Declutter your Home in 5 Steps If you are not looking for spare room you either have a huge home or you don’t need this article. For a prepper clutter equals less room for food, ammo, water and other resource storage. Though this article doesn’t come from a website that features gas masks and other …
IKEA Off-Grid Tiny House for $1100 Things are getting so cool now. This house is real and its solar powered for up to 4 hours a day. It comes with the solar panels. This is an absolute amazing find. The article takes a detailed look at this option. This is about the best option …
If you are intrigued by off-the-grid living but are put off by the expense of building your own self-sufficient house, you need to take a look at a couple’s home in Bisbee, Ariz. They built their 600-square-foot abode for only about $30,000.
Today, they are debt free and pay no bills for water, heat, trash pick-up or electricity, and they are gaining expertise as gardeners. Their only regular bills are for Internet service and property taxes.
Karen and Bill, who were both in their 50s when they began building their home in the fall of 2010 and moved in about 18 months later, did all the work themselves. They were profiled on the YouTube “Life Inside A Box” channel.
“We are loving it every day,” Karen says. “It was a lot of hard work, but we chose to do it.”
A video tour begins outside the front door where Karen and Bob explain that the home is made of cob and straw. They have experimented with different forms of plaster over the straw to help defend the home against Arizona’s unrelenting sunshine.
“We used the basic principles of solar design,” says Bob, “with south- and southeast-facing windows.”
As they enter the home, Karen is quick to mention that everything in their home — except for the new energy-efficient refrigerator they purchased to fit in with their solar system — is either used, gifted or repurposed in some way.
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“We made a real effort to recycle as much as we could,” says Karen, pointing out salvaged tin, wood, sinks and furniture pieces in the colorful, inviting home.
The open floor plan and the home’s high slanted roof offer a feeling of spaciousness. The bathroom is the only separate room, with the bedroom partitioned from the main room. A small curtained area is the storage room. “We are minimalists,” Bob says. “We don’t have a lot of stuff.”
Outside, the couple displays their solar system, which, along with their septic system, comprised the major costs for the home. Six main solar panels are nearby. Another four smaller ones power the well. The slanted roof off the back of the house captures rainwater to help irrigate garden beds, trees and plants.
Also on the property are two trailer homes that friends gave to the couple and that Bob later refurbished for their use. One is a warm weather guesthouse, and the other serves as Bob’s workshop. He built a structure to connect to that trailer, which he calls his “man cave” and which also serves as a cold weather guest room.
In the workshop, Bob says he tries out other alternative home concepts, such as crushed paper walls, that he did not get to incorporate into his home.
Raised garden beds, many of which have shades to protect plants from the Arizona sun, are also on the property. Bob and Karen admit they are still learning about gardening, but they are eager to add more homegrown food to their lifestyle.
When asked for advice for others who are considering building an off-the-grid home, Karen and Bob both are quick to stress simplicity.
“Don’t overreach,” Karen emphasizes. “Make a simple plan and then stick with the plan.”
Bob says that he and his wife were motivated by the idea of having a debt-free lifestyle. “We did everything out of money saved, and then we sold half of our 60 acres when we needed more money. … Many people aim too high, and end up getting divorced or having a house that is simply too big to maintain.”
Both Bob and Karen stress that you can always add on another room or another building later if you have the need.
“You will find that you can live in a small space very nicely,” Karen adds.
Would you want to build or live in a cob house? Share your thoughts in the section below:
Straw Bale Homes You may look at this post and say this is ridiculous, and that is the very thing I thought before researching into this concept more. You may think that you can huff and puff and blow this house down, but unless your name is Superman, think again. The Straw Bale hasn’t been around nearly …
As someone who lived for more than three decades in an underground house he designed and built for $50 and then later expanded for $500, Mike Oehler has a mission.
Now in his 70s, Oehler wants to convince other people of the advantages of living underground. In an interview with video journalist Kirsten Dirksen, Oehler shared his passion for underground living as he showed her around the homes he has built in Northern Idaho.
