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8/28/17

Off Grid Prefab House Dispenses Life Advice And Canning Tips Over A Solar Eclipse. With Hawks!

In August, canning is part of my daily routine as we ready for the upcoming winter, living off grid in the modern prefab house.
I start the day with breakfast, start a sauce, salsa, or jam, get the Pips on school, pour cooked whatever into jars, pressure can it, turn it off, fix lunch, and then we head out for the rest of the day filled with adventure!
But believe it or not, (it's hard to believe) soon it will be winter.
All that summer canning will come in handy!
(Especially when we're snowed in!)

Living off grid in a modern prefab house, it is practical to have as many canned goods as possible because our off grid refrigerator is tiny, and traditionally our off grid freezer is used primarily for meat, with any extra room for vegetables that freeze well that aren't as fresh when canned, like corn or sometimes when you just want fresh berries vs. jam.
Canning is great in a small foot print home as well, because I can store flats of tomato sauce and jam and vegetables in every nook and cranny, under beds, in the back of closets... tidy, accessible, but making use of every inch of space in the prefab house without needing ginormous energy hog appliances to keep food safely.
I have been working on pasta sauces and salsas. This week I moved into jams.

I've been musing on life as I can...
This is not just for spouses, but family and friends.
It is Copeland's Life Philosophy As If We Were All Off Grid Solar Battery Banks.
So here you go:

Love Is Like A Battery Bank
Each time you surge a use of energy, that level drops. 100%. 87%. 62%. 43%... 0.
Even with the sun shining, it takes a LOT of sunshine to get it back up... Even then, regularly, YOU NEED TO EQUALIZE- which means not only up to 100%, but to give MORE, as things balance out to EQUAL happy energy.

When you use up energy and life is an average mix of sun and clouds, the battery bank remains at the level your power usage left it. And then to deplete that storage again...using energy instead of charging, the bank drops.

If you go below 50%, it's hard to recover.
Don't let it go below where there is less than more stored love, ok?

WHILE I'M AT IT, here is also some more life advice:
You Are Not Allowed To Scold, MUCH LESS TRAP WITH YOUR BARE HANDS, Furious Hawks.
Yes, you heard me right: you are not allowed to bare-handedly catch a full grown angry hawk after it kills your chicken, toss it on its back, jab a tree branch over it so its talons grip that instead of your head, pin its wings to the ground and yell, "BUT SHE WAS MYYYYYY CHICKEN FIRST!"
Jest sayin'.
There are things I thought I would never have to say to my child, but we do now have a rule that you're not allowed to catch raptors with your bare hands and yell at them.

With all these musings, we solar eclipsed, back on the bay.
No pictures did it justice. Plus I had the photo settings all wrong. It was awesome.
Who needs fancy-schmancy solar glasses
when you have boxes and boxes
of canning tomatoes
from which to make
pinhole cameras?
We made a bunch!
Plenty for everyone!

Sharing the solar view.

Solar leaf patterns from our favorite tree.

Recipes:
Copeland's Corn Pie Inspired By Trinidad 
Make pie crust with lots of herbs in it like thyme and oregano, line the pie tin. In a large pan, sautee diced onion & sausage (we use turkey sausage to make it alpha gal friendly) until onions are soft, then add corn, diced red and green peppers, minced hot pepper.

Once that's all hot and cooked to your liking (I like to let the corn sit then stir so it chars a little) add in some lime, chili powder, and milk. Once the milk is steaming you can turn off the heat and stir in salt &  pepper. Let that mess completely cool, then stir in cheddar cheese, beaten eggs, some fresh parsley if you like, and pour into the pie pan.
Cook at 350.

Fig Canary Jam 
Pick figs, quarter. Add in equal amount of diced canary melon, then lime zest, lemon juice, sugar and cook while mushing up everything (or cheat: get a hand held blender and have at it when no one's looking! Pulse it and try to leave a lot of pieces so it's not just puree.).
Pressure can at 11lbs 10 min.

(This would be AWESOME alone or with added minced poblanos or another hot pepper over a cheese as an app, or to glaze seafood like scallops!)

