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!