May 12, 2011

What to do while we wait

We could start showing our house next week for all we know. It just depends on when we hear from the bank. I have already made quite a plunge in starting seeds in our living room. 

It feels like we are in some sort of limbo. On one hand I know we need to enjoy the home we have now, but what effort do we put into the house if we are only going to be here for a few more months? We don't have money to fix up the house for sale. That mortgage payment sucks up all our saving money.

Another I am trying to figure out is how to start homesteading and simplifying now without planting my roots in this home or land.  I have concluded in my mind, though I need to keep reminding myself, that making things from scratch is a good thing to start on while living here. There is a lot I can do without having to have the garden or land we look forward to. I can learn more about baking bread, making my own dairy products, and I can even learn a lot about food storage like canning and freezing seasonal foods.

It is really easy to stick to my old way of life. Transitioning off grid is not just moving ourselves to a different location. It is living completely differently than we do now in every necessity of life. One thing I don't think I will be enjoying much longer is being able to just jump into a hot shower whenever I need to.  The energy consumed in heating water is a major expense. We hope to discover an ingenuousness way of heating water that is tried and true. (Who knows we may get all our hot water from heating it in a pot on the wood stove! A wood stove hot water heater is not out of the running for us yet either.)  Discovering new and better things does not come without it's trials and challenges.

So here is my new list to focus on, not to a 'T', but just to get my head around my priorities at the moment.

Line dry the clothes
Learn to bake bread without the bread machine
Hand wash the dishes
Flower gardening and maybe a few potted veggies(to enjoy this season and be thankful for what we have now)
Do some canning and freezing with seasonal foods from the market (roasted red peppers, tomatoes, salsa, pickles, fruit, corn, etc.)

To inspire myself here is my canned goods from last year. It wasn't much, but at least I started! This year I hope I have a whole pantry full!

May 11, 2011

Backyard Corner Flower Gardening

This is my project area this summer.  I think it will add a lot of beauty to the home when we show it for sale. I mulched all around the house yesterday, with a few more bags left to buy and throw down. All we need to do now is keep up on the mowing and weed whacking and the lawn should look great.  This areas already consists of hostas, roses, lily of the valley, widows tears, daisies, and lilies. Anyway, on to my seed starting adventure.


To spend as little as possible I decide to start my own baby annual plants. I color coded the seed packets so I knew which cups were which. Marigold, Pansy, bellflowers, sweat peas and silver dollars (aka money plant).

I filled medium size paper cups with dirt and poked holes in the bottom for drainage.

I found a couple plastic tub lids that weren't being used in the basement and use them to catch any drainage.

I was so surprised at how fast the marigolds and sweat peas started popping up!  Marigold after about 3 days and sweat peas only 2 days!  that must have been really good potting soil!  Only about $1.50 a bag at the back of the gardening section at Meijer.  I can't wait to update on my progess in mid-late June!

May 5, 2011

Dream Garden

Can I be unrealistic for a moment?   Below is my dream plant list.  I know not only am I dreaming, but also some of these will take years to grow and some are not even possible in my climate. It would just be nice to list the plants I desire to have. These are also just things that pop in my head so humor me and feel free to gently correct me if I have a plant in the wrong category. :)

Veggies/grains - carrots, potatoes, onions, garlic, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, green beans, cucumbers, lettuce, swiss chard, corn, wheat, quinoa, oats, rice, black beans

Fruit - Apple, pears, plums, kiwi, strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, orange, avocado, banana (ok ok, I know it couldn't be edible in my climate! Is it possible in a 30' green house to do an avocado or banana tree?)

Nuts - walnut, pecan, almonds

Herbs - basil, cilantro, parsley, chives, lavender, rose hip, rosemary

Flowers and trees (besides the already listed)  Peony (will be the first thing planted on our land...) , lilacs (every color), daisies, pansies, coleus, holly, roses, maple, did I mention lavender and lots of it!

Oh I'm sure I could sit and think of more, but enough dreaming for one night!  How many acres will I need for all these plants?

Tomorrow my 3 year old and I will be seeding a bunch of flowers I picked up at the store tonight. Pansies, marigolds, sweet pea, silver coins, and canterbury bells!

May 4, 2011

Look Ma! I made goat cheese!!!

With the help of a few youtube videos I made goat cheese last night.  I look forward to making more variations in the future, but I do need to find a better deal on goat milk.  I think $3.12 for 1 liter (1/4 gallon) is a bit steep! Does anyone know of a good place to get goat milk in West Michigan? We may need to practice with cow's milk for a while. What on earth does "ultra-pasteurized" mean?

For lunch today we made goat cheese and crackers with green onions, cucumbers, and carrots!  They were so pretty I had to take a picture.

Things like making our own cheese and yogurt are just a few of the things we desire to do on our own out in the country.  We don't expect to do everything, but at least right now these are things we can learn to help make the transition a bit easier. Like I have said in a previous post, going off grid is not social independence. We are not going to be able to provide for all our personal needs. This is why I don't really like the term "self sufficient." That would be cool to find someone who provides everything for themselves and never needs to go to the store even for cotton or TP. :)

I also posted over at my Undertaking Homemaking blog about the coleus I planted today.  I have decided to focus on a few things until our house sells one of them is doing flower gardening to help make our house look nice.

May 3, 2011

Off Grid Home Design Notes

While we wait for our home to sell we have been considering and thinking about the new lifestyle. So much will change for us.  There is no need to wait until we are in our new place to work on the transition.  It won't be easy, but planning ahead will help the process feel less sudden.

Growing up in the society we have is a subtle "corruption". I don't mean to make it sound all bad.  What matters most in life truly is loving others sacrificially and caring for your family.  When I say "corruption" I mean those convenient short-cuts we make to ensure an easier life for ourselves without considering the long term consequences.  It is easy to do and I think really in our human nature to try to make life "easier".  Growing up we never concerned ourselves with how much we were throwing away or where it went when we put out the garbage.  This is something I don't want to miss in raising my child(ren). 

My personal goal as I grow older in regards to material things is never just do what everyone else is doing.  I want to always ask why and move my life according to what I find when I ask the hard questions.  In the end I believe this will make life to be more rich and fulfilling. Most importantly we will be putting ourselves in a position to help others.

Anyway, all that to say I sat down last night and drew out a really good idea of what our dream home would be.  When I say "dream home" I don't mean some extravagant beautiful large dwelling like a mansion. When I think of a perfect home design I think "functionality", "purpose", "resource", and "efficiency". 

I made the plan below in Google Docs Spreadsheet.  I have played with this kind of thing before and it is just the easiest way for me to do it. I tried to get the appliances and furniture sizes somewhat accurate, but wasn't too picky. I know that it will probably continue to change as our plans changes.  Hopefully I can get Jake to post his plan for plumbing sometime. It is very unique and efficient.  You will notice that all our water utilities are located directly next to the utility room. We have plenty, and I mean PLENTY of time to switch this up before making any final drawings or decisions.

Click here to see our plan- subject to and most likely will change!

Coming up soon I will start discussing the ways in which we are gearing up for our new hardworking lifestyle. Hint: It has to do with me not being on the computer as much as I would like.

Proverbs 16:9 "The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps."