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Still Alive! And Looking for Ideas!

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I am SO sorry that I started the blog with all kinds of energy and ideas and then fell off the map.  I kept waiting for life to be less crazy and I may finally have acknowledged that that is a crazy idea.  🙂

We’re still waiting for our house to sell – can’t do a whole lot until then – but one of the things I CAN do – is ask for ideas.  And addresses.  Since we’re planning on travelling for at least a year, we’d LOVE to have ideas on where to go!  Here’s your chance to tell us about your favourite:

Museums

Restaurants

Thrift Stores

Sanctuaries

Public Art

Events!

Micro-Breweries!

National Parks

Cemetaries

And anything else you think would be something Mark & I might love.  I’d also really like to get YOUR addresses to have on hand (you can privately message those to me!)  And do you have the room to have us park next to your house/in your driveway for a day or a couple?  As far as I know if we could get plugged in and a hose attached to us, we’d be pretty darned happy.  And maybe the ability to do some laundry 🙂  Please don’t presume I have your address (unless it’s Kris, I DO know yours!).

I’m sure I’ll think of some other ideas of places we’d like to see/visit – just keep in mind money WILL be an issue.  So, for example, if there’s a museum that’s totally cool but has a free day or reduced admission – let me know!

AND – keep in mind – that we’ll have an oven – so if you know we’ll be going near you at a certain time – feel free to order off my dessert menu!  I think I may be adding to that in the near future as well….

So.  I promise to get you all up to date on what has happened since I posted last, and I look forward to hearing all your suggestions on food and art and fabulous places to visit!

The photo by the way – Mark & I have a love affair with kitsch.  That was in a thrift store.  Somewhere.  Mark would know.

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2nd Day – 2nd Tiny House – Thank Heavens!

Sorry I didn’t do the Las Vegas Seminar Day Two very quickly – we’ve been helping a dear friend do sub-q fluids on 4 5-week old kittens that she’s fostering – and for some reason I really like to post my blogs around 6 in the evening, and that’s when we’re torturing the kittens.

Anyway.

So, Day One of the Tumbleweed Seminar was really good albeit overwhelming, and then kind of ended on not the greatest of notes for me – with my not liking the Tiny House at the Gold Spike Casino AT ALL.  But, I’m fairly Pollyanna-ish, and I knew we’d be seeing Guillaume & Jenna’s Tiny House the next day.  So, paws were crossed.

The photo is of their Tiny House, attached to their B.A.T. (Big Ass Truck).  From the moment I saw theirs, I was in love.  The outside is stunning – they repurposed old barn lumber for the outside of theirs – which added a fair amount of weight – but made it spectacular and unique and INVITING in appearance.

And then I went inside.

SWOON.

I’ll be showing more photos, not to worry – but it was SO welcoming, and comfortable, and felt spacious/cozy, and I could happily have kicked them out and moved in right then.  Plus, it was reassuring size-wise, because Mark could stand up UNDER the loft, with a whole INCH of spare headroom!  They had a crazy staircase made of wooden crates (added storage!), so I could go up into their loft.  Plus, they had the dormers AND a sky-light – so it felt so open and inviting and roomy!

I can’t tell you what a relief it was to have SUCH a positive response to their Tiny House – I was SO excited and happy and couldn’t wait to get started!

There were two items in their Tiny House that really helped me to make a couple of decisions as well.  One we’ll talk about in MUCH more detail – the composting toilet.

Going into the weekend seminar – I was NOT in favor.  I like going to the restroom and flushing and things just go away.  But (heehee) I have to say that the idea of an RV style toilet with a blackwater tank – and having to attach hoses and suck it out and dispose of it – THAT really horrified me.  Ella PROMISED us in the seminar that composting toilets were DELIGHTFUL and did NOT SMELL- and I can tell you – cross my heart and hope to die – that there was NO odour at all in Guillaume & Jennas Tiny House.  Plus, when I really did start thinking about the fact that we use clean, potable water to flush our waste – and knowing what a drought is hitting the West Coast, well, I was a convert by the weekend end.  We will be going into more detail on composting toilets later.  (Wheeee!)

thgj_20150308_3266_lrThe second item that Guillaume & Jenna had – oh my goodness – I can’t even begin to tell you how much I covet it – is the cutest little tiny itty bitty wood burning stove that is designed to be used on ships.  If any one who is reading this is English – this stove is TWEE!  I WANT one!  And in fact – we’re planning on having one, so Guillaume and Jenna can sleep in peace, not worrying that I’m going to break in and steal theirs.

