Then I ran across this site: http://www.takepart.com/photos/better-store-bought-holiday-gifts/better-than-store-bought-homemade-dog-biscuits when looking for instructions to make our own dog biscuits, and thought I'd take this pledge. It may be a challenge, but I'm not going to buy any more holiday gifts. They'll all be home made.
Thursday, December 6, 2012
Then I ran across this site: http://www.takepart.com/photos/better-store-bought-holiday-gifts/better-than-store-bought-homemade-dog-biscuits when looking for instructions to make our own dog biscuits, and thought I'd take this pledge. It may be a challenge, but I'm not going to buy any more holiday gifts. They'll all be home made.
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Simplicity, patience, compassion ~ these three are your greatest treasures.
~ Lao Tzu Regrowing celery from the end of a celery stalk. It looks a bit like a rose bud being born from within a green rose. I just cut off the bottom of the celery stalks as one unit about 2 inches from the bottom, then placed it in a window sill sitting in a shallow dish of water. When it started growing, I moved it out into the "Filter" portion of my IBC Aquaponics system.
Monday, October 1, 2012
|Our first spinach came in on it's 4th day in the tank!!!|
So part 2 is mostly about us finishing the building process of a simple and somewhat theoretical AP System I had in mind, which is to use the floating raft technique but with an IBC container type system. I don't know how well this system will hold up and to how many fish, but we will see. I planned to cycle the system for about a week with just plants before putting fish in it, so we do not yet have our catfish, but that's OK because it is giving me time to call around town and see who has the best price on catfish, or decide if I should buy them online and pay for shipping.
|6 inch air stone disk under the large raft|
We moved a table over near the tank and plugged the air pump into the new extension cord which reached over there easily. Some day I still plan to make the whole system run off solar, but for now we're running it off the power in our house. The Air pumps we have running 24/7. You can see the larger air stone in this photo. I would have liked to buy 2 this size, but the store only had one so the other is a bit smaller. They are aerating the water right under the plants, and the bubbles are moving air right up to the plants which I was advised is important for raft systems like mine.
|moved the hose up out of the water to prevent backflow|
So yesterday I unplugged the pump which is pumping water from the lower tank and moved the hose so that it is no longer under the water, but is pumping the water out into the air which then lands in the tank creating a small amount of aeration, and making it so that no water will flow backwards into the lower tank when the pump is off, allowing me to (theoretically) turn that pump off periodically and save some electricity. I waited to see how well this worked out, and even with the slight drip we have coming from the middle of the top tank, the water in the top tank was only an inch or two lower which means that it's just sitting there for a time, and not circulating, but the air bubbles up there are still moving the water around, so it's not likely to go stagnant just briefly.
|Air Pump is working!|
|Rainbow Chardling (just one tiny leaf)|
At this point I plan for some blue channel catfish to live in the lower tank because they tend to do fine with temperature changes to the water, and eventually we plan to add some Tilapia down there too once our brief winter is over and the temperatures are stable at a warm enough temp for Tilapia to be healthy. I'm also going to put some prawns in there to help keep the tank clean. I've considered raising feeder fish for the Catfish up in the top tank, but haven't put this into motion yet obviously. I am going to buy some goldfish today or tomorrow and get them set up there to try it out and continue cycling the system, then when the catfish are big enough some of the goldfish who live through the initial trials could be put in the lower tank as feeder fish.
Once it's all built and regulated I suspect I'll spend a lot less time on it. If the book I'm reading is right the only things I'll need to do at that point is spend a couple minutes a day feeding fish, possibly dealing with bugs now and then, and occasionally checking the water's PH. Some people I know who do Aquaponics farming on a small backyard scale, do not check PH, they go by the way the water looks and the fish act. I'm still debating between methods. If I find a cheap water testing kit maybe I'll go that route, but the ones I've seen are pretty expensive, and I'm trying to keep the cost down. Speaking of costs, I think that getting an above ground pool off craigslist is probably the best bet for an easy, off the shelf, low cost system and allows more space for raising fish AND growing plants. I just didn't have a space in my backyard that was big enough which we were willing to give up to a whole pool for Aquaponics. But I see them on craigslist periodically and all people want is someone willing to move the thing out of their yard. Free pool plus the cost of gas is a GOOD price to start an aquaponics system. Maybe some day I'll go that route if we decide we want to expand. For now, we're happy tinkering with our IBC unit.
