Thanksgiving in a Tiny House

Thanksgiving 2013 in Tiny House Giant Journey (under construction)

Can you have dinner guests in a tiny house? Yes, of course. Can you have Thanksgiving Dinner in your tiny house? Well, that depends. When designing your ideal tiny home you’ll need to plan ahead for such occasions.

Kitchen Space and Appliances.

When designing your tiny kitchen, appliances tend to be compact to save space. This might mean that your oven is a wee bit too small to hold an enormous turkey! Of course, you can choose to have full size appliances in your tiny kitchen, but consider the infrequency that you’ll be hosting a large dinner party before cramming those items into your cozy kitchen. Bottom line, your tiny kitchen should be designed for everyday use, not for special occasions.

I suggest asking your dinner guests to bring a dish pre-cooked or try cooking outdoors! Have you ever tried deep frying a turkey outdoors? It's a lot of fun and delicious! You can rent large deep fryers at your local party rental store. Or how about roasting your bird on the BBQ? That's what we did last year.

You might need to get creative, but anything is possible.

Seating.

As with any home, you are limited on the amount of dinner guests you can seat comfortably. In a tiny home your number will be more intimate than the average home, think party of four. We’ve managed to put on a dinner party for five, but it was tight! Our dinning area has a fold down table, a bench and two ottomans. We pulled in one of our lawn chairs for the fifth seat.

Photo credit: Guillaume Dutilh

Embrace your lack of space by making your dinner party informal. It can be fun for some of your guests to eat upstairs, with plates on their laps and feet dangling from the loft. Make your dinner party unique and it will be an event your guests will not forget!

With the above open floorplan there’s enough room in this tiny house for three to eat comfortably at the folding table, while three others can eat in sitting area of the great room!

You can always host an outdoor dinner party (weather permitted). Appetizers and pre-drinks can take place in the standing room of the tiny house and the main course can be served outdoors at a comfortable picnic table. How lovely!

 Photo credit: Outdoor Thanksgiving 

Dinnerware.

Another obstacle you may face is a lack of dishes. After all, being a tiny houser means being a minimalist! Not to worry, you can always ask your guests to BYOB or BYOP (Bring Your Own Bowls of Bring Your Own Plates) and because they’re about to eat dinner in a tiny house, they’ll surely understand.

Have you ever hosted Thanksgiving in a small space? Please share your stories and tips below!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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Jenna BioJenna Spesard is currently living and traveling around North America in a DIY Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume. They are photographing and writing about their adventure and occasionally they will be hosting Tumbleweed workshops and open houses. Be sure to follow their tiny house and giant journey.

 

 

Written by Jenna Spesard — November 27, 2014

Filed under: Cypress   Dining   Dinner in a Tiny House   Dinner Party   Thanksgiving   Tiny Home   Tiny House Giant Journey   Tiny Kitchen   Tips   Tumbleweed  

Kasl Family Tiny House

You may recognize this tiny home from a recent episode on FYI's Tiny House Nation. This 207 square foot home belongs to the Kasl family of four (that's about 50 square feet per person, or 5' x10', if you're counting). After residing in their tiny home for one month, we checked in with Kim Kasl to see inside this spectacular space and get the dirty details on living with children in a teeny tiny space.

The Kasl tiny home is a customized Tumbleweed Elm 24. The house features two lofts: one used as a master bedroom and the other as a shared bedroom for their two children. The lofts are connected by an elevated walkway.

Kasl Family Master Loft

 

Hallway Connecting the Two Lofts

 

Kid's Bedroom / Second Loft

"We have a two burner electric stovetop, which is what I wanted and is perfect," Kim explained. "Our fridge is apartment sized and is serving us well.  We use a toaster oven; we don’t bake much, so any time that we would in the future can be an event held at Grandparents’ homes. My favorite item in the tiny house is our HUGE sink." 

 

Winter recently hit this Minnesota based tiny house, and the Kasls have been keeping warm with a Kimberly wood stove

"Life in the tiny house is so smooth," Kim remarked. "Some people seem to have this expectation that moving in and living here will be traumatic for the kids.  Sully and Story adore the tiny house!  Parenting here is much easier.  We’re more connected, cozy, and engaged." 

