Thursday, May 30, 2013

Yoga Indoors

I ordered my AntiGravity Yoga equipment kit today - I ordered tangerine orange... !

Watching the video, I can just imagine myself upside down... I love being upside down.  And, the sling will totally double as seating for me or anyone else who visits and is feeling sort of nutty...  Which will likely be most of my friends...  : )

Here's the link - watch the video!


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A Similar Viewpoint

Macy over at MiniMotives has a great section on her "About" page on her website - it's worth a read.  I think she has really acticulated the tiny thing well.  Here's the link in case you want to check out her build.  She's further down the line than I am, and doing some fun things with her build on a gooseneck trailer.   Enjoy!

My Beliefs:
I very much believe that form follows function. Everything in a design should have a reason, a purpose. Good design can seamlessly integrate a plethora of systems and make it look natural. It can take various pieces and add them up to make a greater ‘whole’. I have no doubt there will be a lot of mistakes made from me on this house experiment but I will learn, that IS the ultimate point. In the mean time I get to not only learn about building, I get to learn about myself.
I will miss some things that I find lacking in my tiny house I’m sure (or maybe learn to appreciate them better) and I will realize some things I thought were ‘needs’ are really just wants. Either way I am going to strip my whole world back to what I consider the bare minimum for me to be happy. NOT the bare minimum for what I need to ‘exist’, there will be a lot of ‘excess’, but there are certain luxuries I don’t want to give up (like a shower with shoulder-room, a desk to work on, a chair for reading, an area to do my art work comfortably etc.), these wants will be in my tiny house. There will be a lot that some deem as ‘needs’ that will not be though, like a spare bedroom, granite counters, a septic system to name a few. I want to prove to myself and to others that it is okay to challenge your own views of what you NEED and what you WANT.
Some say that this living situation won’t work for them, they have kids, or they ‘x’ or they ‘y’. And that may very well be true. But I want people to see that this is a valid direction to head, I may be more extreme about it than necessary but there will be lots of usable aspects for everyone to at least think about. The point overall about building environments is to have as little impact as possible on our ecosystem, in my opinion. Something that is a little closer to this WILL work for everyone. The thing about design is that it is fitting of the end user, or should be. You may not be able to build your home on the bed of a trailer and haul it into the woods at the end of its daily use to be used as a cabin but you CAN build a 600 s.f. house rather than a 2,600 s.f. house… You do not have to be this ‘extreme’ about re-evaluating your life but you CAN re-evaluate some things, you may be surprised at what you come up with, I have been.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Pantry Start

I finally started re-doing my pantry this weekend.  First I unloaded my pantry on my kitchen counter and assessed what I thought I would need.  I sorted by size - grains, flours/sugar, legumes, and powdery things.

I went to buy jars - I wanted wide mouthed, glass with metal lids.  Who knew they would be so elusive?  I had this fantasy that they would all match - that went by the wayside almost immediately!  I went to three stores and still didn't find exactly what I needed.  But I got a decent start:

I also got this funnel for under $2 - which has already proven to be very handy:

And, in the canning supply section I found labels that purport to dissolve in water for easy removal when you refill the jar with something else - so I bought a package of those.

I threw out several items that were past a recommended use date - and I threw some things out that I just don't use anymore.  The things that I cook and the way that I eat continues to change, and so my pantry follows.  Once again it feels really good to really clean out a few cabinets.  I have some extra plastic food storage cannisters/containers now - oh how I love purging plastic - and I think I'll give them to my friend who is the bird trainer.  She says she can use them at work.  Perfect!

I will see now, for a few months, how this new jar system works for me.  If I chose the right sized jars for ingredients, how much storage they require, which ones I get into the most often... and start considering how they will be stored in my tiny house.

I ordered square metal tins for spices today - they are next!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


I totally just want to go lay on it.

Unfortunately, it is over 1,400 miles west of me.

But in 31 days...

