Category Archives: Reviews

Product Reviews

All The Reasons Flush Toilets Are Actually The Gross Ones And Why I Love My Compost Toilet!

I’m just going to break this down.  One of the main concerns about transitioning to a tiny house, right behind ‘where can I park it‘ is… ‘ummm, composting toilet? ewww?’ or something along those lines.  I PROMISE you, I am not embellishing on MY views, I still have family who refuse to use my potty, and that is okay.  I LOVE it though.   The longer I have it the less ‘gross’ it is (it really isn’t gross at all, I was worried about it initially but reality is different than perception in a good way on this one…) and actually the more gross and inconvenient a standard flush toilet is.   If I had it to do all over again I absolutely would go with a composting toilet again!  (If you want more info on my specific unit and the ordeal it was to get it I encourage you to read a few other posts which you can find HERE).
Here are ten reasons I love my composting toilet MORE than I could love a flush toilet:

Toilet brush

1.  This is not something I use.  More importantly this is not something that sits and gets grosser by the day next to my potty.  MORE important, this is not something I find my kid trying to paint the floors or her face with because she just discovered it when I turned my head for five seconds… I clean my potty, when needed with a little vinegar water and a paper towel that I just drop in when done.  The bowl is dark colored and doesn’t easily show any gross, it still gets cleaned but I find it needs to happen less often and is a much simpler process to do!

2.  There is no need to have this gross thing sitting beside your potty either.  For all the reasons above I am glad to not spot this in Hazels’ hands, EVERYTHING is a little closer in a tiny house and doors do get left open…  Even before I had a kid I thought these were gross, you KNOW that has touched poop at some point in it’s life and now it just lives on the floor next to the toilet… getting grosser.

3.  Also, what if one of these was NOT on the floor next to the toilet getting grosser and then you needed it!?  That could be embarrassing… it’s one of those ‘you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t’ situations that just doesn’t happen with a composting toilet.  No clogs at all!

download (1)

4.  This may be too much information but have you ever sat down to pee and had backsplash hit your rear?  If you’re not angled just right… it happens.  Sure you wipe it off but you know you have little particles of gross on you until you get your next shower… no water means no backsplash!

5.  This one applies more to public restrooms, or if you have brothers I suppose too (though composting toilets can’t help brothers…).  I was always lucky to grow up in a house with a ‘boy bathroom’ and a ‘girl bathroom’ one of those little things I constantly thank my mother for now…  You walk in the bathroom and sit down before looking at the seat only to find you sat in something wet… GROSS.  Is it pee? Probably someone elses’ pee at that…  Is it just water from the last flush that splashed out?  Still gross.  Best case, you walk in, see it first and then have to wipe the seat off just to sit down, or if you’re like me ‘hover’.  There is no way around that, it’s gross even in the best case.  Splash is gross and completely eliminated with no water!

6.  This one COULD just be me but I have always been a self conscious pee-er… I don’t like other people hearing my pee.  Public rest room, in home with the door cracked, it doesn’t matter, that is MY business, I don’t like producing any sound… I also don’t like hearing other people pee… it’s a thing.  You don’t hear anything with my compost toilet.  You can ninja pee all you want.


7.  People, myself included, who have never used a composting toilet often just assume it smells.  Do you think tiny house people are just the sort of people who don’t mind living somewhere that stinks of waste all the time?  Or maybe that we are the sort that LIKE the smell of urinals?  No, we don’t like the smell any more than the next person does… A properly functioning composting toilet DOES NOT SMELL.  I promise!

The best thing you can do to eliminate smells is separate the solids and the liquids, a toilet that does that will work great!   On top of that, my particular unit is constantly vented to the exterior so even if it wasn’t working properly I would only smell it from the outside.  The best part about that particular feature is that no matter how dire the specific situation was there is no smell, instead of things being vented from the ceiling and all those smells allowed to fill up the room, and sometimes into others, the smells are entirely contained IN the toilet.  You cannot tell when someone just pooped unless they tell you… which sometimes happens… some people actually have it on their bucket list to poop in a composting toilet, I’m not joking… 🙂


