Sunday, March 30, 2008

Some Interesting Ideas (A Home Visit)

We went to visit my parents this past week. They live up in Montana in an early 80's ranch that they are currently remodeling with vigor. In addition, they are creating a very low impact lifestyle with their changes. Here's some of the unique ideas they have used in their house:

It is solid maple hardwood flooring, hand dyed in primary colors and installed in a random pattern.

Bathroom Vanity/Sink:
As you can see, the bathroom is not completely finished, but the sink and vanity are completed. They have taken an old writing desk and inserted the sink into it. They are very environmentally conscious, and so are draining the sink into a copper pail beneath instead of into the sewer line.

Kitchen Storage:
No cabinets in this kitchen... everything is displayed artistically on iron racks, wall shelves, and hooks.

What are they doing to create a low-impact lifestyle?
  • Composting all food and paper scraps
  • Growing their own food and eating vegan
  • Using the sun to heat their greenhouse
  • Dropping the heat at night and using hot water bottles
  • Recycling all greywater into plant water
  • Line drying all laundry
  • Walking to the grocery store; only one car for the family
  • Not using a microwave or refrigerator

Friday, March 28, 2008

Yes, I'm Still Here!

Sorry for the lack of posts... injuring my hand bumped right up against a spring break trip to visit family. I'll be back on Monday or Tuesday with more, including pics of my family's house renovations.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Caught a mouse...

Last night my husband saw something moving out of the corner of his eye. It ran into our furnace closet quick as can be.

Useless Pest-a-Cator 2000. It is obviously NOT keeping the mice out of OUR house.

I thought I had been hearing mouse sounds for the last couple weeks, but I could never find any signs of them.

We took out the mousetraps from behind the bed and in the study, and they were clean as a whistle... and improperly set.

We set the traps properly.

This morning, there was a mouse.

(Update on my hand... it is healing well. Thanks for all your well wishes!)

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Projects on Hold (And One Handed Typing)

It was a long day yesterday...woke up too early and worked too long.

We decided to go get a nice bottle of wine from the liquor store for dinner.

We picked up a few and noticed that our favorite was on sale ($3 off!) so I grabbed a few more... and one slipped! I stupidly bent down to grab it as it fell and sliced my hand open on the broken glass as it shattered.

Sigh. Not very smart.

Trip to urgent care... xrays to make sure the glass was all out. Luckily, it was fairly shallow (but huge and long), so no stitches were needed.

I have a HUGE pink bandaged hand now, a bunch of antibiotics, and a new tetanus shot. The worst part is that I can't get it wet for 5 days.

I'm hoping the bill isn't too big, and that insurance covers some of it... at least they didn't charge us for the broken wine bottle!

At least I can still play with SketchUp. It only needs one hand.

Friday, March 14, 2008

More Backroom Plans... I think I have something now!

Thanks for all of your wonderful suggestions! It really helps me hack through this process.

A few of you asked what program I'm using to create my 3D layouts. I'm using SketchUp, a free program from Google. I must say it is quite easy to use; I figured it out through trial and error. I just have the basics down; I have seen some FABULOUS models elsewhere.

We thought through our priorities, and decided that the dogs could sleep in a bathroom/laundry room, that we didn't REALLY need a side back door AND a back back door, and that a bathroom really would be nice. We already traded for a stackable washer and dryer to help with our plans.

A snag came up when we realized the trap door for the crawl space is right where we wanted to place a wall; we compromised by shrinking the bedroom by a foot. It's now a 10' x 13' bedroom; the largest in the house by FAR, and with no closet eating up space inside it. I am also concerned about placing a sink over this trap door... is this a good idea, or a disaster waiting to happen?

Here are two ideas; look at how far they came from my last attempt! The trap door is the square on the floor of the laundry/bathroom area.



Basically, I divided the space up into a 10'x13' bedroom and two 7'x5' spaces, one a walk in closet and one a laundry or bathroom. I removed the side back door, and added our salvaged French doors to the bedroom.

I can't decide about doors... should the closet and laundry room have their own separate entrances from the bedroom (I'll likely do pocket doors for at least one of them), or should I have only ONE door that into the bathroom, and then a door from there into the closet? I drew the plans with a separate door for each.

Whether we do the bathroom will depend on the ease of plumbing. In the little bit of research I've done, it sounds alternately like the easiest thing in the whole world and like I've asked to move the Empire State Building. It doesn't help that I don't really know what needs to be done except we need the 4 inch drain and we already have plumbing in the wall...

What are your thoughts on these floorplans? Any ideas on how hard or easy it might be to install a new bathroom in a wood framed house over a crawl space, using an existing wet wall (kitchen)?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Adventures in HTML- New Layout for the Blog

Patience today as I mess with the HTML functions of my blog. It may get funky... hold on for the ride!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Camera! Action! Lights!

I stressed about the lights in the study all week. Then, I walked into ReSource, a local salvage and used building supply purveyor on my way home from picking up the pillars.

I saw these shades and bases:


Three of each, to be exact. They aren't from the same light... in fact, they probably aren't even from the same decade, though I am bad at that (anyone have any guesses for the true age of either?). They look really cute together, though!

Can't beat the price: $5 for each complete light fixture
Can't beat the environmental impact: Three light fixtures reused

Here's what it looks like on the ceiling:


I took the light from the study and moved it into the living room; quite an improvement over the nipple lamp.

I discovered some scary looking wiring in the lightbox of my study:

Here are some before and after shots, including a picture of the never before seen "smallest room in the house" (it's 8'x10' minus a closet, and my studio).

