Monday, December 30, 2013

What A Way To Round Out The Year!!

All the kiddies on Jess' side of the family! Such a fun day. :)
Exciting news everyone!!!

First off, I hope everyone had a nice Christmas! Dan and I had a great Christmas! It was hectic, a bit stressful at the start, but full of laughter, love, and joy-- as it should be. I was able to finish the project I've been focused on for Dan's little nieces. The morning of Christmas I was still frantically putting together the last pieces! Now that it's no secret- I'm happy to share some pictures of my little creations. They were a complete success too! Julia was smitten immediately. Hearing those little squeals of joy made all the time and work completely worth it.

Butterfly blankies with hoods! For play and nap time.

Dan and I also got a ton of AWESOME gifts this year! My parents got us some great hiking and camping gear including a new tent and a cooking set for two! Next summer we won't be consumed with construction of the house, so we will have more time to PLAY! And to us, that means mountain hikes and camping. :) 

See it between the hats? So tiny! BIG sound.

Dan's parent's got us a Bose Sound Link Mini which has been an utter delight- we can listen to music now without a full computer set up going! It's so compact, chargeable, and sounds unbelievable. We can set it anywhere in the house, and we are just inundated with crisp full sound. We highly recommend this to others with tiny houses. It doesn't take up a lot of space, but pumps out BIG sound. Being portable is a plus. It also has Bluetooth connectivity, so it can be completely wireless!

We also have a nice shiny new set of stainless steel pots and pans thanks to Dan. :) That was my big gift and I LOVE IT. We are trying to get away from chemicals, and Teflon is a health nightmare, so I'm slowly weeding out all my non-stick (sigh- I will miss it) cookware. 

But, perhaps the best news of all to share is this:
Yesterday, we met with a very cool family and we now have a place to go in the Spring!!! AAAGGH! We are so excited and relieved that I couldn't put it into words. It has been one detail that's been nagging at both of us for months. The family lives about 12 minutes from my Dad too! Not a long haul, and I like that. They don't have acres and acres, but they have a decent sized back yard, and a tucked away space among the trees that would work perfect for us. Oh, and get this! He was actually looking for someone who would want to plant a garden on his land!! WHAT. SIGN ME UP.

So we discussed where the house would go, how big the garden would be, the fact that they have well water and he could run a basic spigot up to us. He even offered to run us power from his big garage (he has a sweet workshop and works on motorcycles among other machines) if we needed it. We hope to have the solar power system going by the time we move, but if we don't have it by then, it's nice to know the people are willing to give us power. 

This all came about from a social outing- by the way. One of Dan's old time friends was back in town and he was telling his friend what we've been up to. The friend immediately thought of his Uncle, which is the guy with the land, and connected us with him. Oh, the power of networking! 

This week we plan to SLOWLY get back to work. We still have the kitchen drawers to finish, and I plan to make little covers for the cubbies as well.

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The sibs + Dan :) 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Christmas Prep Takes Center Stage

Season's Greetings, everyone!

Sorry about falling off the map, there. I just recently arrived home from Texas, and since- through the winter- planes are essentially flying germ incubation tubes, I brought a nice cold home with me. Boo. So- this one is gonna be short and sweet folks. 

Most of our energy over the last week has been focused on getting presents and other Christmas items in order. Dan and I are both making some of our presents this year...and since we don't want to give away the surprise- I won't be putting up pics of the projects just yet. Okay, maybe a few vague ones. :)

So excited to finish this project!! :) You'll see after Christmassss!

A few friends that helped us with the wall raising came to visit last weekend. It's always fun to see the reactions of people- especially ones that were there and saw the very beginnings. Both Dave and Kevin were very impressed, remarking at how well the interior came out and how it seems a lot more spacious than they would have expected. It's that high ceiling! Makes a world of difference! Needless to say, Dan and I were both glowing with pride by the end of the visit. Thanks for coming to check it out, Dave and Kev! :) 

In other news, we are beginning to see the true temperatures of winter. This will be a good test of our tiny house and just how much our little electric radiator can handle. We have switched over to using that almost exclusively. As I mentioned before, the eco-heater is good until it gets to be about 25 degrees out. Then we need something more powerful. While I was enjoying the mild climate of Texas, here at home hit the lowest we have seen yet this winter. Dan woke up to single digits- and even with the heater on medium- it still stayed warm...enough...haha. To us, this means we should not feel limited in where to find a more final resting place for the house. We have toyed with the idea of New Hampshire or even Maine. Exactly when that will happen is unclear. We still have a lot to get in order before finding our own land. BUT, just knowing we can handle colder temperatures is nice- it does not relegate us to the gentler climates of the South. 

