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.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

20 Small Reminders...

12:42 pm - 23 degrees - overcast, strong winds...

Are resolutions the same as a to-do-list?  I don’t really know but I work really well when I have a list.  Anyways... here are a few small reminders I am aiming to keep in mind for the new year!

1. Believe that anything is possible.

2. Choose a narrow path.  The sooner you pinpoint exactly what you want to achieve in your live, what you want your legacy to be, the sooner it will happen for you.  Don’t choose the well beaten path; create your own.  Dare to be different and aim for the moon.

3. Break a bad habit.

4. Work hard(er).  Start each day with goals.  Set your goals high and higher... your limits are only those you believe to be true.

5. Purge the unnecessary and decrease clutter.

6. Embrace change.  If life were consistent and without ups and downs, it would be boring, bleak and monotone.  We’re here to dodge bullets, get back up when we’re kicked down and make decisions for ourselves.  It’s all about building your character.  Never fear change, it could be exactly what you need.

7. Never allow waiting to become a habit.  Live your dreams and take risks.  Life is happening now.

8. Eat more real food.

9. Try to grow more food.

10. Take care of your body.  It’s the only place you have to live.  But never forget you don’t have a body, you have a soul.  Your exterior will never define your interior.

11. Exercise daily even when it sounds like a terrible idea. 

12. Its okay to eat cereal for dinner.  You only live once...

13. Make time for creativity.

14. Be loyal.  In love, friendships, and most importantly with your family.  Stay true to your word.

15. Hug the ones I love more.

16. Find the best in others.

17. Show others the best in me.

18. Own your mistakes.  The only way to learn is to make mistakes.  The only way to learn from mistakes is to own them.

19. A lot can happen in a year.

20. You’ll never be as young as you are right now.

Mountain Fun...

10:20 am - 23 degrees - cloudy, strong winds...

Out having fun in all the snow.  

Solar panels are buried.

Out Blowing Snow...

9:27 am - 22 degrees - lightly overcast, strong winds...

Little video clip from yesterday morning.  Tony is definitely not complaining that it has finally stopped snowing.

A Simple Trip To Town...

9:04 am - 22 degrees - lightly overcast, high winds...

...isn’t so simple – especially in the winter time. 

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 no guard rail or anything to stop the rig from going over) with a 100+ foot drop off most of the way.  The drive down the mountain can be extremely nerve wracking, especially when you are supposed to be driving straight and all of a sudden your rig slips sideways, sliding towards that drop-off.  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 (regardless if it’s an inch or a foot), 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.

When we have a lot of snow, each trip to town has to be planned out.  Extra time is needed to unbury, scrape off, and warm up the rig and extra time is needed to slowly make our way down the mountain – the other day, it took an hour to go three miles!

Took 50 minutes to get the car scraped off, the doors unfrozen, and loaded up.

There is a bridge hiding under all that snow.

View from the bridge.

Met the county snowplow on our way down the mountain.

I also try to have all errands done as quickly as possible so I have time to make it back up the mountain with plenty of daylight to spare; just in case we get stuck or have to put chains on.  If we are going to be coming home when it's dark, Tony is either with me, or I know that he isn't very far behind me.  

Made it halfway up the driveway.  Putting chains on at 10:30 at night.
Made it home by 11pm, got the rig unloaded, kids tucked into bed, and Tony headed out to blow the driveway.

After blowing the driveway from our neighbors house, to our house, down to the gate and back, he finally made it home by 2am.  What a long day!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas...

7:04 am - 31 degrees - cloudy...

Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas!
Wishing you all the joys of the coming season and the best in the coming year!

Merry Christmas From Our Family To Yours!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

It’s Snow Much Fun...

10:17 am - 32 degrees - 9 inches of new snow and still snowing...

The kids were up before 6 am this morning (they don't know the meaning of sleeping in) shining flashlights out the windows looking at all the flakes fall and swirl like those in a snow globe.  

I made them wait until it got light out before they got suited up and dashed outside to go play. 

Even the cats were having fun in the snow.

What a wonderful way to start the day!

Mountain Chores...

9:53 am - 32 degrees - 9 inches of new snow and still snowing...

The last storm blew over a few more trees and left quite a bit of debris all along the driveway. 

The weather reports were saying that we’re supposed to get 2-3 feet of snow by Friday, so we spent yesterday morning cleaning up the debris.  This will help when it comes time for Tony to either blow or plow the driveway, he won’t be hitting broken branches or fallen rocks.