"Tiny House Living is just so sleek and simplified and …whimsical.  I love the ease and the peace." - Kim

When asked about the challenges she's faced, Kim explained that the adjustments have been mostly maintenance related, such as learning to use the composting toilet and skirting the tiny house for winter. "Ryan has a professional career and needs more clothing storage than the rest of us," she said. "So, every week I'm going to have his shirts and jackets washed, ironed, and put on hangers so he can keep them hung in his office closet at work. That will free up space in our teeny tiny closet at home, which is so valuable with all the winter boots and jackets we have!"

Kasl Tiny House Bathroom

This tiny house family isn't just adjusting to the tiny life but also to a bit of celebrity from their reality tv appearance. Kim shared some hysterical stories about being recognized on the street: "Twice I’ve had moms holding babies come up to me super close and whisper excitedly, “Do you live in a Tiny House!?”  I say “Yes, would you like a tour!?” which is responded with jumping up and down." 

 Kasl Family with Tiny House Nation's Hosts. Photo credit: Isanti County News

What's up next for the Kasl family? Well, it looks like they may have caught the tiny house fever! Kim says there has been talks of building another tiny house (or two) when the kids get a little older. "We’re looking forward to building tiny houses with Sully and Story so they can benefit from the experience of building and start out their lives mortgage-free," said Kim. "Tiny house living is all about opportunities and freedoms."

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*All photos provided by the Kasl family, unless otherwise noted

*See more and read more about the Kasl Tiny House on their blog here.

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Jenna BioJenna Spesard is currently living and traveling around North America in a DIY Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume. They are photographing and writing about their adventure and occasionally they will be hosting Tumbleweed workshops and open houses. Be sure to follow their tiny house and giant journey.

Written by Jenna Spesard — November 21, 2014

Filed under: 24   Elm   Family of Four   Family Tiny House   Kasl Family   Small House Swoon   Tiny Home   Tiny House Nation   Tiny House Swoon   Tumbleweed   Two Lofts  

Tiny House in Austin RV Park

Introducing Eddie, Lacey and their brand new tiny home

Eddie and Lacey have been living in their DIY Cypress 18 for two months, but the tiny house isn't quite complete. "Fortunately the RV park we're at has amenities," Eddie chuckled, admitting that his kitchen and bathroom are still a work in progress. Eddie hopes to have the tiny house officially complete by early 2015.

Unfinished interior shot, prior to move in. Pine panels with white wainscoting

As with most tiny house DIYers, Eddie and Lacey didn't have any construction experience prior to their tiny house build. Eddie attended a Tumbleweed workshop in 2010, purchased a trailer, dvd and plans a few years later and then attended another workshop with Lacey halfway through their build. "The second workshop provided us confirmation that our house was correctly built" Eddie explained, "It also served as a great confidence boost for future work on the house."

Eddie & Lacey's home parked at an RV park near Austin, TX

Eddie and Lacey might be newbies to tiny house living, but they are already reaping major benefits from the lifestyle. Residing full time in an RV park has proven to be affordable way for the couple to live near the hustle and bustle of Austin. The tiny home itself is completely paid off, as they were able to purchase or gather materials as they went along.

Eddie and Lacey pay approximately $350 a month for their RV parking spot, and that includes Wifi, water and power. That's pretty economical when you consider the average rental payment near Austin is currently $1290 a month, and that doesn't usually include utilities. 

"I'm a real estate agent in Texas," said Eddie, "I know tiny living isn't for everyone, but I'm happy to be qualified to show people an alternative to large homes." 

Loft with Dormers

"Living in the tiny house has helped us become more focused and driven to attend to our priorities in life." - Eddie

"In terms of the physical quality of life, it’s comforting to know that even though we have less, we can have the best." - Lacey

Lacey, Eddie and their dog "Clark."

Lacey isn't having any trouble with the extreme downsize: "I’ve always had a very organized mindset, and regularly purged items that just take up space so I’ve been well prepared for tiny living most of my life and didn’t know it." Their chihuahua pup is also reaping the benefits of the tiny life, enjoying frequent walks around the RV park. 

Eddie's heating / cooling system: Ductless Mini Split

Recently, Eddie joined the Tumbleweed team as a workshop host and is looking forward to sharing his story and experiences with other tiny housers.

