Category Archives: Alternative housing

SketchUp Snapshot Video

I could not be any more excited to share the video that SketchUp so graciously came out and shot of our tiny house and our life inside of it!  (They haven’t officially released it yet but told me it was ok for me to share :) ).  I am simply amazed at how much effort goes into this and I am impressed with this particular crew and what a great job they did!  They had a vision and they didn’t make us look like weirdos!  I am proud to be this family shown below!  Believe me, I have done enough interviews to know to be leery ;-), this crew made us comfortable from the word go!  We all had a blast on a hot, hot weekend!  We’re so excited that they were in it to tell our story, not a preconceived angle!   James and I just LOVE SketchUp and we are so amazed/grateful/proud to get to be a part of the SketchUp family for 15 minutes of fame! :)  It’s just awesome to see such a great company supporting and encouraging the tiny house movement and picking us to help show their support!  SOOOO cool!

Huge thank you to Mark, Josh (who hung out with Hazel for most of these shots!), Tim, Cole and Rex, we’re so grateful for this snapshot of our ‘weird’ little life! :) Thank you!

About these ads

Renovation Day 6

This weekend we were on hold for a very cool reason!  SketchUp came to do a video shoot!  James and I have been BIG fans of SketchUp for years and years so this was a very cool opportunity for us!  I do admit we were thinking it was going to be a bit less of a production than it was but it was totally awesome to get to hang out with the crew for the weekend!  Mark and Josh came from SketchUp and they had a three person video crew for the actual video production, Tim, Cole and Rex, all of them were a total blast and we were left with a new appreciation for videographers!

The first day was spent doing the interview, Hazel was a champ mostly because of her new best friend, Josh.  She played for a couple hours with him (he did amazing at entertaining her for so long!)  Of all the interviews I’ve done I think it was about the most comprehensive, they had some great questions and of course wanted to chat about Denver :).   From there we went to the tiny house (the interviews were done at their rental) to get a game plan.  They had about the most graceful way of saying ‘can we pay to make your house not look like crap’, I don’t even know how it was said but I do not blame them!  It has been a total construction zone with the addition… our projects are slow going, we were both just glad it was this year instead of last, it was a real mess then!!

In any case, we made a game plan to repaint the trim boards, which were a little weathered after a few years, spray everything down and make the landscape look pretty.  I have to admit, I’ve never been bought so many flowers :).  A trip to home depot while part of the crew went around town to get some b-roll and we were on our way.  Early Sunday morning we woke up and I went for a bike ride with the camera people; James, Tim and Mark stayed back and made the house pretty, painting landscaping and such.  Took some close ups of Hazel and Denver and then we made some fajitas for dinner.  The crew was coming off a long stretch of filming so we made it a late morning on Monday.  James made some SketchUp magic happen and then we went to the dog park followed by some quick interior shots and called it a wrap.

I was completely amazed at the entire process, there is A LOT of tedious set up time for a couple minutes of filming.  Rex and Cole are definitely top notch perfectionists, I can’t wait to see the vision realized.  I was impressed with how seamless all five worked together, they all took turns asking their questions and contributing.  James and I drew a lot of parallels between our trade (architecture) and theirs and we learned a lot!  I am super grateful for that opportunity even if I am wiped out from it all! :)  It is cool when such a big deal like SketchUp is interested in the tiny house movement.  I asked why they were interested (because it is a free software for most of what tiny housers use it for, I can’t say that I see them being in it for the profit…) they said they were interested because it’s such a dynamic set of people who look at life in the same way as they look at running their company, it’s the community feel and ‘doing something different’.  After this experience I must say I am MORE impressed with SketchUp and not just because they bought me a bunch of flowers :).

I DID get to work a bit on the reno just before they got here, Hazel’s room is small enough that I was able to pretty much insulate the whole thing during her naptime.  I used levi insulation.  It is fairly safe to have around a munchkin, you don’t need a bunch of safety gear to put it up, and it’s readily available in small quantities, so I didn’t have to buy a bunch of extra insulation.  This means the addition is slightly less insulated than the rest of the house (R-13 compared to R-21) but I think it will be sufficient.  I did still seal up all the cracks in the sheathing, where two pieces butted up to one and other and all of the corners where the walls, the roof and the floors met.  Hopefully this will help make it warmer in the winter.  Aside from that I worked a little on the electrical.  This weekend, with luck we will be dry walling.  I just have to finish up the electrical but Hazelnut has been feeling under the weather so we’ve been focusing on holding her mostly.  I think she got a little too much heat this weekend, it was quite a bit hotter than we have been used to.  Because of that I went ahead and installed my a/c unit for the summer, a little early, it will hopefully help to get her more comfy and back into routine!

