Many tiny housers fantasize about being completely self-sustainable or “living off the land” but never have the resources to reach that goal. Enter Erin and Pete, a tiny house couple with a drool-worthy 40 acre dream.
With backgrounds in wildlife biology and forestry, the duo spent several years traveling and living on the road. When they finally decided to settle down, they returned to their home state, Michigan, and began the search for their forever home. Erin remembers one open house in particular with an enormous basement. “If we live here, we’re gonna fill this basement with stuff we don’t need,” she recalls saying to Pete. The couple had been considering a tiny house for years, but it was only in that moment that they decided to make their dream a reality.
In May 2012 Erin and Pete bought Tumbleweed Fencl plans (now known as Cypress) and began their build with little to no experience. Two years later, the build continues at Erin’s mother’s house, over an hour drive from their apartment.
“We make the trip almost every weekend to work on the house,” says Erin, “But we have to be done by winter.” With the exterior complete, the tiny house just received a heavy dose of wool insulation - a necessity for Michigan winters. Erin hopes to have their interior cedar panelling up in the next few weeks, as long as the weather is compliant.
Erin & Pete with their tiny house after a snowstorm. Photo credit: Big Lake Tiny House
But what the twosome is really excited for, is the next big move. Recently Erin and Pete purchased 40 acres in Chatham, Michigan. The plan is to move onto the property this summer with the almost complete tiny house, building as they go. The ultimate goal? A fully operational farm complete with: dairy cows, chickens, pigs, bees, a veggie garden, and sugar maple trees (which already occupy half the property)!
The couple also aspires to build a barn for the animals and a structural bath house. “We love to cook.” Erin explained, “A separate bath house will free up space to accommodate a large kitchen.” Plumbing in the tiny house will be minimal, the stove and heater will be propane, and electricity will run off solar power.
With their outdoorsy backgrounds and ambitious attitude, we bet Erin and Pete will have a cozy tiny house cloaked in a beautiful farm before long!
Look for updates on Erin and Pete’s tiny house here.
Jenna Spesard is a writer by trade. She is currently building a Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume, who is a professional photographer and Tumbleweed Workshop Host. After the build is complete, they plan to travel around North America in their tiny house blogging and photographing their adventure. More on their tiny house and giant journey here.
Katie Butterfield recently graduated from UC Merced with a degree in political science. While finishing her degree, she discovered her passion for sustainability. She also loves food! These two passions led her to create her own blog about the food movement. Her goal is to educate people about the problems in our current food system and give examples of how to make it more sustainable- check out her awesome recipe tips!
I learned to cook in a large kitchen with ample counter
space, multiple ovens, and perhaps the largest, fully stocked pantry you've
ever seen. When I went to college, this
changed dramatically. First I lived in
the dorms, then in a house with six people sharing a kitchen. Now my husband and I live in an apartment
with a limited kitchen.
We have found that the best way to make cooking dinner easy
is to perfect the base meal that we cook. By base meal I mean that one dish
that we make whenever we just can't think of anything else to cook. Changing our base meal to fresh vegetables
and rice was not only beneficial for the size of our kitchen, it was also a
step toward eating more sustainably. We
found that it is simple and quick to make and turns out a little different
every time because we use different vegetables and sauces.
Rice and Veggies:
- Cook some
rice (we use about ½ Cup of dry rice per person). Follow the directions that came with your
rice to make sure that it cooks properly.
Different types of rice have different cooking times. We use a rice
cooker because we make this meal so often.
- Next chop
up your vegetables and sauté them in a pan with a little oil and a pinch of
vegetables over rice with salt, soy sauce, or other sauce.
Often we eat this with cheese sauce. Changing the sauce is another way to make
this simple meal different every time.
My husband and I both love peanut butter, so we have created a peanut
butter cheese sauce. If you'd like to
get creative with this meal and you like peanut butter, here is the
Peanut Butter Cheese Sauce:
to taste (optional)
slices of cheese (we like cheddar best), cut into small cubes
- In a bowl,
whisk together the peanut butter, water, salt, hot sauce, and honey.
- Once fully combined, the mixture should be smooth. Transfer to a small pot and place on medium
high heat on the stovetop. Once the
mixture is simmering, mix in the cheese, stirring constantly.
- When all of the cheese is melted, pour this sauce over your
rice and veggies and enjoy!
I don't know too many people who have been brave enough to
try this, so if you are one of them, don't worry! You can make this with out
the cheese and have a nice Asian-style peanut sauce.
