Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Tiny Table: I swear that is sausage

This week's farmer's market meal included some amazingly incredible spicy lamb sausage which we cooked up on the cast iron skillet. We served it on penne pasta tossed with pesto. We paired that with a green salad from our CSA and a bottle of red wine.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Tiny Home Office

The other day, Ali asked:

I'm most curious about how the two of you will do your location-independent work in your tiny house. It seems that living space would need to be traded in order to have a comfortable home office. Where/how do you plan on working, keeping computers, a printer, files and books, etc? Thanks!
I answered on her comment, but I thought it might be good to devote a whole post to the tiny home office.

Matt still works for a large international corporation, but the company encourages remote work so he can work from anywhere. To save power and space, he is able to use a Android Tablet to log into his company's networks. He can take conference calls from anywhere. Occasionally he needs to log into his work laptop to access things but then goes back to the tablet for daily interactions.  It works very well for him.

I work primarily from my laptop in this corner.

This set up works perfectly for me, plus I have a great view out the window. 

Technically, my "home office" is a laptop case. When I am not working everything is stored there including all my USB chargers for various devices, the laptop itself, my headset for any calls or chats, and any number of other things one might need.

All of my work is done via the Internet so most of my file are transferred electronically to my clients. All of my research is done that way as well eliminating the need to keep paper books. We do have a printer but rarely need to print anything. If we do need to print something we would simply bring the printer up from the barn, use it, and return it to its storage location. We have converted all of our files to electronic files. Even if I need to print something - say a contract that I need to sign - I can scan using a scanner app on Matt's tablet and store it that way. I keep all my invoicing on excel spread sheets.

The philosophy behind location independence is to be able to work from anywhere in the world. So keeping files on the Internet and on a laptop or tablet are essential for this lifestyle. Occasionally we will go up to the local coffee shop to have a change of scenery in our day.  We could even get out a camp chair and work outside if we wanted to.

So far, location independent work has been very good to me. I have some opportunities to work for some great publications and web sites, including Tiny House Talk. And, of course, living this way give me plenty of opportunities to update this blog!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Tiny Table: Farm Fresh Pasta Sauce

Well, I meant to get a photo of it before I molested it with cheese dust and mixed it all up, but this will have to do.  What we have here is whole wheat pasta, chicken sausage made with spinach and feta cheese, and a pasta sauce we picked up at the farmer's market. The pasta sauce had all kinds of good for you veggies including squash, zucchini, kale, broccoli, carrots, and lots of yummy spices.  It was so good.

We got some great stuff from the farmer's market yesterday and can't wait to cook them. We got some yummy goodies to make for some friends who are coming up to visit for the long holiday weekend.  I'll see if I can remember to get some photos before we eat it all this time. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Check out my guest post over at Tiny House Talk

There was a lot of soul searching that went into my decision to build and live in a tiny house. You can check out a little bit of that journey over at Tiny House Talk today. 

One of the things we loved about the Tiny House Movement was the idea that individuals could take control over their homes. We felt empowered to build it ourselves. To select the perfect materials and create the perfect design for our own lives. And our little house is a monument to that movement – the ultimate do it yourself project.  We could take control of the way we choose to live our lives.
Every stylish builder knows you must match your drill to your shirt.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Bathing a tiny cat in a tiny house

Piglet is a Sphynx. Without hair to absorb their body's natural oils, sphynx cats have to be bathed regularly. Not wanting to traumatize Piglet too much after a big move into a tiny house, I hadn't yet given her a bath since we moved. But I decided that today was the day. 

I got the tools for the job.
This included the bath gloves to make it easier to wash and hold the wet and squirmy cat at the same time. Also, Q-tips and ear cleaner, a nail clipper for her claws and alcohol free zit treatment pads for her chin - because my cat gets acne like a 15 year old child.

I also got her special shampoo - Emu Oil.  It has been recommended by other sphynx owners and I really love the stuff.  I also started heating up some water to make her bath nice and warm.

I filled up our shower sprayer with some cool water so when I added the heated water it would be the perfect temperature.