Found out there will be a big Halloween shindig at the GardenPool.org and talked to Carlie about it. We'll be signing up for that. The cost is 5 cans of food each which will go to those who need it more than us, and in exchange we'll get to learn about Black Soldier Fly colonies (for fish that feed off the top) and raising duckweed plus have the opportunity to pick up a black soldier fly colony starter kit and some starter duckweed which I'm hoping will grow on the top of the lower tank providing some cover/shade/hiding spots for the catfish, as well as food for the tilapia. Also from what I've heard the Tilapia will teach the catfish to move up to the top and eat so they may end up eating the duckweed as well since they're a fish that eats both creatures and plants.
Next steps for us:
Get some goldfish to test the system and eventually to be feeder fish for the catfish
Get red wiggler worms (to eat excess produce, use their poop in our traditional gardening, and feed some to the catfsih now and then)
Set up a worm tower to replace or supplement our current composter
Set up indoor Aquaponics system and start fishless cycling
Visit the local feed store and see if they have fish food that would be appropriate for the catfish
Get catfish fry
Get tilapia fry
Get Duckweed started
Sunday, September 30, 2012
|Our First AP Tank, minus the fish and air pump|
My goals in setting up both systems was to spend the least amount of money for the biggest bang for our buck. I chose to use an IBC tank with water in the top instead of grow medium, a floating raft made out of foam much like the one I'd seen on a tour with Dr Brooks, with grow medium just in small cups floating in the foam. We put a 130-170 gph pump in the lower tank where the fish will be, and pumped water from that up into the top portion under the rafts. Eventually this will be solar powered, but for now it's simply drawing electricity from the house. We drilled 5 holes in the top part so that it would trickle over into the fish tank below, returning the cleaner water (in theory) from the grow bed to the fish tank below. We realize we may need to add an extra filter to the system since we are using less grow medium, but we're learning as we go and going at this a bit piece meal. As the water falls it does aerate the fish tank water a bit, but we'll also be adding an air pump which will pump air under the rafts and also through a couple of air stones in the fish tank to oxygenate the water and aerate the plants which are currently just floating around in tiny cups full of grow medium soaking in water.
We started our tank in fall which may be the worst time of year to do it, but by the 3rd day, I went out to add the 2nd half of the foam raft and move cups around, only to discover our lettuce had 3 of 4 cups already sprouting, and by the 4th day, all 4 cups had 2 to 4 sprouts each. Makes me a little anxious not having fish in the tank yet, because I worry that we do not yet have nutrients going to the plants, and the nutrients they provide themselves in their seeds is minimal, so eventually they'll need that bit of added nutrients, and I'd like to get the system cycling before adding fish in if possible. Going to add some sea weed as recommended by a few local AP enthusiasts tomorrow after a trip to a local aquarium store to look at and hopefully pick up at least one air pump and some air stones. Also looking online, so I think I might buy the air pump setup meant for our indoor tank and use it outdoors right now since I don't have any fish in it yet and can simply use all the air for the plants, and then I can move that one indoors once the larger pump arrives from online.
|Our First TINY Lettuce Sprout|
So far so good. Even tho we're only in our first week, I'm hopeful!
Things yet to do:
Buy and set up thermometer (I killled the first one via drowning)
Buy and set up air pump
Buy and add small bit of sea weed
Locate, buy and add fish (Channel Catfish for now and possibly some Prawns, then later when it warms back up after winter, may add some Tilapia)
Locate, price, and buy fish food
Build worm compost and breeding set up
Visit gardenpool.org and possibly pick up some duckweed, black fly larva and red wigglers
Further investigation on temperature and heating elements in case we'll need to heat the water out back for the catfish and possibly prawns
Further investigation, planning and eventual set up of solar power and deep cycle marine battery to run the whole system
And of course set up the indoor system as well. I will keep you posted.