Here are some pictures, I hope you all have had a great week!!


Tiny House Conference 2015

What a great event!  We just got back from the Tiny House Conference last night, we took a few days after to do a small vacation to the coast, Hazel learned what ‘the ocean’ is, when you ask her where the ocean was she would point to it, not that it isn’t around if you ask her she just looks and looks for it!

So the conference, there were just over 400 people that came, at least 6 tiny houses at various stages and of various styles, lots of builders, bloggers and awesome attendees!  It was broken into a couple tracks so there were two presentations going at a time, you picked which ones you wanted and went to those.  James spoke on how to use Sketchup on the first day using our plans as an example, I spoke on advanced building techniques (which are really basic building techniques for a tiny house) on the second day.  I feel like my session was well attended and there were several people from the Tiny House People group in there, that made me feel LOTS less nervous, thanks for that! :)

The main questions seem to be Q: ‘where can I see the sessions if i didn’t go?’, A: currently it is an in-person event only. Q: ‘Why can’t there be things like this on the east coast?’ A: It was last year and it will be again next year, prepare yourself!  There were people who traveled from Australia and Iceland though so if it’s worth it it’s worth it!  My number one question that I asked attendees is Q: ‘Was it worth the cost?’ Nearly every single person asked had a very enthusiastic ‘YES!’ to that question, so there is that.  I am not actually involved in the event at all other than being lucky enough to be asked to speak so hopefully o one feels obligated to tell me it’s worth it :).  I know I had a blast!

For those of you who missed out, I bet there is not a speaker there that doesn’t go over the information they covered at length on their own website, if you look you can find all of that information for free, you just miss the interactive component and getting to ask direct questions and get direct answers :).  James and I plan to ‘redo’ our sessions in a YouTube video so there are at least two sessions you’ll be able to catch soon!

As for the rest of the trip it was great, we weren’t sure how Hazel would do on the drive, James had to sit in back with her for a bit of it but she did pretty great overall and slept a lot of the 9 hours.  When we got to town we of course hit Ikea first thing and filled up my car! ha!  I got some cool new lights for the kids’ room, and some clothes hangers, I think I saved a lot of space if they will work and may actually not have to put in a dresser, we will see.  Since I got all that I officially have everything I need to build the addon!  Which is underway, I have removed the deck already!

From Ikea we settled in for the conference and I got to meet so many idols of mine.  My favorite part was having a gal (an attendee) ask Steve Weissmann (the owner of Tumbleweed Tiny House Company) to take her picture with me.  He was a very good sport about it.  I loved it because he has been such a big influence, it’s like having someone ask your idol to take your picture with you… it made me laugh :).

When everything died down a bit James and I drove to the coast to show Hazel the other ocean.  We stayed on the beach a couple days and the weather was gorgeous.  We had one of those ‘off’ days the first day where we couldn’t get in sync with one and other so it was a bit tense but we found our rhythm by the evening and it got to be the relaxing vacation it should have been!  We both need our own time which is hard to do in a small car!  The tiny house is easy to find our own space in!  Once we reset all was well though and Hazel had an absolute blast playing on the beach.  She is at the point where she is trying out different laughs.  She would intentionally face plant right in he sand and get up laughing SO hard only to do it again!  It was hilarious!  She got to take a bath in a full sized bathtub which was pretty stinking cool in her opinion!  She couldn’t wait to do it again the next night! On the last day we drove to Bend, OR and she got to go swimming for the first time in the hotel pool.  She was leery at first but then would just throw herself at us!  She’s not a great swimmer but she sure has fun :)

We are very grateful to have had so much fun, thanks Ryan for all the hard work you put into such a great event!  Next year it’s back on the east side of the country, how many of you are planning on making it??

What’s the Point?

I was just told that ‘I missed the whole point of tiny houses’.  This was in a comment that had the settings such that I couldn’t even reply if I wanted to… so instead of venting back at them about how much I hate when people start off with ‘the point’ of the tiny house (when really they should be saying ‘THEIR point’), I did a little reflection on MY point of the tiny house… here is what I came up with!