Brr! This was first thing in the morning.
It heats up pretty quick once we turn lights
on and start cooking some breakfast. 

Up next, after the holidays probably, we plan to replace the counter top portions of the stair storage. We hee'd and haw'd about leaving it just pine or staining, or even painting it. We were worried a solid color would be too much and might make the place seem darker or smaller, but now that we have had ample opportunity to stare at how gross and dirty these counter tops get. Bare pine shows EVERYTHINNNG. Since this is a very busy, multi-purpose surface- we use it as a working space, a computer space, a food prep space, then we also crawl up it to get to the loft- we have decided to make the change.  

We plan to make a wash with some of the remaining brown paint I used on the rafters and the door in the kitchen. (Much like the kitchen counters - except not green this time!) Once we have applied the wash, we are also going to use a water-based poly to seal it. We finally broke down and decided this was an area that needed it. We wanted to use a natural product, but this being such a high traffic area that constantly needs wiping and scrubbing- makes it hard to find a suitable finish. The tung oil just wasn't cutting it. Either we need a hundred more coats, or it's just not the right stuff for the area. We also toyed with the idea of sealing the wood ourselves using a natural wax. But, even then, we would need to re-apply every month or so to maintain the seal. I do feel kind of guilty about it, but we've made so many efforts in other areas of the house and our lives to cut down on un-natural products- that I'm giving us a little slack on this one.

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Monday, December 9, 2013

Time Crapse

Well, the time lapse camera project was a total dud.

A bit of a bummer, considering how much I was looking forward to seeing it, but it yielded some valuable lessons for me. I set this camera up one week after we began the official build. That was at the end of April. I took the camera down just last week. My first red flag was the fact that upon checking the SD card- only about 9000 images were found. I did the quick math, based on my parameters for the camera (every 5 minutes from 9am to 9pm each day) I should have had WAY more than 9000.

It's somewhat difficult to understand that a camera has dead batteries when the display still turns on for you. I would intermittently check and the camera would respond. The last images were taken in the middle of July. So we got the bulk of the exterior build on camera. It turned out to be fine since the camera is only from the outside. By that point, we were working on the inside and it wouldn't have caught it anyway.

Dan adding twine to give more support
and cover up the rough cuts. 

I was even more disappointed as I opened up the images to take a peak. The stinkin' view finder on the camera is off center. So while I thought I had a nice (fairly tight) shot of the house, turns out the bottom inch of my view finder is cut out. So for the first several weeks, all you see in the pictures are the woods. The trailer is cut out. Then you can start to see the tippy top of the tarp when we began piling supplies on the trailer.

The man and his ladder!
This is one of those rare (okay maybe not that rare) “You dummy!” moments for me. I spent so much time imagining how awesome this time lapse was going to come out that I did no THINKING on the subject. I learned a lot from this small experience. As I put all the pics into the time lapse software, I began experimenting with the number of frames per second. I found a speed that I liked, but it would have been a 12 minute video, with about 80% of your time staring at trees slowly growing leaves. I tried speeding it up more, so that there would be less woods staring....all that did was make the weekends of work go by in a blip. Finally, quite frustrated, I went through and deleted about 4000 images...all of which were just trees (or the house) sitting there untouched Monday through Friday. This brought the video down to about 4 minutes, and I slowed the speed back down, but still there's a lot of just staring at an untouched project, and then quick bursts of activity. Not exactly the dynamic, epic, mesmerizing, inspiring vision that I imagined. I realized that I was taking my memories and experiences of this build, and expecting them to somehow show through in a four minute video of 2 dimensional pictures from a single not-so-great vantage point. Yea-- not gonna happen.

Here is what I have learned:
*Projects that are over the course of 12 months, but only on weekends, will not make for a nice time lapse candidate.

*Always do a test run.

*Set up the camera to view a MUCH LARGER area, not just a tight shot. We did so much work in the yard RIGHT NEXT TO the trailer, but because the shot is a small field, the camera missed all of that.

I'm choosing to take away the positives from this. Yes, it was crappy to find out the whole thing was a bust, but it was nice to learn some valuable concepts and I'm excited to set up my time lapse camera for smaller projects that would be better suited. I'm also happy to know that this camera truly is weather proof. It was out there in all extremes and kept on working. I have thousands upon thousands of photos meticulously organized, saved, backed up, and saved some more from every last day we worked. So I don't really feel much of a loss. Yes, it would have been nice to have one more bit of media to share, but you aren't missing much. Trust me.

Adam helping Dan with the lights.

