Sunday, April 29, 2012

Let's Talk Solar

This past week while grocery shopping I noticed in the organic / natural section that some items are labeled as "Solar Power Produced". I had to smirk and wonder who they were foolin'!!!

We've lived solely on solar power for about five years now and unless these companies, that are claiming "solar power produced", have a huge solar infastructure there is no way that their claims are true. So if you are fooled into thinking that you are buying a "green" product, I'm here to shed some light and hopefully stop you from paying three times as much.

If you are considering a change from on-grid to off-grid let me enlighten you a bit.

Our solar journey has been a bitter-sweet one. A journey which we've learned from and have gained a huge amount of knowledge about "living green". It began out of need, a tough life decision (another time...another post...not quite ready to share this just yet). We sold my SUV (deep sigh) and purchased four 800 watt solar panels and eight batteries and moved to sunny Eastern Washington. The thought of living without an electric bill was exhilarating and freeing - or so we thought!

We moved in the summer - you know the sunny time of the year and needless to say we were thrilled with our "off-grid" system…but soon fall arrived and then winter. With winter came the cold realization that there are many days without sun. We found ourselves having to spend well over $500 a month to purchase diesel to run the generator so that the batteries were charged. We have to, any day the sun doesn’t shine, run the generator so we can have some power for the day. On the non-sunny days the generator will have to run twice sometimes three times a day - just to have basic power.

Now, by “basic” power I mean only enough to have lights, run the well pump, internet service. This “basic” doesn’t include oven, electric mixer, wheat grinder or the front load washer. Needless to say when the sun doesn’t shine life is well…”basic”. If I am going to have a baking day and wake up to no sun…no baking. If I am planning on catching up on laundry and wake up to no sun…no laundry. If I plan on having a fun movie time and wake up to no sun…well you get the point. I’ve learned to adjust with the changes in weather - but it has been a huge struggle to just “go” with it.

Through this journey we’ve come to realize that going “solar” is not as economical as promised, not as “green“ as promised, and not as worry free as promised.

To live green, even on the best days, we still have to purchase propane for our cooking stove and hot water tank, diesle and wood to heat the house. We think that living green is really less green because of the cost and extra expense....

We look forward to the day when this chapter of our lives will close and we will go back "on-grid".

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Treasure Hunting...FREE Finds

My dear friend over at inspired this post.  Her knack for finding amazing deals and items at garage sales and thrift stores always amazes me.
In honor of her "Garage Sale Treasure" link up post I thought I'd post about my surprizing day of "free" treasures!

Our library always has a free box and in this box I found three books and a puzzle...Chicken Soup for Mother's Soul, 100 piece Wizard of Oz puzzle, The Book of Lost Tales One and Two.  I thought these were a great find and was satisfied with my "treasure hunting" for the day.  I bet your local library has a free box and I would encourage you to look in there. 
"Grandma" Rose knows my weakness for chocolate and always slips something special in our packages.
After a day of fun with a friend I arrived home to discover that we had been blessed beyond belief...a lady we call "Grandma" Rose has "adopted" our little family and she is always shopping for her thrift and Goodwill stores.  When I arrived home there sat boxes of toys, kites, scooters (that had not even been out of the box yet), and four (yep four) bags of clothing!  It was like Christmas!  There were so many things on my summer "treasure hunting" list. 

What a great day of "free treasures".  Hope your treasure hunting this summer goes well and that you will be blessed with things you didn't even know you needed!

Happy Hunting!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Delightful Daisy Ring

Picture isn't the best - but it gives you an idea of what it is supposed to look like.
Delightful Daisy Ring
Wow...this bread is "melt in your mouth" wonderful. I made it for Easter and every one loved it so I made again this week...with the same "love it" response. It is easy and fun to make.

Page 44 of Better Homes and Gardens All Time Favorite Bread Recipes (brings us this wonderful recipe. (side note: I got this little gem for a whole 25 cents at a garage sale!)

3 - 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
3/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup butter
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs

1/2 cup preserves
2 tablespoons chopped nuts
Confectioner' Icing

In large mixer combine 1 1/2 cups flour and the yeast. In saucepan heat together milk, butter, sugar, and salt just until warm and butter is almost melted; stir constantly. Add to flour mixture; add eggs.

Beat in as much of the remaining flour as you can mix in with a spoon.

Turn out onto a lightly floured or greased with coconut oil surface. (I prefer coconut oil surface) Knead for to make stiff, smooth and elastic dough (6 to 8 minutes). Place in greased bowl; turn once to grease surface. Cover; let rise till double (1 1/4 hours). Punch down; cover and let rest 10 minutes. Transfer to either a well greased baking sheet or round stone (I prefer round stone).

