Sunday, March 28, 2010

Inspirational Reading

There have been a lot of books that have influenced us in our decision to build a tiny house and simplify our lives.  I thought maybe some of these titles might be of interest to everyone else.  I wouldn't declare that any of these books are the "be all and end all" of alternative building, but they are books that we have read that have moved us along this path. 

Matt and I have read both of these books, of course.  But my personal favorites are Healing Appalachia and Little House on a Small Planet.  I wrote about the latter in my livejournal recently.  It has been very inspirational.  Healing Appalachia has been similarly inspirational because we are building in the Smoky Mountains and it is very important to me that we use technology that works best with the environment. 

What other books are out there for self-reliant living or alternative building?  What has inspired you?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Electrical Wiring Weekend

We just got back from a trip to Asheville this weekend. It was not only the first weekend we were camping, but also some friends were joining us to do some work on the tiny house.

It started on Thursday night. Matt and I left Atlanta and headed straight to Mt. Matt. It was probably too cold to camp, but we soldiered on with our many layers of pajamas. On Friday morning, however, it felt way too cold to start anything too early. We decided to get up and head out for a coffee and by the time we got back it had warmed up a bit. I started out in layers upon layers of clothes, including long johns, but I had to shed those layers as the day wore on. We got the area set up for camping and cleaned up some more of the carnage from the Treepocalypse. By about 5:30 we were done and so cleaned ourselves up and headed out to have some dinner and hit the grocery store. There would be seven of us total that weekend - four guys coming down from Michigan to help with the electrical wiring of the house and one friend coming from Atlanta. Our friends Dann and Andrew have known each other for over a year on the MMO that we all play together, but they had never met before so we were excited to have them both in one place. Everyone was going to arrive sometime on Friday night. So Matt and I got all the things ready with the food and beer and built a fire and waited.

We waited a long long time! No one got there until about 1am. I'll admit, we were getting tired and since it was so cold we were getting anxious, but as soon as everyone arrived (nearly at the same time) it was all good. We all gathered around the fire while tents were being set up. Eventually we all went to bed. Night two was just as cold at night one.

But Saturday morning was beautiful. Still a little cold so we got a late start. Matt, Dann, Brendan and Brian all went to Lowe’s to get the stuff they needed for the wiring. Rob was still asleep when they left, but woke up around noon. This is actually early for Rob. We put him to work assembling the charcoal grill that we bought. Andrew and I started working on walls for our shower platform. The shower was one of the first things that Matt and I had ever built together. Before the snowstorm it was sheltered by trees on three sides. It was pretty private for a shower, but we had a bi-fold screen for additional privacy. After the snowstorm, it is now sheltered by trees on no sides. We designed a plan to put up three walls - the fourth side faces the side of the hill. The guys came back from the store and Dann and Brian got started on the wiring. Matt wasn't allowed to supervise so he came down to see what else he could help with. Rob and Brendan went in search of dry firewood and Matt started cutting down a fallen tree a little further up the hill. He only had a minor accident when the tree hit him in the face - good thing he was wearing safety glasses, but he does have a bruise and a lump.

Andrew and I finished framing two walls and called it quits for the day. Matt, Brendan and Rob finished gathering the firewood. We were done for the day. Dann and Brian worked until about 7 before coming down for dinner. Dann is an electrician and was helping us get the house wired for the eventual use of solar power. 

Then we grilled some steaks, made some camping potatoes* and a salad. Dinner was fabulous. The camping potatoes were a hit.

After dinner, there was music by the campfire. Dann, Rob and Brendan are in a band called the Troubled Ones - and Dann and Rob had been in a band with Matt when we lived in Detroit. So, with guitars, drums and even bass they played some covers and some original songs. It was great fun.

After music there was additional chatting by the fire and eventually we all went to bed - and it was much warmer and more comfortable on Saturday night.

The great part about this weekend was that it seemed to be a great mix between work and fun. We got a lot accomplished but we never felt like we were doing sun up to sun down work like we have before.

On Sunday we all got up and got the place cleaned up. I went up to see the electrical and get the tiny house cleaned up. The house will be hooked up to a solar array and a generator for back up. There are outlets for charging things in various places. There is a light on the front of the house, there is a light inside just above the door. There are lights on either wall in the living space. There is a light in the bathroom and kitchen task lighting. There will be a fixture in the ceiling above the loft as well.

We all left Mt. Matt around 11:30 - Matt headed to Hilton Head with the guys from Detroit and Andrew and I headed home to Atlanta.

Next trip we don't have much to do. We are going to be installing the windows in mid-April and so when we go up for Easter weekend we'll just be getting some things organized. Last year it felt like it would be forever before the tiny house was finished and now it is really coming together.

*Camping Potatoes are a recipe that I found in this book. However, the book is packed away so I couldn’t consult it, so I made it from memory. This is how I remember it:
Red Potatoes, quartered and boiled until soft
Ritz Crackers – crushed
Butter – Lots
And some Mrs. Dash seasoning (I don’t think that was in the original recipe)
After the potatoes are boiled and drained, add the butter, crackers and seasoning and mix thoroughly.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Evolution of A Tiny House

I have been faithfully updating photos on Flickr since we began this project. 

Enjoy the tour!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Welcome to our Tiny House Blog

I have been journaling for the last year about building a tiny house just outside of Asheville, North Carolina.  I realized recently that this experience has outgrown the livejournal universe and I wanted to be able to present information on a wider range of small building topics and with a larger group of people. 

If you're just tuning in, my husband Matt and I are building a Tarleton, designed by Jay Shafer.  It really all started a few years ago.  Matt has always been interested in building and especially sustainable or self sufficient building.  We spent time researching other types of alternative building including Cordwood Masonry and Earthships.  Then one day our friend Nicole told us that she saw this guy on Oprah who built a tiny house on a trailer.  And our love of the Tumbleweed Tiny House began.  We had the pleasure of meeting Jay Shafer at a workshop in Asheville a about a year and a half ago and after talking with him about the building and our ideas we knew the house was for us. We bought plans for the Tarleton and got to work on the 15 acres we owned in Western North Carolina.  You may see that named our mountain after my husband.  He is a funny, funny guy. 

We have been building for almost a year straight, all total.  Since we both still work full time jobs in Atlanta, most of our work is done over the weekend and usually just two weekends a month.  It has been very difficult but one of the most worthwhile things I have ever done.  I encourage you to catch up with my original livejournal posts and then continue to check back here for updates.