I absolutely still ‘hit’ my point when I started this tiny house journey.  Not only that, I have nearly hit my goal of designing, building AND living tiny for two years. Life changes over time and missions change along with that life get’s more meaning and there are different ‘points’ to consider and work toward.  Sure, over the time I’ve been on this journey my life has changed, I’ll get to that in a second.  Initially, when I starter this I thought it would be hard, it’s not.  I thought maybe it would be gross [composting toilet yuck!], it’s not.  Initially, ‘the point’, for me, was to learn about construction [check], it was to learn hands on experience about more sustainable methods like composting waste [check], radiant floors [check], green roofs [this one I have yet to learn about because I have yet to plant it!], and living in a more compact space [check].  My point was to design my own house [check], to provide a great and loving home to a sweet Great Dane [check].

Along with all of those things there were plenty of challenges.  My life is not one dimensional, we all look for community and partnerships.  Dating while building a tiny house was hard.  Not only because time was limited but it was this really weird thing that made a lot of people uncomfortable.  It was more common than not to be on a first date and know that it was an only date.  The goals just don’t line up with most people, that is great though, no time wasted!  But when you meet someone and it just clicks because they think what you are doing is awesome, it feels good!  And when you think their goals are the bees knees too, checkmate!  Dating was tough but also it made things so much clearer to cut through all the BS, lay your lifestyle out on the line and have it be embraced and lifted by another… eventually.  The tiny house simplified dating [cool ‘point’ I didn’t expect].   The process eventually lead me to meeting a great life partner.  We decided to start a family (some of you who read early posts may read that in the design phase I was well aware that the family starting and the tiny living may overlap and I made considerations for that in the design!).   This change offered an opportunity for new purposes.  At each major life change, subconsciously, I think we all reevaluate our directions.  For me, and now ‘us’, tiny continues to make sense.  We have so shame or fear in switching directions, in fact the thought often sounds tranquil compared to some of the reviews of our life we read!

Once you are living tiny and you realize that all those things that you thought would be hard or challenging aren’t really hard or challenging, you just have a home that is yours, if you’re lucky, a place to park it [which I didn’t have until near completion, then a lot of options opened up!], money coming in and less going out… we are achieving all of ‘our points’, why change the game now!?

Oh, that growing family thing… right.  That DOES change ‘the point’, quite a bit.  Instead of the tiny house being a way to spend less and save more,  it becomes a way to provide a better life for myself and my family, to spend more TIME together.

I’ve been accused of trying to ‘fit my life in this little box’ when I feel completely opposite from that.  I am very grateful I decided to build ‘this little box’ when I did, it wouldn’t have made sense at any other point, or maybe it just seems like it would have been harder…  Since we have this little box, James and I decided that we wanted to keep using it to better all of our lives.  We want to be debt free [check], we decided we wanted a family [check and check], we decided that we want to spend time with them instead of working on other people’s projects, unless we WANT to work on those other projects [check].  We decided that we never want to live in an over-sized (for us) little box again [ongoing but check!].  The tiny house allows me to live off of a very meager blogging wage (I make money at this from those little ads on this page, feel free to ignore them, I do! (: ) and stay home to enjoy watching my little one(s) grow bigger.  I get to teach them new tricks and just be there for them when they need me, I consider that a HUGE ‘point’ to my tiny house [check].  We decided to stay here after our family grew because we WANT to be here, because it is the best thing for me, James and our family.  No, we won’t be here forever, the kids will eventually want their own space and stop beings so clingy (I LOVE every moment of their clinginess!),  I have always wanted a little sun room for painting, James and I both have the passion to build more alternative dwellings… Tiny is a stepping stone for us to make our life better, that is OUR point.  The fact that our house is an asset that pays us back instead of a liability, taking money every month is just the cherry on top!