8.  This is one I am appreciating more and more every day since I am pregnant and get up 2-8 times a night to pee (annoying!).  I don’t have to announce to the whole house I just peed by flushing the toilet in the middle of the night, every time.  Flushes are loud, they can wake kids up, they can disrupt sleep.  It’s probably not standard in a bigger house because the bathroom is probably further than 10 feet from a sleeping baby but in a tiny house I think about this every time, if I flushed I would PROBABLY wake the kid up and then lose even more sleep trying to get her back down.
Yes, you can do the ‘if it’s yellow let it mellow…’ thing but I have never been a fan of that, I think it goes back to the self conscious pee-er thing… and the gross splash thing… and the… well all of it… I am grateful for silent ‘flushes’.


9.  These get into environmental factors…  Conserving water!  It takes 1.6 gallons of clean drinking water every single time you flush your toilet.  Say you flush it 10 times a day (that is VERY conservative for a pregnant lady…) that is 16 gallons of CLEAN drinking water, This is the biggest water usage throughout the average persons day.  To move ‘not clean’ water (pee) and occasionally some solids to a center so that it can be chemically treated and then used again…   It is a huge cycle but that is what it is when you opt to tie to city water.  It’s the same with a septic only it isn’t recycled.  That is insane to me, it may not seem like much but per person that is HUGE.  There is a ton of embodied energy in the effort it takes to get clean water, it happens off site so we don’t see it, there are chemicals, there is biology, there are impacts.  We work so hard to make it so easy for the end user to just flush a ‘gross’ [my words because I think flush toilets are gross, so ha!] toilet but those processes have impacts that effect us all.  Removing the water from this one system can cut my own personal water use damn near in half!

I LIKE not being a part of that system, I like focusing instead on putting such MINIMAL effort into managing my own waste (I have had to ‘deal’ with this ONE time in over two years.  One time, it took all of maybe 20 minutes and a hose, and it is safe and sanitary!) and not contributing to that system.  Every drop does count.



This is what various levels of water look like, we eventually drink the stuff on the left, after it has been treated chemically and biologically to get to the stage that it is on the right.  Water is just recycled, we are drinking dinosaur pee if you want to think of it that way, for some reason I do… that’s not weird, is it?  The earth has an amazing way of cleaning and recycling our water but when we add chemicals to the process we have to do more to take on that task.  We have created HUGE compounds to do just that, nearly every city in America has one, a water reclamation site.  We have to use other chemicals to take out the first chemicals so that we can have the perception of a clean bathroom so we can pee in it and flush it all away keeping up our perception of ‘clean’.


This is how we treat water.  If you have never been to a water reclamation site I STRONGLY suggest you head to one.  Most of them have a visitor center, most love to give tours because the more informed all of the users can be the easier the reclamation process can be.  It is an eye opening experience.  You won’t look the same at things.  You will think twice before you flush something down the potty.  Go into it and be mature, I have seen grown ass adults turn into 4 year olds at water reclamation sites… don’t, it’s a real process just like a trip to a landfill…  YOU can impact it for the better just by getting a better understanding of it.



This is all of the steps every single toilet flush has to go through to get it back to something we can all drink again.  It’s pretty intense!  Grey water (showers, sinks, etc.) can be processed differently than black water (toilets, cook prep sinks where raw meat is washed, etc.) but for convenience it all gets sent to the same place and it ALL gets heavily treated to bring it back to something we can reuse again, most likely to flush another toilet…  This brings me to my final point.

10.  I have removed myself entirely from this system.   Ultimately this system is not to treat waste, waste is a very natural part of our lifecycle, this system is to treat water.  It just separates out the waste which ultimately just goes back into the circle of life and essentially gets composted anyway… just off site from us.  Every body poops guys and girls.  Dogs poop in yards all the time and most people don’t even process that the same as people poop, mentally.  It is the same.  It is not hard to manage your own waste.  It is harder to pick up dog poop from the yard in all honestly.  It feels great to not contribute to this recycling of water process and to take the task of managing my own waste on myself.  There are safe and sanitary ways to do it and they are not that hard to do!

