Oregon.

The Long Beach Peninsula is where we spent an extended weekend enjoying...

...the light house and rugged coastline of Cape Disappointment...
 
We always have to stop by Cape Disappointment; I just love the rugged coastline.  It is located at the extreme southwest corner of Washington State at the south end of the Long Beach Peninsula.  Cape Disappointment receives about 2,552 hours of fog a year – the equivalent of 106 days – making it one of the foggiest places in the US.

...Pelicans...

...playing in the sand...

...feeding the birds - this gull was extra hungry and wouldn't get off the truck...

...flying kites (or trying to)...

...strolling along the boardwalk...

...playing in the fort at the beach property...

...bonfires and S'mores...

...gorgeous sunsets...

...snapping pictures next to the sign at the Goonies House...

...and the Goonies house!

We ended the weekend by stopping in Astoria, Oregon on our way home to see the Goonies house.  Since its release in 1985, The Goonies has become a cult-classic as well as beloved by new generations of fans every year.  Our kids saw the movie a few weeks ago for the very first time and loved it, so of course we had to stop by and let them see the Goonies house - one of the many scenes for the movie that were filmed in and around Astoria.

It was a fun weekend getaway, which was spent with family and friends – 11 kids, 20 adults that spanned 4 generations.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Off-Grid Power {Generators}...

1:00 pm - 81 degrees - scattered clouds and breezy...

We have been living off-grid for over three years now.  During that time, our only source of power has been our Honda EU 2000i generator.  Want to make a piece of toast...go turn on the generator.  Want to use the computer...go turn on the generator.  Want to charge the cell phones, turn on the lights, use a power tool...go turn on the generator.  We’re not any kind of generator experts; we’re just users and HUGE fans of what these machines have allowed us to do over the years.

We’re also not rich, we don’t have boatloads of cash, and we are not able to buy everything brand new.  We are just an average single income family.  And honestly, it’s expensive to set up your own power system from scratch, which is why we have been slowly piecing together our off-grid power system one piece at a time. 

Several months ago we were able to purchase the battery bank {click here}.  Battery banks are the best choice for renewable energy storage.  By using batteries to deliver energy captured from the sun and the wind (aka the power source) in a consistent and reliable form, you will not be left dependent on the whims of nature as you attempt to leave the electrical grid behind.

This month we are able to check off the last large item on our ‘Off-Grid Power Check List’ – the “power source” a Honda EM3500S generator.


The “power source” is whatever system will be creating the electricity – this can be anything from solar, wind, hydro or a generator {click here}.  Since we are still in the process of building our home, we are going to be using the new generator as our main power source.  Once our home is closer to completion then we will switch our main power source over to wind and hydro.

Now all we have to do is build the ‘power house’ and get all the wiring to hook everything together.  Our power system is almost done!
 
-------------------------------------------------
OUR OFF-GRID POWER CHECK LIST:
(A basic off-grid system is made up of nine components.)

  X  Power Source --- Solar, Wind, Hydro, and Generator – whatever system will be creating your electricity.

  X  DC Disconnect --- this is a breaker between the power source and the inverter.  This allows you to disconnect from the power source to troubleshoot errors.  (Housed in the Power Center – click here)

  X  Charge Controller --- this keeps the batteries from overcharging and from being discharged by the power source.  (Housed in the Power Center)

  X  Battery Bank --- stores excess electricity.

  X  System Meter --- this is like a small computer.  It describes how the various components in your system are behaving and allows you to program virtually every aspect of the system.  (Housed in the Power Center)

  X  Main DC Disconnect --- this is the breaker between the battery bank and the inverter.  (Housed in the Power Center)

  X  Pure Sine Wave Inverter ---this is the component that transforms the DC (direct current) electricity, which is yielded by the power source and stored in the battery bank, into the AC (alternating current) electricity that can be used on your appliances in the home.  (Housed in the Power Center)

  X  AC Breaker Panel --- this is the same breaker panel that is found in any home that is tied to the grid.

  X  Backup Generator --- an important source of backup power when the power system is insufficient for the demand.

     Hidden Expense --- all the wiring that is needed to connect everything together; conduit and fittings; small insulated shed aka ‘power house’ with two rooms, one room for the battery bank and one room for all the other electrical components.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy 4th of July...

8:33 am - 52 degrees - scattered clouds...

We hope everyone has a happy and safe 4th of July!


{For a larger view click here.}

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