Peach Canary Jam
Same idea, just with white peaches (blanched and skin slipped off) and lime juice, no zest.

Note on jams:
I don't use pectin because our 14 year old likes to dig a spoon into a jam jar and remove the jam as if a popsicle and eat it. NO SIR, for that you get NO PECTIN so that my "jam" is a thick syrup so that instead of a JAMSICLE, your momma drizzles the jam over yer toast since you can't be trusted.

ALSO making syrupy jam means we can use it super easily for many other purposes- often in meat roasts, to glaze seafood, over blocks of cheese... YUM!

Momma's Mussels
Get fresh, fresh mussels.
In a pot saute in olive oil (I'd use butter but am not due to our alpha gal girl) loads of sliced garlic, minced onion, perfectly ripe tomatoes. Pull out seafood stock you made from the freezer (Hint: whenever you pick crabs or shell shrimp, put the remnants, excluding anything you'd discard, in a bowl in the freezer until full. Then simmer everything in water for at least an hour with vegetables in the fridge until reduced and you have a broth, and freeze. Taaaa daaaaa!). Melt it in the veggies, and when it's all smelling delicious add at the last minute the mussels, some fresh minced garlic, salt and pepper, and any fresh herbs like parsley you have on hand. Cook until mussels open and serve, preferably with fresh bread made by Papi!
Hope y'all have a great week.

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8/21/17

Off Grid Prefab House Readies For The Solar Eclipse! Kinda.

I can't tell you how all summer long when we are sailing people go, "Wait. YOU LIVE OFF GRID???"
But you're on a sailboat! If you're a sailor, off grid is easy!
Like any off shore cruise, it just takes prep work, the right tools, and a sailor's attitude to happily live off grid on *minimal* solar.
Add in the energy efficiency of the modern prefab house's SIP, and its passive solar design to have your house work thoughout the seasons, and you have super easy!
When we bought our solar system package for our off grid passive solar prefab house, there were three categories of solar systems we could purchase- house, cabin, and third world. We bought the latter, and, because everything is energy efficient and we are mindful of resources, we are now entering our
But just because we're sailors doesn't mean we're always organized. By the pool, as Pip 1 was off, out of our sight for hours with friends, with no word on when they'd be back, we adults discussed the upcoming solar eclipse.

Off they go, who knows where, or when.

None of us had bought the (now-sold-out) special safely-view-the-eclipse glasses...
Moms having fun on the sand bar and
NOT BUYING SOLAR GLASSES.

Does this look like we're buying solar glasses?
No. We're having fun on the sand bar!
Oh look here's another picture of me
NOT BUYING SOLAR GLASSES.
Soft shell  solar glasses.

But, like every summer, I have been canning, canning, canning. I have boxes.
For free, we can make PIN HOLE CAMERAS! I'm posting this blog early so if you're a procrastinator like EVERY SINGLE ADULT AT THE YACHT CLUB THIS WEEKEND, you can do it too!
: )
This link has all the info you need, now get on it!
And p.s. If you don't have boxes, here's an easier way!

Green Modern Kits Family Note:
With heavy hearts, I wanted to share that our beloved Mr. Chuckles passed this week. R.I.P. Khan.
Your raised our children from toddlers to teens.

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8/14/17

One

How did we get to this?
It never went away.
Hate recedes and surges. We feel its hand on our shoulders, again.

The off grid prefab is an hour-ish south of Charlottesville. When we talk amongst ourselves, we reassure each other with, "But they weren't from here, it wasn't like those were local people, those Nazis came from states away..."

Then you hear a friend-of-a-friend, local, chiming in that this weekend in Charlottesville will be marked as where "...the second civil war began..."
Do I detect glee?
Listen closely, and realize we are all one friend-of-a-friend away from hate.
My neighbor's flag on our road.
I'm sure they're nice and don't realize
the mistrust and ill will their symbols
are making those on our road feel towards them.
Or... maybe it is intended? We'll never know,
because we don't want to know them.


For fans of history and architecture, here are some thoughts that come to mind:
Reading Club:
  • To erase monuments implies we are no better than Russia or the Taliban.