Mostly walking barefoot, which he called a lifelong habit, Oehler revealed the aboveground home he first built in 1968 after purchasing his property as a young San Franciscan involved in the back-to-the-land movement. After spending his first winter “freezing to death” in a cabin in the woods, however, he decided to use the earth as insulation.
In creating his first attempts, he fell into some of the mistakes others often make in designing an underground home — most of them centering on not having enough windows or with using basement types of windows only.
“An underground home has no more in common with a basement than a penthouse apartment has with a dark, dusty attic,” Oehler stressed. Explaining that an underground house can have many windows, he proved his point by showing Dirksen the many creative ways he incorporated patchworks of mostly used windows in his homes.
‘We want a house that has windows on all four sides,” he explained. “Not everywhere on all four sides but enough so that each room has light coming in from two directions. That is very important.”
As he learned more and more about what worked and what doesn’t work in underground home design, Oehler began to find his own comfort zone. He called his inexpensive low-tech approach to building “PSP” for post/shoring/polyethylene, and he is particularly proud of what he calls his “uphill patio.” The uphill patio is a terraced space that allows for light, gardening space, outdoor grilling and water run-off.
Throughout the interview, Oehler mentioned the many advantages of living in an underground home, or what he prefers to call an earth-insulated home. Among the benefits:
- Less property tax.
- Warm in winter and cool in summer.
- Serves as fall-out shelter with radiation protection.
- No foundation needed.
- Low maintenance.
- Sound proof.
- Increased growing space.
- Environmentally sound.
- Weather resistant
Probably the most striking thing about Oehler’s designs is that they do not have the feeling of being underground. In fact, largely because of their use of natural light, the homes seem traditional from certain perspectives.
“With an earth-integrated house, you are working with the earth, not overwhelming it,” Oehler said, adding that some Native American tribes saw the advantages of living underground centuries ago.
He finds home sites “by instinct.”
“I will sleep at the site for a while to get a feel for the space,” he said. Although he cannot do the construction of the homes he designs any longer due to health reasons, Oehler said his home sites are all hand dug. He enjoys digging and finds it to be good exercise.
One downside of his underground home in Northern Idaho? It is attractive to bears. Oehler has had more than one very close encounter with a bear who thought Oehler’s abode looked appealing.
Although Oehler thinks the soil in Northern Idaho – with its mixture of sand, silt and clay — is ideally suited to underground homes, he said you can build an underground home anywhere.
Would you live in an underground home? Share your tips in the section below:
6 Signs Your House is in Trouble Home inspectors find alarming things in homes all the time, but usually only when the house is on the market, ready to be sold. But what about your home, the one you’re living in now with no plans to sell? Have you ever wished you could have a …
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WASHINGTON – President Obama signed a bill into law over the weekend that supporters are calling a GMO labeling bill but that opponents charge is exactly the opposite.
In fact, the new law was supported by Monsanto. It passed the House, 306-17, and the Senate, 63-30.
The new law overturns a landmark Vermont law that would have required the text on GMO foods to say “produced with genetic engineering. While the Vermont law made it easy for consumers to understand what is in their foods, the new federal law only adds confusion, opponents say.
The new law gives America’s largest food companies three options to label their products that contain GMO ingredients: a label on the package, a symbol on the package, or an electronic QR code that must be scanned with a smartphone to find out what is in the food. Smaller food companies would have the option of listing a website or telephone number.
“This law is a sham and a shame, a rushed backroom deal that discriminates against low-income, rural, minority and elderly populations,” said Andy Kimbrell, executive director at the Center for Food Safety. “The law also represents a major assault on the democratic decision making of several states and erases their laws with a vague multi-year bureaucratic process specifically designed to provide less transparency to consumers.”
What is your reaction? Share it in the section below:
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WASHINGTON – The House of Representatives sent a bill to President Obama Thursday that would overturn a landmark Vermont law requiring the labeling of GMO foods.
