Off-Grid

Can I Go Off-Grid?

As promised in my first post (and suggested by this blog’s name), I want to start talking about homesteading. Going off-grid. What is this exactly? Why would I give up the life I am accustomed to? Who does this?

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If you Google either one of the terms, homesteading or going off-grid, a lot of results come up.  Most of these results I found discouraging, simply because of the exorbitant amounts of money that these sites suggest is necessary to “go off grid.

Why should it cost us so much money to downgrade our modern lifestyles? If this whole blog is about doing things for yourself, why would I write telling you to pay someone $15,000 to install some solar panels on your house? I won’t. Not here, because I’m just not buying in to that.

My grandpa used to tell me about growing up with no electricity. He was born in 1917, in Tennessee, out in the country. While I know he later loved watching his football games on television ten feet from his recliner, I doubt he grew up feeling he was suffering terribly, simply due to the fact that he wasn’t watching TV.

Now I’m not saying that deciding to live off-grid means you have to forgo electricity. Not at all. The point I’m trying to make is that our ancestors thrived on a lot less convenience than we do. And with a lot less money.

So, that being said, some of you want to know what in the world I’m even talking about anyway. I’ll give you a little background into my thought process, and then we can discuss what off-grid really means.

I have always been a little discontent.  The way of the world, this work-all-day just to keep the utilities and cable on, is not doing it for me.

Why do we need all this stuff anyway? Because society says we do. We go to work, come home, spend time with our families (or not), and live another day to pay another bill. Because it’s normal. It’s what you’re supposed to do.

Not me. I don’t need normal. I don’t need to have so many bills to be happy, and the power company is for the birds. Just plain crooks if you ask me. $400 a month just for power is plain old-fashioned robbery.

Well then, what does going off the grid really mean? For starters, not depending on utility companies for your day to day lifestyle. Not paying a monthly bill for water, electricity, gas, or telephone. For me, the thought of that kind of life is accompanied by the idea of growing my own food and becoming self-sufficient. This is homesteading.

So why would you do it? If the thought of breathing fresh air away from the city every day makes you cringe, it’s not for you. If you can’t imagine growing vegetables, feeding chickens, or drinking filtered rainwater, then no, of course you wouldn’t. But if these ideas appeal to you, I want to prove that it can be done, and done without spending rich man money.

Who does it? A lot of people. More and more Americans are dropping off the power grid every year. Some are major corporations that spend millions for “clean energy” and some are just average Joes. I say, the amount of money you spend on going off-grid depends on your creativity, just how much you are willing to do by yourself, and how modern you want your life to be.

Our goal is to achieve an off-grid, homestead lifestyle in the next several years. This blog will help keep us on track and make plans. Feasible plans.
We can get off the grid. Anyone can.

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DIY

DIY Rustic Initials

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Hello lovely friends!

As you might notice over future posts, our house is a work in progress. I mean, for goodness’ sake, we have a guest room sitting around with nothing but a dresser and a rug in it!

However, there are some things that just can’t wait. The empty white wall behind our bed was one of them. I wanted something unique to us as a couple, that still maintained the rustic vibe I want to give off.

When I spied some white wooden letters in Michael’s, (and had my 25% off entire purchase coupon!) I knew just what I was going to do.
BTW: sign up for Michael’s emails. They give awesome coupons every week!

We had some old wood scraps lying around that I wanted to turn into a sign.  For this project, they don’t have to be the same length. Uneven boards add to the “rustic” quality. Our boards were hideous. We even had to pull old nails from them.

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What You’ll Need
– Scrap wood
– Nails
– Wood stain (I used Minwax’s Special Walnut)
– Paintbrush
-Wooden letters
-Twine
Optional: sandpaper & sanding block
– Burlap, made into a bow
– Hook for hanging

How I did it:

First, I stained all my wood, and sanded my letters in some places to give them a worn quality.

Then, I laid out my boards face down in the order that I wanted.

I went ahead and tied my twine (for hanging) around the top piece of wood, before it was nailed to all the others. Doubling the twine for extra support is a good idea.

With the help of hubby, we put two wood pieces on the back vertically as support and nailed them in. We made ours short enough to support all the pieces but not show on the front. I think it would be lovely to make them longer, so that the supports show and add to the rustic dynamic.

Using a LOT of hot glue, I glued my letters into place.

Once they were dry, I hung my sign on an ugly little hook in the wall and glued my burlap bow to the hook.
If you want you use a big decorative hook, that would be great too, and you could probably glue your bow on before hanging.

Ta-da!
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What do you think?
Stick around for more little projects like this tomorrow!

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DIY

DIY Shabby Chic Nightstands

Hello lovely friends!
As promised, my first DIY instructional! I promise you, not all my projects are this labor intensive. I’m lazy.

When we first moved into the house in Jacksonville, we literally had no furniture. Nothing. My random collection of furniture was all still in Memphis, and we ended up waiting an entire month on a military funded move because some lady in some office screwed up all our paperwork.