Over the past week, we've been working away on odd jobs and getting the house in the Christmas spirit. I never used to be much of a fan of Christmas, but over the last few years I've really grown to enjoy it. This year, I was actually excited to set things up and did it shortly after Turkey day!!! (This is big for someone coming from a household where the tree usually went up on about the 20th of December and came down on the 26th.)

Dan and I initially came up with some completely over the top way to display the tree in our limited space. I won't even go into it since it was so ridiculous. Haha It was one of those ideas thought up late in the day, and seemed totally fabulous. Then you wake up the next morning and start thinking about how you will make it a reality and you realize-- wow, this is way too much work, especially for something temporary. After a few minutes of thought, we found a much better way. One that required no purchase of materials or building- our favorite kind.

Over the last week, Dan also completed the ladder and his first drawer! And he did a great job! The ladder was one of those small but mighty improvements. Getting into the loft is much smoother and easier. Getting down has vastly improved too. Under the fridge was a tricky area to build a drawer for, but he accounted for every detail. Looking at his work, I never would have guessed this was his first drawer. Now that the drawer under the fridge is in place, the only carpentry left is the set of kitchen drawers and some trim in a few places. Holy crap we are almost done the inside!!

We also found our desk chair. Another great thrift store find! I plan to re-upholster the chair and use a material that would go well with the colors so far. We are both pretty sick of staring at those black folding chairs, plus we never realized how wonderful a chair with arms can be! We often fight (playfully) over who gets to sit in it.

This past weekend, Dan and I finally did something that's been on the list for a while. We cleaned and organized my Dad's garage. At one point, there was barely room to move in there with all of our supplies, plus everything else that was already piled up in there. It took the bulk of the day, but we emptied the place out, swept, re-organized all of our tools and supplies, and I even started a bag of returns. In our daze of building, we would often buy smaller things repeatedly, because we couldn't remember if we had any left. Staying organized the whole way through would have remedied this to some extent, but no harm done if it can be returned!

I ended up returning an LED light, several brackets we were going to use in the loft, a ton of corner brackets and bracing bars, and more miscellaneous hardware pieces. We walked out of there $65 richer! I like to think of it as karma sending us a reward for sticking it out and getting that cleaning done.

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The garage at one of it's peak bad moments.

Ta-daaa! All clean! Now there is an actual work space!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Video Tour! Round Three!

We hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and for those of you from other countries- well, we hope your regular day was just as nice. ;)

Without further ado- here is the highly requested video tour. The last video tour- I believe - was in August, and we had just put the floors down and there was still MUCH to be done. In this video, we are almost done the interior!! Only a couple details left! So enjoy!

Oh- and for anyone who normally reads these right from their email- the video may or may not work. I would recommend you head right to the blog page if the video is giving you trouble.
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Monday, November 25, 2013

Our Seating Has Been UPGRADED!

Sunday was a very cold, but very fun day.

It just goes to show that outlook is everything. We finally had one of those bursts of ambition and energy and decided the built in love seat was getting DONE. Of course it had to be the coldest most uninviting day of weather yet this season. That was not enough to snuff out the fire though. 

We forged ahead despite the bitter blustery winds that ripped through the yard. The average temperature for the day was about 16 degrees, and that did not include the wind chill. We layered up and headed out to the store for supplies. Since we mapped out just exactly what we planned to do, we were very efficient with purchase of wood. We also swung by the garden section and grabbed a few clay pots to give the tiny planter heater idea a try. (A couple weeks ago, I posted a link on our Facebook page about a man who used this simple set up to heat his one room studio.) The man in the video makes use of a bread pan, but we couldn't seem to find any combination of pots that would nicely fit over the bread pan we had. So we opted to use some of those bricks we collected nearly a year ago. 

It certainly can throw some heat once it gets going, but it's still too small of an operation to do much for us. I held my hand over the little "chimney" and was surprised at how concentrated the heat was. However, it wasn't enough for the space. We are toying with the idea of making a bigger version to see if that would create a noticeable difference. 

We measured and cut our boards in the freezing weather, each of us taking turns with our duties and then employing some form of heat generation. Dan opted to do sprints back and forth in the yard while I intermittently busted out into intense Jackie Chan air fights. I'm sure we've gotten looks before, simply for the little box we live in, but yesterday would have been a sight. Two people running around their little house, doing jump kicks, hard knees, and turbo fist pumps, then diligently bending down to measure and cut lengths of wood? Yeah, even I would stop and stare a moment.

Once we had our pieces cut, we hurried inside to assemble them- BRILLIANT! We were very happy to come up with that idea ahead of time. We are so used to building everything outside, that we often overlooked the smaller projects that could be carried out indoors. Well a cold so deep that it makes your teeth hurt when you talk-- that will make you start thinking smart in a hurry!

