Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Tiny House Summer Camp 4 - Another Fantastic Weekend

About a month ago, Dan and I were on the road, all giddy and looking forward to summer camp. 

I never thought I would say a sentence like that after the age of 14. Ha! But seriously! SUMMER CAMMP! This awesome event is hosted by Deek Diedriksen (and family and friends) in the woods of Vermont each September, and is officially one of our first yearly traditions as a couple. 

We attended last year for the first time, and we had an absolute blast! There was so much to explore, with over 10 micro-shelters (and counting) scattered throughout the site, guest speakers from every walk of life happily having candid chats with attendees, and multiple projects going on at the same time, ensuring that everyone could play as major or minor a part in creating each new tiny building as they desired. 

To be around so many people with similar passions and goals is always a rejuvenating experience for me. Dan and I have met some really great friends through these weekends including Ethan Waldman, author of Tiny House Decisions, Vera Struck of Silver Bullet Tiny House, Palo Coleman an incredible artist and woodworking extraordinaire, and many others like Roy, Marty, Jeremy and Jen, and of course the Diedricksen brothers! 

Each year Deek seems to take things up a notch. Not only were there three different micro shelters being built, campers had the chance to work on an actual tiny house foundation! Jeremy and Jen brought their trailer and began work on the base of their future home. Vera also brought her tiny house this year!

The eclectic spread of guest speakers also included someone I particularly enjoyed this year- Matt, also known as Animal Man Survivor. He did several presentations throughout the weekend ranging from how to build basic shelters with nothing but what's laying around the forest floor, to basic fire starter implements, and my favorite, an edibles walk. This guy is an overflowing fountain on information!

Perhaps our favorite part of these weekends is hearing from attendees after we do our talk. Dan and I learned the we are kind of the comic relief slash inspiring and relatable speakers. Fine with us! We both enjoy making people laugh and breaking down intimidating aspects of the tiny house journey into more approachable steps. It also gives us an opportunity to bring light to subjects we are especially passionate about, like the environment and debt free living. I always make a point to address the fact that we live without typical plumbing and share how important it is to be mindful of what's happening with water in this world. It is our most precious resource, and it is being polluted, privatized, and completely overlooked. 


Four or five attendees made a point to pull us aside and tell us that they found our talk very inspiring and they were now considering designing their future tiny houses without running water, or at the very least, minimizing features that use running water. I was over the moon! It's wonderful to know that our words, like ripple effects, can spread new perspectives and shed light on important subjects to several very different people, who then share with even more people. 

Needless to say, Dan and I highly recommend joining in the fun at next year's Tiny House Summer Camp! I know we sure will!

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Animal Survivor Man's digs for the weekend..

We love you Vera!

Laughing as Dan struggles with the camera!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Fellow RI Tinies Unite!

We had the great pleasure of touring Justin and Jenny's nearly completed tiny house!

In late July, Dan and I linked up with our fellow RI tiny house friends, Justin and Jenny, to see how their tiny house has come along. We helped them out for a day last October, check out the post here. It has certainly been one hell of a year for the pair, better known as Mr & Mrs Tiny- and after over 10 years together as a couple, they made it official and got married! At the same time, they finally moved into their tiny after three years of living in an RV to make the dream a reality. That's a whole lot of awesomeness packed into the first half of 2016. Speaking of awesomeness, you should see this place!
Congrats, you two!!!! :D

Much like our place, and many others we have seen, their tiny house holds many eclectic, personalized details and stories. My favorite piece was absolutely the showcase of the house, the kitchen counter top. It's hard to notice much else, at first, as the gorgeous live edges and contrasting grains grab the eye immediately.


Jenny told us the great story behind this lovely piece too! It was a bar built in her grandmother's basement by her father. After several years of no use- and Jenny eyeballing it all along- they snagged the major components and transformed it into a spacious, functional kitchen counter.