It’s funny the mental shift that has taken place in this little living expiriment for me.  Like most people one of my biggest concerns was the potty and it being gross but I was committed to give it a try.  I seriously love my composting toilet more than a flush toilet.  I now think of flush toilets as ‘gross’ because after using a compost system they are!  (that is personal opinion… I know… but it’s mine!)

About these ads

Radiant Floor Heat – A Review

I often get questions about my radiant floor heat and I realized I never reviewed it… So here we go!
Was it ‘worth it’ –  It certainly served its purpose as a learning project, I learned how to install and operate it, I have no regrets about adding the thermal mass in the floor (and the extra axle that came with accommodating that).  For me this was a learning project and I have indeed learned!
Now, Would I do it again? – Naw.  I would not.
The radiant heat is not the most efficient way to heat the tiny house.  Radiant heat is generally efficient because it heats your feet, generally if your feet are warm you are warm so you can actually keep the heat a little lower and heat rises so it uses heat more efficiently than heating high air like some other set-ups. In a small house, especially one with two doors there is a lot of thermal bridging where the thresholds meet the floor.  There isn’t enough square feet to make up for that deficit, at least in my place.  This makes for a cold space unless heated (paid for) in winter.   I DID use electric rather than hydro or just straight solar to heat it.  I have made it so that, unless I pay to heat the floor I have to deal with an ice cold floor, which is not great for babies to crawl around on (or my feets for late night bathroom runs!).  I found that because of this I have turned it on before I actually would have turned my heat on otherwise so my heat cycle has been extended.
Frankly there are much cheaper ways to heat a tiny house.  I found it to be MUCH better in summer actually, I do night flush ventilation, wake up, shut the doors and windows and it helps it to stay nice and cool even when it’s 100 degrees outside.  It’s been in the upper 90’s+ and I CAN go all day with no A/C (I have an A/C unit as backup forHazel).  I wished I would have done something else for heat in the first winter though. I have made other plans for this winter and am trying out a propane stove as well as an Envi electric convection heater.  Both of which I will be updating about over at
Now- Just because I am not a fan of the radiant floor doesn’t mean they don’t have merit. This COULD be different if it was hydro or solar.  The problems with those in a tiny though is 1) things move more than in a true foundation and it’s possible to crack a pipe and have big problems with hydro, I marked hydro off early for this reason unfortunately, it is really what I wanted…  2) Collecting solar heat gain is a double edged sword.  You have to have a high solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) on your windows which allows heat to come in.  Most windows intentionally want to block heat gain so there would need to be special windows ordered (possibly costly).  That sort of a system is generally only good to be placed one very specific orientation, if you park off from that you mitigate all benefits and open yourself up to issues.  Both solar and hydro should be very carefully considered.
I guess in short I would not suggest trying to capture solar heat to heat your space unless you are on a true foundation, same with a hydro set-up.  That all being said it is possible, it is just something to be super calculated about.
Most importantly maybe, heat systems don’t seem to be a problem at all, I live in a very cold climate, until it gets about 10 degrees outside my dog, my laptop and myself are pretty much sufficient for heating the house.  It is a small space that really is pretty passively heated just by the nature of it.
COOLING is another story and thermal mass has been SUPER helpful for that!
If there are any other questions please feel free to leave a comment and I will answer it to the best of my ability for you and any others interested in the topic!

Things I Love About My Tiny House This Month

There is so much I love about my tiny house, my favorite part seems to change every day but there are a few things I have noticed over time that I just love about this project.  At this moment, in no particular order here is my top 10 list:

These are a few of my favorite things

1. Endless hot showers in my oversized shower!  Man I love my showers, it was a big priority going into this.  I built an oversized shower at 42″x36″.  I have an on demand hot water heater si I never run out of water.  I can literally take an hour long shower if I want!  Well so long as Hazel lets me… 🙂  I think my dad has rubbed off on me too (he’s a plumber), it’s kind of cool to harness the power of water and use it for a shower… I’m not sure I ever appreciated that before…

 2. Lounging on the patio in the spring reading a book.  There is a beautiful and aromatic apple tree right off my patio, in the spring it is one of the most pretty things I’ve ever seen.  Add in the patio lights and a little fading sunlight, me curled up in the chair on the patio with a book/sketchpad/journal/staring into space and you have one of my most favorite zen moments.