Roll dough into a 14-inch circle. Place beverage tumbler in center of dough.

Make four cuts in dough at equal intervals, from outside of circle to tumbler. In the same manner, cut each section into five strips, making twenty strips total.

Twist 2 strips together, as shown, continuing around circle, making 10 twists; pinch ends. Remove tumbler.

Remove one twist; coil and place in center. Coil remaining twists toward center to for a daisy design.

Bake 375 oven for 20 - 25 minutes.

Serve with butter or use this option and make it a dessert:

Spread preserves over top; sprinkle with nuts and drizzle with Confectioners' Icing.

Confectioners' Icing: combine 1 cup powdered sugar, 1/4 tsp vanilla,, and enough milk to make a drizzling constancy.

I really loved making and serving this. I served it has rolls and not dessert. It is light and flaky - almost doesn't even need butter...notice I said almost as if you are going to eat a roll you might as well indulge and butter it.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


“Our destruction should it come at all, will be from another quarter…the inattention of the people to the concerns of their government, from their carelessness and negligence.” - Daniel Webster

Great Americans like Frederick Douglas (escaped from slavery, minister of the Gospel and an influential civil rights leader) realized that, as President Lincoln eloquently stated, the Declaration of Independence is the priceless portrait and the Constitution is the frame holding it in tact. In other words you HAVE to read the one with the other…not as separate documents! Our Declaration of Independence is the foundation for freedom and the United States Constitution are principals set up to ensure that we keep our freedom. If you care at all for your country, if you care for your children and grandchildren’s future then I beseech you to read, ask for wisdom to understand and the strength to stand and defend our Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution…this is your “hour“!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Happy Easter!

I have fond memories of my mother and I going for Easter dinner at a Chinese restaurant....yep every Easter.  The past few Easters have come and gone without much "flare" or consideration for Easter.  BUT something has changed in my heart and the best way to describe it is in the words of a song...."Amazing grace how can it be that you my King would die for me..."  Over the past few years our King, mighty and strong, has become my fortress, my strong tower, my deliverer, my redeemer, my everything...."I'm alive today because He died for me" this Easter I have joy - and lots of it!  The joy has come on slowly as the Lord has had to "create in me a clean heart" and remove from my heart the callousness around it and has filled it with the awe knowledge of Him. 
He loves to feed chickens! 
One of our neighbors found out that my children have never colored eggs before (I know shame on me)...and she blessed us with two dozen hard boiled eggs and the egg coloring box.  It was so much fun to color eggs with the children - I will look forward to this being a tradition from now on.  I think that I will hide them outside in the morning for a festive Easter egg hunt. 
We are spending Easter in our little mountain home enjoying an Easter message from my husband and an Easter meal complete with a ham from one of the hogs we raised.  My daughter and I are waiting for the cupcakes to cool so we can decorate them.  We will be taking marshmallows, cutting them on the diagonal, dipping the sticky side into colored sugar and then arranging them onto the cupcakes to make flowers...picture to come later. 

My husband came up with an idea to make Easter fun and different - we are going to play lots of different games with the winners receiving strange prizes...that I can not divulge here as one of them might read it and know our plan...teee-heee!

I also wanted to share this easy to make "pie" - it has become one of my favorite special dishes to make.  It isn't has "pretty" as I would have liked it to be...but I know just by the smell it will be delicious.

Candied Sweet Potato Pie - Oh, Yum
 1 single pie crust - pre-baked.
1/4 cup butter
2 lbs sweet potatoes or yams (yams make it more colorful)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup pecan halves
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

1.  Peel and slice either sweet potatoes or yams 1/4 inch thick and set aside.
2. Melt butter add sweet potatoes and stir to coat in butter. Cook one minute over medium heat.
3. Sprinkle with sugar, lift and fold gently to coat potatoes in sugar. Cook 5-8 minutes more to caramelize. Stir in pecans and nutmeg (could also add lemon peel if wanted for a twist). Turn off heat and cool.
4. Carefully layer potatoes in pre-baked pie crust. Bake 15 - 20 minuets in a 425 oven. 
5. Cool and brush with left over syrup from skillet.
6. Can be served with whipped cream if desired.
Goes great with ham - Enjoy!
Adapted from "Better Homes and Gardens"  October 2011

Pslams 144:12 -

That our sons may be as plants
and our daughters may be pillars sculptured in palace style.

My Blog List