A Not-So-Tiny Storm

Remember Molly and Zack's ski lodge on wheels? They're still going strong, winter weather and all: no storm will stop these snow-lovers. Bundle up before you read this inspiring story Molly sent us...brrr! 

It was December 21, 2012. The world (or just the calendar) was supposed to end. Ironically as skiers, our world was about to start.  It was early winter and there was 10 feet of snow on the way. But it wasn’t just that winter had arrived. The elevation of our experience was reaching Everest proportions because of a little winter cabin on wheels. A mere 112-square feet was going to have grand implications. Our tiny house was going to get us stranded in the storm, with no other skiers allowed into our powder land.

Snow!
Snowed In 

Stranded. The word beckons thoughts of despair, desperation, and misery. It’s not something you want to be, see, or deal with. Until the world is about to end, 10 feet of snow is predicted to fall at Mt. Baker, and you’ve got your tiny house parked at the ski area with food and wood stocked and the fire stoked. It is only then that “stranded” starts to sing vibrant, melodious notes of luck, opportunity, and blessing. Then being stranded turns into some sort of victory.

On the day the world was supposed to end, we started out by digging a walking path from the front door of the tiny house through the four feet of snow that had fallen overnight. It was not a tiny task, but one isn’t given an option, when the front door is blocked by a snow bank. We shoveled and heaved, moving mounds of the fresh snow that we would soon be skiing. The ski area parking lot was empty, other than the plow, disappearing behind waves of snow.

When we moved into our tiny house last year, there was the promise of downsizing our possessions and up-scaling our experiences. We wanted to be mobile, with the ability to sleep in ski area parking lots and find all the deepest storms. In terms of richness, our wealth came from a bank of powder turns, not dollar bills. As skiers, being stranded at Mt. Baker was the best we could do in the realm of experience. It was our pot of gold. In fact, we were living out many other skier and snowboarder’s dreams. Without our little portable home, we would’ve never been in that spot at that time. The tiny house had put us into position to get stranded. I guess what you’re seeking is also seeking you.

In the end, we had three private days of skiing in the forest near the Mt. Baker ski area. The Department of Transportation eventually removed all of the one hundred plus trees that had fallen over the highway during the apocalyptic storm. Floods of skiers came to the ski area to discover just exactly what they had missed. We knew what they had missed. And we reminisced as we planned to excavate the tiny house from what had become a tiny mountain of snow in the parking lot.

Heading out
Heading to warmer land 

We got by with a little help from our friends. A satiating six-pack of beer for a hard-working plow driver helped us remove some of the snow that had piled up outside the house. By the time most skiers arrived, we’d removed the tiny house from its’ tiny, temporary homestead and had headed to drier, warmer elevations to celebrate the holiday with family. And to find out that the world had not ended after all.

Here’s to another year of big experiences in our tiny house! 

 

 

 

 

Written by Guest Blogger — January 28, 2013

Filed under: 2013   20132   builders   fencl   friends   keeping positive   ski lodge   survival   winter  

The Countdown!

Recently, I wrote about my plans to live in a tiny house for my last semester of college. In a week's time, my Fencl will finally be arriving on my campus! You could say I'm excited- I've gained some serious calf muscles jumping through hoops for the last two months to make this happen. For those who are curious, especially college students who are interested in trying something similar, here's what my process looked like:

The Proposal

It began with a fairly lengthy proposal that I drafted at home in early December. I outlined all of the reasons why my school would benefit from the presence of a tiny house, given our emphasis on sustainability and alternative lifestyles. I emphasized that I would not need the school's money or resources, just their permission and support.

View HampshireMy beautiful view-to-be 

I sent this proposal to my college's president. I never heard back from him! Luckily, someone else in the office intercepted my proposal and directed me towards a newfangled student project approval system. Through this system, I was able to communicate with all of the individual staff members on campus that would need to personally approve my project 

The Conversation

We had a lengthy back-and-forth regarding zoning, utilities, placement, and everything else imaginable. The staff members were interested and supportive, but still committed to doing a very thorough job- naturally, I found this frustrating. Even when it seemed like everyone was on board, there was no clear sense of approval. I wanted a giant stamp of my proposal that said "yes!"

The Plan

I made a chart of my proposed off-grid utility usage plans, including back-up solutions and alternate ideas. The biggest issue was, big surprise, dealing with my own waste. Turns out this is tricky territory on a college campus. I'd originally hoped to use a composting toilet, but health people gave that a raised eyebrow. 

Hazel toiletMy generous friend- thanks Hazel!

I'm going to start the semester using a nearby friend's toilet (above), and work with interested students throughout the semester to develop an alternative that everyone can feel comfortable with.

Scouting it Out

The spotThe spot! 

Last week, I met with the guys who run facilities and grounds. We discussed some potential solutions to my utility woes, and took a field trip to some potential house sites. Finally, we found the perfect site- I can hook up to the school's electricity while I work on getting solar panel donations. I did a little dance on it to mark my territory.

Waiting (Is the Hardest Part)

Squatting in the living room 

Now, I'm waiting patiently. I've been squatting with three of my friends in their bachelor pad. I thought I packed light this time around, but my possessions seem to be traveling around the apartment a bit. My scruffy friends have mentioned that they're growing tired of me. I think they'll make it one more week, as long as I do some dishes. 