3. Sitting in the living room watching rain drip from the windows.  This is similar to point one, I am not harnessing the power of water but sheltering myself from it.  I remember the first rain I was so scared to see how things held up, if there were any leaks (there was one, I fixed it!).  It turns out it is a pretty awesome feeling to have built yourself a weather-proof shelter!  It can get cold and bitter and RAINY here in the fall, I love sitting on the couch and watching the rain drip off the window flashing, the way it should.  It’s a detail I never would have cared about had I not put the flashing there myself.

4. Cooking while watching a movie.  I’m not much of a movie buff and James isn’t much of a cook.  We can both do those separate things though and still get to hang out!  In the tiny house we can both kick back and do what we love without having to go to separate areas.  He chills out on the couch with a movie and a browser and a notepad and I fiddle about in the kitchen and we can still chat and bond.

5. My toilet.  My toilet is awesome.  I love that I am not wasting so much water that we work so hard to clean.  I love that it is all handled right at my house.  I love that there is no splashing, no smells and it’s not freezing in the middle of the night (there is a small heater in it).  People may not believe it but I love it so much better than a standard flush toilet (and I was very leery going into this project!)… Poor Hazel is going to be confused though when it is potty training time.  She’s going to wonder where the sawdust is at the grocery store potty! 😉

6. Having everything I love in one spot.  I admit this one has taken time and honestly I still have stores in mom and dads basement (all kids do that, right?).  I can say though that I have everything that I care about under my roof.  There are bags of old dresses I didn’t quite have the heart to get rid of just yet, there are stuffed animals I may want to give to Hazel later, there are things that sit somewhere just because there is somewhere to sit them but anything that is important to me is in my house.  It hasn’t always been like that I have felt very spread out previously just because I moved so often there were a lot of home bases.  Some may think in the small house it would be harder to keep everything near and dear… well near.  It’s not, everything has a place.  It’s nice to have it all at home for once!

7. Saving money.  Self explanatory.   Just before Hazel was born I was able to pay off all of my debt.  All of it.  when I took home my paycheck once a month it was all mine.  Yeah I have bills to pay but no debt, insurance and groceries and a little rent, that’s it.  I have even got rid of my phone.  How would it be to take your whole paycheck and just stick it in your bank account?  The answer is pretty awesome!  With that little cushion I built up before Hazel was here I decided it was ok if I just don’t go back to work until I need more money.  I do side jobs as I want to and try to monetize this site as much as I can while still being human (I don’t push anything I don’t truly believe in) because if I can live off of that stuff then I can stay home even more with her!   So, if you want you can buy my ebook 😉 (just kidding… sort of)

8. Hearing my dog snore at night.  There is no particular reason for this, and perhaps it would still occur in a bigger house but it is comforting to know he is close enough for me to hear him.  In the back of my mind,while I sleep I know I am protected.

9. Inspiring others.  I had no idea when I started this that anyone would be interested in reading my blog, it was just a place I could document my build and update it from any computer.  Then it became a challenge.  Then it just became a part of the process.  Somewhere along the line it got popular enough for me to feel jazzed and inspired to keep going!  It got me through the hard spots, I could think through problems here and get feedback from others.  I remember the day that I got 32 hits in one day.  In one single day 32 people read MY words, they read about MY project.  It was amazing!  Then, a little later I got my first email from someone that called themselves ‘my fan’, it said I had inspired them.  I had a fan?  I couldn’t fathom that.  My weird little project inspired someone to do something in their life, I don’t even know what honestly but I had a fan!  That is a cool and encouraging feeling!  One single person’s life was altered by something I did.  I have a very hard time fathoming that to this day, I can only hope it is altered in the most positive way!  Today I get several thousand people visiting my site every single day.  I love that people seek me out because they somehow found something in me that is inspiring.  Those people are my inspiration too, I mean I’m just a weirdo, they give me someone to be accountable to!

I think inspiring is one of the very best names to be called and I have had way more than my fair share of kind people calling me that.  It’s amazing!