I digress. During this time, I learned the ways of the magnificent world of Craigslist. Now, as a disclaimer, I must warn you that their are some strange people on there. Hopefully you have decent enough judgement to weed out the crazies from the good stuff (They want $30 for a broken CD player? Come on!).

I knew I wanted a unique pair of nightstands for our master bedroom, and most certainly was not going to pay $99 a piece to get them. Not even $50. I had every intention of finding two totally different pieces and then painting them to match. Plans change.

After several days of Craigslist browsing, I came upon a matching pair of Ethan Allen nightstands. These little beauties were banged up, scratched, and missing some knobs. Perfect! And the best part? $10 a piece!
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The way the drawers were carved to look like 6 little ones instead of 2 big ones (like a card catalog!) made me want to paint them to emphasize that feature. I wanted them to pop, so instead of painting the whole thing and distressing it, I decided to paint only the drawers and to sand and restain the rest.

What You’ll Need
Thrifty nightstand find (try craigslist.com or your local Goodwill)
Screwdriver for removing/adding knobs
– Sandpaper I used 60 grit and 120 grit
– Sanding block ($4 at Walmart) OR electric sander (as low as $20 at Walmart)
– Wood stain
– Paintbrush
– Latex interior paint
– Polyurethane
– Painter’s tape

Step 1
Take all hardware (knobs) off of the drawers and pull the drawers out.
Mine didn’t have all the knobs. I stored them in a Ziploc bag.

Step 2
Sand the finish away (with the wood grain) This will go very quickly if you use an electric sander, though I took the long way and used a sanding block and 60 grit sandpaper plus a bit of elbow grease. Coarser is fine if necessary.

I wasn’t very concerned with getting every bit of finish off. Quite a bit got left on the legs, actually, but this only adds to the shabby look we are going for!

Step 3
Sand again lightly, using 120 grit. This prepares the wood for staining.

Step 4
Stain the wood.
I used Minwax’s “Special Walnut” and applied using an old paintbrush.

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Please do this outdoors. I learned the hard way that there is no such thing as low fume when it comes to wood staining. You will get a massive headache and possibly worse if it is not properly ventilated. It is very dangerous. My husband had a coach who died from this.

Step 5
Paint your drawers.
Since I wanted to emphasize the drawers’ detail, I waited for the stain to dry then cut painter’s tape into thin strips and placed in between the little boxes. Then I painted them using a satin coral latex interior paint from Walmart and let them dry overnight.

Step 6
Distress.
I used my coarse grit sandpaper to scratch up the paint on the drawers and make them look worn around the edges and knob holes.

Step 7
Spray with a couple coats of Polyurethane. This will seal and protect your project.

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I used Minwax Fast Drying in a spray can.

Step 8
Put your hardware back on!

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Since mine were missing some knobs, I picked up a pack of drawer knobs from Target. They have some adorable ones! I mixed them with the existing knobs.

Ta da!

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Hope you enjoyed my little project!
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s project!

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Uncategorized

Welcome!

Hey there!
I’m Lainie, and I’d like to welcome you to my brand new blog. I hope it can be an adventure for us both. Before I go off ranting about all my favorite topics, I’m sure you’d like to know a little bit about the beast behind the madness. So here goes:

I’m from Memphis, Tennessee– born and raised– and I’ve never been to Graceland. I’m told I’m not missing much, though some of you may be entirely offended by that. If so, I apologize.

I just got married in June to the love of my life. He’s pretty great and definitely my soul mate. After a long and
dramatic Nicholas Sparks worthy romance, we have finally made it.
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He’s even nice enough to help me out with some of my wild DIY projects and sit and throw around ideas with me for hours. And he is from a wonderful place in Mississippi that I hope to make our home someday.

Which brings me to my next point:
No, I do not own a homestead. We live in Jacksonville, Florida. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to! It’s my dream, and his too, I think. If you don’t already know, a homestead loosely defined is a home and a piece of land that you grow or farm on. For our purposes, usually when I talk about homesteading it will be with the ultimate goal of going completely off-grid.

We all know that things have gotten a little out-of-control with our government. To say the least. And especially with our economy. I don’t know about you, but for us, times are tough. And being able to make what you want instead of buying it is a skill I can’t afford not to have.
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Of all my research on simple living and going off-grid, hardly any of the answers I have found have been simple enough for someone like me, or, bluntly put, pretty enough. If I am going to take the time to build my own stuff it had better be functional AND attractive.

My goal here is to help others learn how to achieve similar goals in an easy way.
Please give me feedback! Comments & emails always welcome. Have you done any DIY (do-it-yourself) projects lately? Have you seen any DIY’s lately that you would like to try but just seem too difficult?

I am ALL about making things simple and easy. Stay tuned for an instructional on my DIY Shabby Chic Nightstands, one of the first projects I did.

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