Monday, September 24, 2012
Aquaponics is when you utilize the water fish are living in to water plants, and the plants clean the water which you then put back into the fish pond, tank, etc. There are many variations on this theme, but that's the basics. There are some very good sites and articles online, and some decent books to read on the subject. Once I'd read all I felt I could take in, I needed to get more hands on and look at real life systems that were working to grow food people were actually eating. I've been fortunate enough to find some good meet-ups in the area which allowed me to see a variety of systems and decide which route we'd like to try here.
There's another aspect to Aquaponics that I'd like to include, which is fish food. You can grow duckweed and you can even raise red wigglers both of which can be fed to nile tilapia, one of the popular fish to raise in Phoenix since it is normally so hot around here. If done right, it can be a pretty complete system, so that theoretically you wouldn't really need to even buy fish food.
Now I am left with a bit of a conundrum, and trying to decide will I heat the water, or start off with one type of fish that is good in the cold and larger, then move on to tilapia after it warms up again. Now, it's still in the 100's during most days here, don't get me wrong. Fall in Laveen, Arizona is not that chilly. But the water needs to be around 70 degrees for the tilapia to be happy, and in a couple months it will be hard to keep it that temperature without heating the water.
I've thought of a few ways to deal with this. I have thought of pumping the water from the tank up to the plants, then collecting the water the flows out of the tank in a black pipe which curves around in the sun warming the water and eventually puts it back into the tank. Basically a solar water heater specially built for the tank. That would allow me to keep tilapia in warmer water, but I might still need to heat the water for part of the year. It seems to me, it would be easier to just start with a fish that does better in cooler water, and then when it starts getting too hot for that fish, eat the cold water fish, and switch off to tilapia. After all, we're talking about raising food here. Not just the plants, but some of the meat, in this case fish. I'm thinking perhaps trout, or something which we might be able to also keep inside year round. More investigation is necessary.
In the beginning we don't have to start with fish in the tank, so we can actually put the plants in first, and get the water flowing properly and work on sorting out that part of the system first, then add the fish later. We'd like to have our system up and running before Patch and Carlie go back to work.
We've decided to have 2 Aquaponics tanks. One in the living room since we already had a fish tank in there, and one in the backyard in a semi shady area. When the hot part of the year hits, we may need to bring some shade cover in for the back yard tank like these guys did, but we may not. We'll see how it goes.
Inside we're using a 60 gallon fish tank to hold the fish and water, and a 55 gallon food grade plastic barrel which has been cut in half to hold hydroponic medium, plants, and possibly some red wigglers. Outside we're using an IBC tote with the top sliced off. The bottom is the fish tank, and the top is where the plants go. We could put hydroponic medium (rocks or clay balls) up there, but that's pretty expensive so we decided to fill the top with water and float a piece of foam with holes in it on top, and then put the plants in small cups poking through the foam. We'll see how that goes! More pics coming soon.
Specifically Almond Flour and Quinoa Flour. It's so easy. Place the almonds or quinoa, or grain into a coffee grinder, grind, and poof, flour. I'm making pie crust for some mini pumpkin pie cheesecakes, and some overnight Quinoa with mine: http://desertfoodlover.blogspot.com/2012/09/quick-breakfast.html
Photos to come. Simplifying to me, also means minimizing the wasteful spending, and I think making my own flours will do that. Plus I won't have to store as many flours that I don't need, and that's a good thing for some day when I live in a tiny house.
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Friday, September 14, 2012
After it sat in a cold dark place for 3 months, i strained it into a smaller jar. Now i have enough almond extract to last me forever. Need to get some dark brown bottles or paint some baby food jars and if it tastes good enough, give some to a couple friends and family.
Now what to do with the vodka soaked almond bits? Adult dessert perhaps? Nah, too bitter! BLEH! I hate to waste anything, but these are going in the trash. Thinking of doing a more complex extract and giving some to family for the holidays. Maybe Orange Almond extract.