There is no photographic evidence of me actually bathing the cat. This is purely for practical reasons. I had on the bath gloves, Piglet was wet and I was trying to hold her in the shower and soap her up at the same time. I hadn't considered the logistical aspects of washing a cat in the tiny house. I've never washed her without a bathtub. She kept trying to simply walk out of the shower stall.  It was difficult to hold her down.

Once she was washed; I cleaned her ears and her chin and clipped her claws. I do this while she is wrapped in a towel like a little kitty burrito. She is also usually growling or hissing when I do this but I find it is just easier to get it over with. Once she is done with the bath, Piglet gets many treats to make up for any discomfort. She tends to forget she was angry very quickly.

 And here is the beast trying to fix my infernal meddling. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

5 Truths about Living in a Tiny House in the Woods

Here are some things I have learned in the first week.

1. You sweep a lot
No matter how careful you are by taking off your shoes before going into the house, there is no end to the sweeping you need to do.  We sweep several times a day.  The good news is that with such a small space even the constant sweeping doesn't take long.

2. You get bugs
There is just no way to keep bugs out of a tiny house in the woods. We fight the carpenter bees on a regular basis outside, but inside we usually find a cricket a day or maybe a small spider.  Piglet occasionally finds these bugs for us, but being a spoiled fancypants cat she doesn't really know what to do with them.  And, we usually manage to let one moth in per night. 

3. You get bug bites
Of course, when you have bugs you get bug bites. Not usually in he house but any time you're outside. And it is when you get the first bug bite that you remember you should be putting on some repellent.

4. I freaking hate Poison Ivy
It is freaking everywhere.  We are fighting it back a little at a time but damn that stuff is persistent. I am horrifically allergic to it. While chemical warfare isn't my preferred method of weed control, it is the only defense I have against this insidious plant.

5. Living in the woods is awesome
In spite of all of these minor inconveniences, I absolutely love living in the woods.  There are probably a million reasons I could list but I don't need to bore you with that. I'll just say that we have built a really nice home that makes us feel good to live in it.  This is really all I can ask for.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Tiny Table: First Farmer's Market Haul

Welcome to a new feature here at 120 Square Feet - The Tiny Table. Matt has always been a really good cook, but cooking in the tiny house with limited space and fewer gadgets will be a fun activity. 

On Saturday, we found ourselves at the Asheville City Market where we bought food not only from 10 Mile Farm, our CSA, but also from several other great sources.  We got a lot of veggies, meats, fresh eggs, and cheeses that could be easily mixed and matched to make delightful meals.  Sunday, which was rainy, was the perfect day to stay in and cook.  We decided to have a brunch as well as dinner. So I thought I would share the results with you.

Spinach, feta, chicken and apple sausage and egg scramble

This was an easy one skillet meal. We made it in the new cast iron skillet over our butane burner.  We started by cutting up the chicken and apple sausage and browning it in the skillet. Then we added some butter and threw in the spinach to cook down. Once it was nice and wilty, we threw in the farm fresh eggs and feta cheese and scrambled it up.  It was delicious. The taste of the fresh made feta was very different than what you might get at the grocery store. The eggs were everything I had been told they would be from others who enjoy fresh eggs over store bought. The chicken sausage with apple added just a bit of sweetness.

Rib-eye steak from Hickory Nut Gap Farm with onions and mushrooms, mashed turnips, spinach salad with cheddar cheese and onions, and Vidalia onion dressing.

One of the ideas behind going to a farmer's market was to try things we've never had or wouldn't normally eat.  Neither of us had ever had turnips before. Matt turned to Google to figure out the best method of preparing them. We boiled them and then mashed them with butter, salt, and a little sugar.  They were delicious. I would eat them again for sure.  We sauteed the onions and mushrooms in the cast iron skillet with a little butter and then set them aside and cooked the steaks in the same skillet. I washed and cut up the spinach and added the cheese and onion. The vidalia onion dressing was amazingly delicious. It was quite a successful meal. I even ate all the onions and mushrooms, which do not normally eat.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Making a note here, Huge Success

There are so many titles I could have used for this post. And really, it doesn't have anything to do with Portal or Jonathan Coulton. Or even his song about Portal, which is where I got the title from. None of that really has anything to do with this post except that I am a huge nerd so when I thought about how great our first night in the tiny house was, this is the first thing that came to mind.

