Welcome to YouTube…

Brief Background

I started the Living a Sustainable Dream YouTube channel back in the beginning of 2015.  I had an iPod Nano and our Nikon Cool Pix and filmed a couple segments about how to clean our wood cook stove, making a waffle on the wood cook stove, and troubleshooting our electric log splitter (our most popular YouTube video, go figure).  Then we adopted our son and every video I made was dedicated to making his transition to our home easier.  We made a brief movie introducing him to our home when we visited the first time and several music montages of his daily life with us over the years (these videos are for him and are not meant to be shared publicly).

The Dream

At the beginning of 2017, my wife and I decided to give YouTube another try, so we started making more videos about what life is like living off the grid, some how-to fix it videos, and getting the word out about our off grid homestead business, Pauper’s Candle Company.   We saw YouTube as another potential income maker for the homestead.  If we could get thousands of views, we could earn money just for documenting what we do and providing helpful tips for others considering living off the grid.

The Reality

However, a reality check happened, and we realized the possibility of making money from YouTube was quite low due to the click bait problem.  YouTube’s algorithm was another death knell to this vision of view related income as we realized that shock and awe videos seem to be the only way to promote oneself in this platform. The once popular channels that I watched for content were slowly morphing to create titles to get views versus titles that categorized the actual content of the video.  We also began to witness more YouTube drama being engineered to show “potential” or imagined peril to get more views.

Our Solution

Seeing how the game is played, we decided to choose a different path.  Our channel and the YouTube platform is simply an extension of our blog.  So far, we are free from the above-mentioned reality on YouTube because our livelihood is not connected to YouTube.  We are free to explore what we want to do with our channel and we have decided that we want the channel to give helpful tips for living off the grid, be an encouragement to others who happen to cross it, and to promote our homestead business.

Overall, I am happy to learn this new hobby of cinematography and hope to improve upon it.  Some people like painting, I like video editing; it’s a form of artistic expression that I want to explore.  We updated our camera to a refurbed camcorder as we attempt to improve our video quality.  We use free editing software known as the “infamous” Microsoft Movie Maker as well as the free, open source Blender.  Combining the two free platforms has helped greatly. We are not heavily invested into our video equipment; instead, we have chosen to purchase just enough equipment to hone our skills without detracting from our homestead projects.

Some questions for you…

Why do you blog?  What struggles and successes have you had along the journey?  How has blogging become an artistic expression for you?

Before Installing a Propane Tankless Water Heater

When a making a purchase of great importance to your home systems, I have always believed the kit would include everything I would need for an install.  However, I have come to realize that is not a common practice today with tankless water heaters.  Here is the complete picture and 5 important things to know  when purchasing a propane tankless water heater.

  1. Hard water build up and corrosion… Tankless water heater manufactures admit that hard water build up could ruin their system.  They encourage the homeowner to purchase expensive clean out connectors after the purchase of their tankless water system.  Something the homeowner doesn’t always know upfront.
  2. Venting… Not all the venting pipe is included and purchasing the right size pieces get expensive if the company is not using a standard or universal size outlet. Wall thimble/fire stoppers are surprisingly not included and should be when selling the single walled vent pipe.
  3. Incomplete instructions… The instructions are vague at best and the homeowner if inexperienced is left in a real quandary. The homeowner has a choice to install the system as is and not be in code, which could result in a fire hazard, begin researching gas vent systems and become self-educated on how to appropriately install the system, or open up the phone book and call a licensed plumber to install and prepare to pay the big bucks.
  4. Not all parts are included… The propane tankless water heater doesn’t include all the parts necessary for install.  Venting pipe also mentioned earlier, but the manufacturer/distributor specifically said to maintain the warranty, I had to purchase a “y-strainer”.
  5. Costs rapidly increase… Plumbing parts to hook the tankless water system into the domestic water supply start to add up quickly and become costly as well as the parts necessary to vent the unit outside.

I have been price shopping for tankless water heaters off and on since we built our off grid home 6 years ago.  I knew the plumbing and venting parts would quickly add to the cost, but I was not prepared for the weak installation instructions.  Many videos I came across on YouTube were not vented correctly, which could lead to a fire hazard or did not show how the gas vent was installed.  I found some helpful links from home inspector forums and websites that helped me to be confident in my vent install, and I will include the links below.