We assembled each bench in the warmth of The Pod. After putting the first one together with no issues, and checking to make sure the water bricks would fit- we started in on the second one. Both pieces came together quite quickly. We then cut out the pieces of plywood that set right into each unit, providing a level covered surface. We drilled a couple holes in each so it's easy to lift these covers up with just a finger. 

Once we were happy with the benches, we measured and ripped down our table top. We bought another piece of the same wood we used for the counters in the kitchen. When the table top is not in use, it will sit across the two benches to form the love seat. When we want to use the table, we will screw on the legs and set it between the two benches to create a nice little dining nook. 

We were both so jazzed up about how easily it came together and how nice it looked, that we cleaned up the work area and ran off to the thrift store. Neither of us could wait another day to have a comfy cushioned place to sit! We picked up some large pillows (all for under $4 each) and I also made a pass through the curtain section and found a nice set for the last window. Only $6!! Woohoo! Now I don't have to make them! Plus, material alone would have been more than that!

I plan to make use of the leftover curtain materials I already bought (plus some other colorful scraps) to make quilted pillow covers. That way our pillows will look brand spankin' new, and match the decor to a T! I will also be making the cushions that we sit on. For those, I will most likely make two larger cushions with a crease so they can easily fold in half. That way, when it's a love seat, each cushion folds out and covers the expanse, and when it is a booth, each cushion folds and fits on each bench. 

We didn't anticipate the change that swept over us once the love seat was done. That was the final major eye sore of the house, and now it has been replaced with a cute, cozy space and I absolutely adore it! After coming back from the thrift store, I started making dinner while Dan did few more small jobs, like installing a knob for the lower closet door, and hanging the rod for the curtains. Then, we happily squished together amongst the big pillows enjoying dinner, the vastly more comfortable seating, and being able to sit right beside each other for the first time in over two months. :)  

We will have a video tour soon!
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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Cubbies! Curtains! More Bunny-free zones!

I cannot believe that it is November 20th. 

It seems like just yesterday was the beginning of the month. How does that happen!?! Once again, a full week has slipped by without a peep from The Pod (we finally chose the perfect name for our home). My apologies for the lack of posts! I've got about a 30 minute window before I have to run off and do the next thing on my list, so I'll try to pack in as much as I can. 

Over the past week, we have done a collection of small detail projects here and there....gone are the days when we could post photos displaying dramatic changes in less than 24 hours. Sigh. Oh well. ONWARD AND UPWARD, I SAY!

The last window finally got trimmed in too!
No more drafts there!

So, since we last posted, I was able to finish all the curtains for the loft windows. Sadly, I don't have enough material left to complete the large window down in the great room. Boo. :/ I will either go back and see if more of the same material exists, or simply get another type of material. Since I love color and diversity, the latter will probably come to be. 

Meanwhile, Dan has been busy working away at the built in. So far he has created the doors for the top two cubbies and a door for the large bottom cubby on the left. Hooray! One less area for the little fuzzy she-devil to dig around in and make a mess! 

Hanging curtain rods. :)

Another nice surprise that I cam home to today, was my full length mirror mounted inside the closet door. Let me tell you why this makes me exceptionally happy: a couple weekends ago I purchased a mirror with the intent of hanging it myself. My brother sat on it in the car, before I even got it home. Went out and got mirror number two, then spent a solid hour and a half trying to mount it myself. With an uneven surface and non-parallel lines messing with my concept of "level" I found it very difficult to hold the mirror in such a way that looked even.

Once I finally did, I somehow had to screw the clips on as well. That didn't go great. The short story is I dropped the mirror twice, nearly having a rage stroke each time, and then on the third and final fall of the mirror, I had two clips in place and  was securing the third- when it slipped off and snapped all three clips. I carefully picked up the magically-still-unbroken mirror and gently stored it away as I stated with gritted teeth, "I'm going to go do something else now." Oh, DaaaAAAaaaannn! I have a job for youuuu. ;) haha

So that's it in a nutshell. The jobs may be getting smaller, but the steady culmination of all these little improvements is leading to the completion of that grand vision we had just a year ago. Most days, I walk into my home still staring at all the things that aren't finished. We both need to manually refocus at times...but when we do, I look around almost breathless. This place is so beautiful, functional, and deliberate. Still, every time, I find myself remarking, "I can't believe we did all this!"

Thanks for stickin' in there on the lack of posts, and as always, thanks for reading!!!
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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Weekend Of Milestones...And....Not Much Else

Even the grand-babies made it,
all the way from NY! :)
As weekends have a way of doing sometimes, this one slipped right on by.