Friday, August 24, 2012
|Prefab Shed/Tiny House|
So far the cheapest build I've seen is 8,000 for a tiny house that was built using traditional materials, some of them scavenged, reclaimed, recycled, or upcycled and that home is not finished yet. However, alternative build methods seem to be finding even cheaper ways of building a tiny home.
|Pallets and Plastic $500 Tiny House|
|Straw Bale Tiny House|
Another low cost alternative method is straw bale building. Sometimes these are built by an individual, a couple or a whole community. A friend of mine is going to be setting up a trip for a group of us to go help build a sustainable farm some of her friends are working on in exchange for education on their sustainable practices a place to stay while there, and vegan meals. I may need to bring some alternative food sources to keep myself healthy while there due to my allergies, but I think it's worth a shot. I may not be able to contribute as much physically as others due to my disability, but I'm stubborn and persistent when working on projects, and I'm creative and get things done. See my food blog, desertfoodlover.blogspot.com if you're curious about better healthy through yumness as I like to say. More on that later. If you'd like to try living in a tiny straw bale house, check out this straw bale village: http://tinyhouseblog.com/straw-bale/tiny-straw-bale-village-getaway/
Well there are more, but that is all the time I have for now. So expect an alternative building methods part two post in the near future as I continue investigating, planning, pricing and generally doing the prep work for our upcoming build. Please post any links to low cost tiny house building methods in the comments section!
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
There is of course the Tiny Tack House, which has it's own FB group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/227728120641729/ and Melissa Tack posts great 3d graphic designs for tiny house lay outs frequently which are just wonderful. If you're planning to build a tiny home, I highly recommend this page.
Then there is the Tiny r(E)volution which I've mentioned in a previous post about his podcast. Tiny r(E)volution is run by Andrew and his wife who are building their own tiny home and eventually plan to build some other tiny add ons to create a still small and beautiful space to share as a whole family. Their facebook page is here: https://www.facebook.com/tinyrev
Andrew recently shared about some people who are new to the tiny house community, Together Simply. Of course, I love the name. You can find them on blogspot here: http://togethersimply.blogspot.com/
I would also recommend you check out http://tinycasita.blogspot.com/ as well as http://tinywhitenorth.com/ and www.costaricamountain.blog
Oh and I shouldn't neglect to mention Tiny House Design: http://www.tinyhousedesign.com/2012/07/28/tiny-house-fire/ who have a post about a tiny house builder whose tiny home on a trailer was parked behind a farm that burnt down, and thus BURNT DOWN. Tragic! So if you would like to donate towards her rebuilding her tiny home, please do so! I did, and will continue to contribute whenever I can. The tiny house community can be very supportive of each other, and that's one of the many things I love about it. Some day I will build my own tiny home and be able to commune with my fellow tiny house neighbors around the world via the internet!
And in case you just can't get enough of looking at tiny homes, don't forget the Tiny House Blog, which is not in itself so tiny. Tons of photographs, articles, and more: http://tinyhouseblog.com/
Monday, August 20, 2012
|Kit for Shed I think would make a great tiny home|
For now, I have decided to continue my pursuit of building a tiny home, and to continue my goal of building it for as low a cost as possible by doing the ground work necessary before we could build one.
At the same time, I am investigating the possible ways to help a local non profit build a tiny home for minimal cost. For now I will focus on a non-mobile tiny home, because it turns out the non profit's area does not allow for RV storage, and even tho it would look like a tiny home, or in some people's mind it would look like a shed even if it were mobile, they are not wanting to push those boundaries. They are however able to build on a concrete slab, and have the skills to build one.
The tiny house would allow them to have a separate space for the house manager to have her (or his) office and living space. I have decided a multi-phase building plan may be best for this particular situation. Step One: Build the foundation and shell. For the purpose of this blog entry, I'm only going to focus on building the structure, not it's foundation. This would actually mean we would need to build an air conditioned structure with finished windows, window screens, a door, and a finished look over all. The finished look is important in this case for the purpose of keeping neighbor appreciation & cooperation by adding to the property value rather than taking away from it.
It would have the added benefit of being a beautiful separate space for the house manager. A place to call their own, have private one on one meetings with clients or volunteers as needed, and possibly encourage clients to work towards having a tiny place of their own, while having the smallest impact on the world we live in as possible. It could also be used by the non profit to educate neighbors, friends and others about the wide variety of possibilities with tiny house living. This structure could be easily turned into an office and/or living space without cooking space or restroom either by building furniture out of free sources (such as pallets) for the cost of the hardware, or with a few trips to stores like goodwill if we chose no to finish the interior any further.
