Archive for the ‘Missions’ Category

Spoiler Alert:  While I’m not divulging any plot secrets, you may not want to read this entry if you have plans of reading the books or seeing the movies. 

Jon and I read The Hunger Games trilogy a few weeks ago.  I know we’re behind the times.  I have to say, despite my initial reluctance, I thoroughly enjoyed the books.  They were a great combination of light reading and make-you-think books.  One of the most frequent things it made me think about?  I wouldn’t last more than 48 hours in the arena and that’s if I got lucky.  Really lucky.  Like my district was Hogwarts and my token was an invisibility cloak lucky.  Wait, I’m mixing up my teen fiction…

So, I started pondering the skills of these tributes.  These skills are valuable for survival, or preparedness or even every day living.  And it came to my attention that we are lacking them.

Sure.  I could walk across the arena in one day.  I’m sure I could.  However, I would need a rest the next day.  No doubt about it.  And I certainly couldn’t climb a tree for that rest. 

I would have no problem eating the various nuts, berries and plants that were indigenous to the region.  I would, however, have to pick them up at the arena’s local farm stand. 

I could tie knots for snares and other such things as long as they rely on the half hitch, square and Celtic heart knots.  Celtic heart knot.  These people, while fictional, are using knots for survival and I spend 30 minutes on youtube learning the Celtic heart knot.  Eye roll here.

The long and short of it is these are useful skills to have.  And we don’t have them.  So, I’m setting forth a goal, nay, a to-do list for our family. 

1.  Walking across the arena – They say you should walk 10,000 steps a day.  I know that we fall short of that nearly every day.  TO-DO LIST: Walk 70,000 steps a week.

2.  Eating from the arena – We should start to learn how to identify our local flora and know what is edible and not.  My grandfather was fantastic with that.  Anytime we’d go on a walk, he’d find a snack.  At a bare minimum, we’d be sucking on mint leaves.  Sound familiar?  TO-DO LIST:  Learn to identify at least 1 “useful” plant a week.

3.  Tying knots in the arena – Knots are just plain useful.  My eagle scout father taught me tons of knots when I was younger but I haven’t kept them in practice.  Jon has no official knot experience with the exception of shoe tying.  Sorry honey.  TO-DO LIST: Learn and master 2 knots a month.

So, there it is, folks.  I’ll keep you posted on our progress.  Thank you, Hunger Games.

Happy Homesteading,


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We are not off the grid but we did lower our electric bill this month!  Our usage for the January billing cycle was 43kWh per day.  For the month of February, our usage was 39kWh/day.  We used approximately 112kWh less this month.  That is roughly the same amount of energy used to run a hairdryer for 140 hours!

One of the main things we did was unplug ourselves from the television.  We decided that if it wasn’t worth “DVRing”, it wasn’t worth watching.  That significantly cut down on our idle television viewing.  We filled the mountain of available time with reading, playing games and talking.    Some of our new favorite games are Bananagrams and Catan 2 person card game.

I did tinker a bit with our thermostat and set our home to 1° cooler at all times.  I think as our little one grows up, I’ll be able to drop that number a bit more.

I think the neatest thing that I did was make these felted dryer balls that I found through the wonder that is Pinterest.  I only had cream colored wool and I was reluctant to spend money on something I’d never see, so mine are not nearly as pretty as Kathryn’s.  But they do speed up the drying time, I have no problem with static and I no longer need to buy dryer sheets! 

I did want share some sad news that I learned about Ed Begley and his bicycle.  Apparently, the set up for the bicycle generator cost at least $400.00.  These setups don’t even come with the bike!  Additionally, it would take 1 hour of biking, every day for 30 days to equal 3kWh.  We saved 112kWh this month.  That is 37 months of biking!  While we certainly would be fit, I think I’ll wait on this one until we are completely off the grid.

Happy Homesteading,


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I fantasize about Ed Begley Jr.   Well, not him, but the bike he uses to help power his house.  I dream about having a wind turbine.  I covet solar panels.  No, I don’t need therapy (for this reason anyway)… I just want to be off the grid. 

But barring an indulgence from our Homeowners Association, the same Homeowners Association that sends out nasty letters if you mulch without their permission, I don’t think we could attach solar panels or a wind turbine to our roof.  Or keep a bike attached to our electrical distribution panel on our patio. So for now, I’ll just have to settle for employing clever ways to lower our electric bill.

This morning, I received our newest electric bill saying that we used 43kWh/day, up 4kWh/day from last year. 

Granted, 4kWh/day isn’t that much but it made me wonder what we were doing differently.  And it made me picture Ed, on his bike, purrrrr…

I went on the website of our power supplier to further investigate our bill.  Their site has nifty statistics about each user.  According to my account information, our biggest day of usage is Saturday, followed by Monday.  It also states that heating our home contributes to 59% of our bill.  A cause for excitement however, is our home is among the lowest consumers of electricity in our neighborhood.

But over the next month, I’m going to try to lower our electric bills.  As we’ve already made the switch to CFL’s and I air dry most of our clothing, we’ll have to come up with some other ways to accomplish this mission.  Some of the first things to work on will be:

  • Eliminating vampire power – Vampire power is the electricity that is drawn when something is not in use.
  • Tinkering with our programmable thermostat to lower usage.
  • Turning off the television – I’d been hoping to do a no TV week this summer when we could get outside, but maybe I’ll just dig out some board games.

I’ll keep you posted on our progress.  And of course, I’m open to suggestions.  What do you do to lower you’re electric bills?

Happy Homesteading,


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