“My Favorite Kitchen”

“My Favorite Kitchen”

The arrival of my 19 yr. old daughter has brought a new buzz to the household.  She only has a short 8 weeks to catch up with her gal pals, family,  and other locals before the next adventure begins through Thailand and on to a work visa approved year in New Zealand.  The addition of these lovely young adults on top of my son’s growing bevy of high school friends makes for a lively front room and kitchen.  I listen to the chatter, the stories,  the volume battles between the TV programs and the Echo streaming music, and the laughter and I feel very, very happy.

My current home is modest by US standards and comfortable.  Located on a busy thru street I see the neighborhood going by with traffic, people, bikers, dogs and the occasional moose from my bedroom window.

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Watching the morning come alive.

Two cooks can navigate my small U-shaped kitchen on a normal day.  Last night there were two of us cooking, dogs underfoot waiting for scraps, two girls on the floor leaning against the fridge and opposing dishwasher, and two more on the love seat in the hallway with still more kids around the corner hanging on the couch. Bill and I sang and chopped vegetables, had a glass of red wine and prepared a great vegan meal for everyone in the house and whoever else might come through the front door.  Preparing great food and feeding others has long been one of my passionate acts of generosity.  For years my grocery bill has been the highest cost of living I have and I am grateful to be able to share my cooking with the people in my life. I love to hear, “It smells so good in here!”

One of the girls was serving up a hot plate of veggie hash browns and said, “This is my favorite kitchen.  Not just because there is great food, but we get to do this”,  nodding to the cozy scene of everyone sharing an informal meal. What a great compliment for a woman who has spent a significant amount of time knee-deep in grocery shopping, recipes, ingredients, and dirty dishes.

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Alouette gets in on the action.

I thought about this scene as I was making design decisions with my tiny house. So many tiny homes have the kitchen tucked in at one end under a loft, great for one cook but not for the hub of activity my kitchen always seems to be.  I have placed my kitchen in the center of my design under the highest ceilings.  I can picture a couple of people able to cook while others sit on the couch, the stairs and at the convertible table that is still evolving in my head.

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Still making decisions, but the design is coming along!

I bought my first power tools, really … MY OWN tools.  Whenever I take a step in the right direction it feels big, even when it is simple. I charged them up and am now ready to sink some screws into boards!

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The start of greater things to come!

Everything is turning green and about to burst into bloom, even with the continued bouts of rain it is my signal to move from the indoors out.  It is going to be a busy, busy season first finishing the camper renovation and then picking up the house trailer in Oregon over Memorial Day weekend. Ready … Set … Go!

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Keeping my eyes on the goal,

Hillary D.

 

Coveting in a Tiny World

Coveting in a Tiny World

I recently visited a  certified tiny home builder who is 34 miles from my home, Portable Cedar Cabins in Spirit Lake, Idaho.   Google Maps lead me to the corner of the town park, twice.  Obviously needing directions I steered to the local hardware store which is where I always seem to have the most luck finding help.  The old guy had his dog sleeping on the counter, a conversation starter for sure.  He knew exactly who I was looking for and sent me a mile further down the road.  Rounding the steep bend of the highway. you really can’t miss the 18 or so tiny homes in various stages of completion.

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The site was busy with North Idaho hard-working men,  hammering to music like it was summer in the 53 degree spring weather.  From the size of the mud ruts, Portable Cabins build site had its share of winter with the rest of us.  We stepped into the yard and was greeted by Bob, who was more than happy to answer a couple of questions, give us a some instructions and turn us loose to wander around the homes.

I had my 16yr old son with me who is a tiny house skeptic, he looks at me with eyebrows raised, smiles and says “Okaaay”  whenever I pull him into my tiny house excitement.  When we stepped into the first little abode,  he raised his eyebrows and declared, “This is surprisingly nice!”  So we climbed into lofts, opened pocket doors, checked out tiny bathroom sinks and talked about what life would feel like in each of these different small spaces.  So much fun!

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One of the smaller houses.