I think the cats are going to be in heaven – stairs, TONS of windows, Mom & Dad EVERY night, AND a wood burning stove.

Life is good.

Now I’m off to torture kittens.

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Finally Getting to the Las Vegas Seminar!

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The photo is of the Elm model Tiny House by Tumbleweed.  This one is a 24′ model at the Gold Spike Casino – we got to go in at the end of the first day of the seminar – more on that in a bit.

So back up to the end of last year, beginning of this year.  Mark & I were toying with the idea of downsizing – I was interested in diving into the deep end – I was thinking Yep – Tiny House.  Mark was thinking more – smaller house.  Tumbleweed designs a lot of different types of houses – not just Tiny Houses on Trailers, and Mark was thinking more of a 700 square foot cottage.

Hm.  One person is thinking 180 square feet, one is thinking 700.  That’s a hard one to compromise on.  So when I saw the Tumbleweed Tiny Home Seminar advertised – and it was going to be in Las Vegas (FABULOUS food city!) a bit before my birthday – it seemed perfect.   Maybe with some more knowledge, we’d be able to make a future decision on something we BOTH wanted.

The seminar was FABULOUS – there were two presentors, Ella & Guillaume.  Ella (for those of you Best Frienders who know Bobbie Foster – Ella not only LOOKS like her, but they could be twins in terms of mannerisms, speech patterns, WAY of speaking, and choices of words.  Ella did NOT have Bobbie’s laugh, however :).  When Ella said at one point – ‘we’re going to be discussing composting toilets after lunch and how DELIGHTFUL they are!’  I could TOTALLY hear Bobbie saying it just that way) was a wonderful presentor – as was Guillaume.  The seminar is set up on the theory that you’re going to build your Tiny House yourself, and that you’ve pretty much never built anything before.  So, it’s from the trailer up.  Ella had gone to a Tiny House seminar with her father, and then decided to build it herself, with his help.  One of my most favorite things she had to say was – I’d never built anything before, but I’d made a dress once!

There were quite a few times during the seminar when I felt TOTALLY over my head – but I seemed to catch up or catch on after a little while – it was just A LOT of material.  (And don’t worry, we SHALL be discussing composting toilets at a later date!)

The Gold Spike Casino in Las Vegas owns the Tiny House pictured, along with a very beautiful AirStream, and it was arranged that after the conclusion of the first day, any one who wanted could meet at the Gold Spike, and take a look at the Tiny House, and ask Guillaume and Jenna (his partner) and Ella more questions.  I was pretty excited about this, as I’d never actually BEEN IN a Tiny House – so Mark got us there and even found free parking.  🙂  (Mark is not only a FABULOUS photographer, he is an amazing driver and navigator).

From the outside it’s gorgeous – I love the roofline, and the colors they chose.  So, with a lot of excitement, I went inside.

And I HATED IT!

Oh dear.

This is what I’d been putting my thoughts, my energy, our money for the seminar towards – did I really not like it?

So, I closed my eyes, took a deep breath (I knew I was tired and hungry, not a great combo for being clear headed and open minded for me) and opened my eyes and looked around and

HATED IT!

I hated EVERYTHING about it.

I hated the way it was laid out.

The ladder.

It felt claustrophobic and cramped and there was no way on the planet that I could live in one of these WITH Mark AND the four cats.

I felt like bursting into tears – I was SO disappointed.  It was almost as bad (maybe worse) than the time I finally got to try Turkish Delight and decided it was one of the most vile things I had EVER put in my mouth.  (If you aren’t a Chronicles of Narnia fan you’re not going to get that reference, sorry).

But – devastated and disappointed though I was, I didn’t say any of that out loud.  Instead I grilled poor Jenna about theirs (which we were going to be able to see the next day) and their travels, and and and (there were a LOT of questions about the toilet).

And then we left and went out to eat.  We went to Mint – which is quite possibly one of, if not THE best Indian food restaurant I’ve ever been to.  And I ate and drank and thought – tomorrow is another day.