Since I've been doing the research anyway, I will post soon with a list and cost comparison between the various options I've found for tiny homes.
Saturday, August 18, 2012
They have 3 styles and sizes. Prices vary depending on what is included, size, and time of year. If we each save a couple hundred bucks we could have a relatively low cost vacation and see how we feel about tiny living. More photos and a url to come.
Check it out here: http://www.newportdunes.com/cottages.html
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Monday, August 13, 2012
I would like to try these in my yard. We will see how they do. It would be interesting to see if they are helpful in my quest to live without diabetic complications while getting off pills.
Sunday, August 12, 2012
Sorry for the long delay between posts, we had a challenging month with some hard decisions. It seems despite my desire to pare down, i am pretty caught in a web of consumerism. But more on that later.
For my birthday i asked people to try something new. Give me no gift, or if you must, something practical. They were not ready to give me nothing, so i got all practical gifts including this hammock to replace the futon we gave our friend with no bed. I much prefer this hammock to my own bed. It's more comfortable, and i sleep through the whole night!
If you are in the market for a new mattress, consider a hammock instead.
Sunday, July 29, 2012
Recently I heard that it has been shown: people who focus on the things they are grateful for before bed, sleep more restfully and wake in a more positive, refreshed mindset. Sounds good to me!
I am grateful to Carlie for my new hammock, and i am grateful to have a roof over my head and food in my belly. I am grateful that my kittens seem tired so i may get some restful sleep soon. And i am grateful to have such a wonderful hammock to rest in with them.
Sunday, July 22, 2012
Friday, July 20, 2012
Patch has a Prius which ran out of warranty last month. Of course this is when it chose to go on the fritz. Sparky is not long for it's days if we don't get it fixed.
So we are faced with a decision. What now? Repairs would cost thousands. I believe we should buy a new-to-us used car. Deisel we can change to run on bio fuel? Another hybrid? Electric? Where will we get the funds? Dig into our retirement/homesteading fund?
What are your thoughts about which cars are best and why? We will post about this new point in our journey
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Last night Carlie was driving me home from a meeting, and she brought up tiny home living and power conservation. This is something we have been thinking about a lot since this month's electric bill hit us in the gut. She had a great idea for how to charge batteries other than solar or wind if you have a tiny home on wheels and drive it from place to place. She said, "When you're driving your tiny home why not charge the batteries from the wheels like our prius does?" Now granted, this would only work if and when you're driving it around, and it couldn't be exactly like a hybrid car which uses the brakes to charge the batteries. But still, it sounded like genius to me.
Of course I ran with the idea. The batteries could be stored under the floor of the house in the space between the wheels and above the ground, right? Why not put an alternator on one of the wheels, so that as the wheels turn, they charge the battery bank? That way, when you arrive at your destination and park, your house is ready to go. No plug in required, giving you time to set up your solar bank and/or windmill if allowed wherever you are. I wonder if anyone else has done this yet and if not why not? I'm sure there is something we're missing. My uncle says battery placement would be important for safety reasons.
Tiny homes on wheels + alternator = battery charger? Maybe watching planet green pays off huh? Anyone do this? What are your thoughts on our idea? Here's an instructables.com workshop on alternators: http://www.instructables.com/answers/How-can-I-wire-an-alternator-to-a-battery/
Here are some helpful links about the use of alternators to charge batteries:
How it works in a car: http://www.bcae1.com/charging.htm
This discussion about a similar idea does lead me to think this set up could require more gas to run the vehicle towing the tiny home on wheels: http://www.instructables.com/answers/Can-you-use-an-alternator-on-an-axle-to-recharge-b/ but since we haven't run a test, I do not know.