Or make your own wacky sauce, or normal sauce if you prefer. It is important that you cook food that you
like the taste of so that you want to keep cooking- no reason living in a tiny house should make this difficult! Get creative and find something that you
Therese Ambrosi Smith is a writer- check out her work here. She spent four months constructing a modified Tumbleweed for use as a mobile writer’s studio. She loves cooking and eating as much as she loves writing and building things. One example of a recipe she's cooked in her tiny kitchen - that her guests have loved - is wild rice and mushroom soup. Her regular contribution to this blog, “Meals on Wheels," addresses the challenges and rewards of working in a tiny kitchen.
I love to invite people to dinner -- I like cooking and eating --
but I also enjoy sharing our tiny house.
Folks with thousands of square feet marvel at the comfort possible in
our 286 sq ft home, carved from a single
car garage. With leaves in the table, we handily host gourmet meals for eight.
Recently we downsized our office, building a new space based on a Tumbleweed design. We work efficiently in the 84 sq
ft trailer. As an author, I’m trilled to have my workspace double as a mobile
retreat and guest cottage. An inflatable
bed and RV toilet are employed when we need to house visitors.
We made the decision to rent the “main” house for income when I
decided to live more creatively. The
journey began with shedding a mind-numbing job and the trappings it provided.
Designing a functional living space was task one.
Everyone who decides to downsize - and designs his own house - goes through the
very healthy exercise of defining what’s important. We determined that our most
used room was the kitchen - and we used it for non-eating activity too -- from
conversation to crafts. The table was
central to our plan.
We spent as much time planning the space as building it. Everything we thought we’d need was measured
and plotted on graph paper before the first board was cut. The garage conversion took four months of
weekend work and now, after four and a half years -- and a novel and a half -- I think it was the smartest thing we’ve
Living small became fodder for fiction. My first novel “Wax” was about young women
coming of age in the shipyards during WWII.
If you’re familiar with the history, housing was in very short supply in
war industry towns. Parking Lot C, in
the Kaiser shipyards, became a village of Airstream trailers for the duration.
When “Wax” was nearly ready to print, I was asked to provide two
pages of filler. The printer’s final page “signature” is produced in multiples
of eight, so my 334 page book was a little short. What would be worth printing? (Clue: the women are eating spaghetti in two
important scenes.) Sylvia’s Famous
Spaghetti Sauce Recipe (As adapted for the two-burner propane stove in
Airstream No. 28).
Back home in Kansas City, Sylvia would spend all day on a rich
meat sauce starting with garlic and olive oil and cubes of pork and beef
shoulder, seared at 475 degrees for half an hour. She’d transfer the meat to a
big stock pot with two quarts of broth, veal bones and vegetables. A long, slow
simmer in the broth would tenderize the tough but flavorful cuts of meat, and
to the whole she would add tomatoes and the remaining seasonings. The sauce
would then simmer for another six hours until the meat fell apart. Everyone she
treated to a serving of her Famous Spaghetti Sauce said it was the best ever.
She refined her technique — using ground beef — so she could make
“Camping Spaghetti Sauce”. In her tiny Airstream trailer, with few cooking
utensils, Sylvia did her best to recreate a favorite meal for her friends.
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp minced onion
¼ cup minced carrots
¼ cup minced celery
¾ lb ground meat – can be pork and beef mixed
1 C whole milk
2 C dry white wine
1 28 oz can whole tomatoes packed in juice
1 Tbsp oregano – fresh, minced
one more tablespoon minced garlic
salt to taste
Melt the butter in a sauce pan over a very low flame and add two
tablespoons garlic. Simmer the garlic very slowly until tender. The more slowly
it cooks, the sweeter it will be.
Add the carrots, onion and celery and sauté until the onions are
soft. Do not brown. Add the cloves.
Add the ground meat and stir to heat evenly for about three
minutes, until the meat is gray but not browned.
Add the milk and allow it to simmer until evaporated, about
twelve minutes; follow with the wine. When the wine has evaporated, add the
tomatoes with liquid and the oregano. Allow the sauce to simmer on the lowest
possible flame, for three more hours. Thirty minutes before it’s finished, add
the final tablespoon of minced garlic. Add salt if desired.
4 Servings Enjoy!
“The time went by so
quickly; we never had a chance to make plans,” Doris said. “When the ships on
the line are launched we’ll be sent home too.”
“Now come on girls,”
Sylvia said. “This is our last night together in The Land of C. Let’s have a
little more optimism. We’ll be at peace soon.” She adjusted the seasonings and
gave the sauce a final stir. Her red hair color was starting to fade. “All
those love-starved men will be returning to wine and dine you marriage-age
treasures. Life will be good,” Sylvia said. She looked at Tilly.
Sylvia drained the
spaghetti into a bowl and loaded three plates. Then she ladled the rich meat
sauce on top.
Tilly took the first bite.
She twirled her fork and wrapped the length of the spaghetti around the tines.
“Thank you so much, Sylvia. I’ll never forget this meal.”
From “Wax”, by Therese