Eddie & Lacey's Three Pieces of Advice:

1). Don’t expect this to be easy. It certainly is a challenge but there are so many resources and support opportunities to help guide you along the way. The trick is to make it fun and enjoy it. Don’t sabotage yourself.

2)  If there is anything you can do to allow yourself to build indoors, do it. Otherwise, be sure you are prepared for possible weather delays.

3). Give yourself a realistic timeline. It’s easy to want to have it built it a couple months, but if you are inexperienced like we were, you probably can’t expect that much. 

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*Shout out to Lacey's father, Scott, who played a big role in the construction of this tiny house.

*All photos provided by Eddie and Lacey

*See more photos and follow Eddie and Lacey's tiny house here.

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Jenna BioJenna Spesard is currently living and traveling around North America in a DIY Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume. They are photographing and writing about their adventure and occasionally they will be hosting Tumbleweed workshops and open houses. Be sure to follow their tiny house and giant journey.

Written by Jenna Spesard — November 10, 2014

10 Biodegradable Products for Greener Grey Water

*All products in this video are listed below*

Since our travels began on September 2nd 2014, Guillaume and I have been trying to "green" ourselves, starting with our grey water. I'd love to be able to say that all of the products that go down our drain are 100% biodegradable, so I've begun switching out our chemical products for biodegradable alternatives. 

Our Water Set Up

Guillaume and I do not have black water, as we use a composting toilet. Our grey water is the "waste" water coming from our shower and kitchen sink. In a campground, it doesn't matter if it's grey or black, waste water drains into the sewer. When we're off-grid, we use a 15 gallon portable grey water tank, which we can dump at any appropriate place. Until now, the appropriate place has always been the sewer because of the products we use. I'd like that to change.

Tiny House Giant Journey's Hook Ups (bottom left of trailer - blue grey water tank)

THGJ Grey Water Set Up

THGJ Grey Water Set Up

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10 PRODUCTS FOR GREENER GREY WATER:

1) Shampoo* - 365 Lavender Blend / oily + normal hair
2) Conditioner* - Acure Lemongrass + Argon Stem Cell
3) Body Soap* - Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap - Lavender
4) Acne Cream* - 100% Pure Spot Treatment
5) Face Wash* - Desert Essence Thoroughly Clean Face Wash / Oily & Combo Skin
6) Body LotionDr. Bronner's Magic Lotion - Lavender Coconut
7) Toner* - Acure Facial Toner / Balancing Rose + Red Tea
8) All Purpose Spray* Method All-Purpose Cleaner - Cucumber
9) Dishwashing Liquid* - Ultra Dishmate - Natural Almond
10) Mascara*100% Pure Fruit Pigmented Black Tea Ultra-Lengthening Mascara
*Packaging claims product is biodegradable
*Website claims product is biodegradable
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Where do you find biodegradable products?

It's actually very simple. You can shop online or you can go to a health food store. Whole Foods is a great resource, and usually they have at least one staff member dedicated to help you choose natural products.

How can you tell a product is biodegradable?

Ah yes, well you need to be a chemist. Not really, but this is a little tricky. You could do a massive amount of online research to learn how to decipher ingredient lists, trust the employees at your local health food store or pick products that have "100% biodegradable" or "readily biodegradable" written on the container. This last suggestion will limit you because many products do NOT add the biodegradable categorization to their packaging, even if the product is biodegradable.

100% Biodegradable Label on Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap

Do biodegradable products really work?

The easy answer is: Yes. The longer answer is: You need to find the right product for you. I've found some biodegradable products to have a displeasing smell or texture. I had to stop using one shampoo because it actually made my hair feel greasier AFTER the shower. But, for the most part, I've been happy with the products I've chosen. Like anything, it takes time and patience.

Shopping Tips:

1). Some biodegradable products are multi-purpose, like Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps. They boast that you can use this soap for 18 different things! As a tiny houser, this is a total win.

2). Home remedies also work! White vinegar and water, mixed together in a spray bottle, is an excellent affordable cleaning solution. Coconut oil is a great moisturizer.

3). Biodegradable products are more expensive, but there are affordable products as well. Choose products with simplistic packaging. Companies that care more about what's inside rather than on the bottle are usually going to gain my respect. You can also look around at your local farmer's market. Often there will be at least one booth for natural soaps, lotions, etc. Ask them if their product is 100% biodegradable.

