August 11, 2014 § 11 Comments
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:
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?
May 26, 2014 § 14 Comments
Literally two weeks after writing my How My Composting Toilet ACTUALLY Works post how there were basically no issues I noticed flies… in the house, not particularly concentrated in the bathroom but it’s a small house and they did find the toilet… there is no telling where they originated but I am fairly certain it was not in the toilet. The same week I noticed them I had planted my kitchen window herb garden and bought a bunch for fruit (they looked like little fruit flies…), switched out my bulking material from the standard sun-mar brand to the mix of sawdust/peat moss AND bought a new house plant, could have been any of those… I decided to treat the toilet first though so the problem didn’t get worse. These are a few things I have done and some of the things I am considering doing that I’m looking for feedback on.
First I got some diatomaceous earth which supposedly works great as a natural pest controller in sort of a morbid way. It is the microscopic crushed remains of fossils and shells and basically makes hundreds of slivers in bug exoskeletons, killing them. It is too fine to be of any harm to pets, kids or myself so it was a good solution I thought to start at. As a side note, I read it works really well as a flea and tick protectant on pets, Denver may be getting a DE dusting soon…
I poured about a cup of it into the toilet bin and went on as normal. I did notice a decrease in the flies in the actual toilet but not in the house. Again, because I know people will think this is gross, I am fairly sure that they originated from either my herbs, a bad banana or the houseplant I bought, I have had the same flies infest my big house about this time of year and there was no composting toilet… but because there IS a composting toilet, a hands off one at that it becomes a bit of a bigger problem to get handled ASAP before they can take up ownership of the toilet… Long story short using a little diatomaceous earth in your composter seems to have an effect on any bugs that may or may not be in there, I am finding it to be a helpful additive to my bulking mix…
OK, now onto another Sun-Mar rant of sorts… One of the other things I mentioned that changed is that I have switched my bulking material (the sawdust stuff) from the sun-mar brand that came with the toilet, which has been nice, to just the standard construction waste sawdust mixed with peat-moss (could ALSO be a factor in the little bugs…). I don’t like it as well just because it is a process to mix together and it seems a lot more dense (not ‘fluffy’), not as effective at absorbing the liquids so they can be evaporated… I went to order some more from Sun-Mar along with some more microbes just for good measure. The total was about $43 which I was ok with and then I went to check out and they want $38 to ship that! I checked on some other products, I was considering buying 5 bags of the bulking material (an additional $70) just to justify the enormous shipping rate but doing that brought the shipping up to $101! Basically they charge you double if you want the product shipped… not cool Sun-Mar, not cool. Once again I am not impressed with their business model, I would think they would make things more accessible to individuals…
I have decided to go with their competitors microbe mix, Envirolet Compost Accelerator, they seem to be basically the same thing, same cost but much different on the shipping charges… As for the bulking material I may just get some hamster bedding or something a little fluffier, anyone have any suggestions for that?
Another totally separate thought that I would love some feedback on, might be a bit gross for some readers… I did a little project with the City of Meridian on vermicomposting. I have since given the worm bin back so some 1st graders can use it but I still have my worms which are troopers… I was wondering if there are any issues using red wigglers in a composting toilet? I read a little article on it last night from redwormcomposting.com and it seems like a valid option… Does anyone have experience with this? It seems that they may be better suited to a composting toilet than just kitchen scraps and sounds like things would go a lot faster. To date I have followed Sun-Mars directions to the tee and after one year I emptied some waste into the drawer to ‘finish’
It all looks on point and about exactly what they said it would do, but I am wondering if I am using this composter to it’s full potential. It seems like, since I am not at full capacity (2-4 people full time) I may be able to put vegetable scraps and the like down it as well. Am I just asking for trouble by doing that though? Unless I hear good reason not to I think I am going to stick my red wigglers in there (the website says to acclimate them to the different waste a little first or I could shock them and kill them) and use my toilet as a full-on composter. I am not too worried about voiding a warranty with Sun-Mar, they have had absolutely atrocious customer service anyway and didn’t even warranty the product that arrived broken… its doubtful they would warranty anything at this point anyway.
Pros would be faster composting, and a self sufficient system basically. The cons would be that I don’t have easy access to the bin so the worms are pretty much there when they get there, I can’t maintain them… It MAY mean I will have to get down there and maintain them manually at a point if it is a complete fail (gross). This is a project in learning though and it seems like that makes plenty of good sense. The one thing they do say if you use worms in a composting toilet is to use plenty of bulking materials to absorb the ammonia and salts (pee) so that the worms don’t get killed by it… they suggested ripped up cardboard/newspapers…
So I guess I have a few questions:
- Do people have suggestions on a good/’fluffy’ bulking material for my toilet?
- Does anyone have experience combining vermicomposting with their composting toilet?
- Passively asked, has anyone had fly bug issues when it comes to their composting toilet and any ways to mitigate them?