Monday, October 20, 2014

Annnnnd We're Back!

One of many TH inspired pieces of decor. :)
What an amazing whirlwind!

The past couple weeks have been jam-packed with wonderfulness. Major milestones, long time friends uniting, and more. As many of you know- Dan and I GOT MARRIED on the 10th! Wooo!
It was nothing short of surreal. Every bit of it was perfect- (well I was a little late and had to rush through photos, but I have every confidence that the photographer got some great stuff!) everyone could not stop gushing about the decor, the ceremony, and I must say- I felt like some kind of celebrity. :) I was greeted with gasps as people saw me for the first time- and that elevated me to a level somewhere well beyond bliss. I wanted to look unforgettable that day, as I married the most amazing man I've ever known, and I think that was accomplished. ;)


One of the outdoor bouquets. 

Another milestone that kind of got glossed over in the chaos- October 1st marked one full year of living in the Pod! It's hard for us to believe most days. It still feels like we just got ourselves moved in. Even a year later, we are still working out different details. Where to best store things, how to manage the mess (I think we need to invoke a no shoes policy) and of course, we are still working on that dang siding. It has taken a backseat over the past few months, but we need to do something to protect and seal it before winter! 
A phone camera shot from later in the night- I'm sporting my reception dress here. 


Another, slightly less related event, after returning from my wedding, I also went back to work at our brand new office building and I LOVE IT. Not only did they purchase and renovate (not wreck) a building, but the place, like all our other offices is beautiful, inspiring, and full of art. But that's not even the best part! With this new building, they are putting their green initiative into full swing. 




No trash cans at every desk! No throw away containers in the cafeteria! Centralized recycling stations every 15 desks or so. And an AWESOME fitness center! There are some whiners already. God forbid you have to get up and walk 20 feet or so to throw something away. We all need to move more! It makes sense! Our brains, our bodies, all work better when we move more throughout the day. Not to mention we are choosing to be responsible and respectful of the ONLY HOME WE HAVE. I hope all the initiatives stick.










EEEEEEEE!!!



REAL DISHES- no more plastic salad containers!


Okay, so maybe this conference isn't so bad. Roof top pool!
I am writing to you all, as I sit in my hotel in Phoenix. Yes, not even a week after being wed, I am off on a four day conference. I thought it would be fine, and in reality it is- I'll live, but being away from my hubby the very next weekend kind of sucks. And I lose a weekend of working on house stuff.  (I left early Saturday morning.)




You can see the top right corner still unsanded.
The whole wall looked like that. :/
But Dan is still home and was very enthused about putting in some serious hours while I was away. We have plenty to do- no surprise there. We have to clean up the siding that has been weather beaten and started to gray over the last couple months. It's been a sore spot for us both, each time we pull into our driveway and see the once pretty blonde siding all mucky and black/gray. Over Saturday and Sunday, Dan was able to sand the full end wall of our house. I am elated. It was weighing on us both, and I can't wait to get home and see it myself!

Perhaps a more immediate need is to install the direct vent propane heater we recently purchased. Since we are moving to solar power, electric heat in the winter is a definite no go. There is less sun, less power, and it just wouldn't make any sense! We hee'd and haw'd over propane versus a wood stove, and although we both really love and prefer the wood stove, we had to be sensible. First- the TRULY American companies I found that produce quality stoves in a size we can use are all back ordered until the spring- second, any stoves that were available required safety dimensions that just would not work for us. If the stove has to be at least 3 feet from everything, it would be smack in the middle of our main floor! Nope. 


The second aspect of wood stoves for tiny houses is the fact that they are a lot of work. Not just cutting, splitting, and hauling wood into the house or cleaning up the ash on a regular basis, but the fact that a stove that small can only hold so much wood. Finding the perfect placement of the flue can help with how fast the wood burns, but lets face it, if you have two tiny logs that are 15 inches long, they will only burn for so long.  We would need to be able to tend the stove every hour at least, and since we both have full time schedules, that's not a possibility. I grew up with wood heat and loved it. The kind of heat produced from wood stoves is unparalleled, and I like that it was very DRY heat. We are worried about the moisture loads we dealt with last year (only two or three instances) and the idea of wood heat drying that place right out was nice. But then I thought about our lungs. My parents had two huge humidifiers going at all times, and even a cast iron kettle full of water on top of the stove. We have neither the space nor the power considerations to handle this....so propane it is.