I do not fully understand why the propane tankless water heater industry does not present the complete picture to homeowners who wish to install these systems on their own.  When price shopping at the big box stores, a few helpful store employees clued me in on these side costs, so I was prepared for post sticker shock.

I hope this post was helpful to you.  I will be posting more on the install later.

Links I used for more information about venting:


http://www.duravent.com/docs/product/TypeBgasvent_L820_2012-sept_w.pdf  (A product manual, but shows some good pictures of what the parts should like and provides detailed descriptions of the parts.)

Related Post: “Unboxing our new off grid water heater

June’s Candle Give-Away Winner!

Congratulations to Our Winner!

And the Winner Is…

Each month Pauper’s Candles gives a FREE Scented Soy Wax Candle that we make on our off grid homestead.  Those individuals who are part of Our Email Family are automatically entered each month.

Pomelo Sage small

Pauper’s Candles Summer Scent Pomelo Sage.

This month’s winner is receiving one of our new Candle Summer Scents, Pomelo Sage.  This scent is fresh and tangy with a touch of citrus.  I started selling this scent, along with our other summer scent Pineapple Cilantro, and received many positive comments while selling these at my Farmer’s Market.  You can purchase our candles at our online store.  Click here to Shop Our Store

If you are interested in being entered into our Free Candle Give-Away each month, you can Join Our Email Family by going to our homestead business website, www.pauperscandles.com

Unboxing our new off grid water heater

This past week I have been busy installing our new off grid tankless propane water heater.  The tankless propane water heater we had before was only a temporary fix that lasted 5 years.  I never intended on using it for so long, but other needs on the homestead kept taking priority.   We are finally replacing our camping style tankless, propane, water heater, Ecotemp L5 with a new tankless gas water heater the Excel Pro NATURAL GAS 6.6 GPM.  The Excel Unit is powered by our invertor.  It doesn’t take too much electricity when sitting idle, but it does have a phantom load. This unit is way more cost effective than a standard electric water heater. And for us, it is a good alternative to the more expensive units on the market.

But, before you decide to run out and purchase one, I would wait until I test this unit out first.  After seeing two separate negative reviews on Amazon concerning the product, I am waiting to give it my complete confidence.  I had never installed a unit like this before, so the video shows my excitement for the unboxing, but I did not notice the problems with the instructions until the next day and several of the parts as I started to get involved with the install.  As far as my excitement goes, I was very tired and just finishing up the school year.  This is my excited but exhausted look at the same time.

When our propane unit died, my wife and I continued to use our wood cook stove hot water system.  I would heat the wood cook stove an hour before bed and shut the dampers down.  When I awoke the next money, I would open up the dampers, feed the stove, and the water was ready for a hot shower within 15 minutes.

I finally began install on the propane unit Tuesday, the day my contract for teaching ended for the year. I believe I did the unboxing on Monday night after I finished my grades, cleaning my teaching area, and mowing the lawn for the 1st time of the season.  I have been wanting to install a larger propane tankless water heater for years that would supply hot water to every faucet in the house during the late spring, summer, and early fall months.  Before we only had hot water from May – October from a single spigot in the home, located in the shower. During those months, we filled pots of hot water and walked them to the kitchen sink for dishes.  We didn’t mind so much as long as we had a hot shower any morning we wanted one.  Before we purchased our camping style propane unit, we showered at my work during off hours or stood buck-naked in a large pail in the kitchen and sponged bathed.  This was obviously before we adopted our son.

The Excel Pro Natural Gas 6.6 GPM Tankless Gas Water Heater… So far, it has been a bargain, but the jury is still out on it’s overall performance. It works great and hot water is now at every faucet in the home, just as if we were using our wood cook stove water heater system but without the heat.

So far, our new tankless water heater is working fine.  It is, however, off gassing a propane smell.  I am currently working on tracking it done and may possibly have to make another trip to a big box hardware supply store and replace the connector on the unit with a better one.  For now, I am seeing if my fix worked.

I will upload sections of the install over the course of the next few weeks.  I don’t want to bore anyone, but some of you who may consider purchasing a unit like this may appreciate the info.  Personally, this was my first install, like so many other things I do on the homestead.  I think it went rather smoothly with only a few setbacks and extra trips to the hardware store.