Monday, May 20, 2013

It May be Time for a Speadsheet

I am surprised to see that I haven't posted since May 9th!  Ooops.  I did a quick trip to northern Minnesota for Mother's Day and also was there for my mom's birthday. Work ramped up (of course) the week before that, and you know how you have to play catch up when you get back?  I've caught my breath now - and I'll give you the few updates that I have.  I haven't just been twiddling my thumbs, honest.  Things are progressing, and that's good, because I have a lot on my plate!  I feel a spreadsheet list coming on... I do love a good list.  In Excel.  With wrapped text.  And ... okay okay I'll stop.

MAGIC Camp details are shaping up!  I'm "meeting" more people associated with the Camp, which is really fun - impressive folks - and I even got to choose a t-shirt size!  Wednesday of this week launches the 30 day countdown to my trip!  I can't even stand it.

Supposedly my trailer is ready for pick up today!  But I'm not holding my breath, because its supposedly going to have been ready (apologies for that poor grammar) on April 26th, and pretty much every business day since then.  So now?  My head is in the sand.  It will be ready when it's ready.  And then I'll let you in on all the scoop and show you the photos!  (Who knew a trailer could be so pretty?  I've already bonded with it.)

As the Camp approaches, the need for oh, say, construction materials becomes more important.... Daniel and his class are finalizing a materials list and projected cost, which I should have next week. With that process comes decisions:

Walls - The plans call for 2x3"s for framing but I'm using 2x4"s for road worthiness - stronger.  Meets Building Code.

Fasteners - for framing going to use nails not screws because they have better shear strength.  Will use screws for sheathing and bracing.  Meets Code.

3/4" sub floor - and then I'll put my cork (or Marmoleum or whatever) on top of that.

Foundation - The plans call for 2x4"s but I'll use 2x6"s to give me more space under the trailer for water tank storage.  I lose 2 inches of inside height, but it's a trade off.

Yes to the Shafer Shelf*.  Makes framing slightly more complicated but gives the house more stability, and provides great storage.

Upcoming Decisions:
I need to decide on style of skylights, ideally we will frame for them.

Are we building a door or am I ordering a custom door*? 

What is my roofing material going to be?  (Steel, copper clad steel, or copper? I got my first proposal back today.... more are in the pipeline.)

My website building is progressing!  Zach and I are trading to do lists... okay, he's giving them to me and I'm trying to cross things off...

Networking - I've been asked to write a guest blog post for a fellow tiny house enthusiast - I'm honored and excited and a little bit nervous.  And I'm on a deadline.... I appreciate deadlines because I am worthless without them...

I am continuing to shuck possessions.  I have several things that I need to post on eBay as well.  Too nice to take to Goodwill, but not consignment store worthy... Occasionally I have a moment of panic that November is right around the corner, and well, I still have too many things.

I've started shopping for Mason jars to revamp my pantry.  I went to two stores on Sunday hoping to buy some, struck out, figured out that I probably have to go to WalMart, and went home.  That requires a clear head.

And a shout out/thank you to my new follower.  : )   Yes, I saw you arrived.
 * More details coming.  Yes, I have several posts I need to write!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The MAGIC Continues

I got my plane ticket booked for the MAGIC Camp build!  I will be there Saturday to Saturday.  The Camp is Monday - Friday.  The movers and shakers out there advised me to arrive on Saturday to get settled in before the Camp begins - and you know, I'll probably want to go roll around on my new trailer* all day Saturday since it will be the first time I've seen it!  LOL  And then post-camp, apparently traffic is so horrific in LA that everyone advised me to stay until Saturday morning!  So that's what I'm doing: Saturday to Saturday.  And I see a really amazing dinner with new friends on Friday night.  I suspect by the end of it I am going to be so high on life that I won't need a plane to fly home...

Last night I was invited to participate via Skype in a Board of Directors meeting with regards to Camp plans.  I'm just going to say - hearing Daniel lay out the daily construction schedule - hearing things like "framing, house wrap, windows, doors, roofing" and knowing that they were referring to MY HOUSE made my head spin.  I felt like I was in some kind of dream - surreal.  It's really happening!

