Vela Creations is an in-depth resource for off grid living. The site documents our research and experiences, hoping that they might help others interested in pursuing this lifestyle. This blog is designed to document our day to day experiences as we build our new, sustainable homestead. If you are interested in seeing more photos and videos, we have a flickr account at the following url:

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

e. e. cummings

"The world is mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful." - e. e. cummings

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

John Ruskin

"Let every dawn be to you as the beginning of life, and every setting sun be to you as its close." - John Ruskin

Monday, December 29, 2014

V. S. Naipaul

"The world is always in movement." - V. S. Naipaul

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Alfred Lord Tennyson

"Words, like nature, half reveal and half conceal the soul within." - Alfred Lord Tennyson

Saturday, December 27, 2014


"It is not only fine feathers that make fine birds." - Aesop

Friday, December 26, 2014

Nathaniel Hawthorne

"Sunlight is painting." - Nathaniel Hawthorne

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Jean Paul

"The miracle on earth are the laws of heaven." - Jean Paul

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Edna Ferber

"Christmas isn't a season. It's a feeling." - Edna Ferber

Solar Heater

Solar Heater

We have installed a solar heater at the town house to keep the chill of winter out.

When we built our house, we designed it to need very little extra heat in winter. It makes excellent use of thermal gain (passive solar heating on the south), has good insulation in the roofs, and is partially buried on the north side to increase thermal mass. We have an RMH stove for the cloudy days, but we very rarely have to use it.

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The town house, on the other hand, was not as well designed. Nor is it terrible. It has large windows on the south, which helps, and the walls are about 18" thick. In summer, it stays cool and pleasant. In winter, it seems to hold a constant temperature of about 60 degrees, even when it's 30 outside.

So, seeing as we didn't need to raise the temperature by much, we figured a solar heater would be perfect.

Abe made it in a day or so, and it cost about $90. It's an 8' by 4' box, with insulation on the back, greenhouse plastic on the front and black screen on the inside. It stands almost upright on the southern wall outside the living room. There are two holes through the wall. The bottom draws air from inside the house. That air passes through the heater and is then blown down into the room with a small fan.

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The air inside the box is about 160 degrees, but it blows into the house at 130, so there are a few inefficiencies in our prototype. Abe has already figured out several ways of improving the design for the next one, which we'll put on the kitchen wall.

Even with its imperfections, we love it. The concept works great and uses almost no power. Needless to say, the sofa by the fan has become a favorite spot on cold days!

A full howto will be coming soon.

Solar Heater

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

James M. Barrie

"God gave us memory so that we might have roses in December." - James M. Barrie

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone, and we hope you all have a wonderful 2015.

It's that time of the year again and both boys are bouncing off the walls. We put the tree up on the 1st of December, but now that Christmas day is almost here, we have finally put the presents under it. The boys can hardly contain themselves.

It's been a very busy year, both physically and emotionally. The loss of Abe's dad still hangs over us, especially during this holiday season, but it is a sadness we try not to dwell on.

Both boys are now in school (Leo in first grade and Nicky in preschool), which they both love. We bought the town house and have been fixing it up. On the homestead, this year has been mainly dedicated to setting up the forest garden, and adding new pens and pastures for the animals. We have worked a lot on the Food Web book and concept, while also continuing to tweak and improve our working model.

We're looking forward to the New Year and all the challenges it will bring us. We wish you all well, and thank you for your continued interest in our site (which will also soon be revamped!).

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Merry Christmas


Monday, December 22, 2014

Daniel Boone

"Nature was here a series of wonders, and a fund of delight." - Daniel Boone

Sunday, December 21, 2014


"In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous." - Aristotle

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Ray Bradbury

"We are an impossibility in an impossible universe." - Ray Bradbury

Friday, December 19, 2014

Walter Scott

"We build statues out of snow, and weep to see them melt." - Walter Scott

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Robert M. Pirsig

"The only Zen you can find on the tops of mountains is the Zen you bring up there." - Robert M. Pirsig

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Robert Green Ingersoll

"Kindness is the sunshine in which virtue grows." - Robert Green Ingersoll

Solar Heater

Monday, December 15, 2014

Arthur Schopenhauer

"Great men are like eagles, and build their nest on some lofty solitude." - Arthur Schopenhauer

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Duke Kahanamoku

"I have never seen snow and do not know what winter means." - Duke Kahanamoku

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Leigh Hunt

"Colors are the smiles of nature." - Leigh Hunt

Friday, December 12, 2014

John McGraw

"My boy, one small breeze doesn't make a wind storm." - John McGraw

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

"The sky is filled with stars, invisible by day." - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Henrik Ibsen

"A forest bird never wants a cage." - Henrik Ibsen

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Luther Burbank

"We must return to nature and nature's god." - Luther Burbank

Monday, December 8, 2014

Michel de Montaigne

"Let us permit nature to have her way. She understands her business better than we do." - Michel de Montaigne

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Ralph Waldo Emerson

"The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, December 5, 2014

Duke Ellington

"Gray skies are just clouds passing over." - Duke Ellington

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Sitting Bull

"The earth has received the embrace of the sun and we shall see the results of that love." - Sitting Bull

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Jim Fowler

"The continued existence of wildlife and wilderness is important to the quality of life of humans." - Jim Fowler

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Tom Allen

"While I relish our warm months, winter forms our character and brings out our best." - Tom Allen

Monday, December 1, 2014

Dennis Banks

"The Sun, Moon and Stars are there to guide us." - Dennis Banks

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