10. Getting recognized at the dog park/grocery store/public.  I have been recognized on the streets as the girl in TIME, the girl in Dwell.  My dog has fans, there is an s on that, he has more than one!  Hazel has been called so many beautiful things by people who don’t even really know how amazing she is!  She has fans, I have fans, sure some of it is cringe-worthy but SO many people are SO nice to hear from!

So that’s my list, what is your favorite part about living tiny?  If you’re not quite there what do you imagine will be your favorite part?




Yeah, I had a flood on Saturday night.   I had just taken off to a BBQ at my brothers house, James stayed home and worked.  He was unloading lumber from his truck for his project and heard water flowing by the tiny house.  He came to examine and found an inch of water covering my whole floors and pouring out!  I am so glad he didn’t come with me to the BBQ,  I left about 6:30, everything was fine.  I got a call from him at 7:30 that the place was completely flooded and he turned off the water.  I enjoyed the rest of the night and made it back home around midnight.  He estimates that ‘whatever happened’ was only happening 10-15 minutes before he caught it and it completely flooded the house!  I can’t imagine the problems we would have had if he had come to the BBQ and it was going for five hours!  15 minutes did a lot of damage!  OYE, I may not have a habitable house if it were 5 hours!  So grateful he was around to catch it!

So, I wake up this morning determined to find out what was going on.  I turned the water on for a second and completely soaked the floor.  It was long enough to tell that the water heater had broken.  Opening the cupboard water was just pouring out the bottom of the water heater.  Unplug and mop up.

Called my dad, aka the best plumber in town!  He comes over, we dismantle the hookups and pull the unit out. It is a TIGHT space, took a bit of craftiness!

As soon as we remove the unit the inlet literally falls out of the unit  The water intake appears to have completely broken off.  Dad and I both cannot figure out why.  It has been working great for over a year and it just decides one saturday night to just snap off.  If I had moved the house anytime recently I suppose I could see that happening but there has been zero stress or extensive use, no crazy water pressure no hiccups whatsoever until the unit just broke and flooded my house!  Now that I know the issue I have looked up eccotemps (I have the eccotemp FVI 12-lp) warranty, it states there is a 2 year warranty, I have put in a ticket and hopefully they will cover it and get me some hot water again soon.  For now it looks like I’ll be homesteading style (boils some water!) for Hazels baths and maybe just shower at my families house…  rather inconvenient.  Even though it was bad it could have been SO much worse!  I left a towel on the ground in the bathroom which prevented a bunch of water from going down into my toilet and messing with that!  I am super glad I did rigid insulation in the floor, had I done batt or some other kinds I would have to potentially fix that, they get destroyed with moisture.  Most definitely go with rigid or spray in insulation in your floors!  I am so grateful things weren’t worse!  I’ll keep you updated on the status of my hot water :).  I would love to hear what others’ experiences have been with Eccotemp, I have heard very good things overall, thoughts?


Tiny House Air Conditioning and Fathers Day

Here is our craft project for James’s very first dad’s day and… I got an air conditioner! 🙂  I thought it would be nice to document how small MiniM is for dad’s day so I picked up one of those generic make your own handprint stepping stone kits (it was actually for dog feet but who can tell the difference…) and we added some personal touches.  Also, I got an A/C unit.  If it was just me I would have skipped that but little miss gets hot, fast.  Last summer Denver and I lived through a 111 degree day and those that surrounding it with only windows and a fan for cooling, it was too warm for a baby.  Tolerable (just barely) but too warm.  My house stays pretty nice so long as no doors get opened throughout the day (the thermal mass in the floors for the heat ironically helps it stay cool really well).  If you go out just once in that heat though it gets warm.  Air exchanges fast when there is not very much of it!

I would love to try some alternative A/C units like this one but I want something on hand for Hazel just in case also, no need to give my kid heat stroke… so I am ready for the heat this year even though I am going to try some alternative options first!

Oh, have you guys heard the good news?!

She looks thrilled, right!?

Today someone left a copy of this article on my doorstep (thank you!) so Hazel was reading to me today about Tiny Houses being allowed in Brainerd, MN!  Cool step forward from out of left field, huh! 🙂


Ok, here are some images: