Monday, June 20, 2011

Seriously, rain....

So, the weekend started out wonderfully. Before I even left Atlanta, I found out that the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company website was going to feature us on the blog. That was super exciting. Matt was already up in Asheville, so I made sure he knew it was posted as well. I left work on Friday afternoon and drove straight to Mt. Matt. When I got there, Matt was eager to show me what he had worked on while I was still in Atlanta. Behold - cabinets!
Needless to say, I was impressed. But that was the only building work we could get done that weekend because in preparation for an annual 4th of July camp out that we hold for a few friends, we needed to brush hog. Most of our 15 acres is wooded, but there are a couple of clear spots - the meadow behind the barn, the Tumbleweed Clearing, and another large clearing on way on the other side of the land. As well as a nice spot up near the ridge. Our day began by getting up early and heading to a local Home Depot that rented equipment. He asked if we had a truck and Matt said, "No, we have a very spirited Honda Element!" We have never lost the "What will fit in the Element" argument. We've put a brush mower in it before, so we were able to load it up easily and head back to Mt. Matt. We got back to the land about 10am and the sky was clear, the sun was shining. I left Matt to start mowing and went to a local grocery store to pick up some supplies for our 4th of July weekend - things like paper plates and cups and Deep Woods Off. I got back in about an hour and he was nearly done with the meadow. Here is an old photo from some brush hogging years ago.
That is our friend Chad back in 2008 helping us out clearing the meadow. So Matt kept mowing. He even commented that it was a beautiful day for it but he could use another cloud or two. We determined that I would make lunch around 2pm so in the mean time,I did some cleaning around the barn and getting some things ready for 4th of July. At about 2, Matt came back down to the barn and I was getting lunch ready. And the clouds started rolling in. I figured it was just a "pop up" thunder storm, which is normal in the mountains. The rain started pretty heavy, and it was blowing in the barn. We ate our lunch and there wasn't much else we could do so we decided to take a nap to wait for the rain to stop. Finally, at about 3 or 3:30 it has stopped so Matt headed back up the mountain to keep working. I was going to do some work in the house but we decided it was pretty late and it wasn't a project I could stop halfway through, so instead I hung out at the barn. At about 4pm, the rain started again. At first, lightly and then a little harder. I actually called Matt to see if he took shelter in the tiny house, but he didn't answer. As it turned out he simply pressed on. I continued to do some work at the barn and at about 6pm he came walking up from the road. We had talked about making a "North West Passage" from the lower clearing to the road so I asked if he had done so and he said no, that he thought he had better check it out manually first - and he was glad he did because he didn't find a flat or straight enough trail to make it work. He was already soaked to the bone but the rain had let up a little so he took a short break and headed back up - now he needed to get the mower back up the steep hill from the lower clearing. The plan was for me to have dinner ready by about 8pm. Right about 7:30 he came mowing back down the trail to the barn. I had already started dinner but he had about 45 minutes worth of work left which was fine. I had fired up the grill and put potatoes in foil in the coals so they could stay there forever. When he finally finished I threw some steaks on the grill. By the time we ate, it was just starting to get dark out. After dinner, Matt took a hot shower and collapsed immediately into bed. We were woken up in the middle of the night by some serious thunder storms! Huge thunder and lightening making the barn shake. Tons and tons of pouring rain. And it didn't stop. I fell asleep again while it was still night, but even when the morning came it was still raining. It broke briefly at about 8 am so I got up but by the time I was dressed, it started again, and didn't stop. We wanted to be ready to leap at a moments notice to load the brush hog and head back to Asheville but didn't want to do it in the pouring rain. At 10am we finally had a break so we put a tarp down in the element and loaded the mower. We drove into town and dropped it off. Of course, Asheville was gorgeous - bright and sunny and beautiful. We stopped for a leisurely lunch and then went into downtown to buy a futon mattress for the tiny house (a perfect fit into the loft). Well, as you might expect as we were inside the futon store, the sky opened up. An absolute downpour. And we had to get the futon into the Element! We were soaked. As we drove back to Mt. Matt we were really hoping we had some luck on our side. We knew we couldn't get the mattress up to the house in the mud even if it stopped raining, but we could at least get it into the barn. We did that and packed up the cars and it was time to head back to Atlanta. It was an exhausting weekend - more for Matt than for me. It was exhausting for me dealing with the rain and the schedule. All I can hope for now is that we don't have those kinds of storms over 4th of July.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Land Stuff

