Friday, May 31, 2013

Tiny Houses on HuffPo Live

On Tuesday, I got an email from my friend Ryan Mitchell of The Tiny Life. He was going to be on HuffPo Live talking about tiny houses and needed a couple of additional people to participate. I was unable to join but I was excited to see Dan Louche of Tiny Home Builders and Logan Smith of Smalltopia answer the call. 

 Of course, Ryan Mitchell himself was on the call along with Gregory Johnson of the Small House Society.

Like with much of the media coverage on tiny homes, the presentation was a mixed bag. While our the tiny house interviewees represented themselves quite well, the online comments were often less than gracious. The moderator did his best to ask only the most respectful questions but it wasn't always possible. 

For instance, at one point the question "Why don't you just live in an RV?" came up. I always thought this was a rather strange question to ask. I mean - if  wanted to live in an RV I would. Asking that question really misses the point of the tiny house movement. 

But do check out the interview for yourself. I am glad to see so many great representatives from our community online talking about their own experiences. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Air Pressurized Solar Shower

As it turns out, it isn't necessary to build your own shower.

I learned this weekend that a solar shower very similar to our was already invented and is sold at a very reasonable rate on this website.

Check out this review of the product from YouTube:

Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Tiny Table: Jerk Shrimp and Noodles

Years ago, when Matt and I lived in our big house in Atlanta, we would often buy this frozen seafood product. When our local grocery store stopped carrying it, we were sad. Apparently it is still made but not sold in North Carolina and I am not too keen on ordering shrimp on the internet.

But I thought to myself, "Self, I might be able to recreate this dish!"

It's not like jerk marinade is difficult to find or anything.

So I went to our local store and bought some jerk sauce, frozen shrimp, and angel hair pasta.

I marinaded the shrimp in the jerk sauce for probably about `10 minutes or so while I boiled the angel hair. Once the angel hair was done, I drained it and set it aside. I threw the shrimp in a skillet. I chose frozen cooked shrimp but you could do it with either cooked or raw - just make sure the shrimp is nice and pink and you'll know it is done.

After I was happy with the shrimp (they curl up too and get so cute and yummy), I threw the pasta in to cook in the sauce, tossing it with tongs to get it coated. If you want a little extra kick, which I do sometimes, you can add some crushed red pepper flakes as well.

It won't take long for the pasta to be coated with the sauce and once that is done, the dish is ready. It is super quick and really easy to prepare, even in a very tiny off the grid kitchen.

I served it with a local spring seasonal beer from Highland Brewery right here in Asheville.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Video Tour of Life in 120 Square Feet

To honor our one year anniversary in the tiny house, I shot this incredibly amateur video this weekend. In spite of the shaky camera work with an iPod, I hope you enjoy this tour of our tiny house in the mountains.

There are also brief cameos of Matt and Piglet, who share the tiny house with me.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Tiny Living Doesn't Even Have to be Tiny

A lot of people have very strong reactions when we tell them we live in 120 square feet.

Some people wonder how exactly we can handle that together. Some people want to know about our kitchen or our bathroom. Others simply exclaim, "I would love to go tiny, but not that tiny."

I have learned that tiny living isn't necessary about the size of your home but about how you live in it.

Okay, it might be a little bit about the size of your home. If you have a 3000+ square foot house I don't think tiny living or even small living can apply to you.

But there are many ways that tiny living can happen and it doesn't just have to be in a less-than-200 square foot home.

Tiny Living is a Philosophy. 

When you read through the blogs of people who have done this for themselves you won't see a common thread in the designs of their homes. Some people will have luxury kitchens and others will have washers and dryers. Others still might be off the grid with fewer modern amenities.

The real thread you will see tying all of these people together is a desire to live deliberately. Each tiny house builder and dweller wants to engage with their lives in a way they had not done before. It might be about finances or about building community or it might just be about adventure.

Here are some of the things that I think are important to know about the tiny house movement.
  • It is primarily DIY.
  • It changes your life.
  • There is no one right answer.
  • It isn't for everyone.
When I say DIY what I mean is that most people who live in a tiny house want some control over the building process. Not everyone will chose to build themselves but they will work with a builder who can work with them, understand their needs, and translate it into a home. Those of us who do want to build our own house do it to have the experience. For us, the building was just as important as the living and it taught us a lot about our home and ourselves. Some people build tiny buildings just for the pure joy they get from creating something. They may never even live in them.

No matter how you chose to build your tiny house, it will change your life. It gave me the opportunity to quit my job and pursue something I've always dreamed of doing. For others it gives them freedom to travel. A tiny house isn't a magic bullet, but changing the way you think is.

