SJ Mercury News Article

http://www.mercurynews.com/home-garden/ci_22835386/great-vintage-finds-try-salvage-yards

Wow! we appeared in the Home and Garden section of the SJ Merc today! My comments were made along-side a pretty solid line-up of “up-cycling” artists and salvage industry professionals interviewed.

A huge thank-you to Kathryn Pritchett for researching and writing the story, I worked here at Whole House today and we made lots of new friends today thanks to your work!!! People were talking about the article and many took a peek at the tiny cabin on the side of the road here.

A couple minor corrections…

The website is mostly Candace.. although I do post from time to time :)
I am a peninsula resident and not a south bay resident :s
The Canander rolling cabin is a modest 139 sqft and not the palatial 196 listed XD
I picked up 3/8″x3 1/4″ solid spruce waynescoating at 35 cents per lineal foot. The ply paneling was removed from the convent chapel and library at the Church of the Nativity in Menlo Park. When the paneling failed to sell at the demolition sale, I was offered the material for free.

still working on the St Patricks days thankyous and a play-by-play.

In Gratitude to all who reduce, re-use, recycle, and read the printed news. May we all add refurbish, repair, and repurpose to the reportoire.

sorry for poor spelling and grammar… spellcheck malfunction

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Happy 23rd!

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A year ago today, Aaron brought the trailer home from A&B Trailer Hitch in Redwood City. It’s incredible to think that our house was only a flatbed utility trailer just 12 months ago and today it has plumbing installed! In the same amount of time, the folks next door filled up nearly 3/4 of the block – once the property of the San Mateo Times – with “people barns”, complete with streets, garages and lamp posts. The project may have provided quite a few construction jobs, but it is definitely not an option in affordable housing.

What we’ve found encouraging (and empowering) is the amount of Tiny Houses that have popped up over the past year or so, all over the country – and the world!  Check out the Tiny House Map to see who is going small and where they are living (make sure to zoom all the way out.) It’s hard to say if we’re just noticing it more because we’re paying attention or if like-mind people are starting to come forward, in real time, with a viable option for living lighter on the planet. I imagine it’s a little of both. Either way, there are a lot of Tiny Houses being built around the world! How exciting is that!?

Also exciting… Aaron put the cork floor in this past week. It’s so pretty. Photos to come…

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aaron th and people barns

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Mini-Adventure to the Thrift-Store

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Over the past 2 1/2 weeks, I’ve been taking the “Writing in the Digital Age,” e-course with Tammy Strobel of RowdyKittens. Many thanks to my Mom & James for the lovely gift. It’s been an uplifting and empowering educational experience! This self-paced course offers a variety of encouraging ideas including, the use of tools to start and stick with a writing practice, how to find time & space in our lives to write, and how to share our most authentic voice with a wider audience. It’s been a complete joy receiving the lessons each morning and reading what others share through the Facebook group. I’ve been a bit behind on the assignments (which shouldn’t surprise anyone who knows me well), but will catch up & participate as I can. One of the writing prompts this past week was to go on a mini-adventure and share the story. Here’s our latest adventure…

We were eager to get to work on the house this past weekend; with the Tiny House Warming Party set for March, the time-crunch is on! It was warmest on Sunday afternoon, so I painted the bathroom shelves while Aaron finished off the ceiling in the loft, started on the shelves in the kitchen, and made battens to cover the seams in the white oak paneling. But when we showed up to work on Monday morning, it was too damp & cold to do a second coat of paint and we were running into a situation of needing a sheet of plywood on cite to do next steps on the kitchen shelves… with only the Honda Civic as transport. It was a bit overwhelming and we were not sure what our ‘next best step’ should be.

Feeling worn out from the long week but wanting to stay productive, we decided to take a break from building and set off to find some second-hand treasures for the house. Aaron had been thinking of designs for a bench in the living room, but was also interested in saving time and hoped to find something already made that would work just as well in that spot. We also put good vibes out to find fun fabric for curtains… which we did find & it was on sale, but not at the thrift store.

