Granny’s Glassware

Granny’s Glassware

Don’t let the cupboards overflowing with beautiful china and  glassware give the wrong impression, we are far from delicate here in North Idaho.  You have to love the four seasons to make this home. Especially the deep, white, wind-blown, freezing landscape that arrived this Presidents Day long weekend.

I was on a roll with the tiny house project. Excited because I discovered the house heats up quickly with a small propane heater. I think the little wood stove is going to keep me warmer than I need on some days, but barefoot yoga in a toasty tiny house on a frigid day sits ok with me. I love getting the place warmed up, find a playlist and fire up the tools. The installation of the interior tongue and groove wall boards has been highly gratifying and it’s beautiful!

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Priming boards while it snows.
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This is the fun stuff!

Since I have yet to shovel a pathway to the house and need to bring in another load of lumber,  and the highs are hovering in the high teens, I work on the downsizing … always working on the downsizing, it seems never-ending.  My grandmother’s glassware threw me for a bit of a loop. It’s pretty depression era glass and it’s been in a dark cupboard for years.  The 2018 Freebie Project is in full swing and I have plenty to offer up but sometimes I have to work through thoughts about some of the stuff.  I surprised myself how moving this process can be at times, you’ve got to purge both the item and the feelings attached to it.  In the end it is both a physical and an emotional cleansing, and it feels really good!  The depression era glass items are finding their way to the right people who love their new piece.

The loft structure is next and I am quite certain the pull to spend a night there will happen quite easily.  I’ll have to adult-proof it before I do that, no falling out of the loft!  Water tanks and other plumbing needs are on their way and I’ll be connecting the plumbing dots.  In the meantime I enjoy the process and live these last days with my children at home. Those three little kids were attached to my hip for what felt like forever and now they are off to live their young adult lives.

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These days are long gone.

 

The next adventure begins in March and looks like something I’m going to love, a little mobile home! Summer will be busy with graduation, finishing the tiny house and moving, so touring the Olympic Peninsula before the summer crowds descend will be sweet, even if it rains … it’s the Northwest, pack a raincoat.

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#vanlife

Our country is grieving and speaking out for gun law reformation. I don’t know the answer to all the complicated pieces, but I do know we all have the same moments every single day to Be Kind.  Start with yourself and spread it wide.

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Be well friends,

Hillary D.

Off Grid

Off Grid

Since closing the tiny house front door, I’ve gone off-grid for a bit.  It seemed as though every creative juice I possessed had been sucked through a straw with a crack in it.  I was elated to be closed in and suddenly really pretty tired.  Time for a rest.

This time of year for me is a dark, snowy opportunity to pull things in close, with lots of lovely time at home.  I did visit a truly off-grid family.  Mark and Krista Webber and their son are living in a home that they built and is completely self sustainable.  It was fun to head off  the beaten path, navigating downed trees to hear their stories and glean information. The home is cozy and comfortable tucked in along a maze of snowy dirt roads.  While my little house will initially be connected to the grid, fully self-sustainable is a good goal to work towards.  Next time you’re cruising YouTube check them out at Living A Sustainable Dream

A quick blast to Denver for Christmas was a milestone as I haven’t been back home for the holidays in almost 20 years.  My sister’s beautiful home was full of family, lights, music, rowdy games of Farkle and endless good food.

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Christmas Eve on E. 19th Street

We took Bill on a tour of downtown Denver in -8 degree temps that for me was a highlight.  It had been a long time since I’ve walked those city streets and it was fun to roam downtown ducking into the library and shops to warm up, stopping at the train station for beer and food, riding the 16th Street Mall trains and seeing the buildings my father designed still standing.  Watching the homeless brave the brutal temperatures and settle in for the night had me wishing I had a vat of hot soup to serve up.

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Union Station at Christmas

A quiet house greeted me in Idaho as I had none of the kids here for the holidays, another first!  I soaked up the quiet house and read an entire book, I haven’t done that in ages.  Took naps, walked the little dog, hit some yoga classes, shoveled a lot of snow and planned next steps. I purchased lighting, a propane stove top, a propane tankless hot water heater, and a urine diverter … we can talk more about that down the road!  While the down time was much-needed and appreciated there was an undercurrent of anxious anticipation as I wait for the tiny house momentum and the climate to amp back up.

