Writing? Progress? Yes I am.



Yes I am still writing, I am sure that writing will always be a part of my life since childhood diary`s to writing a book of poems when my life got turned upside down after one after another traumatic events took place.

Its been well over a month since this writing site got hacked and we last heard from the owner. I gave up when I could not get a message through and I could NOT make or say anything in certain forums.

So let me show you what I have been up to ………

I can say I am making a lot of progress with my getting off the grid project. you can read about how I saved so much power last month here :

http://getoffthegrid2.blogspot.com/2016/06/getting-off-grid-cutting-power-usage.html

One of the disappointments of living in the country with wooded areas all around, read more here:

http://getoffthegrid2.blogspot.com/2016/06/deer-eats-garden-getting-off-grid.html

Down here in Alabama we seem to make sure that we payback to those that done so much to help make things possible, whether if its sharing food or hard labor, read more here :

http://getoffthegrid2.blogspot.com/2016/06/getting-off-grid-payback.html

When you have been blessed with so much of one type of vegetable what do you do with all of it? Getting off the grid has been a wild ride of knowledge and I want to share what I learn with others, read more here :
http://getoffthegrid2.blogspot.com/2016/06/6-methods-for-preserving-yellow-squash.html

And more about another summer time favorite that can be used in ways unknown till of late, read more here:

http://getoffthegrid2.blogspot.com/2016/06/4-ways-to-use-zucchini.html

And now for the all time blow your mind, who would have thought “EVER!” that you could make something with two things that sounds so weird and they taste so freakin good foods, read more here:

http://getoffthegrid2.blogspot.com/2016/06/pineapple-zucchini-jam.html

There ya go that is one part of my life that I will continue to write about, its something that is in me that I cannot get rid of, no matter how much city you put me in, that living free in the woods girl will still be wanting to get off the grid and live as free as possible.

You can follow me and read more about how my plans are coming alone here :
http://getoffthegrid2.blogspot.com/



Getting Off The Grid – Canning Squash And Zucchini

I have to declare the year 2016 the year of canning food, getting off the grid and home canning go hand in hand. I am canning squash and Zucchini that I grew out in the garden.

About the only way I have ever canned squash or zucchini was as sweet pickles and relish. But I want to eat squash in the winter that doesn`t have vinegar or sugar as an ingredient so I went on the search for ” How to can Squash” recipes and ya know what I found? Nothing!

This meant it was time for me to do my thing, and that is to try out what I think will be a good way to can.

After picking the squash for two days in a row and it waiting for me to do something with it I slices some and I made stewed squash but I made sure I timed how long it took to get soft and not mush. In about thirty minutes at medium heat it was done cooking.

I washed and sterilized seven jars. I cleaned the squash and zucchini with soap and rinsed well.

I sliced the squash around one fourth inch think and I filled the jars, I added one half teaspoon of canning salt to each jar and filled it with water leaving one inch head space.

I put a new lid with a band on each jar, tightening but not to tight.

I filled the Presto pressure canner with three quarts of water, a dash of vinegar (I have hard water) and I put those seven jars of squash in the canner and I processed them for only thirty minutes.

I removed the pressure canner from the heat and allowed it to cool, when I removed the canned squash from the canner it was beautiful!

Now how will I prepare this home canned squash when I want stewed squash since its already cook to perfection But is just plain?

I will chop an onion and in a small saucepan add a couple spoons of butter and cook that onion, add a sprinkle of garlic and a dab of sweetener, Drain the squash and add to the onion mixture and its finished! That is what I am looking for in the cold Winter, fresh stewed squash.

What about the zucchini? I can cook it the same as yellow squash or I can add the zucchini to sauces or I can make up zucchini bread ( if plans are yo use the zucchini for bread grate instead of slicing before canning).

By Andria Perry
Photo By Andria Perry

Getting Off The Grid – Growing My Food

While getting off the grid I do know that there is one thing I can always do to help myself and that is growing my own produce and picking wild berries.

Today is June 2nd. and I am having fresh squash with dinner that came from my own garden, and tomorrow I will pick zucchini. Ever since I can remember squashes are the first thing I pick from the garden each year. In a couple weeks I intend to plant another crop so that I will have more squash deeper into the growing season. I intend on trying to home can squash since it is eaten stewed, I hope it doesn`t turn to mush, trail and error!

The green tomatoes are for frying, so many of the southern people love fried green tomatoes, especially in the spring, and usually we will cook a mess up before any ever turn red. I have different aged plants so I am hoping for a huge crop, if its Gods Will.

I am watching those sweet green bell peppers, I have a couple that are growing way ahead of the others. I also have a sweet banana pepper plant that is already bearing peppers.

The cucumbers are getting tall and some have already fallen over and are running, I have yet to see any blooms.

