Beginning a journey to live more simply…

Ultra Low-flow Shower Head.

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011:

In the spirit of going small and becoming more intentional regarding the amounts of space and resources we consume, we installed a Bricor Ultra Max .55 gallon per minute ultra low-flow shower head. This specialty piece was pricey, for sure, but something that we really wanted to include in our home.

While we will be able to be very conservative in our water consumption, we are not entirely motivated by altruism- our water heater only holds 7 gallons of water…

Many, many heart-felt thanks to Danno Frierdich and Kyle Klues. They showed up on day one of this project, and it was so very fitting that they wrapped up the very last day with us… Not to mention the countless days they’ve driven over 3 hours each way to help out throughout. You guys made this dream possible for us!

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011:

Installed a few more custom-built shelves (1X8 pine and 3/4″ dry wall screws) to maximize available space.

We also were presented with a hand-made pine ladder built by a very skilled craftsman and Camp Ondessonk’s Executive Director, Dan King.

Finished all pieces with Tung Oil.

Thanks Dan! Your contribution to our home means the world to us…

Monday, December 26th, 2011:

One of the things that drew us to this project was a desire to simplify our lives through paring down our belongings. While liberating, we knew that this would be one of the biggest challenges of the entire tiny house experience. With construction complete, we took a deep breath, squared our shoulders -revisited The Story of Stuff a couple of times- and dug in.

We had a basic plan of attack -categorize our stuff into four areas: Stuff to be Gifted; Stuff to be Donated; Stuff to be Stored-long-term-for-future-use; and Stuff to Join Us in the Tiny House. While simple, the plan turned out to be every bit as hard as anticipated.

We’ve been gifting many belongings throughout the past year, which has been enjoyable. Deciding what belongings to take with us in the Tiny House has been exciting as well. The hard part turned out to be deciding what things we’d choose to keep in the limited long-term storage space offered by Gabby’s Mom and what we’d donate to the local Goodwill store.

The desire to hold on to “keepsakes” can be overwhelmingly strong, but what do things really mean to us, anyway? Attaching a memory or an emotion to an item is likely fairly common to most. For us, this resulted in box upon box of things competing for a pardon as we lined them of for the chop.

While often difficult, the experience was a great exercise in examining each belonging with a deliberate and critical eye. Utilitarianism became our marching orders, and when some thing tugged at our heart-strings it was set aside to be reconsidered at another time. Some items needed to go through the ‘set aside and reexamine’ process several times before we were able to come to terms with its keeping or giving up. The secret weapon ended up being the ability to truly give ourselves permission to look at our things with intentionality.

Though this was an exhausting process, we have come out the other end with a tiny house containing just the things we need to live and thrive as well as a few storage shelves holding the items that have true family, utilitarian, and sentimental value.

Several truck loads of other items that were really just consuming space in our lives were either given away to friends and family or donated to the Goodwill. While some folks have suggested that we are misguided and have expressed concern about us parting with so much of what we’ve worked to accumulate over the years, the process has been incredibly liberating. We are able to enter this next chapter more lean and light hearted…

Saturday, November 19th, 2011:

After catching an hour or two here and there to knock out those many “we’ll get to that” projects, we are ready to attempt the first Tiny House road test.

In the early planning stages, we made the decision use a car-hauler type trailer as opposed to the standard utility trailer suggested by the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company plans. Knowing that the trailer is serving as the foundation of our home, we were interested in something more substantial and robust: the car-hauler offered heavier channel iron framing as well as a larger weight capacity.

While the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company estimates the dry-weight for a Tarleton at around 5,000 – 6,000lbs, we knew that our tiny house would likely exceed these numbers given the heavier alternative/natural materials utilized. (for example, we chose to forgo the lighter weight foam insulation and used heavier sheep’s wool; utilized metal electrical gang boxes in lieu of plastic; copper water lines instead of PVC; etc.)

Following the example set by Jay Shafer when moving his Tumbleweed Tiny House, we rented a One-Ton UHaul moving truck to take our tiny house about 20 miles down the road to weigh it at the local Southern FS. Last minute road-readying tasks: attach red reflectors on the back and rear quarters of the house, amber reflectors on the front quarters of the house and put on the RV license plate.

Words cannot describe the intense emotions experienced as the tiny house began rolling down the road for the first time. We were way too nervous for elation. Perhaps that day will come. In the mean time, every bump conjured images of the project we’ve spent the past year and a half constructing with our friends and loved ones disintegrating into a pile of splinters and wool. Nerves on high alert, knuckles shades of white on the UHaul steering wheel, we pulled the tiny house down the road and eventually (forget anything over 45 mph on any kind of up hill -55 mph max on flat, open road) pulled up onto the scales.

