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The photo is my son and myself. Now days you can get a photo made to look old like this one. This photo was taken when this was the new look.

Harry S Truman was president when I was born and world war II had ended. I grew up in a time when lunch was put in a brown paper bag and a sandwich was wrapped with wax paper. There was no such thing as pantyhose, we wore stockings that attached to the rubbery clippy things that attached to the girdle. Convenience stores were not common and when we took a trip we packed a picnic basket because many places did not have fast food. Highways had places to pull over and stop, some with picnic tables. Read more ....

Living with less grid in the city

May 17, 2017

As some of you know from my last article Charles and I are trying to live with minimal electric and water. We do not have city gas, we are an all electric home in the city. I am hemming a blouse while sitting in front of the window for light.

I have concerns for our young adults today.  Many of them are struggling with starting off on their own.  Many if not most of them do not have any exposure to how things were done in the past.  They don't know how to do without many things that they could do without because they have had them around them since they were born so they don't know how to reduce their bills.

Since we have been living like the year 1942 it has caused us to think minimal. Depending on where someone lived in 1942 they could have lived without electricity and running water or in a city with electric an running water. I am not repeating the last article but adding to it.

So we are trying to live minimal grid in the city now.  I hope what we are doing will help others to know what to do if they need to reduce their bills or in an emergency situation should they lose their electricity.

Lately I have been researching how people live off the grid today in the USA. I was very surprised at how much money is spent on solar power and what we are finding with just our solar light bulbs, solar is only as good as the weather as I mentioned in my last post.

I watched videos and read articles and notice how people go through great efforts to make showers and have hot water. I asked Charles why do people feel they need to go through all of this work to make a shower? We decided that it must be that several generations now have been taking showers.

In the past people really did bathe in wash tubs and wash basins.  My mother and her sister would wash their hair with the other one pouring water over their head out in the yard. My mother washed my hair like this many times when we were visiting family that lived with minimal utilities and when we would go to our cabin. I have actually started washing my hair this way once again and my motivation is our water and sewer bill. I go to an area in the yard that needs watering and Charles uses a pitcher and wets my hair and I wash it and then he rinses it. I don't even use a gallon of water. Of course I don't go to the front yard where we live, lol. If I do this myself I dip the water out of a container and pour over my hair.

You may have seen our outdoor bath house that we built last year ( photo above) and we can take bucket baths out there or in the tub inside. We did not want a shower because we can save more water by taking a bucket bath and you get completely clean. Just warm some water and mix with the cold to get it the temperature you want and get something to dip with, wet yourself down, soap yourself up real good and then rinse. It is quite refreshing especially just before going to bed and takes very little water. For now we warm our water on our fuel gas stove.

I try to wash clothes outside in our outdoor laundry area as often as I can.  Since I am getting older, some days I just don't feel well so I will use the electric washer.  It is funny though how I do not like how the washer cleans the clothes so some things I end up washing over by hand.

I do try to only use the clotheslines now but If the weather is rainy for a long spell I and the clothes just wont dry I can use the electric dryer but now I can "feel" that meter turning so I end up just hanging them indoors.

We have found out after all these years we do not need our air conditioner on at night if we have the fan blowing on us at the foot of our bed. Remove the blankets and just have the sheets I mentioned this in my last post. This is the way it was when I was a child and it still works this way today. We get pretty chilly about two or three in the morning and up comes the blanket. 

The last two days in the mid 90s with high humidity I have had to turn on some air conditioning during the day so I don't get overheated because I got into some chiggers this past weekend visiting family and now I am suffering greatly with swelling and itching because I am allergic to them and so I do not need to get too hot.

We are gradually working our way to more minimal grid as we find new and old ways of doing this still living in the city. One new purchase was a thermal cooker. We purchased a Saratoga Jacks Thermal Cooker. They are quite expensive but we have found that using our electric stove and oven are pulling a lot of our kilowatts usage. 

I will do more posts on this cooker after I have cooked more meals on it than I have so far. I don't do posts on things I have not done before or just done for a short time.   I cooked a delicious meal yesterday in it and it is so strange to cook an entire meal with only a few minutes of grid or fuel use then the thermal cooker does the rest of the cooking.  

I brought the meal to a full boil and boiled it for 4 minutes then immediately put it in the thermal unit.  It cooked 4 to 6 hours without any fuel or electricity. We had roast, potatoes, carrots and collard greens. I made a gravy that it all cooked in and it was very good.  Best part is it did not heat up the kitchen which was a double savings, less stove use, less cooling the house is needed.

These are good stoves you can get at walmart or online if you want to cook outside.  We have several options, our wood cook pit, these coleman stoves and a wood burning stove.

Our next meal in the cooker will be chicken vegetables and rice. Then I will attempt our first cake in the thermal cooker. This is a very good way to cook when the electricity is out or you are just trying to save money on the utility bill.  We cannot all move to the country and build an off the grid house, I do wish we could but we do have other options of minimal grid in the city.

It feels like we are doing something right when we do not waste our resources. It feels empowering to know we will be ok if we loose electricity for an extended period of time. And it really feels right when we see our utility bills reduced.
We do have to make big changes though to accomplish this. We cannot be selfish or it will cost us money and it takes quite a bit of extra work. 

I am trying to break old habits of turning the lights on in the house and now turning them off.   I have learned how to keep water hot for a longer period of time and a few adjustments in the kitchen and I am getting the kinks out of my method of washing dishes while the hot water heater is turned off for the summer, who knows we might have this all figure out by winter and leave it off then too.

To keep my water hot for a longer period of time I wrapped my large pot of water in a blanket then some fleece.  I was surprised how long it kept it hot.  Sometimes I don't use all the water and so by keeping it insulated I can use the extra hot water for baths or washing up. If we were having a power outage I would boil the water on the coleman stove then wrap up the pot like this to use when I need hot water.  Of course I don't normally boil it until I am ready to use it but sometimes I am slow with washing the dishes and the water cools down too fast.

 I flip flopped my sink area and put the dish drainer on the right and stack the dirty dishes on the left after they have been rinsed so there will be no food particles in the dish water.  I am not using the bowls anymore and just using the sink washing on the right and rinsing on the left.  I boil more water than I was because it does take a good bit of boiled water to  wash dishes.

So that is what we have been doing lately. We have a few more new projects we have started working on but have not finished. Our kilowatts are way down now. I would say we are averaging 12 per day with using air conditioning, 9 without.  

Our generations in the past did it so can we and we still have a few things to pull out of our shed that we can use.   

One more thing, since I have been researching how people in the USA live off the grid I have been watching youtube videos and this couple, Doug and Stacy (Off the grid with Doug and Stacie) have a very good youtube channel.  What I like about how they live off the grid is they do not use solar panels and such, they are doing it the old fashioned way.  Here is a link to their youtube channel and they have some wonderful information.


I hope you are all doing well, Grandma Donna

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