The bill, which was backed by Monsanto and passed the House by a vote of 306-117, would give America’s largest food companies three options to label their products that contain GMO ingredients: a label on the package, a symbol on the package, or an electronic QR code that must be scanned with a smartphone to find out what is in the food.
Opponents of the bill blasted Congress for not only overturning the Vermont law but also for passing a bill that doesn’t give consumers clear information. Smaller food companies would have the option of listing a website or telephone number.
Vermont’s law was simple and would have required foods to say: “produced with genetic engineering.”
(Listen to Off The Grid Radio’s special episode on GMO foods here.)
“If there is an acknowledgement about the right of a consumer to have access to information, why not give them the information in plain and simple English?” Rep. Peter Welch, a Democrat from Vermont, said on the House floor, according to the Burlington Free Press. “This is a win for Monsanto and big food producers.
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“It guts Vermont’s labeling law and makes a mockery out of consumers’ right to know. Absurdly, rather than requiring a simple, plain English GMO label, it allows a producer to require shoppers to call a toll free number or look up a website on their smartphones to figure out what’s in the food they’re buying. Let’s get real. This is not a compromise. It’s a thinly disguised effort to block the right of consumers to know what’s in the food they eat.”
Obama is expected to sign the bill, although the Center for Food Safety is urging consumers to call the White House (202-456-1111) and urge him to veto it. The Bill is S. 564.
“When President Obama was running for office in 2008, he promised he’d label GMOs as President,” the Center said in an email. “This is President Obama’s last chance to get GMO labeling right – by vetoing this sham labeling bill and supporting mandatory words on the package.”
What is your reaction? Share it in the section below:
Innocent citizens whose property is seized by police in Michigan have to pay cash for the chance to get it back. Even worse, there’s no guarantee that those who pay the cash will get their belongings returned.
Homeowners whose property is seized have to put up a bond to appeal the forfeiture. If that wasn’t outrageous enough, owners of seized property can be forced to pay the government’s legal bills if they lose in court.
“Once a property has been seized, the owners then have to pay anywhere from $250 to $5,000 just to begin the procedure to win back what’s rightfully theirs,” Jarrett Skorup and Nick Sibilla wrote of the state’s forfeiture laws.
“Under Michigan law, if your property is seized and valued less than $50,000, you must post a bond worth 10% of the property’s value to start the process of having it returned to you,” the two wrote in The Detroit Free Press. “But if you fail to post that bond within 20 days of the property being seized, it is automatically forfeited to the state.”
“And if you pay the bond but fail to win the property back in court, you can be ordered to pay the expenses the government incurred during the forfeiture proceedings,” Sibilla and Skorup concluded.
Skorup is a policy analyst at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, while Sabilla is a communications associate with the Institute for Justice, a nonprofit law firm that fights forfeiture throughout the nation.
The two were writing in favor of Michigan House Bill 4629, which would abolish the bond requirement. Michigan is one of four states that “mandate a bond before owners can appeal to a neutral judge to get their seized property back,” Sabilla and Skorup wrote.
“Michiganders can still lose their property even if they have never been convicted in criminal court,” they wrote. “Meanwhile, state law provides a perverse incentive to seize property and ‘police for profit.’ After a property has been forfeited, police and prosecutors can keep up to 100% of the proceeds.
“…Forcing property owners — who may be innocent after all — to pay to challenge a legal proceeding offends fundamental American notions of due process and fair play.”
Between 2001 and 2014, Michigan agencies collected more than $258 million in forfeiture proceeds, according to an Institute for Justice report.
What is your reaction to this law and this proposed bill? Share your thoughts in the section below:
Teachers would be required to monitor parents’ involvement with their children and even “grade” their interaction under a proposed state law in Mississippi.
If House Bill 4 is approved, then parents would receive grades for homework completion, attendance at school and even test scores. The bill is known as the Parent Involvement and Accountability Act and already passed the Republican-controlled House.
The parental grades would be written in a section of the report card that teachers would be required to fill out.