We got to catch up with Jenny (and their dog that spends way too long staring directly into your soul- aka Benny) at the house - chatting and taking a bunch of great photos. Then we headed on over to Jenny's work, an awesome restaurant called Chomp, and met up with Justin for some booze and good grub. I know we don't see them that often, but I genuinely cherish this pair. They found us, at the beginning of our tiny house journey, and were enthusiastic supporters throughout. Just as we moved into our tiny house, they were moving into their RV. It was really awesome to share similarities and parallels to our story when they came for dinner, check out the post here. Not only that, but they have been super supportive of our business venture into gluten free and dairy free baked goods. One or both would show up at farmer's markets each week without fail. That's two damn good people right there. <3 

It was so great to catch up with these two. We love their dynamic as a couple- Jenny's contagious, never ending bubbly energy coupled with Justin's steady, even keel and genuine love of building tiny. I've come to realize it truly does a tiny houser good to be around fellow tinies. We needed it more than we realized. We are doubly excited to attend Tiny House Summer Camp 4, hosted by Deek Diedricksen and bros, for that very reason. 

 We headed home that night with our spirits high, our hearts full, and a completely refreshed appreciation for the life we live. Dan and I wish nothing but the best for these two, and if you'd like to follow along as they near the completion of their tiny home, check out their blog or follow them (Mr and Mrs) on Facebook. 

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Goodies from the baked goods biz! 

LOVE these two!!! :D

Friday, July 15, 2016

Mid-Year Update

The 100% reused outdoor shower/garden!
The last day of June was a rare day.

Hence, the just-as-rare post- ha! Life has been moving along swiftly, tossing a continuous string of challenges and chores our way. My lack of posts is in no way indicative of my level of passion for this way of life. We are on year three of the tiny off-grid life and we have settled into our rhythms nicely. It's to the point where it does not usually occur to us that how we live is any different. Often times, a lively conversation with a new fan of tiny houses gets us to rub our eyes and refocus. After each encounter like that, we find ourselves reveling for a moment in how unique this lifestyle is and how thankful we are that we dove in.

So we are still loving this tiny homestead, but life has a way of pulling you in directions you couldn't possibly plan. I have slowly started to master the one-woman-band that keeps TLB rolling. As a result, just about all my energy and focus has gone into this venture. Not much time to play around at the Pod. :/  I'm quickly outgrowing my current production space, and that's a good problem to have! I've got a couple of different ideas on how to get us to the next level, and I'm excited to share them when I know for sure! 

Back to the last day of June... It was truly a rare day for me. I had an open morning and afternoon before baking that night. I also had an open mind! Lately it seems that my every thought is somehow related to business needs, but on this day, that voice was silent. I had a break from business brain. I stood on the deck, breathing the fresh air, and memorizing details of our lovely view.

Suddenly, inspiration struck and I felt like building. I knew exactly what to work on: outdoor shower 2.0! Some of you may remember the cool, re-claimed shower stall we made with fallen timbers. Well, our timing really sucked. We completed the shower last September and it promptly got cold outside. Through the winter, we looked at it wistfully, all covered in snow. Finally, spring was upon us! Hooray! Showers at the house! Wrong again. It's been an incredibly windy year- which I will come back to- and an especially fierce wind storm in April thrashed the stall to pieces. I was so peeved that I apparently needed a two month time-out before trying again. 

Humungo compost heap, full of freely sprouted veggies!

You're comin' with me, tomato.
I set up some music and got to work. I certainly wasn't about to pay for materials, so I looked around at what I had to work with. I pulled out the hammer and the drill, going about things lazily, as it was a hot sunny day. Using 100% reused or reclaimed materials, and no measuring tape or saw, I put together our new shower stall. 

I didn't plant a garden this spring, which makes me sad. This spurred me to incorporate a living wall to provide privacy....eventually. HA I used our self-watering buckets (also 100% reused) and scouted out some veggies in the farm compost heap. No buying seedlings for this gal! I got three tomatoes, some kind of squash, and a cucumber. It was a bit of a rough transplant, but they all made it, and are growing nicely now. 