Another thought to reducing costs which would be great for tiny home living is of course to plan your tiny home to reflect heat, keep heat out, etc. I warn you now, there are quite a few links to come. A great discussion on building green houses that really are sustainable in hot climates can be found here: http://www.off-grid.net/forum/topic.php?id=2461#post-5948 and a nice article is found here: http://www.off-grid.net/2012/02/20/houses-that-put-money-in-your-pocket/ If you are new to considering energy conservation, this article may be a good place to start: http://www.off-grid.net/2012/02/21/a-beginner%E2%80%99s-guide-to-the-big-three-waste-water-and-electricity/ or check this one out: http://www.solarwindworks.com/pdf/RemotePowerIntro.pdf
Random note: although it would certainly not save any electricity it would put less carbon in the air, a fun instructable for when you have time on your hands....build your own electric car: http://www.instructables.com/id/Build-your-own-Electric-Car/
Obviously if you find a permanent location for your tiny home on wheels you'd want solar and wind and if you have access, water power. A combination of power sources is useful when trying to stay off grid. As this article discusses: http://www.small-cabin.com/small-cabin-off-grid-power-source.html So here are some links about each of those:
DIY Solar Panels: http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Your-Own-Electricity
DIY Solar System: http://www.instructables.com/id/Home-built-solar-power-system/
National Geographic on Solar Power: http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/solar-power-profile/
Off Grid Package: http://www.affordable-solar.com/store/solar-off-grid-remote
Off Grid Load Estimator: http://www.affordable-solar.com/residential-solar-home/Off-Grid-Load-Estimator
Sun Map: http://www.affordable-solar.com/store/solar-off-grid-remote
DIY Wind Power: http://www.treehugger.com/renewable-energy/diy-wind-power.html
H.S. DIY Wind Power Project with good links: http://greenterrafirma.com/DIY_Wind_Turbine.html
Comparisons of wind power generators: http://www.wholesalesolar.com/wind.html
National Geographic on Wind Power: http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/wind-power-profile/
How Stuff Works on Wind Power: http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/green-science/10-wind-power-facts.htm
Small scale hydro: http://www.builditsolar.com/Projects/Hydro/hydro.htm
Instructable on hydro power: http://www.instructables.com/id/Home-made-Hydro-Power-System/
And the list goes on. But I know that was a day of reading for me, so I should probably end it here. I look forward to hearing how other people are reducing their energy bill, using less electricity, or powering their tiny homes.
Friday, July 6, 2012
This morning I woke up with a bright idea. Why not ask Carlie if she'd like to switch rooms? I have been wanting to simplify my life. And I have begun doing so to some extent. The next major step for me is organizing my closet and paring down. Carlie has been living and working out of a 10 x 13 room in the house, and feels a bit cramped in there between her office and her bed. 10 x 13 is larger than some people's tiny houses, but it's not set up in the same wonderful way and part of that cramped feeling is in my opinion really due to set up, but that's another story for another blog post. Carlie feeling cramped in her room already is one reason Patch and Carlie are doubtful we could happily live in a tiny home situation, even if they had their own little hobbit holes. And if we tried moving right now to something like that, yes it would be very difficult. It makes more sense to get used to living more simply first.
I can hear some of the gears in brain boxes screeching to a halt. "WAIT WAIT WAIT... the fun is cleaning house and switching rooms?" Well, yes and no. Let me explain. When I was a young child we lived in a small bungalow within biking distance of the beach. (Probably where my love of living near water comes from) When my sister was born, my parents moved us to the foothills of LA where we lived in much larger house on larger plot of land, gardened, shared fruits and vegetables with wonderful neighbors, and had a rather idealic childhood. The memory I have of this house, and it is probably a false one, is that my room was HUGE! It seemed cavernous, especially as it was a jack and jill room with my sister and that curtain that sometimes seperated the rooms was usually open. One would think bigger is better, because that is what our culture teaches us, but that is where I started having recurring nightmares. Around the 5th grade we moved to Irvine, CA where my parents bought a condo with a small easy to care for yard (mom was tired of gardening) and a sewing room which they turned into my room. They figured my sister needed to spread out, and I really didn't. And they were right.
In college I lived in the dorms, shared rooms in apartments, couch surfed for a while after the big 94 earthquake in Northridge, and then lived in a closet. Not metaphorically, but actually had my bed and dresser in the closet. My roommate used one wall as her closet and the rest was my room. It was a decent sized walk in closet and about the size of the room I had in Irvine. I actually loved it, because it was like a little bear den. My cave if you will. I have always enjoyed huddling up in the corner of the couch, cocooning myself under my blankets, curling up in the nook of a tree branch, or wrapping myself in a hammock. People often compared me to a cat.
|Tumbleweed & Interior|
Now the question is, do I take the 100 item challenge and pare down to just 100 things in the room, or do I just pare down randomly and see where it goes? We will see. Tomorrow Carlie and I will begin deciding what to move first, which items can wait to be moved next weekend, and what will not be moved at all (will she use my furniture and I use hers?) I am looking forward to the adventure!
