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.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The car decision

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

Energy Conservation and Tiny Homes

Funds are tight around our house right now. Tighter than usual because not only did Carlie's hours recently get cut, but most of our normal funds were spent on Pixie, our sick dog, who almost died of toxicity from dark chocolate when someone who shall remain nameless left the cupboard open. We put a safety hinge on that pantry now so no one can leave it open by accident, and I moved our dark chocolate to an air tight container in a cupboard the pets can't reach.

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 workshop on alternators:

Here are some helpful links about the use of alternators to charge batteries:
How it works in a car:
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: 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: and a nice article is found here: If you are new to considering energy conservation, this article may be a good place to start: or check this one out:

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 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: So here are some links about each of those:

DIY Solar Panels:
DIY Solar System:
National Geographic on Solar Power:
Off Grid Package:
Off Grid Load Estimator:
Sun Map:

DIY Wind Power:
H.S. DIY Wind Power Project with good links:
Comparisons of wind power generators:
National Geographic on Wind Power:
How Stuff Works on Wind Power:

Small scale hydro:
Instructable on hydro power:

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

Tiny Living, Big Home

I have been a tiny home admirer for some time. Some would even call me an enthusiast. I dream of living on my own property in a tiny house, with a creek or river or some body of water nearby, trees, and an aquaponics system/vertical farm. Obviously my loved ones are there and somehow we have the ability to live off grid and have it be sustainable. I call it our Sustainable Sanctuary and we talk about it as our home where we will vacation and retire, but I'd love it at any time, like NOW. Sometimes we jokingly call it "The place we'll go when zombies attack" but it's always somewhere in the future or fantasy land. This year has been slightly different, in that it moved into reality zone for Patch and Carlie, and we realized we are all on the same page, they just had not realized how doable it actually is.

We still talk about it as vacation/retirement plans, but it's a real plan that we are working towards, rather than a nebulous hope. When I started this blog, I set about focusing on the present and how I could live more simply in the hear and now. In my current situation it's not possible to up and move onto a little cabin in the woods. Tho we do love going to Christopher Creek and such whenever possible, we don't live there. We live in a big house in Laveen, AZ right across the street from farms and ranches we enviously drool over but don't have the funds for, nor really have the knowledge to run anyway.

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.

Rather than being frustrated with our current living situation being unsustainable and my family not being ready to change our situation, I decided to focus on how I personally can live more simply in our current home. I asked for a solar oven for my birthday whether it was home made or purchased *crossing my fingers hopefully* and today I asked to switch rooms and pare down. Now the real fun begins. Cleaning house, and switching rooms!

 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
Perhaps this is why tiny homes appeal to me. This may make me sound a bit OCD, but I also like the way everything has it's place and there is no room for disorder. In Irvine I had loved the Ikea furniture my Dad and I build which fit perfectly into the corner of the room giving me a bed which also was a bookshelf and had a desk attached. When I lived in the dorms we fit 2 people into a small cube of a room with 2 beds, 2 floor to ceiling closets, 2 small dressers, and 2 desks plus a tiny fridge and a hot plate. It was like Legos. I like the creativity required for living in small spaces. On the opposite end of the scale, my current room is so huge that it has left me feeling a bit lost. I've left it in disarray and it's stressful. I step on things, trip on things, and lose things in there. It's huge and I feel like I have to add more stuff to fill the huge space. So why not downsize my room? Carlie was feeling cramped, I was feeling lost in space, sounds like the perfect idea right?

Thankfully when I shared my idea with her, she agreed. I am so grateful to have Patch and Carlie in my life, and I just want us all to be happy, healthy, and thriving in whatever lives we have. So it made me really happy to know that I can thank her for all she's done in my life by giving her the space she wants, while simultaneously allowing myself to simplify my life and downsize. She had previously not been open to the idea, but said that now that she understands that having more space does not make me happier, and that switching rooms is mutually beneficial, she is happy about it. I suspect living in a smaller space will be much more peaceful even if it's surrounded by a large home. I am very excited at this new prospect and look forward to redecorating as cheaply, beautifully, and sustainably as possible. I have some ideas in mind already about reclaiming wood... I may try sleeping in a hammock and see if it's as comfortable as I remember in which case we would be moving the bed into the guest room and giving the futon to a friend in need.

 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!