We still have not given up on the idea- maybe later on, if we find a great stove that can hold its own throughout the day, or one of us can be around or close enough to stop in and tend the stove, we would consider it. 

Next up after the stove install is solar power. We have set the panels to the correct angle, collected all the parts we need (I hope), dug the trench for the power line leading up to the house, and now we just need to suck it up and hook it up. I will be reviewing the schematics when I have free moments throughout this week.

Well that's all for now! I have to get ready for day two of the conference, but I promise we will get back in the swing of regular posts!

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Thursday, September 25, 2014

CHECK OUT OUR SPOT ON CUSTOMMADE.COM!!!

WE ARE SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS!!!

The article and video are finally here folks! Check out our interview and showcase of our home over at custommade.com!

The photos and video Danny took are amazing. They did the most fabulous job splicing together the highlights of our interview, making us sound so smart! haha Anyways! That is all! Check it out people!!!! WOOOOO!!!



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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Surprises Are Awesome

"It does not matter how slowly you go, as long as you do not stop." -Confucius

Those are words I need to repeat over and over these days. Life is a whirlwind as we count down to the big day, and of course, the weather is turning, which adds another level of urgency to our house projects. Another quick post today- just to keep everyone updated!

This past weekend held a couple of wonderful surprises. First, a surprise bridal shower! If not for a little toddler explaining to me that "the bridal shower is supposed to be a secret", I would have been completely bowled over--but even knowing it was going to happen didn't prepare me for the event. I wasn't expecting the sheer number of ladies that came together to celebrate with me. I am truly humbled,  and over-whelmed with gratitude, warmth, and love. I have a wonderful family, and soon I will be joining one just as lovely. Judy, Beth, and Julia- thank you so much for all the work you put in! It was evident that this day was thought over time and again. There were so many little details that truly made it a day unique to me- including cute little quiz poems and a gluten free cake! YUM! To everyone who came- THANK YOU, THANK YOU! The support and love I felt in that room was amazing. I will cherish that day forever. :)

SO many ladies! :) Thank you!!

The second surprise was actually getting some work done on the solar panels. HA! On Saturday, about mid-morning I said, "I'd be happy if we just got the grass cut back and one row of panels taken off the racking." Setting us up for a small, non-intimidating goal seems to be the key to our success lately. After we ran a few errands in town, and grabbed a few supplies- including the large guage wire and conduit we need for our solar, then we came back and got started.

Don't let it fool you- that thing is evil.

Dan whacked back all the grass growing in front of our first row, and then also cleared a path for where our conduit will be put in the ground. Meanwhile, I faced one of my fears and did some poison ivy clean up. Nightmarish visions of me covered in blisters coming down the aisle kept my eyes sharp. I wore latex gloves over work gloves and had long pants and sleeves to help too. I plucked quite a pile and managed to clear out most of the ivy that had grown into the space of our panels. There is still some under the row we need to continue working on, but I wasn't about to work in an area that required crawling. NO THANK YOU. I will wait until the panels are out of my way!

 We then removed the first set of panels. It went pretty quick, so we decided to make the cuts we needed to the racking. We made our marks on each side of each post, double checking to make sure they lined up on either side, and then Dan carefully cut the lines using a skill saw. 

On Sunday, after my wonderful shower, I was feeling pretty amped and decided I wanted to keep going with what we started Saturday. I quickly changed into pants and headed back out. We cut the pieces we needed to mount on the new angle, and then replaced the lengthwise boards that were there to begin with. After securing all that, we put our panels back up. It felt SO GOOD to see one row finally fixed. We decided to take the panels off the second row too.