Thursday, June 28, 2012
Due to my interest in tiny homes, I have found some great websites but for today I'm going to focus in on one specifically, and that is Tiny r(E)volution. The man behind Tiny r(E)volution, Andrew Odom, has been pretty good about setting up an easy to use internet presence. He runs a blog/website, a community to chat about tiny houses on Facebook under the same name, and a 30 minute podcast which is like a perfect snack of goodness. I also really love their website which shows the process and budget the Odoms are using to build their own tiny home. You can find them at:
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/the-tiny-revolution/2012/06/28/tiny-revolution-and-the-tiny-house-world-episode-4 where he talked with the Schwarz brothers about their tiny house building project. They will be building a tiny off grid house and then taking it to Burning Man for the thousands of people there to look at and fall in love with. Their goal it seems, is not only to live off grid, but also to show other people how easy it is to build your own tiny home. You can check out their Kickstarter for the project at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1291194015/schwarz-tiny-house-and-our-journey-to-burning-man and remember you can contribute anything from $1 on up. I went for the $7 pledge for now and in thanks they will send me a bumper sticker which I will put on my recumbent trike since I don't drive. I promise to post a photo of that when the sticker arrives.
One of the reasons I was excited to hear about this, is that I have been considering starting a kickstarter project for a tiny home and garden. Actually, I have been bouncing this idea around with a local non profit for some time as an idea for their backyard. That may still happen at some point in the future, but then yesterday I ran across an ad on Craigslist of all places for a tiny plot of land right up the street from me in Laveen, AZ. It is 25 x 60 feet, and would be perfect to build a vertical aquaponics system for growing food to help cut down on the cosst of living, or perhaps set up as a community garden with a caretaker's cottage/tiny home on it. I will be taking a look at the property tomorrow to see if it would work for such a project. It sounds to me like it would be perfect for a Bare Simplicity test site on which I could work with neighbors and a local school to learn about aquaponics and vertical gardening, and living off grid. I will let you know if one of these tiny house projects gets off the ground and keep you updated here.
In the mean time, I wish the Schwarz brothers all the best on their project and thank you Andrew for introducing me to it! What I really love is their reasoning behind the project, which is the love of getting back to simplicity. I am looking forward to seeing how their Kickstarter project comes out! Because as they say at Tiny r(E)v, one can not only survive, but truly thrive in a tiny house. And if you haven't checked them out yet, enjoy the podcast archives! http://www.blogtalkradio.com/the-tiny-revolution
Friday, June 22, 2012
I am the grandchild of immigrants. My great grandparents moved here hoping for a better opportunity for their children just in time to put their kids through the great depression. They built their own home on a small island near San Fransisco, and my uncle lives in it today. Some of the people I am descended from may have moved here to escape famine. And recently I learned that some faced persecution because apparently they were not supposed to marry their spouse based on where they came from. Irish people are after all dangerous, hot headed, criminals. (or such was the "common knowledge" of the day)
I think that people forget that this country has in the past put people into camps merely based on their heritage, enslaved people, legislated some people are less human than others, and killed so many indigenous people. Some people seem to think we have overcome those things and can never backslide. Some seem to think no one has to fight for their rights anymore, because we should all be treated equally under the law. Some people are wrong.
In my life, it is time to simplify. The simple truth is that we are all human. No matter our differences, we are all human.
To test if the results were as wonderful as they seemed, I used up the rest of my store bought shampoo afterwards and compared results. It was a 90% natural store bought shampoo, but apparently the 10% non natural bit is really not something my body likes, because the dry flaky patches are returning, and so are the red splotches on my face. I have to admit, I am very surprised. I remember saying to Patch. I may as well use this other stuff up before recycling the bottle. I didn't want to waste something we had already paid for in an effort to reduce, reuse, recycle. Because when you think about it, waste is not green. Besides, I told myself it was a pretty well made shampoo, it probably wouldn't be any different. But it was.
