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1/16/18

Modern Off Grid Prefab Enjoys Net Zero In Low Temps With Flu And Bones

Passive Solar Prefab House Off Grid Loves Energy Efficiency In Winter!

"It was 67 degrees when I woke..." greeted Handsome Husband as I stumbled in to the great room for coffee. I yawned: "What was the temperature outside?" "FOURTEEN."
And thus another morning dawns in the modern off grid prefab house after an evening with no heat when, once we go to bed, the cook stove goes out.

Frigid winds whipped, and Handsome Husband kept walking around the modern prefab house remarking, "I just can't believe how COMFORTABLE it is, in here! It's just so COZY yet we are just putting on ONE log at a time! It is freaking COLD outside!!!"
Yep...

We also had rain that was so hard, it was raining sideways! But in the off grid prefab house, while the rain beat angry on the roof, inside it was quiet, calm; we were warm and dry.

With the three day weekend, we planned adventures!
Everyone was FULL OF THEMSELVES with the cold!
They were ALL acting crazy! Everyone was FRESH, including the teens.
 

Then what I suspected was the flu arrived and started knocking at our door.
Helloooooooooooooo...
"Let me IN!"

I started eating pickled garlic with the first signs of ache. This year's flu is no joke. I think anyone who starts to ache needs to drop everything and REST.

When the aches didn't relent, I made SuperAntiFlu Tomato Soup.

Recipes:
SuperAntiFlu Tomato Soup
Mince loads of raw garlic and ginger. Add to a pot with about 2" of water. Dump in my general tomato-onion-garlic-with-a-leaf-of-basil pasta sauce I can every summer. Get out your handy hand mixer and puree that mess. Add lots of lime juice, sea salt, and squirts and squirts AND SQUIRTS of sriracha. Heat until it simmers on cook stove, pour into big cups, and sip.

I give this recipe every year when flu season hits... here you are, again:
Pickled Garlic: 
Peel cloves and put in a glass mason jar.
Cover with apple cider vinegar, sealed with a coffee filter or cloth with a rubber band so it can breathe.
Let sit three weeks, pour out half the liquid (makes AWESOME salad dressing mixed with oil and herbs!).
Refill the rest with local honey and let THAT sit three weeks, then it's ready to eat.

After days of rest, the flu and aches ebbed, and it never got worse, never got to the point of what you think of as the flu being! But it was in my bones. I rested and sipped SuperAntiFlu Soup and ate garlic garlic garlic. I have noticed this phenomenon- maybe when we all feel like we're getting something if we focus more on self care / prevention of a virus taking hold vs. struggling through the workday?

It's a luxury to think like that I know, but can you and your community really afford an epidemic?
As I mused on wellness, my mind wandered... I don't remember an exact moment or how it happened, I mean, we were all gently having a quiet day taking care of ourselves but suddenly I was in excruciating pain.
I: "Dang I am in PAIN!"
Handsome Husband: "Um, there's a bone sticking out of you..."

A rushed trip to the Orthopedic Surgeon later, this is what I know: basically, a bone in my wrist's joint has worn down and is no longer smooth and round so somehow in a freak accident it SNAGGED on another bone or muscle and was then OUT. It's back in now, I am in a splint, I can't button nor unbutton my jeans or wash dishes or twist newspaper to start a fire so yes let this sink in: Handsome Husband is in DC and I AM NOW OFF GRID WITH ONE ARM.

Wish me luck.
And snow arrives.
Shake yer tailfeathers, y'all.

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1/8/18

When A Contractor Tries To Talk You Out Of A SIP Prefab And Says They Can Do It Cheaper Read This Post.

So many people get talked out of SIP (structural insulated panels) and hence our modern prefab house kits because a contractor says they can build it (a little) cheaper by mimicking our design (not quite, dudes, it never looks or functions well). 
Temperatures this week at the off grid prefab house.

Weather like this reminds us of why you don't cut corners on energy efficiency. At Green Modern Kits, we take energy efficient prefab homes, and climate, seriously.

Arctic outside, do we look cold in the off grid prefab house?

(Note: I love good contractors. Their job is to make your home construction project successful! BUT. There are still many many contractors who don't compare one line item with a home construction project's total energy efficiency value financially, short -and- long term.)

Remember that when you build energy efficient homes for a little more cost, spending money up front on energy efficiency not only saves you in monthly utility bills, but on replacing (always, inconvenently and expensively) broken HVAC systems.

Compare the cost of huge HVAC systems and how you might need to replace systems, and burst pipes, and then compare that to how much your contractor is quoting to "save" you money by doing things "cheaper" thus less energy efficient and functional.

Compare the cost of your current HVAC system with the minimal systems one purchases for energy efficient homes.

Nope, not cold...
 Did I mention it's Arctic outside?