Front Study (my husband's)

Before: (with huge light)




Back Study (Mine)

(This room is the only one with those neat windows, and this is the ONLY shot I can get of the room and the light at the same time, since it's so small)


Living Room




(Complete with two sleeping puppies)


I would love any ideas you have about the scariness of the electrical wires in my ceiling or the age of the light fixtures!

Monday, March 10, 2008

A Porch Post

Craigslist strikes again! Despite not having the time to do anything productive on the house, I glanced through my local Craigslist listings. I noticed a post offering 12-8' posts for $120... and I bit, as porch posts (even in poor to fair condition) can cost $60 or more a piece around here.

The posts are redwood, and in fair condition (though much better condition than the rotting and broken posts on our porch currently).

Due to some unfortunate removal processes, the bottoms of most are broken; luckily I only need 4 for my porch, and there are four in good condition up and down the entire 8 feet.

I'm thinking of making a backyard gazebo out of the rest (I can cut the bottoms off for that purpose), or possibly using them to construct the deck we want to build off of the back. It might be neat if the back porch mimics the front! Then again, I can always sell off the rest of them and make most of my money back.

Three cheers for the man who sold them to me; he was working a job site and saw the workers hacking them up and tossing them in a demolition. He was able to convince them to save the last 12 from the landfill. Here's to re-use!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Update on Danby Washer and Dryer

It's been 3 days and 5 loads of laundry (I've been washing EVERYTHING to see how it works) since we got our new Danby washer and dryer. To review, it is Energy Star rated, front loading, and small; the old set was top loading and huge.

Here's why I am in LOVE with my new washer and dryer:

Our washer drains into the same pipe as the sink; for some reason (faulty plumbing, I would assume), the water drained out of the old washer had always backed up into the sink as it drained, as there is too much water to go down at once. It would fill the sink up most of the way in overflow drainage... and it would do this 3 times during a cycle.

The NEW washer does NOT fill up the sink at all! It does not drain enough water at once to overload the drain... and it still drains those three times. I ran over to the sink to check during the first 3 loads.

That is a LOT of water saved each time we run the washer!

Plus, the spin cycle on the washer (we have it set to 1000 rpm) pulls a LOT of water out of the clothes, so the drying time isn't as long. I was used to drying clothes for more than an hour in the old dryer. Now, it takes about 30 minutes.

That is a LOT of electricity saved each time we run the dryer!

Finally, I use 1/2 TBSP of laundry detergent for every load in the new machine. I used to put in 3/4 cup of detergent to get my clothes clean in the old top loader.

That is a LOT of detergent saved each time we wash our clothes!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Study Lights... YES or NO?

I fell in love with this light (and the price) on Oh, Bungalow a month ago... and then I vowed to Trim the Fat and not spend money on such frivolities in February. It's March now, and the study lights were killing me.

I wrestled with hanging first one (in my husband's study) for most of the afternoon... and now I'm not so sure I like it. It seems a little big. Or hangy. Or something.


That will show ME to go spend money. Back to no money spending... a renewal of vows.

Though, I actually have designs on it for the living room ... there is an ugly nipple lamp there that we were not going to replace, since it's not completely offensive:


Maybe the nipple lamp will work better in the office. The new light will definitely look better in the living room.

What do you think?

Monday, March 3, 2008


This morning while browsing through some of my favorite blogs, I noticed everyone's crocuses were coming up. Aimee has gorgeous, saturated yellow crocuses in her flower beds, and Jen and her dogs have beautiful purple and white crocuses scattered through their yard. Minhus even talked about the emerging spring flowers in her garden... and posted some gorgeous cut flowers.

I was feeling a little left out, a little lonely in my flowerless existence. No spring flowers for me.

Then I stepped outside to get the mail... and saw THIS:


My very first spring flower... a bright yellow crocus. It makes me want to SING! Definitely worth the $40 I spent on bulbs last fall.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

What a Trade! (or Simple Amusements)

Thanks to some wonderful suggestions you all made on my backroom plans, I started looking at stackable washers and dryers for our laundry room. I was in research mode; I wanted to see what a nice used stackable set would cost us, and how much we could get for our existing HUGE General Electric washer and dryer.

I searched through Craigslist (I search Craigslist for everything), and discovered a couple that wanted to TRADE their Danby Energy Star efficient, compact, stackable, and front-loading washer and dryer set for a BIG washer and dryer... exactly what we have.

We unhooked our extra larger washer and dryer (It is AMAZING how much dirt and dust collects behind your washer and dryer!), and drove down to Denver to trade.

We just hooked up the new set and popped in a load of whites... it is SO QUIET! I can barely hear it. And, it filled up with a QUARTER of the water that our old washer used. We sat and watched the washer work for 15 minutes... it's quite fun to watch a front loader washing machine work. Simple amusements for simple people.

We haven't used the dryer yet, but I have high hopes. The only negative that I can see to this set is that it is somewhat small... it only holds medium to large loads. That is not a problem for the two of us in our tiny house, luckily.

I can't wait to see what our electric and water bill savings will be. Here's to saving just a little more of the earth AND saving space and money.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Bamboo Window Shades

I installed a few bamboo window shades in our kitchen and living room today. It's amazing what nice window coverings will do for a room.



The living room after:

The curtains ended up VERY purple in the picture... they are actually the same color as the kitchen walls. That's what using the backlight function on your camera will do for color, I guess.

If you have never installed bamboo shades before, it is extremely easy: they hang from two hooks you screw into the upper part of your window frame. Simply hold the shade in place to mark the holes, drill two small holes, screw in the hooks, and hand the shade.

We are excited to use them this summer to keep our house more cool (by keeping the sun out).