Dan took the length wise boards off and now, we just need to mark and cut the posts and both sets will have the right angle! Woohoo! Also- as for the solar parts saga, I got sick of waiting for someone else to do their job basically, so I called the corporate headquarters of the company that made specific said part. It was a breath of fresh air to hear someone say, "Oh, I'm sorry that this happened! It should not have taken so long for that. What is your address, I will mail it out today." They didn't ask for any proof of purchase, any account number, they just HELPED ME. That part arrived today and now we can put the whole thing together.


One of Dan's friends has a brother who is an electrical engineer, and the two might be coming over to help us next weekend! I was beginning to think that sun power wasn't going to happen until after the wedding, but now it's looking like there might be a shot!! WOOO!

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That angle looks better!

.........

YAY!!!








Thursday, September 4, 2014

Progress: An Inch at a Time

Our activity over the next month will undoubtedly be minimal as we close in on the big day.

That being said, I will try my best to keep in touch and keep posting! They might be micro-posts in comparison to our usual content, but hey! We're still here- still doing the tiny house thang- we just need to divert more attention elsewhere for the time being.

Sooo- Dan's truck broke down Saturday morning, and he started his first day at RIC this week. We scrambled around to make arrangements for another car in the meantime, a tow, getting ahold of the mechanic on a holiday weekend, making sure his parking pass deal wouldn't get screwed up, and so on. Needless to say, that threw a big ol' wrench into plans we had for the weekend. I never realized just how much we use his truck when it comes to hauling basic stuff around. Collecting more pallets, getting long pieces of lumber at the store, hauling power tools from one site to the next...not to mention just not having your own set of wheels. We often split up duties, one of us will run off and do this, while the other goes there and does that. Not this weekend! So we re-adjusted.



 Among many other wedding things, we were able to mark the new/correct angle for our panels on the racking. After seeing how much we have to lop off- we were happy to learn that we can still use our racking. There are only a certain number of holes on the back side of our panels and we needed to make sure we could still fasten onto the racking at those distances. We came up with a new way to mount them once all the cuts have been made.



I'm not even sure I want to say- "We hope to work on the panels this weekend"- but I guess I just did! Progress seems to be crawling while time is flying. We are making a point to stay positive each day. We've jump started our super healthy eating once again, back to meditating, got all of our favorite supplements back on the shelf, and feeling pretty good each day. We want to look our best for the big day! And we really needed to quit it with all the take-out. It was beginning to be more of a problem than a convenience. We were feeling groggy, sluggish, cranky. It's amazing how much food can affect you. Eat garbage, feel like garbage.



Anyways! We plan to take it all in baby steps, but we really hope to take the panels off one rack and get the rack cut. Then, if there's more time in the weekend, we will try to re-mount!

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Friday, August 29, 2014

Sometimes You Just Have to Pick and Choose

It's almost September?! WHAT THE WHAT?!

Last weekend, we made the difficult decision to focus our precious free time. We have so many projects in the mix, both tiny house and wedding related, that it's become difficult to give equal attention to all. Since we are temporarily dead in the water as far as siding goes (until we get a new saw) and we are STILL waiting on some of the parts we need for solar- don't even want to talk about that- we opted to work on centerpieces for the wedding.

To our surprise and delight, we were able to build all the centerpiece stands and the favor display this past weekend!


 What a load off! 

If given too much time, I will change my mind on the design of something about a thousand times. It felt great to finally settle on a concept, create a dry run piece, find that we liked it, and then slap the others together with relative ease.

We used all recycled and leftover materials from our tiny house build- less a handful of pieces of wood- which I think really adds character and richness to our special day. We made these things together, by hand, as we will our new life. I think we spent a grand total of maybe $20 for the 14 units we created.



They are TALL and rustic and amazing. I simply cannot wait to see it all come together. We have collected a ton of wine bottles, which I have been cleaning and de-labeling. We plan to stuff them with lights and twigs, maybe ferns, or other woodsy things for additional decor. I'm pretty proud of how resourceful we are being. I will definitely share pictures when the time comes!