Not cold in the off grid prefab house... it's toasty!

More not cold... 
Many were not as comfortable as we, off grid in our modern prefab house...
My social media feed was filled with homeowners bemoaning the loss of one heat pump system after another. Burst pipes. Heating systems that could not keep up with the severe cold pushing indoors through poorly insulated walls.



We faced howling winds. Negative temperatures, night after night. Snow.
I wondered how a week of severe weather, with negative wind chills all week would mean to be in the "standard thickness" of our structural insulated panels (SIP) for the modern prefab house vs. the "thicker panels" option people in severe climates would order. For it was Arctic.

And yet, every morning we woke to indoor temperatures that were FINE. Even though the cook stove had burned out thus leaving us with no heat.
I wondered how getting through a winter would be like, off grid, now relying on weed trees like the tree of paradise that now makes up our wood pile.

Wonder no more.
We were great.
Each morning we woke in the 60s after a night of no heat because the fire in the cook stove went out. Each morning I got the cook stove going and watched the indoor temperatures jump.

Since I'm sipping coffee comfortably, relaxed in my cozy off grid prefab house, let's talk
WEED.

WEED FIREWOOD that is.
Reflecting on how the now-100%-weed-trees woodpile performs against the traditional hardwood (i had a few pieces I burned this week)... I like it more. I was surprised when the oak still popped seasoned as it was... I think leaving the weed tree wood unsplit (but seasoning is super important, as it is for any firewood) made it burn so steady. When I wanted more heat I just tossed in smaller branches... I LOVE IT.

I have read articles on how invasive the tree of paradise is and how it is suffocating our native trees. BURN IT, it works GREAT.

As usual, when the temperatures got severe, my mom called.
THIS TIME she did NOT tell us to flee the off grid prefab house because "we were all going to die..." but instead told me that they had gone to check on their river house before all this severe weather arrived: "The gas was out and the company needed to get in, so we went down and THE INSIDE TEMPERATURE WAS THIRTY-TWO DEGREES!"

Now their river house is recent construction, up to code, has plenty of natural, even passive solar light.  So now we know what their river house would wake up to in winter with no heat: THIRTY TWO DEGREES.

AND the Arctic air hadn't yet arrived!!!
Grandma's River House.

We know what we wake to, off grid in an energy efficient prefab house, in Arctic conditions, when the heat goes out overnight...

SO. Remind yourself to read this post when contractors try to talk to you about how much money you're going to save not going the prefab SIP house route.

We're comfy and cozy at the off grid prefab house! 
Which is what no one wants to hear when it's Arctic out.

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1/2/18

Off Grid In A Modern Prefab House A Frigid New Year Dawns


At the modern off grid prefab house, it is positively FRIGID!
In the modern off grid prefab house it was -4 last night
 but is now a BALMY 13.


But not inside. The tiny firebox in our vintage cook stove heats 1,200 square feet of the modern prefab house, easy.

Once that cook stove heats up the interior of the off grid modern prefab house, the energy efficiency of the structural insulated panels retains the heat. So yeah, we're good.
So when it's frigid, we still wake fine even with the fire out overnight...

And of course the passive solar design helps, too.

We had dear friends from LA / NYC visit!!! More on that in a sec!
With the end of the year, I had some moments to mull over how to make frugal, bare-minimum-systems off-grid living easier.

FIREWOOD
With the last week of rifle season approaching, thus leading into the season where one fells trees and cuts firewood, I am rethinking some things for my "Living Off Grid Comfortably When Yer Eighty" plan. I had mentioned how we had always done crop tree release, improving the conditions of our woods, and how the tree of paradise and wild cherry properly seasoned had been great for firewood.

I'm going to put this thought out further: if you focus on just cutting weed trees, you can also rethink your equipment. Much as we gravitate towards smaller older tractors we could buy in one payment vs. getting into debt for years, focusing on the weed trees also allows us to easier manage firewood WITHOUT super heavy chainsaws and eliminates the expensive log splitter!

If you are just cutting weed trees, you can use a smaller chainsaw which you can handle when older v.s. paying some strapping young person... The trunk and branches cut easily into perfect categories without further splitting: 1. smaller branches to start the fire, 2. larger round logs to just feed the fire one log at a time. If you need more heat, just add a few smaller logs to that one big log, and there ya go. The larger round logs burn evenly, for a long time, so are perfect to balance one atop the other to slowly sink down at night, or just one at a time throughout the day.

RAINWATER
A sharp reader noted our rainwater system configuration a few weeks ago and yes, they are correct: later designs of the rainwater filtration DO have the UV light treatment after water goes through both filters. Ours was according to the old design, but now that it's pointed out, it is on our "to do" list.