I've written here before about this path that I am on, and how it seems to be laid out before me and how I am just walking it, and that continues.  In the weeks when this whole project idea (partnering with the Camp) was developing and I was contemplating attending but watching my budget, I told several friends that I was going to look into Couch Surfing.  Nina and now Judy have done it with great success, and I had decided it would be a fun way to reduce my expenses.  I mentioned it to friends in conversation, but said what I really hoped would happen was that I could stay with someone involved in the Camp.  I said it several times, to many people, and said you know, how fun would that be?  It would really seal a relationship with someone, and make it "feel" like, I don't know, almost like family.  My build is feeling a lot like a Habitat build to me (as did the California build that I attended) and having that cohesiveness, that sense of community, really ratchets up the satisfaction and good vibes.  And then you use those good vibes to build your home.  That's nothing short of spectacular.

So fast forward to literally the first time I spoke with Laurie on the phone.  I was listening, and learning, and trying to hear what we needed to pull this together.  We were both really pumped about all of the potential and the possibilities of what this could turn into.  And about 8 minutes into the 90 minute conversation?  An offer to stay at her home.  And then, a few minutes later - and I could tell she couldn't really believe herself that she was saying this out loud, she offered me her second car to drive for the week.  Immediately followed by disclaimers in case I was an axe murderer.  Because, you know, that's what we do -- we follow our hearts and blurt things out, and then our mind says, "Hey hey hey now you don't even know this person - what if they are a serial killer?" and then you have to back pedal.  It's human nature - we all do it.  But here I am again - with yet another piece of the journey falling into place.  It's happened repeatedly to me in the last year - and now I just watch these things happen with gratitude and the new found ability to just say, "thank you."

I really believe that you get back what you give out.  I believe that if you do good, you will get good in return.  Last year I did a lot of giving.  I gave time, I gave away material things, I gave emotional support to friends.  And I am getting all of that back three-fold.  Do I deserve it?  I like to think so, but ultimately I am just grateful, and I'm learning to accept help and say "thank you."  This concept that this year is my year to say thank you has come up in more than one conversation with friends in the last year. At first you just laugh and say, "Yeah, okay, thank you!" And then it starts to sink in; it's really a thing.  And I fully expect that next year, with my little house, I am going to be in a position to be giving a lot back.  Giving it back to the people who have given to me, and to the new people that I am going to meet on my new path.

ANYWAY - Whew that was getting deep -- lol -- here's how it sounds like the Camp days will shake out; we will have 20-25 girls attending.

Monday: Safety talk, and framing and insulating the floor
Tuesday: Frame the walls
Wednesday: Frame the roof, guest speaker Karen Wolf**  (more to come on that - an inspiring story!)
Thursday: Sheath the house
Friday: Roofing, and install the front door and windows

Laurie said she isn't sure how many nights Nina and I will actually make it to her house - that she suspects we will spend nights at the school, tinkering with the house... she may not be far off... maybe we will sleep in it one night just to say we did... ha ha wouldn't that be funny?  Maybe Friday night... (Nina - sleeping bags??  LOL)

*      Oh you KNOW I will post photos!
**     I hope my notes are accurate on her name; it was a tiny bit hard to hear

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Lifestyle Choices & Change

Even though it is only May, I've started making some changes in my day to day lifestyle in anticipation of life in my tiny house.

About a month ago, I quit using my dishwasher.
My old habit?  Dishes were rinsed and stacked in the sink.  When the sink got full they got loaded into the dishwasher.  That repeated until the dishwasher was full.  Then I'd run the dishwasher, but unloading it would take me days.  Basically the sink and the dishwasher were just holding areas for dishes.

My new habit?  I'm training myself to hand wash a dish when I'm done with it.  That sounds really logical, doesn't it?  I know, to me, too - but it's harder to make myself do than it should be.  But I'm getting better at it.  I must admit, it is really nice to have an empty sink all the time...  and it is also making me more conscious about water usage.  When I have a reservoir of water, that will become very important...

