Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Can Workshops be Every Weekend?

I had such an amazing time at the Wilmington Tiny House Workshop. I really wish I could do the event justice by writing about it, but I don't believe that is possible.

There were so many bloggers and builders there - people I have known for a very long time but never met. I got to meet Andrew and Crystal Odom, Alex Pino, Kent Griswold, Steven Harrell, and Derek Diedricksen. I also got to see Ryan Mitchell, Joe, and Mariah Coz again. I keep thinking I've missed someone but I don't think I have. Of course we were also able to meet 25 or so attendees, all with a different story and with different ideas but all of whom were interested in tiny living.

There is no real way to describe the feeling you get from going to these types of events. Our enthusiasm for Tiny Houses has never waned and yet I find myself even more excited to start new projects. We even have an idea for a second tiny house of our own!

I did get quite a few photos. I do wish I had taken more photos of all the bloggers. Next time I will be sure to do just that.

So, I thought I would just share the photos I do have from the weekend and let you see it for yourself. The little home office that was being build didn't get 100% finished but got pretty close.

Building the office for Tiny House Listings
Ryan Mitchell looking pensive in the tiny house.
Tennessee Tiny Homes Shows off the "Outhouse"

A photo from the inside

Another outdoor photo

Deek Diedricksen and the Tiny House

If you've ever thought about attending a tiny house workshop, especially a hand-on one, I can't recommend it enough. It is certainly great to network with like-minded people. It is also a good idea to get familiar with tools, safety, and building basics before you start your own tiny house. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Earth Day 2013 at University of South Carolina Upstate in Spartanburg, SC

I have been talking a lot about our upcoming events - like the Wilmington NC workshop this weekend. I also mentioned our trip about an hour south of Asheville to speak at the University of South Carolina Upstate's Earth Day event.

It was a great time. We arrived just in time to see the first speaker - the school's librarian - who talked about her experience on a work study trip to Kenya to map animal populations. It was a great way to see education in action.

We were the second speakers and I think the students and professors in attendance enjoyed our presentation. We talked about our choices to go tiny, our lives before we made this decision, and how it impacts our lives today. We talked about our systems including solar power and our water usage. Our talk was about a half an hour and  for the second half hour we got a lot of great questions. I was very pleased.

After our presentation a graduate of UNC Upstate, who is currently working on a PHD program at University of North Carolina Charlotte, spoke about sustainability in the Piedmont area.

It was also fun connecting with an old friend. Not old in the age sense but old in the length of time we have known each other. The professor of Geology at UNC Upstate and I go way back - to high school. We also went to the same college but started at different times. She was friends with Matt before I was even a freshman. So, it is partly her fault for introducing us that we have been together to unleash our unusual brand of combined oddness on to the planet. 

This weekend is our second event. I am beyond excited to meet everyone listed on this poster and the additional guests who have been announced since this was printed! 

At Earth Day we were talking primarily to people who had never heard of the Tiny House Movement. This weekend we are going to be in the thick of it. It is the largest gathering of tiny bloggers and builders ever assembled. 25 workshop attendees are there specifically to learn how to build a small house and hear what we have to say about our own tiny experiences. I can't wait.

While the presentation yesterday involved PowerPoint slides in a campus lecture hall, our talk at the workshop will be held around a campfire and be pretty casual.

I live this life because I love it. Before we built our tiny house I knew something was missing from my life but I wasn't exactly sure what. I knew I needed to make a change and I sincerely hoped this was the right one. Turns out, it was exactly what I needed. Regardless of our ecological impact or our financial goals, living in this tiny house has made me reconnect with myself. I'm more engaged with my own life and, as a result, with the world around me.  

I want to share this experience with others not because I want everyone to build a tiny house but because I want everyone to consider what it is that will make their life feel complete and strive for that. Live deliberately.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Workshops and Presentations

I am so excited for the coming week. Matt and I are eagerly preparing a PowerPoint presentation for Earth Day and then we head down for what is turning out to be the largest gathering of Tiny House bloggers and builders ever assembled.

A friend of ours is a professor at University of South Carolina Upstate. It was nearly a year ago when she wondered if we might be willing to come speak about living in our tiny house for the following Earth Day.

When the talk became a reality just a few weeks ago we started to get super excited. See, we really love living in our tiny house and we love to be able to share our experience with others. We aren't expecting everyone to immediately go out and build a 120 square foot house but we do hope that we can make people think about what they really want to do in their lives and work on making it happen. That is what the tiny life is all about for me. Like Thoreau suggests, "Live Deliberately."

This event is free and open to the public so if you find yourself anywhere near the Spartanburg SC area on Monday, April 22, you should come and check us out. We'll be speaking at 4pm.

After our trip down to Spartanburg, South Carolina, we will be heading out to Wilmington, North Carolina, for the Relax Shacks/Tiny House Listings workshop. The workshop is sold out and packed with speakers. The most exciting part to me is being able to meet other tiny house bloggers. We've known each other online for many years - most of us has been doing this for a very long time. It will be incredible to meet everyone in person. Plus, we haven't been to the beach in North Carolina yet so that sounds like a great time.

In honor of Earth Day I thought I would make a little image. I know I keep quoting Thoreau but he had a lot of great stuff to say.

Do you have any plans to honor Earth Day this year?

