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.

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.

Monday, November 16, 2015

First Snow...

5:42 pm - 34 degrees - rain/snow mix...

Yesterday was our first snow of the season.  The kids were really hoping that it was going to stick but it didn’t.

On our way home from school today it started snowing again.  The squeals of excitement started immediately, right along with the wishes that it would stick this time. 

Unfortunately I don't think we'll be waking up to a white wonderland in the morning since the snow level is supposed to jump up to 8,000 feet tonight.

Here are some pictures from previous years first snowfalls.


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