The tiny house movement is not a dogmatic one. Each and every tiny house built is different from all the other tiny houses, even if they are built off the same design. One person might want have a full bathtub. Some builders might want to include a staircase or a first floor bedroom. A trailer might work better for some and a foundation for others. The possibilities are literally endless. As long as it can fit in the footprint of your small home it can be done. But no one can do it for you. 

It is easy to romanticize tiny living. I love it but it isn't always easy. Most of the tiny house blogs you read will also demonstrate love for the lifestyle. If you don't love it that doesn't mean something is wrong with you. It also doesn't mean that something is wrong with tiny living. 

This lifestyle is more about the mindset than it is about the trappings. You can live small in a 1000 square foot house if you're conscious about your resources, your space planning, and the way you use your home.Tiny living doesn't even have to be tiny.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Our House Featured in The Laurel of Asheville

I am so excited to be able to share this information. There is a long history of the making of this article.

Before we even moved into the tiny house last year, I got an email from the folks at The Laurel of Asheville, an arts and culture magazine based here in Western North Carolina. However, in spite of writing our own blog, Matt and I prefer to keep our tiny house pretty private. We were concerned about inviting a photographer up to the tiny house.

Occasionally, the Laurel contacted us to see if we had changed our minds. They assured us they would respect our privacy in the article. So, finally, we agreed to the meeting.

In January we met Leah, the author, at a nearby coffee shop to talk about our tiny house and experience. Then Paul, the photographer, joined us and we went up to the tiny house to show them around. They took photos and asked a few more questions. They were both absolutely delightful people. I was glad we agreed to meet with them.

And now, in the may issue of The Laurel of Asheville (available online) you can see the result of that meeting. I am incredibly pleased with the article and they were, as they said, very respectful of us. The only regret I have is doing the photo shoot in January when it was so cold! 

“There was never an ounce of wanting to give up. It never crossed our minds,” says Matt. He and Laura had their share of frustrations, however, especially when hoisting 2,400 pounds of cement up a hill and setting the foundation in the rain. “If it’s not something you want to do, all that stuff is going to stop you,” he advises, adding that the tiny house lifestyle is not for everyone. “The basic skills aren’t that hard. It’s having the patience and working through the hard parts.”
 Check out the entire story here!  

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Ladders Vs. Stairs: A Vote for Ladders

The tiny house community is often split over whether ladders or stairs or even a single story tiny house "better." I find this an interesting conversation because the very nature of the tiny house experience is not a one size fits all solution. Many tiny house dwellers have built their own homes to suit their own needs and any design choice should be fair game.

I was thinking about the ladder vs. stairs argument yesterday when I realized something. 

In our tiny space we chose a ladder for practical purposes. The need to save space was the top criteria since we had always planned on building a very small house.

We also wanted to be able to move the ladder between the sleeping loft and the storage loft to access everything. By installing the J hooks on the front of each loft and eye hooks on the ladder itself this is a very functional part of our home.

However, there is one other reason a ladder works better for me than a small staircase. This occurred to me yesterday when we were at a concert venue here in Asheville and I had to walk up some relatively steep stairs without railings to get to my seat.

Well, I should add walking UP was not the problem.

Then I had to walk back DOWN the stairs.

I wear glasses. I don't wear them as a hipster fashion statement. I wear glasses because without them I am very truly blind. My prescription is pretty hefty and I have to use the special light weight plastic so my lenses aren't too thick to fit in smaller and cuter frames. Even with my glasses my depth perception isn't that great. Because of that I often have a hard time going down stairs, even with a railing.

And don't even talk to me about down escalators.

The ladder is a much easier way for me to access the loft. Because I can climb it hand-over-hand I feel very secure when going both up and down.

Now, I am certainly not saying "Ladder good, stairs bad." In fact, the thing I love the most about the tiny house movement is that there is no single answer. Each tiny house builder has an opportunity to design a small space that is perfect for their own needs.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Building A Tiny House

Tumbleweed Clearing Photo 3Tumbleweed Clearing Photo 1Tumbleweed Clearing Photo 7View from Tumbleweed House ClearningClearing the Tumbleweed ClearingATV!
deadwoodSurveying our homesteadThe Tumbleweed HouseTumbleweed FootprintlevelAugering
a little post hole diggingroots!auger and tubeIn A Rowmid-concretefinding square
our first pierWe have piersour best onetrimming the anchor boltsOne Finished bracketMaking Progress

Building A Tiny House, a set on Flickr.

Just a quick post to let you know I've updated our Flickr page. Since the house is done I suppose we can officially stop adding photos.