The next best option with the deep snow and cold was to continue the downsizing, it seems never-ending.  As the year came to a close my resolution for the new year was to learn to be more generous.  I’ve always been great giver of my time but I tend to have a tighter fist with my money and my things.  Looking around my home I could see how blessed I’ve been by the generosity of others and so I made a decision to start giving things away.  One item a day, posted on a local FB site and given to the first person that responds.  It quickly became apparent that this was way more fun than the dreaded garage sale and I was getting to meet all sorts of people.  I’ve managed to clear out dishes, games, piano books, china, artwork, houseplants, jewelry, etc…all given to whoever the item fills a need for. The 2018 Freebie Project had begun.

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The 2018 Freebie Project

It baffles me how my belongings have a grip on my psyche of well-being.  It truly is a battle sometimes to let go, but what I am learning is that once I’ve done it the battle is over and it gets easier and easier to do.  As the extraneous items leave my home it is becoming clearer as to what items I truly love and will appreciate in my 300 square feet I’ll call home.  Goliath keeps wandering into every shot of the items I am posting, I wonder if he’s wondering if he’s next.

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Goliath gets in on the action.

Many blessings to all of you for this coming year, may it bring you peace and clarity as you architect your own road through the maze of life.

Happy trekkin’ …

Hillary D.

Building The Wall

Building The Wall

 

We’ve heard a lot about building a wall in our country this year, a giant wall that was to be paid for by the very ones it is intended to keep out. I spent the majority of my summer building four walls, paid for by me and is only intended to keep me in and the weather out.  My walls have tested my emotions just as Trump’s wall has pushed this country’s emotional buttons.

All those tiny house vlogs on YouTube I love so much, well I’m thinking there has been A LOT of editing going on as no one films the reality of those days when you want to throw in the hammer and give up.  The construction of the floor wasn’t nearly as trying as building walls in pieces that will have to be lifted up and placed on the trailer.  A giant jigsaw puzzle built out of 2×4’s.

The base plates were non-negotiable, 5/8″ bolts tie them to the trailer flange and there is zero wiggle room, they either fit or they don’t.  By sill plate #4 I was able to drill 5 out of 6 holes on the first try, this felt like an amazing accomplishment…even if those holes come back to haunt me.  Wall #1 was easy, not the tallest or the longest and has no windows, but it attaches to a longer wall that spans the wheel well and ties together.  The layout was simple but then came the scariest tool yet, the framing gun.  Something about 3 1/4″ nails shot at a high velocity made me very cautious, very nervous and slow.  When I would share my fear of the framing gun with people they all seemed to have stories about the guy who nailed his hand to the wall or ended up with a nail in some other soft body part.  These anecdotes did not ease my fears.

The walls began to stack up.  Some we could build on the trailer, others we built in the carport, and finished walls were moved to pallets out in the yard.  The tiny house literally was taking over, especially when the 12 windows and front door were delivered.  The neighbors on either side have been troopers, this project has actually brought everyone out of their house and yards to wander over and check the progress and get to know each other a little better.  We’ve had everything from homebaked goods, hard cider, tools and knowledge shared with us.  Neighbor Bob even relocated the trailer and leveled it when we were ready to raise the walls.

Walls built and stacked in the carport.
Walls built and stacked in the yard.
Trailer relocated and leveled with a wall ready to raise.

I’ve had to keep goals in front of me all summer, and constant reminders that I learn so much through failure.  Seasoned builders will chuckle at the amount of time it took us to build four walls, but I’ve taken apart as many boards as I’ve put together and chalked it up to experience earned the hard way.  In the end, through all the trials and tribulations I learned valuable lessons, the walls are done and my family is still talking to each other!  I was proud of the teamwork exhibited to make this happen and Bill gets a huge kudos for all the time, tools, land, and space he has contributed to this effort, I couldn’t of done it without him.

Bill braving the only “not quite tall enough” ladder we had.

So on this frosty Saturday in September, good friends showed up and we have the walls raised.  They all signed their names and well wishes on various studs, and I will always know their presence is there and be grateful for the help. There is still a considerable amount of work to be done and weather is moving in.  With rain/snow in the forecast, the next push is to get the roof on and the structure dried in.  Knowing this won’t happen before the first raindrops fall we protected the floor with a solid sheet of plastic that can be cut out when we’re enclosed.

I’ll leave you with a couple photos from our one and only camping/backpacking trip of the summer, but it was a great reminder of the life I love and by living in a simple and small abode I will have greater opportunities for the wide and wonderful world.

Keep on Trekking,

Hillary D.

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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.

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.