“My initial reaction is, this is absurd,” Mary Clare Reim, a research associate at the Heritage Foundation, told Watchdog.org. “The concept that parents should be graded by teachers on their involvement is a reversal of what the education system should look like. Parents should be grading teachers on their performance. Putting grades on parental involvement from the top down is not the way this should work.”
The bill applies to schools that receive a D or worse grade from the Mississippi Department of Education, although other school districts would have the option of implementing it.
“Each report card for students in kindergarten through Grade 12 shall include a section in which the teacher grades parental involvement as satisfactory, in need of improvement or unsatisfactory,” the bill says.
Parents would be graded on:
- Attendance at parent-teacher conferences.
- Whether children get to school on time.
- Whether children complete homework on time.
- What grades the child makes.
The bill passed the Republican-controlled Mississippi House of Representatives by a vote of 75-4.
Would you support or oppose the bill? Share your thoughts on it in the section below:
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Seattle’s city council and mayor seriously considered getting rid of traditional neighborhoods of single family homes in an effort to encourage or pressure people to live in apartments and other types of multi-family housing.
A rejected change to the city’s zoning regulations would have allowed the construction of multi-family housing such as apartments and duplexes in all of the city’s neighborhoods.
The idea was so outrageous that some have labeled it an Internet rumor, but it indeed is true.
“We can still be a city for everyone, but only if we give up our outdated ideal of every family living in their own home on a 5,000 square foot lot,” a letter from the co-chairs of the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda, or HALA, stated. It was tasked with finding solutions to the city’s housing problems.
The same letter asserted that “Seattle (single-family) zoning has roots in racial and class exclusion and remains among the largest obstacles to realizing the city’s goals for equity and affordability.
The draft letter, passed by HALA along a vote of 19-3, was obtained by The Seattle Times.
“In fact, (the committee) recommends we abandon the term ‘single family zone,’” the letter read.
Not surprisingly the newspaper’s revelation prompted Seattle Mayor Ed Murray mostly to distance himself from HALA and its recommendations.
“To advance the broader conversation about affordable housing and equity, I will no longer pursue changes that could allow more types of housing in 94 percent of single-family zones,” Murray said in a press release.
HALA apparently met in secret and did not involve the public in its planning process until Seattle Times reporter Danny Westneat got his hands on the letter and published it. Murray and the committee’s chairs criticized Westneat and the newspaper.
“My co-chair and I are very disappointed that you and The Seattle Times have chosen to undermine the efforts of the HALA, a citizen advisory group, by prematurely releasing an unapproved draft of our report,” the chairs, Faith Pettis and David Wertheimer, wrote in a statement to The Times.
Said Murray, “The Council and I created the HALA process because our city is facing a housing affordability crisis. In the weeks since the HALA recommendations were released, sensationalized reporting by a few media outlets has created a significant distraction and derailed the conversation that we need to have on affordability and equity.”
Seattle is currently in the middle of a serious housing crisis, and it now costs around $1,501 a month to rent a one-bedroom apartment in the city, The Stranger reported. Many working people can no longer afford to live in the area.
The most controversial suggestions included:
- Increase the maximum height of buildings in residential areas to allow for more apartment houses.
- Allow the construction of six-story wood buildings in some areas.
- Make it easier for property owners to subdivide existing houses into apartments.
- Allow more high-rise apartments in some neighborhoods.
- Allow property owners to build cottages and other structures in the backyards of existing single family homes.
- Abolish a regulation that requires all residences to have off-street parking.
- Abolish an ownership requirement that keeps many owners from renting out their property.
- Make zoning more flexible so it will be able to redevelop properties into multi-family rentals.
The popular website Change.org actually includes a petition calling for a nationwide ban on single-family homes because they “pollute the environment by increasing commuting distances, damage housing affordability, infringe on private property rights and cause the very overpopulation they were created to prevent by encouraging large houses with room for too many children.”
Thankfully, the petition has fewer than 200 signatures.
What is your reaction to this story? Share your thoughts in the section below:
The Senate’s Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry heard testimony on a bill this week that would bar states from requiring GMO labelling.