When it comes to building a tiny house on 15 acres in the mountains of North Carolina, sometimes the work doesn't revolve around the tiny house itself. This past weekend was one of those weekends.  We're planning for an annual Fourth of July camp out with some friends and so we needed to get some general maintenance tasks done. 

I had Friday off of work so we went up to Asheville that day.  On the way in, we stopped at a local futon store to check out some futon options since we decided that might be the best mattress option for the loft.  We got some ideas and plan to go back soon to pick that up.  Once we got to the land on Friday we did some little projects up at the house.

We started by installing the matching light on the other side of the house. 



The only thing I can't manage to do is get a photo of the WHOLE house.  Wouldn't think it would be took difficult to do such a thing in such a tiny house. But it is.  
We also installed the outdoor porch light.  






I was trying to get a photo of the house but the trees and the sun weren't making it easy. So I got this photo of Matt talking on the phone.  

Once the little house stuff was done, it was time to do some other general land tending stuff.  Some of it was done Friday afternoon and some on Saturday, but I lost track of what we did when. I did some work cleaning the barn and getting ready to set up a kitchen area for our party.  Matt did some weed whacking around the barn.  I filled up water jugs from the spring.  We picked sticks up from the main pathways.  And, most importantly, I spent a lot of time with Poison Ivy-geddon. That stuff is the bane to my existence.  I so much as look at it and I get a reaction.  I show no mercy.  

We did some fun stuff.  We went to a local music festival that was great fun.  

 We have more work to do before our annual party.  Stay tuned for more details.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Big Post of Huge Progress

We aren't normally available over Memorial Day Weekend to go up to the land and work on the house. In years past, we attended a festival in North Georgia that weekend. This year, the festival was changed around and we were unable to attend on the new weekend, but we had already taken the vacation time for the Friday of Memorial Day weekend. There was only one thing we could do - go work on our tiny house.

I will warn you now, this post is photo heavy. I was so excited by our visible progress over the weekend that I couldn't help myself - I took a ton of photos.

The weekend was actually supposed to start on Thursday night. I was being chased by storms on my way home from work. No more than about 5 minutes after I pulled in to the drive to the apartment complex and into the garage, the wind and rain hit our building full force. Several of the Bradford Pear trees lining the driveway came down. People were packed into the lobby. Delivery people were stuck. There use to be two driveways to get out of our complex but there is major roadwork blocking the other exit right now. We went down to pack up the car and saw the trees down in the drive way. We decided to buy something to make for dinner at the store in the lobby and re-evaluate by 8pm. At 8pm we looked off our balcony and saw that traffic was packed in on the expressway. We checked the navigator website and there were problems all the way along our route to North Carolina. At that point we made the decision to go get our cooler and bags back out of the car and leave early in the morning.

The alarm went off at 5am and we were on the road by 5:45. We made great time that early in the morning and were just pulling in at Mt. Matt at 9:15. We unloaded the car, ate a breakfast bar and gathered our things to go up to the tiny house. After the prior trip where it rained much of the time, we decided to take our easy-up canopy to the clearing so we could keep working. There was rain in the forecast. We popped up the canopy and set it up over the work bench. It rained a couple of times on Friday, so we were glad we had it. The rest of the weekend was beautiful and the canopy provided much needed shade from the hot sun. The big project for the weekend: interior siding. In theory, this seems like an easy job. The house is only 120 square feet so how much work could it possibly be. We had already finished the ceiling siding so all that was left was the easy stuff, right? Well, it is a bigger job than it seems. Measuring, cutting, brad nailing...sometimes recutting and renailing.