Stay tuned, folks in the Western Mass area- I'll be having a housewarming gathering/open house late next week! 

Written by Nara Williams — January 24, 2013

Filed under: 2013   20132   college campus   getting permission   ongoing posts   open house   resources   student   western Massachusetts  

Making Time to Build

Ryan Mitchell of The Tiny Life website has been keeping us posted about his exciting plans for a modified Fencl. In addition for guest writing for Tumbleweed, Ryan has been blogging about simple living, tiny houses, and environmentally responsible lifestyles on his website: we think he's awesome!

Like many of you, I have a lot on my plate.  So when it came time to build my tiny house, I started to wonder when I’d fit it time in to actually finish my house.  Right now I am juggling three jobs, running my blog over at The Tiny Life, writing a book and on top of it, building this Tiny House.  For many of you, children are part of the equation, but there are plenty of people building homes with kids.  So the question in your mind right now might be: how can I juggle everything in my life and build a tiny house? 

Ryan buildingMaking time 

The answer is actually part of what I call The Tiny Life; building a tiny house isn’t fix-all cure that some wish to believe.  In fact, in some regards building a tiny house is the simple part.  In a way it plays into our consumer culture, why go out and buy something in an attempt to fix something.  It is the lifestyle that many find difficult to adopt.  We all know you have to reduce the amount of stuff we have, but along with the small house and the sparse possessions we must bring focus to the life we wish to live in that house. 

It was at the point where I had decided to build my house that I sat down and wrote what was truly important to me, these were things that I felt were worthy of my time.  From there I ordered them in terms of importance.  It was this list that I then took and considered where I spend my energy and time. 

Through this process I realized that some things simply couldn’t be achieved right now because other things were more important to me; it meant that I had to say no to some things, which isn’t a word often in our vocabulary in modern society.  It was surprising to see how things that were a lower priority for me seemed to sneak into time that would be better used for more important things.

So take a few moments, even if it is on the back of a napkin on a coffee break, to write down your top 10 things that are most important to you and then consider how a shift if your time and energy might be needed. With this you will have to learn to say no to various activities.  In this list you can begin to see where building your Tiny House will fit in and what things have to go in order to make the time.  You might find that building your house is lower on the list, which means it will take a few years to complete, and that is okay because you are intentional about it.  In the long run you are able to focus on what is truly important in your life and begin living The Tiny Life. 

 

Written by Guest Blogger — January 23, 2013

Filed under: 2013   20132   build it yourself   diy   lifestyle   resources   time management   tips  

Recipe Tips for Tiny Kitchen Cooking

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 salt.

  •  Serve 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 recipe. 

Peanut Butter Cheese Sauce:

1/2 Cup peanut butter

1/2 Cup warm water

pinch of salt

hot sauce to taste (optional)

1 Tbl. Honey (optional)

3 thick 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 love! 

Written by Guest Blogger — January 22, 2013

Filed under: 2013   20132   cooking   diy   food   guest blogger   recipes   sustainability   tiny kitchen   tips  

Training Tomorrow's Builders Today

Tumbleweed and Southern Adventist University - Partners in Education

Tumbleweed and Southern Adventist University are introducing the concept of tiny home construction to the next generation of American contractors. In the spring of 2013 students in SAU’s Construction Management program will be building Tumbleweed’s newest model.  

As you can see from our early drawings of the new house on the left, The new Tumbleweed is going to include a full sized murphy bed with built in couch on the first floor. 

Tumbleweed’s focus on education is longstanding. Through workshops, books, open houses, partnerships with high schools and community events we are trying to change the perception of what is possible. We are thrilled to be working with a community of future builders that have the ability to change the way America lives, literally, in the palms of their hands.

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with two of the Tumbleweed staff involved in developing the partnership with Southern Adventist. The first thing I wanted to know was why they felt it was necessary for the next generation contractors to understand the concept of tiny homes.

Pepper Clark, a Tumbleweed workshop presenter, was nothing less than enthusiastic in her response. “It's essential for the next generation of American contractors to understand the idea of tiny homes because they provide both the most logical response to our growing economic and logistical housing challenges. Future builders need to be aware of how many problems can be solved with a tiny house; providing means for multi generational families to live happily together, allowing people to work at careers they love instead of high paying jobs they hate, enabling folks to move their homes as needed to respond to changes in their lives, and giving young people a way to live independently with little overhead as they start out.”

Our head of business development and sales, also sees contractors as an integral component to solving America’s housing and financial crisis. American contractors have the opportunity to help Americans with the financial headache of getting into home ownership. When contractors assist people in getting a better financial foundation under their feet, it will be assisting future generations. We want to refill the building pipeline in a healthy and sustainable way!” 

When asked about Tumbleweed’s focus on education Pepper discussed the importance of homeowner awareness and creating a financially sustainable lifestyle. “If we can assist people in making the decision to live in a tiny way, to reduce financial stress and increase financial stability in the average home, we will have been successful. Many people are having a hard time making ends meet. It is a path to less stress and financial stability.”

Southern Adventist University is pioneering a new and more responsible approach to educating the next generation of American builders. Tumbleweed is looking forward to the day when the concepts involved in tiny space design and construction are standard components of all university level construction programs.

 

Written by Bernadette Weissmann — January 21, 2013

Filed under: 2013   20132   build   Build it yourself   builders   college   education   Fencl   new   student builds   Tumbleweed  

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