The day ended on a very ironic note.  Mark & I do not have TV hookup because I get addicted.  (We have Roku).  Thus, when we stay in hotels, I go into a MARATHON HGTV watching frenzy (sometimes the Food Channel too).  I love all the house hunting shows, and the flipping houses shows – and that night I was watching House Hunters International.  I don’t remember what country we were in, but I do remember the couple looking for a house were from Texas.  And it was JUST the two of them.  TWO PEOPLE.  ONE COUPLE.

And the house they decided on buying was 15,000 square feet.

FIFTEEN THOUSAND SQUARE FEET.

Nearly ONE HUNDRED times the size of the house I was thinking of moving into.

Now – please don’t misunderstand me.  I don’t have an objection to any one buying a house of that size, if that is TRULY what they want and desire.  My issues stem back to – is it REALLY what you want?  Or is it what you THINK YOU SHOULD want because you CAN afford it?  I think a lot of times people just get caught up in doing what they feel they should, or what society says is the ‘norm’.  I do NOT think everyone should live in Tiny Houses – I know they’re extreme and not for all and sundry.  But I have to say I think 15,000 square feet for two people (their son might visit) is a bit excessive.

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Catch Up and Future Thoughts

(The photo was made by Mark Morgan on our trip back from Colorado – the rock formation is Shiprock, but Mark titled it Castle.  Isn’t if FABULOUS?)

We’ve had so many people asking what our plans are once we GET the Tiny House, and WHERE we’re getting it, and and and  – that this is a catch you all up post.

The thoughts for the future are – (I hesitate to say Plans, because Life likes to MOCKINGLY LAUGH at Plans in my humble opinion) so the thoughts are – once we sell our house here, we’ll move up to Portland and rent a studio or one bedroom place.  We’ll order the Tiny House (takes 12 weeks from order to delivery, roughly).  We’ll sell our Nissan and our Honda if we haven’t sold them before, and buy a B.A.T.  We’ll sell all the rest of the stuff we aren’t going to be keeping either on Craigs List or Ebay (although ideally we’ll have sold most of it before we move up there).

Now, one of the many things we don’t know yet is if we’re a) going to buy the Tiny House completely done or b) do what they call a barn-raiser – which is where a certain portion of the Tiny House is done, and you finish doing it.  It’s a lot cheaper that way, but then you’re talking labour, and a learning curve, and needing to have a place to work on it, etc.  So, we’re not sure yet.  For some of you a major thought would be – have you BUILT a house before?  And the answer is – No.  But neither have the majority of people who build their own Tiny Houses.  As Ella (spectacular co-presentor at the seminar) said – I’d never built a house before, but hey, I made a dress once!  So there we are.  🙂

Once the Tiny House is done either by Tumbleweed or by us, we will pack it, take the cats for a test spin, and then take off on a more-or-less year long road trip through the U.S.

After that, the thoughts are – land in or near Portland, on a bit of land that has a garage or a shop, where we can continue to do the Upcycling of Unwanted and Sad Furniture into fabulously New and Desirable Cat Furniture for people to line up around the block in their desire to give us lots of money to Buy.

The ULTIMATE thought, is to eventually have a place that would be part Art Gallery/part Consignment Store/part upscale Thrift Store (benefitting House of Dreams, of course!) and a cat or two up for adoption.

And yes, the thought is that we would continue to live in the Tiny House.

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And We’re Back!

I have a LOT of catching up to do with the blog!  I have photos of the seminar in Las Vegas to share, and photos of the Tiny Houses we saw at Tumbleweed in Colorado Springs, and of course, some assorted animals and quirky stuff.

We had SUCH a spectacular trip!  We were gone for 5 nights, and 4 of those we stayed with different friends and their furkids.  First night we were in Grand Junction, the next was near Denver, then Castle Rock, then Colorado Springs itself, and one night on our own, in Durango.

It was my first time in Colorado, and what a gorgeous state!  At least all the parts I saw!  And SUCH a delicious state!  Although, I have to admit, I’m BEYOND jealous at the number of micro-breweries.  They were as ubiquitous as Thai food in Portland, OR.  And I wanted to try them ALL.  Which didn’t happen, but we did try several, and they were all stellar.