As for something that might actually be related to what you want to read about- haha- uhhhhh.....we bought a protractor! (To fix our panel angles.) And thanks to back to school, we got a steal of deal on the thing.




With the long weekend ahead, we plan to evaluate the change of angles to our panels, dig the trench for conduit up to the house, and maybe, just maaayyyybe, we could get the panels hooked up to the combiner box. Baby steps, people. Plus, we have more wedding things to do as well- just over a month away before these two peas make it official!



If you haven't yet, check out Issue 20 of Tiny House Magazine, hot off the *virtual* press! I've got an article in there about towing the Pod!

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Batteries = RECHARGED!

Dan and I can't thank each and every one of you enough!

After my last post, the out-pouring of advice, encouragement, and support was truly amazing. Dan and I are both touched and rejuvenated. One of the first responses was simply a link to an article written by a fellow tiny houser, breaking down all the things that go through your mind, how you feel, how you may re-act, and by the end of that article I was already feeling a whole lot better. If you are feeling a little nutty or on the edge about your build- I highly recommend this article.



Throughout the first half of our build, we worked mostly alone, and felt mostly alone in our interests, goals, and enthusiasm for tiny houses. In 2012, the tiny house scene was beginning to bloom, but there still weren't a whole loft of networks out there. We are so grateful to have such an awesome community with us today. I'm feeling spunky and ready to do work, so I'll keep this post short.



Last weekend was the first time in a while that there were no family or other social engagements slated. We took that opportunity to dive back in again. We finally created an outdoor area for our composte, using once again, lovely pallets. That went together quickly, and aside from tip-toeing through a whole lot of poison ivy, it was a smooth process. We moved our compost from the temporary plastic bin to it's new place. Even as we dumped the organic matter and shuffled it all around, there was no smell, which means we are doing things right! 

Building that first was probably the best move of the day, and lucky for us, it was our first move of the day! Feeling quite chipper and at ease now that our pooh had somewhere to go become earth again, we set our sights on the next job. Can you guess? Yep- more pallet siding!



The Sunday before last, as you may recall, we spent prepping more pallets to go up on the walls. I'm not sure if I mentioned that the special saw we used at Dan's Dad's store up and quit on us. That was the only saw that would fit the particular blade we need to use for ship lapping. We didn't put up much of a fuss since that was the last step and we only had a handful of boards left. So we packed up and headed home. Dan's dad said the saw probably just over-heated and to give it some time.

So we some siding that was ready to go up. We spent the remainder of Saturday putting up siding. We didn't get the third wall done, but it's pretty close! On Sunday, we worked on the utility closet. We were both getting tired of staring at that house wrap every time we came home. Over the last couple weeks, when feeling especially overwhelmed, seeing that was like salt in the wound. So we decided to tackle what we could of that. We headed out and got supplies for the trim. 



After putting up the strapping, then cutting, painting, and applying the trim, we stood back to admire the improvements. Even the trim being in place was a substantial improvement!

On Tuesday, we both put in work after work. Dan went to his Dad's to try out the saw. It's officially dead. Boo. So the pallet siding is on hold yet again. While he was there, I did a little work on our center-pieces at my Dad's.



Dan had a great suggestion- we had some extra pallet wood that we had processed early on, but then as we got better at what we were doing, we realized these pieces were a little too thin for our liking, so they go tossed aside. The discrepancy in thickness wasn't a big deal for most pieces, but these were simply too thin in comparison to the rest of the lot. So we didn't put them up. I am SUPER GLAD, and I would go back in time and kiss the former me or former Dan- whoever said, let's just keep these for a while. Turns out the miscellaneous thin pieces added up to the perfect amount of wood to do the front of our utility closet! Since it was just two small areas of siding, the difference in thickness didn't matter. 



Once I finished putting up the last piece of siding on the front of the utility closet, I stood back and smiled from ear to ear. MAN is it great to look at this side of our house and not see house wrap anymore! Wooh! 