Our next goals and more of the reasons we are planning to continue living tiny are:

  • Our kids need US, not things, not trips, not anything but us and our attention, I want them to have that.  When they are ready to explore the world more and be exposed to other situations we will put them in those situations, right now, they want to know they have security in their family, parents that love them, time to do silly things like spend 30 minutes at the park practicing going up and down curbs… our tiny house and lack of a mortgage provides that time for us to give them just that.
  • We want to save cash for our next projects.  We never want to be dependent on banks again.  In order to get out of the rat race you have to do things differently.  even though I don’t work a ‘real’ day job anymore and I stay home to be with Hazel, James continues to run his online businesses and contract pretty much full time with firms so that as a family our income has not decreased, just our expenses.  This allows us to save for our next adventures to be paid in cash.   “There are two ways to get rich, make more or spend less”
  • We would like to be location independent and not be tied to one spot via a standard job so that we can travel the world with our kids and expose them to different lifestyles an cultures.

In the words of Dave Ramsey “If you want to live like no one else, you have to live like no one else”.  This lifestyle is not hard but building it takes effort and intention, if I had not started when I did I don’t know that I would have the gumption or the time to dedicate to it now.  I am grateful and lucky to have followed my gut when I did because it really is opening the doors to the life that we want to live.  We are not fitting our life into this little box nor are we ‘missing the point’!  This little box [I may officially have a name for my house!] is helping us to build the life we want.  Tiny houses can open possibilities to live the life YOU want to live.  THAT is ‘the point’, to do what YOU want.

Moral of the story, everyone has a different ‘point’ to deciding to go tiny, if it makes sense in your life is only up to you.  So does it?  What doors will living tiny open in your life?

‘remarkable’ is relative! :)


We’re Having A Baby – Part 2

Yup!  Here we go again!  I have no idea how pregnant I am but that happened… again:


Best I can tell is that I am between 4 and 12 weeks, that’s quite the large swath…  which is downright amazing to me, I know exactly when I got pregnant with Hazel because I was SICK immediately and ALL DAY.  I am definitely having different symptoms this go around.  Including those wild dreams you hear about, crazy and irrational food cravings and just a touch of ‘ucky’ in the afternoons, NOTHING like little miss H’s pregnancy.  I still don’t ‘get’  why some people claim to like being pregnant but I don’t ‘hate’ them for lying about it now either… so far things are pretty darn smooth…  Must be a boy :).

To handle the immediate question: No, we’re not moving out of the tiny house.  We ARE adjusting things to accommodate us better!   I get to go into this one knowing a little bit better ‘what kids need’ than the last so that is a big plus.  We are making some adjustments currently to make things a little more comfortable for the pregnancy.

Mainly, I am getting my king size bed back!! (I am currently sitting on it in my loft for the first time in over a year, SO excited!)  Hazel has just crawled out of her co-sleeper for months at this point and slept, mainly ON me… She’ll just span the gap until she has her own room in the extra two feet of comfy bed!  Don’t mind the mess, it is totally ripped apart currently as I am in the midst of a DEEP clean!

What was going to be a breeze got a little complicated, we were going to just swap out the mattresses but as I moved the mattress it smelled a little musty.  I looked and thought I saw mold.  I pulled up the floor board and saw a wet spot in the subfloor below… Total freak out.

I ended up ripping up my floor boards to see the damage only to find out in the end that the one little spot where I saw moisture was a ring of orange koolaid stain that happened when I was first pregnant with Hazel and hated the taste of water so I had to drink koolaid.  There was NO water damage.  All the mold I thought I saw was just dirt and feathers from my bedspread that had been collecting in the corners around the mattress.  So, no need to panic but now it’s nice to know things are working well and I have a brand new fresh subfloor and a very clean floor!  To handle the musty smell that just comes naturally having the mattress sit on the floor James and I designed a little frame for the mattress to sit on and still allow airflow below.  So now I will be sleeping in my UBER comfy king sized bed once more!  And Denver has his own comfy (9 inches of foam) bed to lay in, which he does, ALL. DAY. LONG.

Here are some fun shinanigans from our sleepover in the studio while we tore the tiny house apart yesterday!  Hazel’s smile is my favorite, goofball!

This week I will be going through the rest of the tiny house and giving it a DEEP cleaning and making sure things are holding up ok before we start our renovation, so that we can update anything we need to!  I’ve also been getting ideas together for Hazel’s room/baby nursery?  (maybe the first tiny house nursery, I’ve seen at least!).  I will definitely be doing some glow in the dark murals!  I am thinking this is the right paint?  Does anyone have experience with these?  I would love to know insider tips to make it awesome!  amazing-glowing-walls-art-murals-6Lastly, my mom turned 29 again!  We all got together and went out to eat.  I dressed Hazel in this shirt and waited to see how long it took for them to notice:

10262108_10100547358935504_1826218651213232550_nMom took three minutes, through a  hoodie mind you!  Dan and Jeff were about 20, Nate and Gia were at a disadvantage on seating arrangements but eventually saw it too! :)  Everyone is happy, most of all James and I.  Here is my wild and crazy mom being a good sport at dinner!