I've quit coloring my hair.
Before you laugh at that, remember that I do live in Dallas!  My hair guy has teased me for a long time that coloring my hair blonde is the only reason "they" let me stay in Dallas, because I certainly am not your typical Dallas girl...  I made the decision to go "au naturale" for a few reasons -- I'm trying to reduce expenses anywhere that I can.  I try to live a life that is chemical free, and well, ewww hair bleach/dye?  It's pretty bad.  And finally, when I'm traveling, Warren my hair guy is not going to be traveling with me!  Lots of people have said they want to come along, but Warren is not one of them... LOL  As I see friends I haven't seen in a while, I am getting quite a few remarks about my hair - apparently it's, um, a rather drastic difference.  I just reply, "Yep!  This is the color I grow!"  Ahhhh.  It's weird how soft my hair is without chemical damage...

I'm reducing the number of electrical appliances.
I hope to be off the grid a good part of the time - although admittedly the electrical logistics are still hazy - and accordingly I'm examining how many electrical things I'm using and thinking about what I can ditch.  In my November sale I ditched the food processor.  I've found that chopping and dicing is sort of therapeutic, and I believe it's good to pay attention to what you are eating, and to take the time to put good intentions into the preparations.  Gone are the hot rollers (my Dallas status is probably even more threatened...) and my curling iron is likely not far behind.  Gone are the floor lamps.  And my favorite change?  I've quit using my old (but wonderful) electrical percolator coffee pot and I bought a ROK.  Holy cow.  Now, I had to order this thing sight unseen from the UK.  And quite honestly, it wasn't cheap.  But - it's a solid YES in the quality of life column.  This thing makes the most caramelly delicious espresso you've ever tasted - and mix that with some vanilla soy milk and ice?  D I V I N E.  All you need is coffee and boiling water.  And the clean up is a snap - just rinse out the portafilter.  I find myself day dreaming in the afternoon about a second coffee -- and that's unusual for me.

There are a handful of things that I haven't been able to part with...  

My electric blanket for example.  Don't judge - I know, I live in Dallas, I mean seriously how cold can it get here?  Cold enough, I say, and I was scarred by the cold as a child.  I like my bed sheets to be warm when I slip between them.  I really can't imagine giving it up.  (It's May and I'm still using  mine...)  

I'll will keep my toaster oven.  I use it almost every day.  

I hope to let my blow dryer go... I don't use it daily as it is... I guess if I'm not working downtown where some expectation of looking pulled together exists...  maybe.  As it is, this time of year, I use my convertible as a hair dryer on the way to work.. BMW used to advertise that its convertible was the ultimate tanning machine.  Mini could advertise that it's a natural hair dryer...

My television will probably go.  I think I can be happy watching shows on my computer or my iPad... we will see.  At the very least, the size of the TV will need to be drastically reduced...  

I have my own washer and dryer now, but I won't have that amenity in my tiny house; I'll be at the laundromat.  But the upshot is, I will have a lot fewer items of clothing and they will all be items that I love to wear.  I would love to have a clothesline when I'm parked somewhere for a longer period of time.

My pantry re-work is moving up on the list.  My tiny house plan is mason jars.  For a couple of weeks now I've been saying that I am going to switch my pantry over - figure out how many I need, and what sizes... so I can figure out how much shelf space I'll need.  That's something that I want to do ahead of time, and live with it for a while, to make sure that I've made the correct allowances for actual living and day to day food preparation.

Things I wish I could do without?  

A freezer/refrigerator.  There are books out there on living without one that I intend to read.  It is a energy suck and it's noisy.  Living without one seems drastic right now, but at some point I am going to start seriously mulling that over.  At this point it's just a fantasy.  On the flip side, I don't eat that many things that require refrigeration.

I'd also like to be able to do without an air conditioner.  That will be dependent on where I am parked.  Not only what state I am in, but sun versus shade.  I am pretty bummed that it doesn't appear I'll be able to have a ceiling fan.  I'm hoping for some type of alternative - maybe just windows open all over!  I like my air to be moving.  

As the calendar days flip by, I'm constantly reviewing my life habits, and thinking about change.  What will be easy?  What will be difficult? 

Monday, May 6, 2013

MAGIC Camp!!

And it really does feel like that.  Like it's magic.  I feel as though I am tumbling down the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland...

It's been soooo hard to sit on this news -- I've known for weeks now -- but I wanted to be sure that all the pieces were in place, and that I had accurate information before I told you about it.