Making our way back to the tiny house main office I sat down with the owner Dave and shared my Trek to Tiny with him.  I had noticed that ALL the homes had flush toilets and none of them had gray water tanks or holding tanks, everyone was tapping into water, power and sewer.  So, we talked about off-grid builds, N.Idaho frozen winters which equates to frozen water, and small wood stoves.  Dave is a big proponent of going with a 10′ wide build, and I had noticed the difference that extra 18″ provided.  Then the question everyone wants to know, “How much?”  He quoted me $28,000 for a 10×24 completed shell with roughed-in plumbing and electrical, and he would deliver it to me for FREE since I am local.

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10′ Wide

I started doubting the path I have put into motion, buying a trailer and attempting a DYI build with hiring local professionals as needed.  The mind followed a rabbit trail … my design would be better if it was bigger, I will save myself a lot of work, I’d be doing interior work this summer,  this looks easier.

After my tiny house high, a hot yoga class forced me to take a deep breath, move and sweat for an hour and gave me the clear head to think this over carefully.  I pulled out my materials list and crunched numbers, I had estimated they were receiving somewhere between 7,000-10,000 for their labor and that turned out to be pretty spot on.  I wrestled with the budget vs. time argument and thought about what 10,000 can buy.  My camper/tiny house journal revealed a whole bunch of reasons why staying  the original course means something to me, this whole thing is a trek after all.

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Early morning Trek to Tiny work.

The pull to go bigger & spend more almost got me, a little mindfulness goes a long way.  My oldest son who is a smart, hardworking, and really strong man has been excited about helping his mom this summer and building a small house shell.  What a learning curve we’re going to have together!

Ready to get moving.

Hillary D.

Thawing Out

Thawing Out

There is a hole in my shoe.  It’s probably been there all winter, but just became noticeable because everything is suddenly very wet.  I live in what is touted to be a pedestrian friendly town, but this winter has been a challenge.  Sidewalks were kinda, sorta shoveled and mostly covered in ice so the roads became the safer option when out walking.  Exercising the dog required focused attention … to traffic, what was underfoot, and more than once I was surprised by local wildlife also making their way around town.

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At least they use the crosswalks.

The earth’s axis has finally shifted and you can feel spring heading our way. I haven’t posted anything for awhile because the trek to the tiny house has been quiet as I have just been riding out the winter and waiting for the thaw.  Glad for all the snowy days that allowed me to plan, and research, and think and plan some more.  The dogs have gotten me out of the house and into the snowy landscape …

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Everyone had winter challenges.

The birds are going crazy with the warmer weather and my build site is rapidly returning to bare ground which has thrown me back into my Sketchup model to make some revisions before I start the framing plans.  I’ve made my first major tiny house purchase!  I love 4 season climates and will have two sources of heat, one being a wood stove and the Mini Grizzly stole my heart.

This little gem puts out 8,000-18,000 BTU’s and will heat up to 400 square feet.  I really liked the wall mount and made some modifications to the kitchen to accommodate this little heat source.  Isn’t it sweet?!  I also placed an order with Iron Eagle and my foundation is ready for pick up … eeek!  Owning a trailer has brought renewed energy to the project and the reality of this tiny dream is now tactile.

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Cheers to noisy birdsong and spring!

Hillary D.

Building Season

Building Season

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”

Serenity Prayer

With “Snowmageddon 2017” it seems as though the building season will never arrive and I am anxious to get moving.  Every drip, drip from the roof and sounds of running water in the street remind me that this too shall pass.  My building site currently looks like this …

It is painfully obvious that it will be awhile before a trailer can be pulled on to the site and the shop is operational. Not to mention the challenges that the tiny house will face with big winters!  I look at those pictures and think about how the snow will come off my roof, my front door and the need for a sturdy awning of some sort, and water…always thinking about water, particularly frozen water.

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Scenic 7B has been awfully frosty.

I have selected a trailer!  Iron Eagle Trailers in Oregon manufacture trailers specifically for tiny houses.  Little things like recessed crossmembers, axles positioned significantly forward to carry the load of a tiny house, stronger, lighter and they’ll make free tweaks to accommodate your house design.  The cost for this foundation of my future home comes in under $5000 and I can pick it up in Bend, Oregon which is an easy days drive.