I hope you have all been having as much fun as we have!  All the best!



The Time Has Come For a Renovation!

It’s getting warmer and that means it’s getting closer to our summer project, renovating the tiny house.  We have lived here for nearly two years now, that was our end goal, it’s been AWESOME!  I am SO grateful for my house, it was a lot of work but I never expected it to pay back as well as it has!  If the only reason is that it has enabled me to be able to stay home and raise Hazel that would be more than enough but it’s enabled SO much more… I couldn’t even imagine cleaning my big house while trying to keep tabs on a toddler, I don’t know how others do it!  And the experiences I’ve had… I digress…

I have posted before, here, about adding an addition.  It’s a go!  Not only that, we’re going to update some other things that we think will add to our quality of life.  These Items will be included in our addition/renovation:

#1 – Addition of a small (~32 s.f.) bedroom on the existing patio of our home.  This will give Hazel a bed separate from ours which is getting more important as she is getting more mobile.  It was great in the beginning when she would nap peacefully in her co-sleeper beside my bed, now I am often woke by a kick to the throat, a slap to the forehead, someone trying to gouge my eyes out, literally.  Just this morning I woke up to a baby butt, in my face, and the biggest fart ever to come out of such a small person!  She’s totally awesome but a sometimes gross bed-hog!  I am certain that she will end up in our bed most nights anyway as she is getting really good at moving and climbing stairs… but to have my king size back… and an hour here and there… that will be awesome! :)

This will also include removing one of the windows from the bathroom.  Instead of just filling that space in I am going to leave the window frame in and add shelving to put all the bathroom ‘things’ that have found their way to sitting in the window sills anyway (hair dryer/straightener, gels and gunk!)

#2 – Taking the tile and radiant heat out and replacing it with reclaimed hardwood flooring.  The radiant heat hasn’t been as efficient as I hoped, it lets more cold in if it’s not on so I am left with the option of higher electric bills in the winter or cold floors.  I think this will dramatically decrease to have less thermal mass.  Besides, i am adding more weight with an addition, it only makes sense to offset some of that by removing a 6,000 pound floor system :)

#3 – Replacing the cupboard and drawer faces.  I used 3/8″ plywood to decrease the weight of my millwork pieces. This has been a bad idea from the start, they were slightly warped when installed and it has gotten progressively worse over time.  I will be making new faces out of 3/4″ plywood that will make things much better!

#4 – Adding a bath tub!  This one is still a maybe but my friend Jet pointed this puppy out to me which will work well in my shower footprint (its a little smaller).Small tub


I would still like to be able to shower but it would be nice to use the tub to give Hazel baths, right now she uses a Rubbermaid Tupperware, since we will be here a bit longer than originally thought it would be nice to make the upgrades needed to make our home work for our new [family] lifestyle.  If I had it to do over again I would have reworked the kitchen to include a full sized bathtub, it would be simpler, but this will work well for a renovation!   Hopefully it works out!  (If you know of any other small tubs I would love a link! the space is 42″ x 36″)

I think at this point, with those additions this house will work for several more years for us!  I hope to be posting more of the plans outlined AND the process very soon, just waiting for some nice weather but I am chomping at the bit for another hands on project!

Just for fun:

New eBooks – 101 Things I’ve Learned

I’ve got new ebooks!  I’ve been working on so many side projects lately and not finishing any of them, I made the goal to get these two off my lap before the year ended!  I made it!

Without further ado, I have two new ebooks!

The first is 101 concise lessons learned LIVING in my tiny house.  101 Living


More Info

The second is 101 concise tips and tricks I learned BUILDING my tiny house.
101 Building


More Info

Both are really pretty self explanatory but there is more info on what exactly they are about if you follow the links.  Hopefully the prove valuable/inspirational/helpful in some way!  You could save money if you get them both here as well.  You can find them, my entire build ebook and my plans right here!

As always thank you so much for the support! Cheers to making 2015 an even better year than 2014 (a TALL order!)!