4). Read the directions. Many natural products are concentrated, therefore you can buy a smaller bottle and it will last you as long as a large chemically-enhanced bottle (another win for tiny housers).

3). As a bonus, many biodegradable products are cruelty-free, vegan, manufactured with renewable energy and contained less cancerous materials.

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HELP ME GREEN MY GREY WATER! 

Okay my green friends, if you have a biodegradable product you'd like to recommend, please comment below!

Let's produce more enviro-friendly products and create less sewage.

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Jenna BioJenna Spesard is currently living and traveling around North America in a DIY Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume. They are photographing and writing about their adventure and occasionally they will be hosting Tumbleweed workshops and open houses. Be sure to follow their tiny house and giant journey.

 

Written by Jenna Spesard — October 30, 2014

Filed under: Biodegradable   Cypress   Giant Journey   Green   Grey Water   Lifestyle   Products   Tiny House   Tumbleweed  

Russ and Sheila's Weekend Retreat

Sheila Working on her Weekend Retreat

Russ and Sheila are avid cyclists and have always dreamed of owning a weekend retreat that's bike-able from their permanent home. “I remember how excited I was when I stumbled on the Tumbleweed site for the first time in early 2013. Right away, I knew I had found what I was looking for,” Russ recalls. “I love the efficiency of the design, that it’s moveable, affordable and I love the way the design and look will blend in with the forest setting I plan to place it in.”

Russ (front, center) & Friends 

The problem? Russ wanted to build his home, but like so many DIY tiny housers, he had no construction experience. He attended a Tumbleweed workshop in Berkeley last year to learn more about the project he was about to undertake, and he was delightfully surprised by the amount of new friends he made over the two days.

“One of the couples I had met at the workshop contacted my wife, Sheila, and I about some property they were going to look at in the Santa Cruz Mountains,” Russ told us. “The four of us loved it so much that we ended up buying the property together and now we all have a place to put our tiny houses!”

At Tumbleweed, we structure our workshops to be social and encourage our attendees to stay in contact long after the weekend is over. Whether it's a carpenter looking to help out on a small project or a family who has extra backyard space available for constructing a tiny house, countless friendships have been made just from meeting like-minded people and starting the tiny house conversation.

Russ in his Framed Tiny Home

It's been a year since Russ and Sheila attended the Berkeley workshop, and they are now almost half finished with their Tumbleweed Elm 18 Overlook. “It’s probably the most difficult thing I have ever done in my life,” Russ admits, “and I have done some pretty difficult things, including getting a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford and riding my bike 520 miles in 40 hours.” Russ and Sheila have encountered a few difficulties during construction, including finding the right trailer.

“I thought I could save money by having one (a trailer) custom built by a local trailer manufacturer.  However, the final dimensions ended up being less than perfect.  By the time I had paid a welder to modify the design and add the all threaded rod to tie down the house, I ended up spending about the same amount of money and much more time than I would have if I had simply purchased the Tumbleweed trailer.”

Russ on his Ridge Beam

Even thought they've encountered a few challenges, Russ has found the experience to be extremely rewarding, adding that he can't wait to spend the night in a house that he built with his own two hands. 

As always, we asked Russ to share three pieces of advice for future builders. He gave us four, including links to his website with more information! 

Russ's 4 Pieces of Advice:

1.  Stick to the plans. Especially if you don’t have a lot of building experience.  Early in the build process, I made a few changes that I thought were minor but ended up causing major headaches.  
2.  Purchase the highest quality tools you can afford.  Doing so will save you a lot of time and effort and you will thank yourself every time you use them.
3.  Whenever possible, support your local lumberyard instead of the big box hardware stores.  You might pay a little extra, but it will be worth the good advice and high quality materials you will receive.
4.  Its OK to make mistakes. Welcoming a little imperfection often results in unexpected beauty you might not have otherwise experienced.

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*All photos provided by Russ and Sheila

*Russ and Sheila have an extremely helpful, detailed blog about their build. It's a great resource. Follow them here

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Jenna BioJenna Spesard is currently living and traveling around North America in a DIY Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume, who is a professional photographer and Tumbleweed Workshop host. They are photographing and writing about their adventure and occasionally they will be hosting an open house. Be sure to follow their tiny house and giant journey here.
 

 

Written by Jenna Spesard — October 27, 2014

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