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The Trek to Tiny begins here!

There is a Google SketchUp model of my trailer created by Tiny Nest Project that will allow me to start accurately placing my framing and I now know exactly where the wheel wells will fall in my design.  Thank you Kiva and Jake for making this model available!  If you’ve never used SketchUp, it is relatively easy to learn, is FREE, and fun to use.  I’ve got a cabinet I want to incorporate into my kitchen and this program allows me to accurately place this piece into the design and see in 3D how it will work.  When I was in design school we did most our work on a drafting table and changes were tedious, technology certainly has its wonderful moments.

I spend a considerable amount of time watching YouTube videos, another amazing resource of information.  In addition to Tiny Nest I’ve watched all of Derek Howlett’s videos on the Life Inside a Box channel.  This young kid documented his entire tiny house build and it really phenomenal.  He and his wife are homesteading on 40 acres in Arizona and have quite the gig going on out in the desert.  I also love Ana White, she and her husband build beautiful tiny houses and her creative furniture designs are downright awesome.  Not only is she a bad ass builder in Alaska, she makes her designs available for free … how sweet is that!

Now I patiently wait for dry ground and slip slide my way through our frozen landscape on my Trek to Tiny.

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Beautiful sunrise on Lake Pend Oreille

Hope you all feel loved on this Valentines Day and everyday …

Hillary D.

 

Freak Out!

Freak Out!

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.   Steve Jobs

I spend my days with teenagers, lots of teenagers. When sickness settles in the area I am sure to be exposed.  Sometimes you get lucky and avoid all the nastiness and other times it just can’t be avoided.  I’ve been home from work for a couple of days so that tells you where my luck ran out.  I’m a little stir crazy with time to think, and this project, the deconstruction of my life in order to reassemble it into something new has its moments.  Times of pure excitement and energy to move forward and other less enticing periods of panic and fear.  I’ve been here before, fearful of change,  because what if the outcome is worse than the current status?  I know there are people out there that think I’m crazy for wanting to live in a tiny house, and there are days that I believe them.  In those quiet spaces where I can hear myself think, the voice that resides in my comfort zone gets loud and sounds something like this…

“You’ll hate living in a small space.”

“This is a crazy idea.”

“What a stupid waste of time and money.”

“You’re not smart enough or strong enough to pull this off.”

“What if this is a giant disaster and mistake.”

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The sentry that has guarded my door for years gives me courage.

This grand step into a tiny house is not something being forced upon me. I could easily continue on with life as I know it, making safe, well-traveled adjustments as needed.  There are a lot of moving pieces designing this future lifestyle, the actual house sometimes seems the most straightforward.  When the voice of fear is taking over my head, I take a deep Ujjayi ocean breath and think about what is good.

  1. The number of discarded items is growing steadily, over 1200 items so far and I don’t miss any of them.
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My entire laundry room and garage is starting to look like this…   big “FREEcyle”  sale in the spring!

2.   I’m taking better care of myself striving for greater mental and physical stamina.

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YUM.

3.  My emotions are open to whatever they need to be.

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Happy Girl.
  1. I have moments of that “peace that passes all understanding” which indicates to me that I am spiritually on the right track.
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A higher power leads the way.

I think the fear is attached to the subtle hints of the spring that is coming soon…a little more light everyday, much friendlier winter temperatures and lots of birdsong.  Spring will also bring action.

1.The purchase of a trailer…I haven’t figured that one out yet, but have done my research and am narrowing it down.  Still have a couple of local options to explore.

2. Quotes on a material list … I sorta have one of those.

3.   Decisions on windows and front door so framing details can be worked out.

4.  Figuring out my “power budget” so I can price out a solar system.

4.  The organization of the build site …

AKKK … the list goes on and on,  opening the door wide for doubt. I haven’t invested much in the way of money yet.

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Plans and resources
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Love these!

The greatest investment has come in the countless hours going into research and design. I’ve taped an outline of the house inside my house and am feeling out the movement of 286 sqft … and loving the design challenges!  I doodled the featured photo while on a beach in Mexico years ago, I must have needed reminders back then as well.  Fear is a giant brick wall slowing down everything in my path. Time to climb over the fear as the Trek to Tiny gains altitude.