Monday, April 8, 2013

Shameless Product Placement

Look what we got for the Tiny House. Yes, that is a pillow with our own logo. It's kind of like a band wearing their own t-shirt at their own concert. But I'm okay with that. It's a damn fine logo.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Tiny Table: ABC Sandwiches

My sister, brother-in-law, and two nephews were here to visit over Easter weekend on their way to a spring break destination on the Carolina coast.

On Easter morning, before they started the final leg of their vacation drive, we hosted them for brunch. We made many delicious things including Pineapple Dip (mix pineapple flavored cream cheese with marshmallow fluff and serve with fresh pineapple - yum) and chocolate croissants (home made - use squares of puff pastry, add a Hershey kiss in the middle, fold and seal and bake until golden brown and delicious.)

We also made bacon that we got at the local butcher shop. That place is delicious. Their bacon is house smoked and we order it extra thick because we really love thick bacon. We had quite a bit left over after brunch (we kind of over bought the bacon) so Matt suggested making BLTs with it this week.

But then he suggested using avocado and cheddar cheese rather than lettuce and tomato. I was sold. 

The result was one of the most delicious sandwiches I have ever tasted.

We fried up the bacon and then put it on a hoagie bun along with slices of avocado and slices of cheese. We broiled the resulting stack open-faced style until the cheese was melty. Then we put some mayo on the other half of the hoagie roll and pressed the whole thing together. It was so good.

Don't mind the mushy vegetables, they were certainly not the star of this show. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Speaking of Workshops

As I mentioned yesterday, Matt and I will be heading out to Wilmington, NC at the end of April to participate in what is turning out to be one of the largest gatherings of tiny house builders and bloggers in the country. I think this has a lot to do with the great Tiny House culture of North Carolina, but I'm probably biased. I think we live in the best state ever.

I thought I would give you all a little insight on workshops and maybe some reasons you want to consider going to one or more in your area.

A friend of ours had introduced us to the tiny house concept years ago after seeing Jay Shafer on Oprah. At the time his company, Tumbleweed Tiny Houses, was the only game in town. We already had some land building a tiny house seemed like a great idea, but how could we know it was the right decision.

An answer smacked us pretty hard right on the head. Jay announced his first workshop east of the Mississippi - right here in Asheville, North Carolina. It was exactly the sign we needed. We signed up for the workshop that day.

This was before we began building so I am thinking it was sometime in late 2008 or the beginning of 2009. It was before I started recording things, too, so I'm really not sure. The workshop was held in a small conference room at a hotel downtown and there were maybe 15 people, including Jay himself. It was a really intimate affair as we spent all day discussing tiny house building with everyone else in the room. We were immediately sold on the concept and bought the plans that day.

Early last year, Tumbleweed was offering another workshop in Asheville. We were invited to speak about our experience building one of their tiny house designs. We met with the presenters, including the fabulous Pepper Clark, the night before we were scheduled to speak and asked how many people were at the workshop. We were expecting something similar to our first experience- around 15 people. The answer: "well, the room holds 100 people but it is standing room only."

Now there are lots of options for workshops. Deek Diedricksen has hosted a few, including the upcoming one pictured above. The Tumbleweed Tiny House Company has several announced and Jay Shafer's newest company, Four Lights Tiny Houses, will be doing several as well. There is also the Yestermorrow fair in Vermont and Alex Pino of Tiny House Talk has recently announced a partnership of Dan Loche for a workshop in North Atlanta in May.

The best part about most of these new workshops is the addition of hands on experience.While sitting in a hotel conference room talking about tiny houses is pretty neat, there is nothing like really getting your hands dirty. Honestly, I had never used a drill before building the tiny house so having a some hands on training with people who've done it before sounds like a great idea in retrospect. Heck, now I am someone who has done it before!

The workshop experience was an important step to my own tiny house adventure. If we hadn't attended that event I wonder what we might have done. Everything fell into place for us at that moment and the tiny house concept felt right. I recommend that everyone attend a workshop if they can and network with other tiny house builders and dreamers and take your own ideas to the next level.

Trust me, you won't regret it!  

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Did you know you could hire us?

At the top of the page you see some tabs for various things - the About Us section, my other blogs, and a link to our 120 Square Feet store. You'll notice one other tab that is titled Hire Us.

Workshop in Wilmington NC
Matt and I have a lot to share about our experience building a tiny house. We can talk about construction challenges, solar power systems, off the grid living...anything you can imagine. And We want to be here for the tiny house community.

There are a lot of workshops coming up, including one at the end of this month in Eastern North Carolina. We will be speaking at that event. If you are hosting a tiny house event, especially anywhere in the eastern half of the US, Matt and I would love to come share our story. 

If you're an individual, couple, or family looking to begin your own tiny house adventure and you want to talk to someone who has done it before we also offer one on one consultations which can be done over the phone, over the net, or in person depending on where you are and what you need.

Our prices are reasonable and based on your specific requirements. You can contact us directly at lmlavoie [at] gmail [dot] com or PM us through our Facebook page - we check messages regularly.

We can discuss what you're looking for and how we can help you and go from there. A friend posted today, "Promote what you love." That is exactly what I would like to do. I love my tiny life and I would love to share it with people who dream of doing it for themselves. If I can do it, anyone can. Let me know how I can help you!