    HOWEVER that does not mean we can not consider the past from today. Take those statues where we realize they do NOT represent our values and put them in a museum OR leave them (and buildings built as monuments), but with signs adding context as my friend Christy Coleman of the American Civil War Center and her peers suggest we do in Richmond, where this debate is occurring over statues on Monument Avenue.


  • The Myth of the Kindly General Lee
    The moon rises above Robert E. Lee on Monument Avenue.
    2010/ALEXA WELCH EDLUND/TIMES-DISPATCH

    A Southerner, I was raised with the perspective that our leaders in the War Between The States were misunderstood when looking back in historical context. I was told that they wanted to free their slaves but since it was just not done at the time they had to be quiet about their intent to eventually liberate the humans they kept enslaved. Ohhhhh not so.
  • Reclaiming Southern Pride
    "This history has been lost—or is simply ignored—by a number of southerners who say they don’t sport the flag with the subjugation of black people in mind. They insist it is about Southern pride. Perhaps to them, that is indeed all it’s about. The other 'stuff' doesn’t matter anymore, and when people attack the flag, they attack their heritage. That is why the commissioner of a town that neighbors mine claims he is pushing for the flag to be flown over the city courthouse.

    But it is the Confederate flag supporters who still embrace the doctrine of white supremacy who have the history right."
Note to the internet: if you can dialogue, you really can change someone's mind. I am an example of that. I went from Southern Heritage Pride to no longer enjoying my (always tongue-in-cheek) Redneck Rebel belt buckle. (Although I still *am* American by birth and happily Southern by the grace o' god! Just without flags or symbols that assert supremacy and pain.)

This song has been running in my head for days:
Ignore the model writhing in the video, instead listen to understand why.
[Bono described the song's theme as such: "It is a song about coming together, but it's not the old hippie idea of 'Let's all live together.' It is, in fact, the opposite. It's saying, We are one, but we're not the same. It's not saying we even want to get along, but that we have to get along together in this world if it is to survive. It's a reminder that we have no choice". The Edge described it on one level as a "bitter, twisted, vitriolic conversation between two people who've been through some nasty, heavy stuff". On another level, he suggested that the line "we get to carry each other" introduces "grace" to the song and that the wording "get to" (instead of "got to") is essential, as it suggests that it is a privilege to help one another, not an obligation."]

 

8/7/17

Modern Off Grid Prefab House Enjoys Summer Breeze And Code Class

Living off grid in a modern prefab house in the country was gorgeous this week! I love the different seasons, here...

Beautiful moons, breezy skies, meteor showers, tree frogs singing...
Mowing the fields went great!
Welllllllll it went great until the tractor broke. So we are now waiting on parts... ahhhh life in the country.
Life wasn't bad at the Ramshackle on the bay, either...

Let The Kids Code
When in the off grid prefab house in a town population 40, it is hard to do service work when it takes thirty minutes just to get to the grocery store. It just doesn't make sense for the Pips to volunteer thirty-forty minutes away for an hour or two...That's why we maximize our volunteer time while at the bay- everything is within two miles, making service work easy. From sailing camp counselors to code instructors, they have a great experience helping other kids learn.

This week the Pips taught their annual Kids Who Code class at the local library.
It's great to see children teaching children, and using local libraries as their meeting point.
Great job, kids!

Recipe:
Confetti Summer Pasta
Cook at least three chicken breasts, dice. Cook two small packages of fresh cheese tortellini.
Sauce: fave vinegar + sugar + olive oil, sea salt, pepper to make a strong vinaigrette. Heavier on the vinegar side vs. sweet or oily.
In a large bowl mix together minced garlic, onion, diced red & green pepper, 1 drained can each of black and pinto beans, plenty of (uncooked!) corn off the cobb (lay it down to cut vs. holding vertical and then the pieces don't fly everywhere!), 1/2 quart of my canned pasta sauce or salsa, then fold in the chicken and pasta careful not to mush it, ha. Let sit and blend at least one day. Then top and fold in lots of fresh parsley before serving.

Well, off grid, off we sail.

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