M.A.G.I.C. means Mentoring A Girl In Construction.  Just for starters, wow.  How cool is that?!  A summer day camp that teaches girls construction?  Where was this when I was in high school??

MAGIC Camp is a one week (40hr+/-) hands on training camp for high school girls. The camp brings a variety of construction and related trade "modules" to the girls to give them experience in the trades for future work skills and personal use. While fostering self- empowerment to the girls it also teaches teamwork, group dynamics and responsibilities.

The participants attend the camp at no charge thanks to our generous chapter members and industry sponsors. Each girl receives a complete hand tool set that is ergonomically correct and personal protective equipment that they will use during the camp that they will keep for themselves.

MAGIC Camp is fostered and supported by NAWIC (National Association of Women in Construction) National Office and the Ventura County Chapter has successfully partnered each of the its camps with ACE (Architecture Construction & Engineering) High School and the Oxnard Union High School District.

MAGIC Camps have been successfully organized by several NAWIC Chapters throughout California and across the United States since 2007+/-.  (Courtesy of Laurie Bennett)
 This year, the Ventura County Chapter is holding it's Camp the week of June 24th.  It's a group of 20 high schools girls, and construction professionals acting as their mentors.

And this year, ME.  And do you know why it includes me?

Because this year, the camp project is MY HOUSE.  

Oh, my gosh you guys, I can't even stand it!

So how did I end up here?  First, you'll remember Daniel (hero) from this post.

As if he isn't already too freakin' amazing, he also helps run this Camp.   And he called me a few weeks ago and said he had a proposition for me - what did I think of the MAGIC Camp girls working on my house??  I said if he trusted their construction skills, then certainly I did.  He said he did, and pointed out that in addition to the girls, there would be construction professionals as their mentors, and they would be working on it, too.  Well yeah, man, let's get THAT on the books!  And we did.

I will fly out to LA, and Monday - Friday I will be swinging a hammer with these young ladies!  We will build and insulate the sub-floor, frame the walls and roof, and and and... well, I don't know how far we will get past that.  But honestly?  It doesn't even matter - even if we get that much done I will be just over the moon.

AND, my workshop friend and fellow Tiny Angel NINA is coming too!!  (If only we could swindle our third Tiny Angel, Judy, to come down from Canada....Ohhh Juuuudy, where aaaaarrrre you?)

Here is a video from last year’s camp with highlights from the previous two years:  

The camp is organized by these two women, whom I cannot WAIT to meet:

LAURIE BENNETT - Vice President, ARBEE INC (Fence Factory & C&W Construction Specialties)

Laurie has been in the Construction Industry for over 34 years in her family’s specialty construction businesses; C&W Construction Specialties and Fence Factory. 

She holds her own State Contractors License and is certified by the American Fence Association as a Certified Fence Professional (CFP), one of only a few women in the Fence Industry. 

She has been a member of the NAWIC, Ventura County Chapter for over 20 years, has served on the Board of Directors and has been Chapter President. She previously served as a member of the Ventura County Contractor’s Association (VCCA) Board of Directors for 13 years and also served as Board President.  In 2008, She was honored with the” Outstanding Woman in Construction” award by the National Association of Women in Construction and Arizona State University, Del E. Web School of Construction Management. 

Laurie holds a Masters Degree in Business Administration from California Lutheran University (CLU) and has continued her industry education at Ventura College’s Construction Technology Program. 

Her passion while involved with both construction industry associations has been education. She has been involved with NAWIC’s CADD and Manual Board Drafting Contest and Scholarship committees and the VCCA’s Education Committee.  She has also been an organizer and instructor for a Construction Camp geared for middle school students at Ventura College called “Construction is Cool”.
VALERIE PATSCHECK - CSUCI, Director of Procurement & Contract Services 

Valerie has been employed by the California State University for over 28 years, most recently at the Channel Islands campus as the Director of Procurement & Contract Services. Her specialty is design and construction contract administration for the public works projects at CI.

She has been a member of NAWIC for over 12 years and has served on the board of directors as well as most recently served as Chapter President for two terms.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree with a concentration in Public Administration and has earned a lifetime designation of Certified Purchasing Manager (C.P.M.) from NAPM/ISM.