Grand Total dry weight: 7,800lbs.

Heavy, but well under the 10,000lb rating of the car-hauler trailer. We’ll take it.

Friday, October 28th, 2011:

Trimmed out the entry closet and put up a closet bar for hanging coats and other clothing. This closet will serve as our ‘mud room’ of sorts. We’ll keep our cleaning tools, outer wear, and other such things in this space. Directly below the closet is a small cubby that houses the cat’s litter box.

One of the many selling points when considering this project was Jay Shafer’s comment about not having a lot of house to clean. A simple brush and dust pan will serve us well on a daily basis.

For deeper cleaning, we did want to have a vacuum available. However, given that the house is such a small space, we quickly realized that using and stowing a normal size vacuum was not realistic.

We’ve used various things like dust busters and sharks in the past, and have found them useful for a localized messes, but we weren’t as confident about relying on them for an entire cleaning project.

After a bit of on-line research, we found a very simple, yet powerful hand-held vacuum: The Dyson DC35.

As a hand-held vacuum, it is small enough to stow away in the back of the entry closet, but really is powerful enough to suck up everything we’ve used it for so far, including construction debris. To be honest, it is a bit shocking how well it works. One really does expect only so much from a hand-held vacuum. This little thing defies stereotype. We feel it is the perfect solution for our tiny place.

Shelving in the Kitchen.

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011:

We had our first Ikea experience on our recent trip to Portland and the Oregon coast. Woah.

While there, we fell in love with some storage solutions for the Tiny House’s kitchen. We purchased and have now installed some items from their stainless steel Grundtal collection, including a dish rack/drainer, spice rack, and small stainless shelf.

What we like most about these pieces is how they take advantage of flat wall space for hanging things, creating a vertical storage solution. We think it is a great fit in the tiny house!

Interestingly, it appears that many items at Ikea are only available through in-store purchase. We had hoped to be able to order these items once home from our trip. Turned out we could not.

We did, however, discover an enterprising person who helps solve this problem for folks like us who don’t live anywhere near an Ikea store. EverythingIkea.com will take your list and do your Ikea shopping for you, then ship it directly to you for a reasonable mark-up. We did pay extra for our items, but found the service fair and a good alternative to making the 6 hour drive to our nearest Ikea store.

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011:

With her hand-made curtains in place, Gabby has turned her attention to crocheting a throw rug for the Great Room. She has re-purposed some white cotton rags that were to be thrown out, washed them, and cut them into thin strips for incorporating into the oval rug. To keep with the earth-toned theme that is taking shape in the tiny house, she has colored the cotton strips with a natural black-walnut dye.

She enjoyed a short bike ride up the 2 mile Camp Ondessonk entrance road collecting some of the black walnuts that are falling to the ground this time of year. Once home, she placed them in a large pot of water and simmered them for an evening. Next, she let them soak in the water for three days. The resulting liquid made quick work of the strips of white cotton, turning them a rich and pleasant brown hue.

Friday, October 21st, 2011:

Continuing to take a good look at how to best maximize space in the ‘Great Room’. A few walls lent themselves well to shelving, so we’ve tried out our hand at shelf-making.

While shelving is a great way to take advantage of limited but usable space we do have one unique challenge to address: Cats.

To add another layer of ‘crazy’ to this adventure we’re not just fitting two people into this tiny space, but will be bringing along two very active and curious cats.

As cat owners know, shelves -and all items on them- are fair game. So, with an open mind and some strategy, we’ve installed a set of 1X8 pine shelves in a few intentional locations. These shelves, as with many features in the place, will have multiple uses: portions will hold baskets for storage, while other portions will serve as a cat-tree system to allow our small companions autonomous access to the sleeping loft as well as a nook in the storage loft that will house a hidden ‘blanket-nest’ for when they are feeling less social.

We’re still having a blast with this project! Getting closer and closer…

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011:

We’ve recently seen a couple of on-line articles highlighting our project that we really like. We’d like to thank Christina Nellemann at the Tiny House Blog and Alex Pino at Tiny House Talk for both their interest in our project as well as their thoughtful and accurate depiction.

Both of these blogs provide some really great resources for folks interested in simple living. We are grateful to be included.

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Sunday, October 16th, 2011:

Took advantage of a warm and sunny autumn day to re-apply the Flood CWF-UV weather seal on the sides of the house that endured the mold/mildew scrubbing.

The product we have been using to seal the cedar siding has come consistently and highly recommended by every person we’ve asked about such matters. We like it, as well. It rolls on smoothly, dries quickly and gives a nice warm tone to the cedar.

Many thanks to Sami Reuter, Carly Crabtree, and Linda Scruggs for grabbing up a roller and helping us out! We appreciate you.

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