It makes sense, here's more, from Rainwater Management Solutions:
"Though the practice used to be to have the UV light between the sediment and carbon filter in the flow path, that practice has changed. Here’s some reasoning behind it: Carbon filtration typically serves as one final stop for particle filtration as it can filter particles as small as 1 micron. In addition, it can reduce discoloration of the water. Discolored or cloudy water can cause the UV light to be less effective at sterilizing bacteria/virus, so this is typically the reason for now putting the carbon filter before the UV light. This is our typical configuration now. Please note that the UV light should be kept on at all times other than routine maintenance and some water should be flushed before consumption in the event of a power outage (basically emptying any water that may have sat in the chamber without exposure to treatment)."

Ok back to our beloved guests.
A dear L.A. / NYC friend and his son came to visit!

S. is, for a job, a noter of trends and a fancy designer o' fashion for a famous worldwide brand!
S. says I am writing this prefab house blog alllllll wrong. 

He says that in my pictures and descriptions I make this small footprint prefab house appear TINY.

"You don't get a sense of the SCALE! The airy BEDROOMS! THE HEIGHT!" Ok fine S. I don't take bedroom pictures because THEY ARE KIDDOS ROOMS and even when I tell them to pick up IT'S A MESS! We're ALL a mess! Everywhere!
Ok here's a picture of a bedroom HAPPY NOW? ; )

S. and his son are LA / NY, but work and family mean they are also in Asia and Europe all the time. So it was ADORABLE when, asked about his daily life, his son replied, "Well yeah I do X, and Y, but I don't have FUN LIKE YOU DO LIVING HERE!" I am so thrilled to see this adorable bi-coastal, multi-continental kid LOVING being in Population 40! We had SUCH a great time.

So HOW did we entertain the bi-coastal city kid who kept saying over and over how much he loves it here????
Well...
I gave him CHORES.
"Y'all go toss some hay to the horses."
LA / NYC Kid: "FANTASTIC!"
S. helped too!

"Y'all go break up the water in the horse troughs."
LA / NYC Kid: "FANTASTIC!"

"Now let's go do our farm errands."
LA / NYC Kid: "You mean REAL AMISH??? FAN-TASTIC!"
I had to remind him that Amish friends are like any of my friends: funny, good people. Once he met Mrs. E and hung with her, he got it.

...took them to the High Bridge trail...


And that was enough for a LA / NY kid have a BLAST. I just love them. COME ON BACK Y'ALL I HAVE MORE CHORES FOR YOUUUUU!!!!

My heart is so full when loved ones visit, we can't wait to see them again...
I am hoping S. will write down some thoughts about his own experience at the off grid prefab. But it did occur to me that putting more people and not just close-ups of my dogs might give a better sense of scale like in this picture we took by putting his camera in the bookcase and then all running together to pose before the camera snapped:

Alas, I think you're stuck with pictures of dogs, tho'- comparing them to pictures of me, the dogs are MUCH MORE PHOTOGENIC!

S: "Yeah let's talk about those dogs. You keep taking pictures but because THEY are in the foreground and the PREFAB is in the background. The house then seems MINISCULE. PLUS you have the BIGGEST DOGS IN THE WORLD."
OK FINE... but they're so CUTE!

The visit was last minute but glorious.

I would be remiss if I didn't write down the recipe inspired by our mutual New York friends V and Steven. I only say Steven's name because after he made us this pasta in New York, Handsome Husband could not stop talking about it and then when we had last minute company, tried to recreate it (with Steven aiding him via text), and now refers to it as if it had been invented decades ago and EVERYONE knows what "PASTA À LA STEVEN" is like Caesar Salad or Oyster Rockafeller.
(And don't fergit the À LA, y'all.)

Recipe:
PASTA À LA STEVEN
Take three times the amount of garlic cloves a sane person would and cut them in half instead of mincing them and then sautee in great olive oil and then add more great olive oil. Now add more olive oil. Crush whole canned tomatoes and add to pan. Let simmer. Reduce for 45 minutes while adding more olive oil and hand-crushed tomatoes as needed. Now decide what you add to it and cook it in the sauce in the end if seafood, if sausage fry in a separate pan and add in once done, add sea salt and herbs of choice. Of course, you are going to have your pasta al dente when you then toss and serve. Handsome Husband says to make sure the sauce is thick "like stewed tomatoes."

Here's Steven's: (He had octopuses, mussels, shrimp... amaaaaazing!)

And Handsome Husband's. (Just a plain but DELICIOUS tomato sauce!)
Deliciousness, demolished.

Both were divine!

Happy New Year, y'all.
Tiny's snoozing his way through Day 1 of 2018.
May the rest of the year be as contented and peaceful. 💛
In the meantime, enjoy the supermoon!
It was so pretty!
Hmmmm WAIT does this SUPERmoon make my prefab house look small? ; )

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