Remember friends … kindness begins at home!

Hillary D.

Dishwater Tears

Dishwater Tears

This winter of snowdrifts and deep cold has been a blessing.  Like all big winter years I’ve had some challenges, my furnace became stingy with heat output and the hot water heater took note and is withholding hot water.   I even climbed up in to a very awkward attic space to look at the furnace (thank you yoga!) thinking there might be an obvious part lying on the attic insulation.  There wasn’t,  and if there was I wouldn’t have the faintest idea what to do next, but it was an adventure!  I have no idea how that furnace will someday be replaced with its given location.

These normal home owner issues always bring my head back to the tiny house, and the potential issues that water and heat might face.  The extra time indoors has allowed me to research and plan. It reminds me of pre-trip planning when I’m traveling somewhere new, it’s part of the journey and can save you many headaches before arriving to the destination.  If I had jumped right into building the plans I had purchased I wouldn’t have the redesign that better suits me.

I spent my Friday night tackling the craft cupboard, which holds many clues that we were a former home schooling family.  How wonderful that I work for a school that has two amazing art classrooms, a pottery room AND a Makerspace…I know exactly where all these cast-off art supplies can be put to good use.

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Piles of extra art supplies

Doing dishes over winter break started to get under my skin.  The dishwasher seemed to be endlessly full as well as the sink and the dish drainer … we have too many dishes. I emptied all the cupboards and started a new discard corner in my daughters empty room.  My kids will each receive a box of really pretty items when it comes time to set up their own living space.

I won’t have a dishwasher in the tiny house, so after bringing down the sheer number of dishes we use I decided to go on a dishwasher ban to see how washing dishes by hand day in and day out sits with me.   I ask Alexa to play some music, light a candle on the windowsill, and fill the sink with hot soapy water (when the hot water heater is feeling generous).  Turning this daily chore into an opportunity to think has turned doing dishes into therapeutic motion, there are days the dishwater mixes with tears.

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My therapy office.

I’ll be just fine without the modern dishwasher, both my dishes and my emotions will get a good scrubbing.  I will however need a good supply of this awesome product as my hands take the brunt of cold and hot.

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The best hand cream ever!

Thanks for all the great support and feedback as I share this trek, looking forward to posting my first construction photos in the summer sun.

Be Well Friends.

Hillary D.

The Good Life

The Good Life

My lovely, bitterly cold winter break has come to a close and I feel energized and rested all at once, which I believe is how a vacation should leave one feeling.  The weather is North Idaho cold. Snow drifts are growing with every shovel, plow and windstorm that blows through.  It’s beautiful outside with all the sparkly snow and sunshine and it entices me to enter into the scene outside my window. The icy reality sends me back indoors to my steaming mug of hot tea.

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Everyone has ice sculptures hanging from the house.

The gift of days and days of uninterrupted time was priceless.  I’ve taken great pleasure in the ordinary; cooking, cleaning up the place, reading, continuing to downsize,  and joining fellow winter travelers who are healing bodies bent from shoveling snow in the hot yoga room.  There was leisurely time for meals with friends, long phone conversations, nights of rowdy music and dancing, board games and hanging with my boys.  My dog is in heaven, he follows me through the house so happy I’m here and he learned how to share his space with a puppy.  The school I work for has taken on a Golden Retriever pup who will become a therapy dog (I think she already is!) and I co-parented her for an energetic week.

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Vita and Goliath

This was an awesome opportunity to redesign the tiny house to better suit me and I dove headfirst into Google SketchUp, learning the program and having so much fun living virtually in my future home.  The efforts reinforced to me again that a simple life is a very, very good life.

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The tiny house is taking shape…I love it!

My unstructured days are coming to a close. School resumes and we jump right in to a busy 2nd trimester. My task will be to carry the energy and renewed focus into my open, bright, puppy filled office.  Spring is slumbering under the frozen landscape, but the daffodils are there and will make their grand entry signaling a new season bringing a whole new trek.

It’s storming again, stay warm friends.

Hillary D.