Our 2 best finds at the thrift-stores are shown below. The first is a Lane Cedar chest, which looks to be from the 50′s, and the second, a small handmade storage box with deep drawers and an exotic wood veneer. The small box looks as if it was found in the captain’s quarters of a boat and used to his hold pens & compass; it just has that feel to it. We’re not quite sure where to use it yet, but know it will be useful somewhere in the house. The cedar chest still smells fabulous… the first thing I did when we opened it was stick my head inside and take in a long, deep breath. I’ve always wanted one; it’s so beautiful. I found a small wrapper used to label loops of thread at the bottom of the box; it makes me even happier knowing it was used in a past life to hold sewing supplies.

Aaron plans to take the legs off as well as the edging on the bottom front of the bench – both are additions to the original piece. He’ll add a toe-kick and a slender drawer underneath for additional storage. We couldn’t have asked for anything more perfect. I’m so thrilled with it! I’ll make dark navy blue cushions to sit on top of the bench to go with the curtain material we picked up at the fabric store. The other exciting news is that we picked up cork flooring for the great room and kitchen! More photos of the floor to come, but there’s a sneak peak of the cork sample in the photos up top.

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St. Valentines Day

A love letter from the universe… telling me exactly what I want to hear? Imagine that!

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And today I received a Valentine’s Day surprise from Aaron…

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Yay! The kitchen sink is in! I can’t believe how far we’ve come OR how close we are to being finished. Having the kitchen roughed out really gives it a sense of being almost complete! He also built some shelving in the great room & installed a roll-out shelving unit next to the bathroom. It’s been a blast finding the secret hiding spots for small-space storage solutions; long, skinny drawers under cabinets, shallow shelves between 2x4s, and deep shelves that fill up space between appliances and structures. We’ve been amazed at how much space there seems to be for storage! Hopefully we’ll feel the same way once we start going through all our stuff packed away in boxes…

Thank you for all the memories thus far… it’s been an incredible journey, Aaron Castle! I love you.

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The Bathroom Takes Shape

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Aaron spent the past few weeks running the pipes for the plumbing, making sure the sink fit perfectly in it’s spot, cutting & attaching the vinyl panels on the bath tub walls & creating shelves for bathroom storage. They were all done as separate projects, but the day he built the toilet, it all came together.

If you look closely, you will see that the toilet is a box with a seat on it. Once in use, it will be furnished with a bucket and fresh sawdust. Yes, it will be our very own litter box….(eek!) I’ll let him tell you about future septic solutions which include a machinist friend whose interested in making black & gray-water tanks to be attached underneath the house. In the meantime, I’m becoming ever-more grateful for modern-day plumbing.

Since weight is an issue, the shelves were designed with holes in them as a way to lighten the load of unnecessary material. After Aaron made all the cut-outs, I sanded and primed the shelves. We choose ‘Brook Trout’ for the accent color in the bathroom – a dark gray-ish brown. The shelves will be that color in the next couple of weeks. I love the shelves. They are spacious & appear to be quite practical without taking up too much visual or personal space. And they undulate. That was my favorite word in Art History. Undulate. This was one of the descriptions for the surrealist architecture found in Antoni Gaudi’s Casa Mila Barcelona in Spain. I was always pleasantly surprised when that slide showed up on the test!

The shelves also remind me of the Flintstones for some reason, but I’m not quite sure why. Maybe I should catch up on this blast from the past and find out what specifically it is… ‘Flintstones, Meet the Flintstones….’

So now that the bathroom is complete (for the most part) we are officially able to focus on the design & implementation of the kitchen. Stove, fridge, sink & cabinetry… YabaDabaDoo!

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Three Coats of Primer

We had originally wanted to white wash the ceiling so we could see the grain pattern in the wood, but soon realized it was going to be much faster & look just as good if we primed and painted the ceiling instead. Aaron hates painting (too much of a perfectionist) but took the task on and put 3 layers of primer on before we chose the perfect color of white for the kitchen & great room.