I'm afraid I don't have any photographic evidence, but we were spending the evening getting settled in so I didn't break out the camera.

The last two days have been a whirlwind of moving related projects.  On Tuesday, we rented a truck and reserved the apartment complex's service elevator. We loaded up all of the stuff we wanted to keep in storage in Atlanta and all the stuff we wanted to give to Good Will. I took the Element to storage and put the seats back in (they had been in storage while we were hauling things up to Mt. Matt over the last few months.  Matt arrived with the truck and we quickly loaded everything into storage. It took us a total of two hours from the time we pulled our rental truck up to the loading dock at the apartment to the time we unloaded the truck at storage and took it back to U-Haul.

On Tuesday night, we inflated an air mattress in our mostly empty apartment and did some cleaning.

Wednesday, we got up around 9 and started loading the rest of our stuff in the Element (and some in Matt's car too)  at about 10am. We were done with everything and driving out of Atlanta by noon.  There was a weird sense of finality. Not that we'll never go back to Atlanta. In fact we plan to go back pretty often to see friends and go to things like Dragon*Con. But this drive was different than all the other times that we've driven up to the mountain. This time I knew we didn't have to go back at the end of a weekend.  It didn't take us long at all to unload the Element. We put some things in the barn and took the things up to the tiny house to unpack.

We also worked with Piglet to make sure she understood and could use the platforms we built for her. With a lot of treats, it didn't take her very long to figure it out.  But, for some reason after Matt and I went up to the loft to go to bed she stayed down on the couch in her blanket.

At about 4am I had to get up to pee and so I stopped at the couch to give Piglet some pets and she began to purr.  She got up and I explained to her that if she used the platforms, she could snuggle in the bed with Matt. And it was like a light bulb went off in her little head.  She raced up to the loft and started purring and rubbing on Matt's face before I even made it up the ladder.  She went back to sleep with us.  She got up around 7:30 this morning for food but went right back up to the loft to sleep the day away.  That is where she is now.  It is good that Piglet is doing normal Piglet things.  She even came down to have some more food and went back to bed - which is exactly what she would do anywhere else.

Today we have a few more things to do to get settled.  We'll go to the grocery store and go check out mailbox.  This weekend, our CSA will start selling at the farmer's market. Their CSA is market style which means we get credits and can go to the farmer's market and pick out what we want rather than just having to accept a box of what they've given us.  I am so excited about checking them out.

I want to thank everyone out there for supporting us. Thanks for the comments. Thanks for the individuals who have reached out to us directly. And, it amuses me to no end that everyone refers to our mountain as Mt. Matt.  Especially since it started as a joke back when we bought the land. But it makes me smile every time I see it in an email or posted somewhere else on the Internet!

Now that we are living here, I am considering how I want to keep the blog updated. Do I want to do it once or twice a week? Or do I want to post any time something interesting happens.  I don't know yet, but thanks for coming along on this journey to find out! 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The last post before we move!

The next time you see a new post from me, I will be in residence at our tiny house in the woods half way up our mountain. I couldn't be more excited. We've been packing up our apartment. We have just a few small boxes that will actually go up to the house with us. The rest of our stuff will either go in to our storage unit for future use or be donated to Good Will. Tomorrow, we finish all of our packing and some of our cleaning. Then we rent a truck on Tuesday and move everything out just to be left with ourselves, Piglet and an air mattress.  On Wednesday, we will load up our own cars and leave for Asheville.

My last day of work at my job was on Friday. I feel both liberated and terrified. I'm working toward having all my work be location independent and so far I have a few freelance writing jobs.  Once we're settled, I'm looking forward to working hard on getting some more work. I am also thinking I would love to work part time for one of the breweries in Asheville - and there are a few. There is so much I don't know about what will happen next that the exhilaration is occasionally overwhelming.

So, the next time you see a new post my new life will be under way. This blog will transition from building a 120 square foot house to living in it. See you on the other side! 

"I ain't turning back to living that old life no more."