Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Personal Off-Grid Accomplishments

          To start off this week's off-grid challenge, I though that I would share all of our off-grid accomplishments.  I don't list these to boast, but to show that regular people can lead regular lives while living simply.  Some of these we just had to jump in and do it, some (the laundry) we had to slowly get into the habit.  I want to encourage and inspire people to use less.  Sure my life would be a lot easier if we made our morning coffee in a coffee maker instead of on the stove, and leftovers would be more convenient if we had a microwave, but we choose to live without these things.  These little things force me to slow down.

~  We don't use an air conditioner, not even a window unit.  We are lucky enough to be at a high enough altitude that our nights and mornings are pretty cool.  With all wood floors the house stays an OK temperature, even on our occasional 100 degree days.  At first the afternoons were pretty uncomfortable, but gradually we got used to the heat.  I wear long skirts or jeans all day, and anymore I don't even notice the temperature. 
~  I mentioned all wood floors, that means no vacuuming.  I do have some area rugs, but I just fling them over the deck and beat them with a broom to clean them.  If you have carpet in your home, look into a carpet sweeper
~  In our kitchen we don't have a dishwasher or microwave, and our oven is propane.  I also avoid using any electric appliances.  Want a good workout?  Try making homemade whipped cream by hand.  Oddly enough, the one appliance that I just can't seem to kick is my can-opener.  I really need to buy a good hand one, but every time I'm in town I forget.
~  While I haven't started back up doing the laundry by in a wash tub in the yard, I do have a clothes line.  I need to figure out what I'm going to come wintertime.

          There you have it.  Most of these energy-saving habits we have picked up in the past year.  At our old house in KS, the summer energy bill was just over $200 a month.  Last month we were at $130, which I still think is a little high, but we were using a lot of power tools for remodeling.

Now, onto the challenge. 

          Last week for our off-grid challenge, I talked about alternative ways of storing food that would normally go in the freezer.  This week I'm going to switch over to the fridge.  Since I cook and bake mostly from my pantry, my fridge is pretty empty:  milk, eggs, blocks of cheese, sour cream, thawing meat, applesauce, misc. condiments, and cream cheese.   Cream cheese, good for so many things.  Spreads, baking, cooking, dipping strawberries in.  Cream cheese is one of those things that really needs to be refrigerated.... or does it?

          One of my new favorite blogs is Canning Granny.  Oh my word this lady cans EVERYTHING, even cream cheese!  Since I have yet to do this (but believe me I plan to), you can see how she does it here.  Now just a note, this method is not an "approved" FDA or extension services method.  So can cream cheese at your own risk.  Personally I would rather risk canned cream cheese than what food companies put in some of their foods, but that is a whole different post.

Week 8 Challenge:
          So this week I challenge you to can something that you've never canned before.  The cream cheese is just an inspiration.  Because it's not an "approved" method I wouldn't want anyone to feel like they have to can cream cheese, get sick, then come after me.  Explore her blog a bit, you are sure to find something that catches your eye. 
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Preparedness Challenge

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