The trip started out perfectly – with breakfast at a restaurant I have wanted to go to for YEARS – Hells Backbone Grill.  Located in Boulder, UT, and run by two extraordinary women – Jen & Blake (the co-owners and co-chefs).  I was lucky enough to have had their cooking several times, when they catered different events at Best Friends Animal Society, when I was working there.  And for one of our anniversaries, my husband got me their cookbook – A Measure of Grace.  I am, as most of you know, a major foodie, and I read the cookbook cover to cover.  Three times.  In all seriousness – even if you do not LIKE FOOD – get the book.  It’s as much about being happy, and LIVING life, as it is about food.  A Measure of Grace was published 11 years ago, and they were SUPPOSED to have another book out this year, but I noticed on the postcards advertising it that 2015 was changed to 2016.  Anticipation……..

So – breakfast was amazing.  I had the blue corn pancakes with cinnamon butter on the side (Mark is allergic to cinnamon – nothing epi-pen worthy – but icky results), and a side of bacon, and Mark had the JenChiladas which was one of the best dishes I have ever eaten.  Seriously. It was one of  those dishes that the flavors are so layered that each bite stuns you into blissful oblivion.  Super flavorful but not overwhelmingly spicy, with potatoes, and eggs, and cheese and HOMEMADE tortillas and I don’t even know what else except a lot of love.  Oh, and their coffee rocked too.  It was a magnificent start to a great trip.

I realize about now, that I need to clarify what this blog is going to be.  If you’re wanting to know how to build a Tiny House, and you need to know it NOW, well, there are better blogs out there.  This is about me, and Mark (and I will be doing full on intro’s of both of us, in case someone is reading this and DOESN’T know who we are!) and our cats, and food, and the odd and the quirky and the beautiful.  Things I find funny or thoughtful.  Marks photography. And of course, a LOT about Tiny Houses.  And once we HAVE the Tiny House and are living in it – it will be about our trip!  But wait, that’s coming.

And – I will try to remember to give photo credit where photo credit is due – this photo was made by my amazingly talented husband – Mark Morgan.

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Road Trip!

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In about a week, Mark & I are taking a road trip to Colorado!  The main purpose of the trip is to go to the Tumbleweed ‘factory’ in Colorado Springs.  They have two models there for touring, one is the Mica – which is the rectangular ‘box’ in the photo on the left – which I’m very excited to look at since it’s one level.  The other is the Cypress (photo on the right), which is the model we’re thinking of.  Plus, we’ll get to talk with the people there and ask them 14 billion questions.  Seriously.  I have a list.

There are basically three ways of purchasing a Tumbleweed home – you can either buy it completely done, or you can buy the plans (and the trailer if you want) and do it completely yourself.  The third option is what they refer to as a Barn Raiser where quite a bit has been done for you, and you finish it yourself.

We’re leaning towards the latter – partly because it’s a lot cheaper (although then you are talking your labor) and because I LOVE the idea of being able to say, and think, and feel – I helped build my HOUSE!  To know it that intimately I think is super special.  Oh, and if you’re wondering if I know how to build a house – no clue. But, as Ella, the fabulous presentor at the Tumbleweed conference said of herself – ‘I made a dress once.  I figured I could build a house’.  I haven’t made a dress (though I did make a 7 legged octopus not long ago – that wasn’t intentional – I forgot one of his legs), but I have made baklava.

If we do the Barn Raiser route, then we will have to find a place to be able to put it to finish working on it.  (Any one have a back yard they’re willing to offer in the Portland area? Or know of a warehouse type setting where we could rent some room?)

The other really fabulous part about this road trip, is we’re getting to see (and stay with!) some awesome friends.  AND I’ve heard that Colorado has some great beer.  Yay!  I love road trips!  The only thing I don’t like about them is that I miss the cats so much.  So, just think – when we do our MAJOR road trip we’ll have the cats WITH us!  Such an exciting (and scary) journey!

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What? When? & WHY?????

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(The photo is of Guillaume & Jenna’s Tiny House that we had the opportunity to go into and fall in love with.  They’re driving around the U.S. for a year, and you can follow their blog on Tiny House, Giant Journey).

What?  When?  & WHY???????

Well, two out of the three questions are sort of easy to answer.

First – The What.