Next weekend, we plan to start getting that solar power system put together- that is, if the changing of angles on the wooden mounts goes well!

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Time Keeps On Slippin'...Slippin'...Slippin'

During one of the several interviews we have done so far, I was asked- "You seem so on top of things, especially for a project this size. Do you ever get overwhelmed or are you always this cool and collected?"

WELL. The short answer to that is yes, we DEFINITELY get overwhelmed. A great example of that? RIGHT NOW. I'm stepping away from the usual tone of my posts because I'm not feeling my usual self. The last few weeks have been a whirl wind. I have moments where it's all I can do to just breathe calmly. The crisp cool air of the evenings and mornings has always been one of my most favorite things. A sign that my favorite season is on it's way....but this year, there is so much going on that I wish summer could last another 5 months. 


Dan recently found employment (HOORAY!), which we are both very happy about. He did such a bang up job his first week and a half that they asked him to come on full time. Considering he has been looking for quite some time, and our financial situation was getting a bit tight, we were happy for this opportunity. What I wasn't expecting however, was the inevitable backlash to our progress on the house. 

In fact, it was never made clearer to me than now. One of the biggest balancing acts of life is time versus money. This is a scale I have had trouble with for many years- always trying to make time the more valuable item, but somehow someway, money always had more heft. I can't just walk away from my bills and my debt, and I will not put them off any longer either. I am determined to reach a point in my life where time out ranks money- sooner rather than later. We are positioning ourselves with the tiny life we have chosen, but it seems, much like everything else, there is always one more major stressful squeeze before you burst out the other side. 


I have been traveling quite a bit over the last month, and when I am home, our schedule has been filled with family gatherings, weddings, showers, and other related parties. I get this feeling like all my waking hours from now until some point in the unforeseen future has already been scheduled for me. It's quite frustrating at times. 

We need to finish the dang siding on this place. We need to put our solar power system together. We need to water proof and seal the siding. We need to create gutters and some form of water shed for our roof line. We need to purchase and install a wood stove. We need to do all this before November.

Now- add getting married out of state in October to that list. Catching my drift?  



This past weekend we attended a beautiful garden wedding on Dan's side of the family. We wanted to save money and time so we drove home that night instead of staying over. We spent part of Sunday morning in recovery, then dragged ourselves out to Dan's dad's store to do more work. We needed to process more pallets. Our tools have been scattered to three different places now...and I don't like it. Some things are here at the Pod, some things are at my Dad's, and some things at the store. More than once we have gone one place only to realize the tool we need is at another. I don't recommend this. haha We wanted to give my Dad a break from seeing us constantly working in his yard, and we needed to use the table saw at the store. His dad's saw is the only one that will hold the special blade we use for ship-lapping. 


So, the only free day we had was spent sweating in the beating sun of a paved parking lot. I know I'm probably being a total whiner right now, but DAMN! It's been almost 2 years of working constantly on this place. I want it to be over! I want to return to having time to relax, be social (not just attend major family events), visit my hobbies again- I'm pretty sure I will have to learn guitar all over again. Blurg.

Oh, and the solar power system saga continues. We ordered what we needed and now have another 6 boxes of stuff waiting for us to open. We also realized that our solar panels are at the wrong angle. Joy. The semi-good news is that we did do our math right, we just flip flopped how it should have applied to the racking. We don't have to build them all over, since the angle we need is sharper. We plan to take the panels down and make the angled cuts to the posts right where they stand. That should be fun. 

Some nights I lie in bed feeling like I have the actual weight of our tiny house on my chest. I try to keep my mind on the positives. We have accomplished so much and we are making our dream a reality, but I feel I have mustered all I can muster- even from my reserve tank at this point. It's hard to be the spearhead day in and day out.  My brain begins to skip and scramble as I think about all the loose ends we still have and all that MUST get done before the cold sets in. 

I WILL come back to you all with a more chipper voice again soon. But until then, do any of you folks that have already "made it to the other side" have any advice? Maybe part of your story you can share? I could really use something to recharge my batteries. 

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