Garden just transplanted...looking sad.
After finishing the shower stall, thoroughly burning my back, and soaking in sweat- I took the first, and oh so glorious, shower outdoors. Let me say- it is freakin' great to shower outdoors....at home! Not having to go elsewhere (gym, etc) to shower is quite a treat after that two month time-out. There's just something about bathing in fresh, open air. The other night, I showered under the stars and went to bed feeling more refreshed and more relaxed than I have in months. 

Aside from the outdoor shower, we have been doing little touch ups inside- replacing bunny nibbled trim and refinishing cabinet doors. It's amazing how just a few key details can make the place look super new again. These touch ups were inspired by a very exciting project we will be doing, and I can't wait to share more details! I think you all will be pretty excited! 

Big changes are ahead for these two peas and their pod. It seems like no coincidence that it has been such a windy year already- we are certainly feeling the winds of change swaying our life in new, undreamed of directions. I find myself holding tight to every moment before letting it pass. I understand that change is an inevitable part of life, but it won't stop me from wishing we could stay just like this. 

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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Our Tiny House Conference Experience!

Dan and I had an absolute blast at this year's Tiny House Conference held in Asheville, North Carolina!

Now that I have successfully blacked out the travel both to and from NC, what I have left is a glowing memory of grand ol' times with some super awesome and inspiring people. We got to reconnect with folks we had met through previous events, like our buddy Ethan Waldman, who was there as a speaker, giving great info and tips on a wide variety of topics. Check out his latest e-book Tiny House Decisions. Then there was Amy Henion, one of the ring masters of the conference- we met her at the same event as Ethan, a tiny house workshop hosted the previous year by Deek over at relaxshacks.com  Our favorite straw-bale workshop host EVER was also there! Andrew Morrison is also pretty big in the tiny house scene. They created the hOMe house. He and his wife run Tiny House Build and teach workshops. He, too, did several sessions related to building techniques and safety.

We also had the pleasure of meeting several tiny house folks we have known through the nets, but never chatted with face to face! It was really nice getting to meet those people, like Matt and Laura of 120squarefeet.com - who were a serious source of inspiration for us early in our build! We also finally met, Ryan Mitchell of The Tiny Life - and also the man behind the conference! And it was his book we are featured in! Tiny Houses Built with Recycled Materials We also got to meet Kristie Wolfe of Tiny House On The Prairie - she has a number of very cool little get-aways available on Air BnB!

Needless to say it was a weekend full of great exchanges, incredible energy and enthusiasm, fantastic and fruitful sessions by many great speakers, and of course LOTS OF TINY HOUSES TO TOUR! There was even the JustRightBus, one of my favorite bus conversions- and a couple of box truck conversions! 

Being a part of the book panel was also a lot of fun and very energizing. The room was packed with people who wanted to hear from all of us and ask their questions and seek advice. I think we all enjoyed that panel as there was a lot of great discussion from practical approaches to reuse to the greater impact a space can create when it is made of so many smaller stories.

There was so much going on during the conference that we honestly didn't have time to tour all the THOWs! We did get to see over half of them, so we were pretty happy. My favorite was the "FitNest" which was a tiny house centered around a physically active lifestyle. They had a rock wall on the back side, pull up bars, heavy ropes, and more. I'm excited to follow Mike aka Coach Vivo of VIVOtraingingsystems, as they travel around the country inspiring others toward a more active lifestyle.

And now- a bunch more photos! I will post all of our trip pictures over on our Facebook page. 

Thanks for reading!
To see all our photos from the Conference, check out our page!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Another New Year - Another Big Ol' Bag of Opportunities!

Each year seems to top the past when it comes to experiences and opportunities related to living tiny. 