Valerie is married to Stan Patscheck of Patscheck Construction Company and is currently serving as a NAWIC Regional Fund Trustee, Regional CADD Drafting Contest Chair.

I'm embarrassed to admit that I'd never heard of NAWIC.  The most embarrassing part of that?  They are based in Dallas.  Um, yeah, so I am going to have to get to know them!  Their website is:

What a win/win situation.  What an fantastic opportunity - to be able to give - and to receive, and to be a role model for young women.  Another amazing chapter of this life changing journey that I am on.


Friday, May 3, 2013


For years now my favorite book has been The Book of Qualities by J. Ruth Gendler.  The author takes personality qualities and assigns them human characteristics - if my high school grammar class serves me right, that is personification.  The pages always make me examine myself, and I love the little caricature sketches that accompany each description.

Also for many years now I have had three frames up on my wall and I've rotated copies of various pages from the book into the frames, dependent on where I am in life.  I've neglected them for a while now - haven't changed them in quite some time - and this morning while brushing my teeth I read them with a fresh eye.

Contentment has learned how to find out what she needs to know.  Last year she went on a major housecleaning spree. First, she stood on her head until all the extra facts fell out.  Then, she discarded about half her house.  Now, she knows where every thing comes from - who dyed the yarn dark green and who wove the rug and who built the loom, who made the willow chair, who planted the apricot trees.  She made the turqoise mugs herself with clay she found in the hills beyond her house.

When Contentment is sad, she takes a mud bath or goes to the mountains until her lungs are clear.  When she walks through an unfamiliar neighborhood, she always makes friends with the local cats.

Stillness will meet you for tea or a walk by the ocean.  You must be gentle when you approach her.  she is more sensitive than we can even imagine and she does not explain herself much.  Sometimes I bring her flowers - not because she needs them (she tends several gardens) -- but because I am better able to meet her when I am carrying flowers.  Her favorite time is dawn.

Courage has roots.  She sleeps on a futon on the floor and lives close to the ground.  Courage looks you straight in the eye.  She is not impressed with power trippers, and she knows first aid.  Courage is not afraid to weep, and she is not afraid to pray, even when she is not sure who she is praying to.  When Courage walks, it is clear that she has made the journey from loneliness to solitude.  The people who told me she is stern were not lying; they just forgot to mention that she is kind.

Many -- but not all by a far stretch - but many of the passages there are now strangely applicable to my life these days.  Hmmm. I think it's time to revisit the book and see what new ones might need to go in the frames  for the remainder of this year.  Let me find a cup of tea...

The frames won't survive the transition to the tiny house, but the book definitely will.  

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Website on the Way!!

I started this blog in September 2012 - which feels like a lifetime ago - and at the same time feels like just a few weeks.  (Does that ever happen to you?  I am so bad with time!  And lately I rarely can tell you what day of the week it is...)  I'm bumping up against my home construction actually starting in June* and then I am really going to have a LOT to write about!

I've finally started the ball rolling on converting this blog into website - I'm so excited!  My fabulously talented and generous friend Kelly in Minnesota is handling it for me - she is the owner of Beyond Indigo. We are going to barter - she'll do my website and I'll send her some oils and come and work in her garden, and .... well, I'll have to think of something else, too!  Kelly and I have a long history... and tons of blackmail on each other... LOL  Ohhhh but that is many many other stories...

The thought of getting all of the information I have out of my head and onto a website in an orderly fashion is very daunting to me.  I mean, really.  daunting.  Fortunately I have professionals on my side and I can hand it to them and say, "Here - can you please do something fabulous with this?"  I can't wait to see what they will do with the random ideas I am giving them. I'm really looking forward to the collaboration.  HAPPY.
A few months ago I purchased my domain names.  Then a few weeks ago I drafted my website navigation outline, and yesterday I had my first phone conference with my project manager!  Really, really exciting!

It should be up and running by the Fall...

 *  My trailer was supposed to be ready yesterday -- I've called for a status update and am waiting for a return call...