Thursday, May 2, 2013

Cracking The Code: Tiny Houses And Building Codes

This guide by Ryan Mitchell is something I've been anticipating.  It's a resource I plan on using soon, you can order it here:

I'm attending the Tumbleweed Tiny House Workshop this month and will be writing about my experience.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Books I'm reading and a new resource to prepare for my homestead

I bought three books from eBay sellers last week to start learning about ways to have the homestead setup I want.

The first is The Humanure Handbook by J. C. Jenkins, the second is Create an Oasis with Greywater by Art Ludwig and the third is Mini Farming by Brett L. Markham.

I'm about a third of the way through The Humanure Handbook right now and am so surprised by the simplicity of the concept of closing the 'nutritional loop' so to speak.  I'm learning that I want to make less of an impact on the environment and show people how easily it can be done by example.

I also found out about Victory Garden International that was started by Tom Wiegerink right here in Palm City, FL where I live.  Tom is trying to teach people to grow their own food gardens to be self-sustaining.  I just found out about it and joined the group's Facebook page but I intend to volunteer to help out and to gain valuable experience as soon as possible.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

High tech ways to live a 'primitive' lifestyle

I'm really doing a lot of research to answer questions that come up about my plans for an off-grid tiny house.  People ask me about how I'll have power, water, cooling and heating, etc...  and while I'm still working out some issues, I've been amazed at the resources I'm finding for these things.

Of course I'll be using solar and wind power for the few electronic devices I'll still want to have.  A laptop, small entertainment system, cell phone, iPod, and maybe one or two other things can all be charged from a 12 volt system or use 12 volt systems already.  I found a few websites that truckers use to pimp out their cabs to make them like a home away from home.  Or marine supply sites and stores.  They have all kinds of things that would also work wonderfully in a tiny house that are designed to use the 12 volt battery system. 

I just got an email from Tiny House Newsletter via that had a link to Personal Atmospheric Water Generators (makes water from the air).  You can get solar power compatible models from them and they sell the other things you need to power them and make your own purified water for pennies a day!!  If you read some of my previous posts I talk about how little water I would actually need to use if I don't have running water or indoor plumbing and I believe I could make enough water for my own use with one of these.  It answered a few big questions. It made my plans that much more realistic for me and I just love the idea of not having to get my water in a complicated way that would take me going out to get it or it being delivered.  I will be getting one of these for my tiny house!

I'll be doing a few chores by hand that I do with a machine now, but it'll only be me and a kitty in a space that'll likely be smaller than my bedroom so there'll be much less to do! Washing a few dishes by hand daily and doing a few loads of laundry with a WonderWash will fit right in with a half hour of cleaning a week.  Even collecting my grey water to filter will be a snap because I won't be using all that much water to begin with.

I love being able to mix the old and new ways to have a more sustainable life for myself and the environment!!

Friday, March 1, 2013

"Jen's Nut Hut"

That's going to be my tiny house's name, Jen's Nut Hut.  A lot of people who know me won't be a bit surprised to hear that, but for different reasons than why I'm giving my house that name.  

One day last year I was sitting on my back patio and one of the squirrels that live in the trees caught my attention.  S/he was gathering dead branches from the tree by chewing them off of the limbs of one of the trees and taking them to where the limb met the trunk to pile them up.  Some of the branches got stuck on other branches and the little critter lost them.   More got lost or stuck than gathered by my count as I watched.  A good pile would get going and then topple over, falling to the ground 15 feet below.

That little squirrel just kept on gathering, no matter how many times the branches and sticks fell he just kept on going until he gathered what he needed.  I sat there and just marveled at the lesson I let myself be taught by a cute little tree dwelling rodent in my own back yard.  The persistence, patience, determination and fortitude I saw in that squirrel told me that I can do all of the things I want to no matter how many times I may stumble while I'm reaching my goals!!

I had been questioning some things until that very moment and felt I'd been given a validation.  I will have my tiny house ready by my 50th birthday, with bike mechanic school to follow. 
I will reach my goals, just like the squirrel did.  I just have to keep my eye on the goal no matter what!!

Friday, February 15, 2013

The bliss of having less

I've been doing a lot of thinking about the downsizing I'll need to do before moving into my tiny house permanently.  I don't have an attachment to things the way others I know do.  It may have something to do with the fact that my belongings have been lost, stolen, damaged or destroyed multiple times in my life.  It also may have to do with my somewhat nomadic nature.  Most likely it's a combination of these and many other reasons.  I'm going for real simplicity in my life.  Less space, less possessions, less hassle!!  I think about all of the ways all of the 'modern conveniences' suck the time, money and joy out of our lives.  

I'm seriously thinking about going primitive with my tiny house life.  Like no plumbing or running water primitive.  I know it seems like a strange idea to most people, but I have some experience with living without  running water or indoor plumbing.  Going this route will also cost me less in the building costs.  The small amount of power I will use will come from a solar system.

When I was a kid my family had friends who owned 14 acres in the suburbs outside of Philadelphia.  The property was directly on the Perkiomen Creek, so it became known as 'The Perk'. Our family spent a lot of time there in the warmer months & summer time.  We used 2 modified truck bodies, a screen house and an outhouse for our campsite.  There was no running water and for many years no electric service.  We loved going there and had to do things a lot differently than we did at home in the city.  I learned a lot those summers, things that I value even more now than I did then.

My plans involve using enamelware basins, pitchers, a galvanized wash tub, a chamber pot and composting toilet.  I'll use a couple of basins for washing dishes, and another basin along with a pitcher and chamber pot for a washstand type bathroom set-up.  Round this primitive bathroom out with the wash tub, which I'll pair with a portable camp shower with a curtain on a hoop setup and a composting toilet and you've got your very own 'indoor outhouse', lol!!  I'll just compost and filter what would normally be mixed with fresh water and sent through a septic or sewer system.

I think if I incorporate work into my daily life, I'll be able to stay active longer.  Taking care of a garden, a compost system and a grey water filtration system are chores that shouldn't be too strenuous, but give me enough exercise to stay limber and strong into my old age.  Add riding a bike for transportation and I'm good to go!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Tumbleweed Tiny House Workshop Philadelphia

Well it's all set!  I'm attending the Tumbleweed workshop in Philadelphia in May.  The ticket, flight & room are all reserved and paid for!  

At first I was going to go to the Relaxshacks Workshop in April but when Tumbleweed added the Philly workshop I knew which one to go to.  I grew up in Philadelphia and know my way around so it's the perfect place if I have to travel to a workshop.

I can't wait to go, it's a big step on the road to building my tiny house after I've been doing all of the research and planning!!  

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

1, 3 & 5 year goals

I've been doing a lot of research for my 5 year goals lately and I've come up with a good 5 year goal plan.

My 1 year goal is to attend a tiny house workshop, acquire a trailer for the foundation, finish the shell and begin downsizing by selling off a lot of my clutter.

My 3 year goal is to finish the interior of my tiny home, find and acquire the land to put it on, see my daughter graduate from high school and go to college and then attend bicycle mechanic training courses.

My 5 year goal is to begin and build a small bicycle repair and rental shop, work part time and volunteer in my community. I'm even thinking of designs to build a tiny bike shop on wheels!

I know these goals won't sound very ambitious to many people, but these are my goals to live out the last 2 or 3 decades of my life in a peaceful, sustainable, happy way...