Thanks for joining us.  If you have a tankless water heater that you installed and did a blog or vlog about it, please provide the link in the comments below.  The more information out there, the less confusing it will be for others on how to do this without having to call a plumber and paying a $75 or higher hourly rate.

I would also like to make it clear, that my wife and I do not receive or ask for endorsements when we describe products on our website.  We, like everyone else, search the Internet looking for deals and buy what we can afford.  Once the unit checks out, we will probably place it on our Amazon Store, but if you want a better buy, you should go direct to the company.  I will supply all this information as well as the cost at the end of this short series.

Thanks for visiting Living a Sustainable Dream, being a part of our online community, following, subscribing, liking, and commenting.


Think Kitchen Sink!

Kitchen Sink Pic Extra small

I love my 1940’s sink. This has been a terrific off grid sink.

We decided to purchase a 1940’s double sink, double drain board sink for our kitchen, when we built our home. Being off grid and knowing we would not have a dishwasher, we thought that this may be a great choice. After having our sink for 5 years, this has proven to be a super choice for us.

Having the drain boards built into the sink has proven to be wonderful. Having a double sink has been great because one does not need allot of water to do dishes: Just fill up the sinks, one with soapy water and the other with clean hot water and you can do all your dishes without using much more water from your faucet.

1940 kitchen archive.org

In the 1940’s these sinks were in every home from farm home to suburban home. They typically came with metal cabinets below. With a little searching, one can still find these sinks today! Thank you archive.org for the picture!

Most of the 1940 sinks had metal lower cabinets that the sink rested on. These sinks were installed in just about any home regardless the lifestyle, farm homes, to  suburban homes, to urban homes. The sink we found did not have the metal lower cabinets.  I recycled some wood cabinets from the old cabin on our property and made the opening on top fit my sink.  I then purchased a faucet from my local big box store and was able to find one that fit the holes that were already made in the sink.  I was excited to find a faucet that fit the sink.

If you love old, vintage things and like to recycle items these sinks may be a great choice for you. Picking the right appliances for your needs makes the day to day chores much more enjoyable. I am going to enjoy our sink for many more years to come.

Out Building Location = Smart Homesteading

Mark and I have been living on our homestead for about 6 years and every time we get ready to build an out building, garden, solar array, pump house, etc…we find ourselves asking many question such as:

  • Where do we want to locate this building or structure and why?
  • How often are we going to use this building or structure?
  • Can we use this building or structure for more than one thing?
  • During snow season, are we going to need to access this building or structure and if so can we put it near another building and be able to make one path to both?

Behind me is our home, solar array, garden, and wood shed ~ Location, Location, Location

We are about to break ground on a new shop/barn this summer and found ourselves wanting this building near our home because we are going to be using it for many different functions, shop for car repair, storage, Pauper’s Candle Shop, Room for small repairs, garage, and I am sure many more functions we have yet to think of .  As it has been said, “location, location, location.”

We hope this video encourages you when building your home, homestead, out buildings, shops, barns, gardens, orchards, to think about each structures function and place them together that best fits your needs.  Happy Building!

Homestead Tractor Walk Around

In this quick video, I am doing a walk around our tractor.   I even added some scenes of the tractor in use as I describe each function and implement we have.

The school year is coming to a close and my schedule has become a challenge.  My wife has done an excellent job stepping in for me to maintain the blog site regularly while I grade papers, finish lesson plans, help hire a new teacher, prepare a graduation speech, and trying not to think about the dunk tank I will be sitting in during the last day of school.  That’s the beginning of the list.  Unfortunately, I have had zero time allotted for planning the shop.

Our next project after I return from a trip to celebrate a niece’s graduation this weekend is to install a new tankless propane water heater.  Our temporary hot water heater has finally ended it’s five year temporary status.  More on that later.

Remember, if you haven’t signed up for our homestead business, Pauper’s Candle Company’s free monthly drawing starting this June, do so.  Anyone signed up can be a winner, even if you are outside the United States.  We are really excited to ship our candles outside the US and see how far they will travel.  Don’t worry, we won’t rig the monthly drawing; we are using a computer program or a random drawing from a hat.  Sign up here to win.