The green beans are bushing up but no blooms yet either, this is my first year growing my own green beans, usually I just buy those, I am hoping that I will get many to can up.

The okra is just being okra, I will not get to pick any okra for another month or so. Okra is a slow growing plant and is at its peak in the fall of the year.

I have been watching those blackberry bushes and I can say that they are full with red berries but without rain I am afraid they will not get plump and juicy and will dry up. I did pick around a pint of ripe berries this evening as well as a handful of the leaves to make a blackberry tea. I probably will cook the berries, strain the seed and let Tony drink the rich juice since he is having stomach problems.

That is my food out in the yard, how about you? getting anything to eat?

By Andria Perry
Due to the sites space limits I was not able to upload new photos 🙁

Off The Grid – Grow Your Own Herbs

As most people know when you are getting off the grid or that you are off the grid you need to grow your own foods and sometimes raise your own animals for food or chickens for eggs.

I lean more toward the vegetarian ways of eating while other members of the house prefer meat with their dinner. Regardless of how you eat you will need some type of seasoning.

Buying fresh herbs can be costly and the point of getting off the grid is to conserve the money you make and take advantage of what can be free, growing your own is closest to free as you can get, and you can use fresh herbs up until the freeze while drying and storing for later use.

This year I have expanded the flavors I intend to incorporate into my cooking this year by adding a few more plants.

I had Parsley for a couple of years and it died after Alabama got an ice storm one Winter so I sowed seed in a pot to be transferred outside and that was done this week.

I had also sown more basil seed as one of the three plants that I keep inside is dying.

I went for dill because I love the flavor and I want to make dill pickled for my stockpile, And I will dry dill weed for sauces all through the winter, save seed for next year to sow for more plants.

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I have had a large pot of Basil growing in my kitchen since 2009 and I added a pot of Rosemary and I am growing ginger root, all inside and all in the kitchen. But I also added a couple basil plants in a pot on the deck, I want to see how much bigger the plants will get with full sun.

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I am sure I will never run out of Spearmint to always have fresh on hand but I did dry some to make tea or to add flavor in the Wintertime.

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I have baby sage plants! I sowed seed and now a few are getting those fuzzy little second leaves. The last plant I bought died because I learned they do not like as much water as I was giving.

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I intend to plant more oregano, the last plant died and I found out since then that they do not care for love and prefer to be left alone in dry poor soil.

As with any way of life, its a live and learn experience. I have won some and lost some but I now own that knowledge and I will share if asked.

Since Central Alabama has a very long growing season I still will pick and chose more herbs to plants so that my world of cooking will never be without flavor.

How about you? Do you grow you own herbs and save your money? After all we need to depend on ourselves when off the grid.

By Andria Perry
Photos by Andria Perry

Getting Off The Grid – Choosing A Solar System

I have to say that I am “planning” the getting off the grid lifestyle, but I don`t want to do without some things. So I need to figure out what system is right for me. I took out the past five power bills and I looked to see how much power I needed in the two worst months of the year and now at the edge of summer.

I live in a total electric home and I used a huge amount of power to warm my home and cook in January and February, the coldest months for central Alabama, 2,740 kWh being a $310 power bill! I am happy to say that my small efforts to save power is helping and my usage has went down so much each month, I am not only using 1,051 kWh a month and the power bill only costing $134. I have went from using 81 kWh per day down to 36 kWh per day and I am still working on getting that lower.

I know I need one that can provide, if needed, around 80 kWh per day for the max power usage.

Looking at all the solar systems on the internet can be overwhelming so I will browse a while and make notes and book mark pages. I still have to figure out how many solar panels I can get on the roof and how many batteries I will need and what type of converter.

The back up plan : I have a gas power generator coming my way from this awesome older man that said he would have it whenever I got the cash and it being new and less than half price, you better believe I am buying it.

How am I cutting my power usage down so much?

I stopped using th electric dryer and I hang out my clothes.

I have a cut on and off switch, exactly like the light switch, to turn the hot water on when I need hot water and off the rest of the day. I usually leave it on thirty minutes for a hot bath and less if I just need to wash dishes.

I am using the windows for heat instead of turning up the thermostat and I am using the blinds to block out the heat that is already here in the deep south.

I cook what I can on the stove top and let the oven go, Or I make a double batch of bread at one time. I unplug the coffee maker when I am finished with the coffee. I do not have any kitchen appliances in the counter that ever stay plugged in.

Plus how I dress while inside my home makes a difference to me also. If I am cold I wear socks and sometimes shoes with sweats and a long sleeve shirt, if the weather is hot outside I wear no socks or shoes with shorts and a thin shirt. This keeps the body temp more balanced.

How do you cut down on power usage? Are you on solar power? Do you have more tips to add?

