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3/16/15

Modern Prefab Off Grid House Streamlines Solar Systems. Cut Horse Trails. Picnicked. With Cocktails And Equines.

Off grid, in a modern prefab house, it was odd: I'm guessing this message is from the local utilities company, and they just called everyone in our zip code...?!?:

Pfffffft. Thanks, but we're good! Honeychiles don't they know we live in an off grid modern prefab house?


I know everyone is excited for spring, but I now get nostalgic.
If you are well prepared, living through harsh winters in a rural SIP house, off grid, is relaxing, even a celebration! The soups and roasts we make! We eat like Kings. Once cook stove season ends, we're back to solar cooking which I also enjoy but it does take more thought and you can't cook for a crowd like I can on the cook stove.
For the first time this year, the peepers have emerged, and call:  The bell tolls for cook stove season.

Every night it dips down into the 30s, I'm busy relishing the last of cook stove season with chilis and roasts and friends over for a feast.

As the temperatures climb into the 60s, we pull out the solar cooker.


Contractor Tip:
We are also fine tuning some of our systems' function for our off grid house, seasonally. Like sailors who adjust the trim of their sail to match the changing weather, we, living off grid, not only change our living patterns and function seasonally but are streamlining the mechanics of our off grid systems.

Instead of...
...a tankless water heater that just turns on, always...
Why not use a switch that turns it on or off so that when it's spring/ summer/ early fall and your solar hot water collectors have plenty of hot water the tankless doesn't turn on because it is not needed therefore not wasting energy? (Because that tankless water heater IS an energy hog when it turns on!) Just as easy is if you could just have it turn it on / off at the breaker box...

LIKEWISE with the HRV... I only have the HRV running during winter (or the extreme heat of summer) because where we live we have a delicious gentle breeze. You will notice that much of the year the prefab house's windows are flung open.

So, then, why have the HRV on at the same time? Here's my solution:
The on/ off switch you flip on or off seasonally. When on, it runs 15 minutes and then off for 30. (Note: You need to figure out how much your ERV or HRV runs per your conditions and square footage.) And so it runs, indefinitely, until it is once again spring and you just want it off.

Now the button comes in to play when you're doing something like, oh, making fried eggs and bacon and pancakes for a crowd... so you just push the button and it is set to whatever time you want it, in general, to run: "Oh I'm cooking..." and *push*- that means the button runs the HRV 20 minutes. Ahhhh, the cooking smells have cleared! Pretty handy-dandy, no?

Another tip when living off grid and winters make the solar hot water collectors inefficient: Tankless water heater, yes. But how about TWO? One at the shower, one at the kitchen sink... Just a suggestion... because not everyone is going to have a cook stove next to their kitchen island with piping hot water in a kettle, always available...

We now enjoy woodsy walks with spring, sprung...
Daffodils coming up on the old home site, a century+ ago.
Deep in the woods there is an old homesite where just a crumbling chimney remains...
Where the yard used to be, now woods... daffodils. It's enchanting to come upon them on a walk, sunlight filtering down in patches from now tall trees...
Look closely- crayfish...


If I gave you three guesses of who fell in the creek...
you'd be right
each
time.

ONE did manage to stay dry, though, here he sits smug and clean back at the prefab:
We planted, as we do, each year, each spring, and fall.
This week it was elderberry and pawpaw.



Over the weekend we cooked for friends.
Homemade tapioca, chili, hot water for tea, coffee,
but who are we kidding, we had wine.

Homemade tapioca. 

We cut / worked on horse trails, and picnicked.


At the end of the day, we sat in the pasture, with Mrs. B., pimento cheese, and cocktails.
How We Do Cocktail Hour In Pamplin Cit-TAY:
Olives, pimento cheese, and equines.
"LADIES, you KNOW I'm part of this tea party!"

And yes, after the rain this week, there was a rainbow.

Recipes:
You're so vain...
You probably think this solar cookin' post
is about you.

Like many things, I often cook a dish but change it. I do that often with macaroni & cheese, pimento cheese, chili... It's called the same name but tastes quite different, depending on what I add. I did that this week, and our friends loved it.

Copeland's Cookstove Chili
With the usual meat + beans + tomato recipe I varied: 1/2 ground beef, 1/2 sliced small bacon! Garlic, onions, CARROTS, pinto beans, broth or water to cook the beans until done, cans of whole tomatoes, hand crushed. Loads of chili powder, of course, but also a bay leaf, allspice, cinnamon!

Another Pimento Cheese
Yes shredded sharp cheddar, mayo (always homemade or Duke's!), minced onion, pimentos, worcestershire. But how about also mixing in some red pepper flakes and KimKim sauce (great story in that link!)? Ooooooh it was good.

In other news, good thang I googled, "Wink App" before walking out on mah husband. Seriously, if you saw your husband's phone was WINKING, what would YOU think? I was all set to jet. Ah, green building marketers...
(And Handsome Husband is *much* amused.)
"HELLO THERE.
MEET WINK
With Wink, building a smart home is easier than ever before. Start with connected products from your favorite brands—including Quirky, Nest and Philips—and control them all from one app. Before you know it, your home will be doing things you never thought possible."

I don't want to think what you want with mah husband, OR our prefab house, Wink! ; )
Such gorgeous light, here...!

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