A tiny house, by my definition, is a house under 200 square feet.  The ones we’re looking at are built or designed by Tumbleweed, and are built on trailers because (if my notes from the conference are correct) they then fall under the jurisdiction of the DMV, rather than building codes.  So, the tiny house we’re thinking of is on a 20′ trailer – it can only be 8′ 6″ wide, and 13′ 6″ tall.

By comparison – the average home in the U.S. in 2014 was 2,600 square feet.  That’s an INCREASE in size from the 2010 census, even though the family size has decreased.

So, that’s kind of the what.

The When.  When we sell our house.  Interested?  It’s a fabulous home – 1,600 square feet, on a 1/3 of an acre – in one of the most beautiful settings I’ve ever seen.  I’ll be happy to send you photos, answer questions, give you a tour.  Just let me know.

Now for the harder one – WHY?

I can really only answer that for me (I have to conclude that Mark must be in agreement since he’s going along for the ride!).  I am at my happiest when things are simple.  No clutter.  Everything has a home, and is in it.  I go my most beserk when I can’t find something.  (I actually discovered that this was a trigger for my depression!)  I stop short of having NO possessions, because I do love art, and beautifully made things, and comfort – but I do not want to feel as though my possessions are in charge of MY LIFE – rather than the other way around.  Having the freedom from housework, thinking about what ‘needs to be done’, the liberation from STUFF gives you the time to do exactly what you want.  How totally cool is that?

The tiny house we’re working on designing has all the creature comforts that are important TO US.  A huge fabulous bed, with reading lamps on either side.  A stove with an oven and some counter space and an apt. sized fridge/freezer.  A dining room table that can accommodate at least 6 with some comfort.  An indoor bathroom with a toilet and a shower.  Indoor heating (we’re looking at the CUTEST little wood burning stove YOU HAVE EVER SEEN!  Designed for ships!) and an A/C.  The ability to work on my art (Etsy store to come soon!) and my writing.  The ability for Mark to work on his photography.  Room for our cats.

And that’s about it.

I realized some time ago how little of our current house we really use.  We could remove the living room altogether, shrink down the kitchen/dining room, SERIOUSLY shrink down the master bathroom (it’s just ridiculous), and so on.  It’s wasted space.  It’s space that collects dust and cat hair and I cannot keep on top of keeping clean.

One of the things I really love about the idea of living in a Tiny House is that you’ve really thought about EVERY SINGLE item you have in it.  How many pairs of shoes do I REALLY NEED/USE?  Do I NEED 3 stock pots?  6 cookie sheets?  What about all the stuff that’s in closets/cupboards/drawers?  The storage shed?

I’ll be honest – the paring down (and going from a 1,600 square foot home to a 172 square foot home is BEYOND paring down!) is both liberating and really, really hard.  I’ve been able to part with a LOT without batting an eye.  But some of the books, the art! knick-knacks (or dustables as someone once said of them) is wrenching.  I have to seriously THINK about WHY I want to keep it.  Is it the item itself that I want?  Or the memory of who gave it to me?  Generally it’s NOT the item, it’s the attachment to the giver.  But that attachment is always going to be there, whether I have the item or not.  Keeping a book I have no interest in simply because my mother gave it to me – there’s no real reason for keeping it – to me.

So, yard sales, ebay, donations, earmarking certain things for friends.  The process has begun, but there is a lot more to go!  So – PLEASE – Let us know if you’re in the market for something we might have!

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Seat Belts On? Let’s GO!

I’ve been wanting to get this blog started for so long, but now that Mark has it set up – I’m blank.  So, to quote Lewis Carroll “Begin at the beginning,” the King said, gravely, ” and go on till you come to the end:  then stop.”  I shall do just that.

So.

This blog is going to be about Mark & I, our cats, downsizing from a 1600 square foot home to a TINY HOUSE!, selling our house, either building the Tiny House, or partially building it, travelling, getting my Etsy store up and running, Marks photography, food, and all manner of things in between.

It’s exciting, it’s overwhelming, it’s a lot of change and new beginnings.  And I am thrilled at the idea of taking you all along for the ride.

Rather than making New Years Resolutions – several of my favourite authors choose a word for that coming year.  I finally decided to do that this year – and the word I chose was – JUMP.

Are you ready?  Are we ready?  And……

JUMP!

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