Getting of the grid has been a dream of mine way before it was considered to be a way of life, but I want to put a twist on this way of life and live comfortable while the sun does the work and I get to keep my hard earned money.

By Andria Perry
Photo By Andria Perry

Getting Off The Grid – What Is Going On?

I have to say that I am making some progress on my journey getting off the grid. However slow it maybe seem I can see a difference with each tiny thing that I accomplish.

This passed weekend I made sure to change out the curtains in the spare bedroom. I had used that room in the Winter to sow seeds and get the best sun from that South facing window for the plants to thrive but as the days get hotter I put up the blackout curtains or some call them energy saving curtains, another way to reduce use of power to cool my home.

Since I have the new clothesline I have not used the dryer but once in ten days and I have to admit I do enjoy the peace while I hang the wet laundry, listening to all the birds and sounds of the nearby woods.

I am beginning to see the bottom of the deep freezer, last year I froze much of the food I grew in the vegetable garden, I now have a chart to go by, how much of each vegetable that we eat and what I will need to focus on putting up for next year from my garden I have planted this year. I may not use the deep freezer but I am sure I can home can most of what I had froze before, all just something new to learn and I am up for the lessons.

Walking through the garden I seen many, many baby green tomatoes, tomorrow I will go cut down sticks to tie them.

I see blooms on the bell pepper plants.
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The cabbage are beginning to form head.
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The peaches are looking good as well as the blackberries.

Today I seen the muscadine vines have babies.
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Now I say that I have to have my dogs as part of life, they will protect me from things I cannot see, like snakes. I have seen them bark at them to let me know one is there. The dogs love to run in the fields and smell for deer and rabbits.

And there is more than just food, I have the beauty of flowers, wild and planted.

At the moment I have the lovely tiger lilies. I know they are common but they are a sure eye pleaser when in full bloom.
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The daisies! My all time favorite and it seems God let them grow wild in my yard, I mow the grass around them till they seed out.
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And the confederate Jasmine, if only you could smell the beauty. I had thought that the freeze got it last year but its coming back, the part that lived was well hidden under the deck.
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Next step is getting the numbers tallied up to see just how big of the solar power system I will need, then search for a good deal. I think I will use the next power bill for this.

Another day in the journey of getting off the grid.

May 23, 2016

By Andria Perry
Photos by Andria Perry

Off The Grid – What Is Free

May 19,2016

Doing what is free. I am getting off the grid so I practice things as much as possible so its a gradual switch and I will be used to doing things that cost no power or is free in the wild or to grow and eat.

Being the first day off work this week I chose to chill at home alone. Since I chose to be online I turned everything off in the house that could suck any power, I closed the curtains and blinds to keep the hot sunlight out, leaving one blind open, but with the lace curtain closed, in the kitchen for light.

I filled the washing machine with a full load of clothes and washed those, I then took them out to the clothes line to dry.

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For breakfast I just had a banana and for lunch I had a jar of the homemade lentil soup that I home canned last month.

I packed banana sandwiches and I sent Tony fishing with his uncle since both of them cannot be alone due to certain medical conditions.

I then went to the public library and browsed the books, I had been reading Stuart Woods but I want to mix things up so I went for a Dean Kootz novel since its been a while since I read this author. I also dropped by the bank to make a deposit and I stopped by the recycling donation bin and dropped off cardboard and plastic.

Back at home the dogs were wanting some time to run and smell the fields so I grabbed Harley`s leash and we went for our thirty minute walk around the property.

Since the vegetable garden got a good tilling last Monday the rows of strong plants are visible. So far the only food I have are green tomatoes.
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Back inside I folded the clean dry clothes and put those away, I heard Tony drive up.

Did they catch any fish? Oh yes! They caught a mix of Crappie, bream and bass, sixty nine to be exact. They will half the cleaned fish.

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I cleaned up a few with the bones in for myself and grabbed a handful of fillets for Tony, I washed them up and gave them a nice roll in flour and fried them up in hot oil in the cast iron skillet. That is dinner, nothing else needed.

So what was free? Free books meaning letting your mind be taken away as though you are watching a movie. Free dryer, a clothes line is a solar dryer, no bill to be ran up. Free food, fishing is one of nature`s easiest way to feed yourself.. Getting off the grid, slowly but surely without pain and missing what you once thought you had to have.

By Andria Perry
Photos by Andria Perry

Getting Off The Grid

May 14, 2016

Its been a long time coming but for some odd reason I got what I have been NEEDING for years on Saturday. I have to say that this is the first place I have lived that did not have one, a new clothes line.

I mentioned that I could save so much money and not heat the house up by using the dryer that Tony got the line up yesterday. I mentioned where I wanted it and the next thing I know he was outside. But he moved the old broken down boat and put it there instead of behind it as I had mentioned. I stayed inside not to interrupt progress. 🙂

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It was actually funny when I seen Roscoe`s reaction to the clothes line, he ran to hide behind the boat to “jump” Harley when we came around like he always does, but he straightened up and looked this thing up and down.