There has been SO MUCH brewing below the surface over here! Cool videos, book features, conference invitations, and more! Despite all this awesome news, we have been relatively quiet on the blog front, mainly for lack of time due to the new business- which seems to be doing pretty well!

Earlier this month, Dan and I had some fun at the Fuller Craft Museum, as we helped and presented at another of Deek's tiny house hands on workshops. It was pretty neat to build in the nice open space provided at the museum, and then step out for an art exhibit break at any point. There were so many cool things on display, and one of the structures created at the workshop will be on display outside the museum for everyone to explore! 

Once again, we met some really great people and became better acquainted with friends made before. We got to see Dom of Jamaica Cottage shop once again. We met him at Deek's Tiny House Summer Camp 3 - and they were filming for a little documentary on his work and his business. He owns Jamaica Cottage shop out of Jamaica, VT. He builds great little structures, on wheels or on the ground, and creates a design based on your needs. As a thank you for being a part of the video, we get to snag a weekend getaway in one of their cabins! Walking distance from the slopes and the hiking trails. Sounds like heaven. 

To check out the video- which we were featured in- follow this link! Full disclosure, it had been a long day, and the drinks were flowing! Haha

In other news, we are very excited to say that we are also featured in an upcoming book that takes a look at tiny houses made with re-claimed materials! The book will be released on May 1, but is available for pre-order on Amazon.  We hope to get our complementary copy in the mail soon. Yippee!! And another amazing opportunity that blossomed from this was an invitation to be a panel speaker at this year's Tiny House Conference in Ashville, NC! We are SO EXCITED TO GO!

Thanks to all the travel points and miles from my old job, we were able to get flights and hotels for quite a steal. Plus, how often does an opportunity like this come along! We had always wanted to go, and now, with a chance to speak about reclaimed materials?! Heck yes! 
On another note, our good friend, Vera, which we met through Deek's workshops, runs a really cool website called Silver Bullet Tiny House. She has been a major advocate and presence, especially in the New England area and knows a lot of the bigger personalities in the tiny house realm. At the beginning of the year, she touched base with us about sending in a recommendation that we be speakers at this year's Tiny House Jamboree! AHH! Now, this is still just in the consideration phase. We won't know if we have been selected for another month or two, I imagine. See what I mean by this year's opportunities being nuts?! And there's more...

Finally, I was also asked to write a contributing piece to an upcoming tiny house book- aiming to be one of the most comprehensive books to date on the subject. The book will address all angles from philosophical (that's my angle), to social, to common considerations in construction.  I was beyond honored to be selected, and saw this as a very serious undertaking. I read back through every blog entry and article interview we ever did. I took incessant notes. I wrote and re-wrote from so many angles before finally closing in on what was most important in our story. When I finally finished the piece, I was ready to go buy myself a bottle of bubbly - so what if it was 2pm on a Wednesday? It felt so good, after 3 months of work, to hit save for the final time!

 My words will be PUBLISHED IN A BOOK THAT THOUSANDS WILL READ!!! I was excited just to write a few articles for Tiny House Magazine - but this is the BEES KNEES!

It took a while to wrestle the words out, but I finally did, and I am quite proud of what I have written. Dan absolutely loved it, smiling throughout, and then genuinely melting as he finished the last few paragraphs. It's a deeply personal look into our adventure, but the lessons we learned can provide valuable insight to all. I hope our story resonates with readers and gives them a little food for thought. 

Not so private of a shower...

As for the actual tiny house- all is well! We have seen quite a swing in weather over the last couple weeks. One day we are buried in snow, the next, we are back to bare ground and howling winds and rain! Take a look at what happened to our outdoor shower during the most recent storm!! Good to know it's flexible, because that isn't exactly a private space right there. lol  It went back into shape just fine, so we won't need to build it again. Thank goodness.

We did another small re-claimed wood project in January as well. We made my Dad a table for his birthday. Of course, it was made primarily with pallets, and it came out pretty well! 

Thanks for reading!