This process took us the entire weekend with minor breaks for putting up some light fixtures just to see the semi-finished project. So, without further ado - here are the photos from the weekend:
The inaugural panels.
The first wall getting close
Continuing the span
Watching the cutting from the window
Air tools made this job much easier.
And...my view from the porch during a break
And...the first finished wall!
Matt is very proud of his work!
And so we move on to the back wall. The panel with the electrical was left open so we would have access to it from under the kitchen counters.
And more measuring...
While I took a photo of this wild daisy.
And then we had two finished walls. I believe this was still day one.
The first thing we did on the morning of Day 2 (Saturday) was put up our new Ikea light fixture - the Lillholmen. As described, it gives a good general light.
Then Chomsky took a coffee break.
After that, we did the ceiling in the kitchen area.
Then it was my turn to get down to work. My job: Tung Oil. This involves a lot of rubbing. Wax on, wax off. Like the Karate Kid.
While I did that, Matt worked on the "dining room" wall.
With that wall finished, I could swoop in and get that wall tung oiled as well. I believe that was the last thing we did on day two (Saturday). Though, by this point all the days were running together.
On Friday we had gone to a local restaurant to have pizza and while there we got to watch a local musician play, which was pretty cool. On Saturday, though, we built a fire and cooked in the camp oven while Matt played guitar. The meal for the evening: home made macaroni and cheese with chicken and apple sausage. I cut the sausage and mixed it in with the mac and cheese so it got nice and cheddary too. The apple and cheese was a great combination. Yum. I would do that again.
On Sunday, we got up and got started again with...more siding...
Actually, that isn't true. We wanted to get another look at another finished light fixture. For the kitchen, we had another fixture from Ikea, though I don't remember what one this was specifically.
Really liked the look of that one too.
Then we got to siding the tiny bathroom. Crazy to actually see a finished "room" in the tiny house.
More measuring...more cutting...more nailing.
And...a tiny finished room with real walls.
Last, but not at all least, were the two tiny closet walls at the front of the house. You may notice the interesting configuration of the studs. That is because between the two horizontal members, Matt is building an inset shelving system. They will be shallow shelves but perfect for things like phones and chargers and other small items.
On the other side, you will also see the custom built cat door which is the entry to Piglet's litter box. You remember Piglet, right?
This is our little hairless beast enjoying the sun at our high rise apartment in Atlanta.
And so, we have two finished closet walls.
I thought I took a final photo of the entire house all finished up, but I failed. By the end of the day on Sunday I couldn't remember what I had and had not taken photos of.
We didn't finish up too late on Sunday at all. We got ourselves cleaned up and drove into Asheville for dinner. We ate at Curate, which was completely Yum. While there, I also enjoyed a Pisgah Endless Summer. Pisgah is one of my favorite breweries. After dinner, we wanted to get a coffee and walk around but since it was Sunday night our usual coffee place was closed so we just started walking. We ended up at The French Broad Chocolate Lounge. There we discovered Cold Sipping Chocolate with Caramel. Also completely yum. We wandered around Asheville because it was gorgeous outside and eventually made our way back to the car and back to Mt. Matt.
On Monday, we decided we were going to tung oil the rest of the house. Matt went up in to the loft and I finished the bathroom and closet walls. That was actually the hardest thing we did all weekend. I finished up first so I went down to the barn to pack up while Matt finished tung oiling the ceiling and loft gables. Once he was done we just had to pack up the car and go. It was about 3:15 or so. We stopped at a place called Stony Knob for lunch. And, so we were back on the road by about 4:30 or so and got back to Asheville at about 8pm. It was a great weekend. It is so satisfying to have such a visually impactful project done on the house. We're back up in two weeks, but we have a lot of outside work to do to prepare for our annual Independence Day at Mt. Matt event. As much as we love working on the tiny house, it will be a nice break to do some work on the land for that weekend. There is also a music festival going on at one of our favorite local bars so we'll spend much of the day Saturday there. Stay tuned for more progress updates!