I also added aluminum foil to a couple of windows to close out the very strong morning sunshine, no matter what blind or curtain it was still heating that room up to much, this is the remedy.

The vegetable garden is coming along well, I have baby tomatoes. I bought these seeds at Dollar General for .02 per pack.

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The squash and zucchini are about the same size.

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The cabbage plants are gathering leaves to make a head. I bought these seeds at Dollar General for .02 per pack.

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Cucumbers are getting more and more leaves and in my opinion needs thinning.

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The okra?! Its up and it usually take okra longer than it did this time, I am sure these were new seeds that we got this year from the co-op.

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Green beans! I love green beans and I was happy to see these because I bought these seeds at Dollar General for .02 per pack. Yes it is time to run the tiller down each row, the grass is trying to come back.

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The corn still looks like grass but it`s coming on up.

Peaches? These tree`s were covered in blooms and now I have little peaches, however, I did loose many due to worms and they were sprayed once 🙁 I really don`t want any pesticides used.

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How is your vegetable garden growing?

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By Andria Perry
Photos by Andria Perry – May 14,2016

Off The Grid – Storing food

Every little step gets one closer and closer to getting off the grid and this is my journey that I am sharing with you.

Although I am not off the grid there are some thing that I should learn before the giant leap and that is how to store food for later, save power that can be used somewhere else, that is soon to be solar power, and be more self sufficient.

By home canning meats that I would usually put in the deep freezer till they are ate is one thing that is hard to think about ahead of time. Right now I have two deep freezers, one large upright and one small chest. I would like to cut both off and only use the small one in the top of the refrigerator.

This past weekend Tony asked for deer so I pulled out a leg and baked it, when I am off the grid I will cook this on the smoker and I do have one, After I took enough meat off for a meal I let it cool completely and then I removed the fat and saved the broth. I canned the rest in its own broth and now its there till he asked for another meal of deer.

Another favorite of mine is lentil soup but I am the only person that likes this soup so when I make a pot there is always left overs for later. I made my own last week using dry lentils with fresh carrots and mushrooms, onions and garlic in vegetable broth. Simple to make and has a powerful taste, its very filling. This recipe makes six servings so I ate one and home canned the other five, plus to fill the pressure canner ( not to waste power) I canned two pints of carrots. I had my first, my first broken jar in the canner. I lost one pint of soup.

Some people look at me strange when I say I can my own food but my elders know how good it is and they smile at me.

So far in my home canned foods I have :

Turkey soup, two different ways, Chili, Lentil soup

Deer, chicken, Pork.

Potatoes, Kale, carrots, pinto beans, red beans, vegetarian bean(like pork n bean) and northern beans.

Pears, blueberries, cranberries and blackberries.

Salsa, Pickled tomatoes, squash relish, squash pickles, chow chow relish, pickled peppers, pickled okra, bread and butter pickles and pickled mixed vegetables.

Many, many flavors of jams and jellies.

I plan, if its Gods will, to do a lot of tomatoes this summer as well as spaghetti sauce and ketchup. I would like to find a way to can green bell peppers for later use in cooked dishes. And I need to make more dill pickles.

I may be digging a root cellar soon!

By Andria Perry
Photo By Andria Perry

Jelly From Weeds

As a part of learning to live off the grid, while still on it, I am trying out new things and ways to get something delicious for free.

Weeds?! Yes, for many years people have battled the bad Dandelion while the children blow the seeds in the wind to land at yet another part of your lawn, but did you know that you can eat them?

Just recently I discovered that the weeds that I have gave up battling in my lawn can be eaten in many different way!

First as a salad. But I do have to warn you that these are a little bitter so mix them with other greens and they add a boost of vitamins as well as getting those daily greens in our diets or if you prefer eating plans and habits.

Next is to make that wonderful golden colored jelly. I had no idea how many blooms it would take till I read this recipe. I am one that will be freezing till I get enough, but I have heard it resembles the taste of honey! How yummy will that be?!

Dandelion jelly

And lets not forget those roots! I cant wait to try these, I will be outside soon with my shovel hunting down roots, I am wondering how these will taste, so I will try anything once and maybe twice is I was unsure 🙂

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Learning how to make food from things that grow naturally in the wild is a plus when it comes to ” learning to live free.” As I live this journey in my life I am sure to share what I have discovered along the way.

Home canning can be a blessing to those who are willing to live a better life, naturally rather than foods loaded with chemicals and unwanted additives. I will admit that its not easy to change the mind and do for ones self instead of running to the grocery store and buying. But with practice I am sure we all can make the turn around and live a longer and healthier life.

By Andria Perry
Photo By Andria Perry