The xantham gum was completely unnecessary if you are OK with washing with a liquid and not a gel. However I set out to make a combination shampoo and body washing gel, because I wanted something which was similar to what I have been using for years, just healthier, less taxing on the environment, and lower cost. If you do not happen to have any on hand, make the aloe shampoo without it and I am sure you will find it just as wonderful since the only thing the xantham gum was used for was a natural thickening agent.
The body wash I made with the flax seeds in it was a bit of a disappointment. I didn't like the smell or the texture. A friend liked the smell, so perhaps I should have offered it to her. On an up note, it did seem to be helping my skin problems. I just didn't like the smell of rosemary when mixed with tea tree oil.
I will however be making the original recipe again and using it as a shampoo/body wash instead, which was really my goal anyway. I still have aloe left, and the other ingredients are all in the pantry, so I am looking forward to using it again. I will wash the old shampoo bottle and reuse it to hold my home made shampoo/body wash, as it came in a nice dark green bottle which will help protect the aloe shampoo/body wash from light.
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
When I noticed it and thanked her, it also reminded me of some other things we'd been needing to discuss. We talked about how we really need to change our mindset about finances. Living more from the perspective Patch lives from, less from the one we tend to have, which is money in, money out. Instead, we plan to live on more of a budget. (and move towards living on a tighter budget) We also talked a bit about consumerism and changing our mindset to more of a what can we do/make ourselves, and do we really NEED that? We will see how it goes. Step by step!
By the way, I finally took the Pinterest plunge. Here's my Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/baresimplicity/
Monday, June 11, 2012
Here are some helpful links I found:
I happened to have vodka left over from a party we made jello shots for, so I used that, but apparently you can use rum or brandy for Almond or Vanilla extracts. I guess you could use them for orange and lemon as well, but they are not recommended for orange. Probably because it is a light flavor and might be overwhelmed by the rum or brandy. Vodka is a cleaner flavor, and by far the cheapest, so that's what I went with for now. I will probably try a bit of brandy and rum based extracts in the future. This is my first time doing this, I will post in a couple months or so with information about how it went.
1 cup Vodka
8 raw, peeled, chopped or roughly ground almonds
1 bottle (preferably with dark brown glass, but any bottle will do)
1 paper bag (if you can't find a dark brown glass bottle, this keeps the light out)
Roughly chop or grind 8 raw almonds
Place in bottle or jar (I used an old peanut butter jar we had cleaned)
Poor 1 cup (8 oz) Vodka into jar over almonds
Tightly seal jar
Shake and place in a cool dark place (paper bag in the pantry)
Mark the date and type of extract on the paper bag or jar, this will help you remember when it will be ready
Almonds can apparently be whole if they are peeled
Make sure whatever alcohol you use covers whatever ingredient you are extracting flavor from to prevent mold
You can filter the extract through a coffee filter when it is done to remove the bits of almond, vanilla, orange peel, etc. But some directions did not include this step
I am told this stuff will last forever. If you're a Prepper, this might be a good skill to have for later trade
Sunday, June 10, 2012
Don't get me wrong, I am generally happy. I have a loving family, pets we enjoy, and a neighborhood that is working to build community, unlike many these days which are just groupings of people who don't even wave as they pass on the street. But I find that many parts of the American Dream we have clung to do not fit me and my family as well as we expected. Our eyes were too big for our tummy.
Rather than dreaming of some day when are no longer running like rats in a maze to reach some dream other people say we should have, we have decided to start paring down NOW. To simplify our lives. I highly recommend the above link, it was what inspired me to realize that although in some ways we had already started doing so, there is so much more that we can do right now in this moment to simplify our lives, and so I started this blog to keep track of the steps we are taking along the way.
Recently I came across a link which also sums it up pretty well for those who don't want to read through The Simpler Way Report: http://simplicityinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/The-Simpler-Way-Report-12a.pdf The shorter read would be 21 Easy Hacks to Simplify Your Life: http://zenhabits.net/21-easy-hacks-to-simplify-your-life/