For some reason, the kids had more fun shoveling off the bridge, than they did tossing limbs.  At least they were having fun while doing their chores.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Winter Storms...

3:15 pm - 36 degrees - thick clouds...

We are once again in between storm systems.  The last round of storms brought about a foot of new snow, only problem was that it was very west snow so it settled down to about 5” of snow slush – looks like snow, but when you step in it, your foot prints turn to slush.

The snowflakes turned into pelting waves of freezing rain which left a ¼” of ice over everything.

Then the wind started to howl, along with the pelting waves of freezing rain, you started to hear the pop and crack of branches breaking all around from the strain of the heavy ice.

Although this last round of storms left a mess of broken branches and tree limbs behind, thankfully that was the only damage we sustained.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Winter Storms...

2:11 pm - 33 degrees - heavy fog, 1.5" of snow...

We had some welcomed snow over the weekend, the result of one final storm in a parade of storms that has been going on for over a week. 

This last round of storms has caused severe flooding, landslides, power outages, and even a rare tornado that touched down.

Thankfully, besides a few sections of the driveway washing out, the only damage that we sustained was to a few solar panels that got blown around by the 80+ mph wind gusts.

Water was pouring out of the hillside all along the driveway.

Sections of the county road were flooded.

This is the highest the river has been at the bridge on the driveway.
Over 16 inches of rain in one week!

The 80+ mph wind gusts blew around a few solar panels.

Unfortunately there was some damage to a few of the solar panels.

While all this crazy weather was going on, we had an unwelcome visitor - a first in five years.  Thankfully we caught the woodrat before any damage was done.  

The woodrat made nests in the engine compartments of all our rigs.  Apparently some of their favorite nesting materials include wire insulation and rubber fuel lines.

What a crazy week.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Making Holiday Wreaths...

11:44 am - 31 degrees - overcast...

Every year after Thanksgiving I make a number of lush, full, fresh Christmas wreaths for family and friends.  Whether on the front door or above the mantle, few things convey the holidays better than a fresh wreath.

This weekend while Tony and Caitlyn went out searching for the perfect Christmas tree, Jack and I wandered around the property in search of greenery for our Christmas wreaths.  We found noble to use for the base greenery with some hemlock and cedar for accents.

Bagging up our Noble Fir cuttings.
I cut everything into around 6"-7" or around 10"-11" cuttings. 
Different size cuttings make different size wreaths.
Both wreaths are on an 18" frame.
The wreath on the left is made up of 6"-7" cuttings.
The wreath on the right is made up of 10"-11" cuttings.
I think mixing different kinds of greenery creates a beautiful textured look that just adds a little something.  I will use whatever greenery is available around the property like noble, cedar, salal, or hemlock, and sometimes we’ll get some cuttings from our parents’ homes.  I’ve used arborvitae cuttings from my parent’s and we’ve taken holly cuttings from Tony’s parents.  We just use whatever is available.

Before I start making wreaths the first thing I do is get organized - I cover the dining table in a heavy plastic, get out all the tools and supplies I am going to need like the wreath frames, wire, wire snips and hand pruners, and I set aside my piles of greenery.

When I’m ready to make the wreath, I lay the wire frame in the center of the table and secure one end of the wire to the frame.  I then gather up greenery cuttings, usually around 10-12 pieces layered in whatever order I think looks good – a few cuttings of noble, then a hemlock, then another couple nobles, topped off with a cedar or two.  Lay the bundle onto the frame and wrap the bottom inch in wire a few times to secure it to the frame. 

I continue to gather, bundle and wrap until the whole frame is full.  Then I will work my way back around the wreath gently spreading the bundles out a bit and tucking in an extra piece of greenery here or there if I see an area that is a little thin.

After the wreath is looking nice and full, I will add a few small embellishments like red ilex berries or small pinecones just to add some festive color and more texture.  I prefer simplistic wreaths decorated by nature’s embellishments whereas others prefer adding bows, ornaments or other decorations.

After all the greenery, nature's embellishments and decorations have been added, it’s time to add the hanger.  One way is to use a piece of wire that I twist and form into a loop, then attach to the back to be used as a hook.  

Another way is to cut about 1 ½ yards of ribbon, wrapped the two ends of ribbon around the frame about 8”-10” apart from each other, then stapled each individual ribbon end together to secure the ribbon to the frame.  Then cut the ribbon in half at the top of the loop and tie a bow with the two ends.

This full, lush wreath will make the perfect greeting hung on your front door.


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