Two big milestones happened this weekend, calling for social outings to celebrate. Dan's Dad celebrated his 60th birthday- with a great big crowd I might add! He thought he was just going to grab some food with his kids! Needless to say, that was a great time. 

Monday made two years that Dan and I have been together. My how the time flies! We were both just remarking the other night (in a light-hearted way) that the last twelve months have felt more like twelve years. We both feel much older, but in very distinct ways. This experience has certainly polished away some of our rougher spots. I carry more confidence; I feel as if I'm just more on top of life in general. Anything that get's thrown at us these days receives the same calm reaction: "Okay, we can do this."

Two peas in our pod! :)
We have grown immensely together over the last year. Through this experience we have faced intimidation of the unknown, doubt, fear, anger, frustration, the nay-sayers, the set backs, the screw ups, the do-overs, the price tags, the dirty jobs, and also...triumph, excitement, joy, inspiration, strength, drive, perseverance, courage, and heart. We said we were going to do this project together, and every last major step- we have done together. If I was away or he was away, we would wait. We kept to our word and we gained so much as a couple. Thank you to everyone who has supported us and followed along with interest over the last year. It has been quite the ride!

So, now that I've danced around the bushes enough, I guess I have to admit it. We haven't really done jack on the house in the last few days. BLURG! I know! 

One thing we were very motivated to do was create some additional weather proofing for the house. The way our tiny house is situated, leaves it dead on to the winds coming off the lake. As a result, it can get pretty chilly at floor level when cold air is whisking under your home. We went to the local hardware store and bought some construction hay bails, which are much cheaper because the hay isn't top quality. Since we aren't spreading it on land, we don't care. We took one of our large tarps and wrapped the hay bails in place to provide rain/snow protection, and also to act as additional wind breaking. We noticed a difference almost immediately. Tonight is going to be a true test of our heat source-- it's supposed to dip into the teens!

Look at Dan's
Aside from the weather proofing, Dan has been doing some little detail jobs here and there including finishing the ceiling trim and great room storage shelf trim. I have started some curtains, messed up some curtains, need to fix some curtains... sooooo that's what I'm thinking about doing after this post! 

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Thursday, November 7, 2013

It's Looking Really Homey In Here!

Curtains are under construction!

Over the last few days, Dan and I have each been working on a wide array of little projects. I have started work on the curtains for the windows- the kitchen windows are done! I've also done some work on the built in, the door curtain, and the organization of stuff. Dan has been completing trim here and there, installing hardware, and sealing up the last few places where cold air can seep in.

Window skirts for the kitchen!

We have both felt quite jumbled lately. It seems like there are an endless amount of things we could be working on, we just need to prioritize. It was easier earlier in the build. There was always a clear order as to how best to complete something. Now we are looking at the last of the little details, and they are all seemingly unrelated, so there is no clear starting point. I don't know about anyone else, but that's when things can get overwhelming for me- when there are a hundred things to be done, but no particular order in which to get them done. BLURG!

Hanging the rods!

Anyways- the bottom line is: we are still chuggin' away! I plan to continue working on curtains each night until they are all done- which I'm hoping won't take much longer. I also really hope I bought enough material! We shall see. Beyond that, we'll be painting here and there, deciding what to do with the raised counter top (it gets a lot of traffic, tung oil isn't going to cut it), building a short ladder, and finishing up the built in love seat/dining space.  

In other news, I have officially sequestered the last of my stored things. Now, instead of having a few things stored here, and a few there, I have all my junk in two places. I still have to comb through and thin those piles out too. More will be going up on Craigslist! We have made $430 to date just by selling our junk on Craigslist. It feels great to have everything more organized. 

I'm always sneaking in a splash of color. Breaks up the pine- and it's fun!

Instead of trimming the excess lenghth,
I decided to use that length to create a built in
draft stopper. The bottom is filled with rice!

Speaking of organization, I am still re-arranging belongings. As we continue to live there and I observe our new habits, I have started to make small changes here and there- for example, I took most of my clothes out of the loft. With the addition of more shelves elsewhere, the closet has begun to open up- and I was tired of climbing up and down from the loft nine different times each day as I tried to dress myself. I would grab one item up high and climb down to get another and put those things on....then realize I needed another item up high....and so on. It gets old real quick at 5 in the morning. 

Now, only my gym clothes live up in the loft, and the other cubby holds some of my less accessed items like my camera bag and accessories. I have a feeling I will be making changes for several months before I feel we have reached optimum organization. 

Our next major endeavor will be the built-in love seat this weekend. Stay tuned!

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Finally! Those ugly cracks around the door are gone!

So long, drafty spots!