The US House of Representatives passed similar legislation in July, and critics labeled that law the “Deny Americans the Right to Know” or DARK Act. Among other things, the legislation would overturn state laws mandating GMO labelling. (Listen to Off The Grid Radio’s in-depth report on the bill here.)
Farm-state senators – both Republican and Democrats — want such a law passed by the end of the year, Politico reported.
“I share the concern about the difficulty in doing business across our country if 50 different states have 50 different standards and requirements and frankly, it won’t work,” said Sen. Debbie Stabenow, a Democrat from Michigan who backs the bill.
Said Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat from North Dakota, “I believe the science is so strong in this area — that these are products that will not have an adverse effect in any way on health, in fact can improve health by making food more available worldwide.
It is not know if President Obama would sign the bill, although he has sided with Monsanto and biotech companies in the past.
Opponents of the bill said passage would infringe on consumer rights.
“Our position is simple: consumers have the right to know what is in their food and how it is grown — the same right held by citizens in 64 nations,” Gary Hirshberg, the chairman of organic company Stonyfield Farm, told the committee.
Hirshberg’s company supports Just Label It, a coalition opposed to the legislation.
Big Food Supports the Bill
Corporate interests, including the trade group Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), support the bill.
“We are confident that Congress will act on this issue this year given that members of both Houses and both parties have repeatedly told us that a 50-state patchwork of laws is not sustainable,” GMA spokesman Brian Kennedy said in a press release.
One reason why manufacturers support the law is that it would nullify Vermont’s GMO labeling requirements and prevent other states from enacting such laws. Food companies do not want the hassle of making special labels for different states.
The vast majority of Americans favor GMO labelling on food. A 2013 New York Times poll found that 93 percent of Americans surveyed supported the concept. The same survey discovered that three-quarters of Americans are suspicious of genetically engineered ingredients in food.
“Recent polling and consumer data tell us that nine out of ten Americans – regardless of age, income, race or party affiliation – want the right to know whether the food they eat and purchase for their families contains GMOs,” Hirshberg told the committee.
Hirshberg, a 32-year veteran of the food industry, also took issue with the idea that labeling would hurt food sales. He disputed claims that GMO labeling would increase food prices.
“Actual experience shows that food prices have not increased in the 64 countries that have adopted GMO labels, nor do consumers in these countries view GMO disclosures as warnings,” Hirshberg said. “At the same time that GMO disclosures have been adopted around the globe, GMO crop acreage has steadily increased – from 27 million acres in 1997, when the first GMO label was introduced, to 448 million acres in 2014.”
Do you support or oppose the law? Why? Share your thoughts on it in the section below:
Sometimes, things just simply happen for a reason – especially when you least expect it. With a lot on our plates for the next 6 months, including the book release in January and subsequent tour in the early spring – we had made the decision to hold off breaking ground on the house until late 2016 or early 2017. We decided instead to look into building our garage over the winter or spring, and at the very least have a place to store things for the eventual house build. And then fate stepped in. As we left the farm one evening, Mary asked me to stop in to a nearby store to pick up a copy of the local paper for an article on the kid’s football team. And that little stop sent the entire house building project into full gear – all thanks to a little brochure placed at the checkout counter. As we stood in line to pay, I noticed a Weaver Barns brochure laying on the counter – it caught my eye because the little cabin and barn on the front cover had the look and feel of our existing barn and chicken coop we had built at the farm. So as we […]
With the cold spell making us long for springtime, you might wanna bookmark this blog post…37 Deep Cleaning Tips Every Obsessive Clean Freak Should Know.
Now, contrary to that article’s title, deep cleaning isn’t limited to “obsessive clean freaks” and it’s definitely not limited to the spring time. For example:
- Ever considered using citrus fruits to clean a dirty drain? See #12
- Or how-about using half of a bagel to clean an old painting? See #25
- Ever used your fabric softener sheets to keep your baseboards looking sharp? See #15
There’s quite a few more for you to see at Buzzfeed’s post in the above link.