Choosing the perfect color of white was also a process, but we’re happy to have taken the time. In my day job as a designer at a custom framing shop in San Francisco, I spend much of my time finding the the perfect white mat to match (or beautifully contrast) with a customer’s piece of art. Who knew there were SO MANY shades of white!? So we gathered up all the white paint samples we could, taped them up to the ceiling & watched to see which ones we favored throughout the day as the light changed. We settled on “Bleached Linen” which adds a nice grayish tone to the overall space and works great with the grayish-grain in the white oak paneling. We’re quite pleased with the results!

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Made a year end video…

If you want the world to change radically overnight, stop watching corporate media and start exploring creative commons and alternate forms of entertainment … it’s actually really simple… the instant that you turn it all off and start listening to your friends and neighbors instead of “professionals” … well … you wake up in an entirely different world.

Yeah .. it’s pretty impossible .. and I am a great big hypocrite ….. after joining the throngs of my fellow americans in our shared cultural institution of “shopping” this holiday season … I will be going to the theaters to catch the latest “Hobbit” Movies.

I feel it is worthwhile to explore alternatives to mainstream entertainment. Ted.com is a great place to catch some great talks and musical performances. Archive.org has a huge collection of movies and music in the public domain…

Not ready to give up all your favorite movies and TV shows and become “that guy who lives under a rock”? that’s ok! Try turning off the TV for a week or a month … you can still buy that CD or new movie after the month is over, but in the meantime you become exposed to some fresh ideas and voices and might find some alternatives that grasp your attention for a long-term … even after your “media fast” is over.

also … you may find that you become more attentive and have more energy… you may find that you concentration is improved. You may find yourself thinking more deeply about the Value of the media we consume.

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Taking Steps to Simplify My Path

Joyful Solstice Wishes to you all!

In Honor of the Darkest Night and the Sun’s Return to us again, I am looking back over the past few months and reflecting on lessons learned…

The following paragraphs – slightly edited – came from emails I wrote to a couple of friends as I stopped participating in the local Occupy group we were working with in the Bay Area. We’re still strong supporters of what ORWC is doing and a few of us hope to carry on with some of the activities we enjoyed most, such as the Really, Really Free Market. I heard the voice in my head for many, many weeks before I started listening. “You won’t be able to take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself first.” It wasn’t until I shut down physically & emotionally before I was able to let go and trust the need to rest, find a bit of balance and deepen my experience with those closest to my heart.

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Dear friend,

After living with this decision for over a week now, I am confident I am moving in the right direction. I need to focus on myself & my health by developing a regular yoga and meditation practice, putting time and effort into connecting with friends and family and by being more mindful and grateful to what is in my life. I’ve lost track of all of that…

By building and blogging about the house, we are connecting to the larger Tiny House network, all of whom relate to these issues and are doing something in direct response to them. I want to put my time, energy and passion there. We also have a great opportunity to connect to the larger Resilience & Transition Networks who are doing amazing work to build beloved community. There are opportunities to write, to participate, and to create projects that are beneficial and rewarding. There are so many positive things going on in my life that I don’t want to miss out on them anymore.

… I took the opportunity to bow out (somewhat) gracefully and take some time for myself. It’s been wonderful. I’ve been cooking more, going to bed early, reading about living with less & taking better care of myself, running errands and (trying) to keep up with friends & family. Through the stress of the occupy stuff, i started to awaken to what is most important to me at this point in my life. And how necessary it is to find ways to incorporate those people & things into my life. Going home brought these thoughts on too. Life’s too short to be stressed out all the time. Funny thing is that by slowing down and doing less, I’m actually getting more stuff done. And I’m enjoying myself!

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It’s been a couple of months now and looking back, I know I made the best decision for my creativity & overall well-being. I’ve been taking care to rest on the weekends & long holiday breaks and I am starting to feel a renewed sense of myself and my path. I feel much more confident & empowered to do all that it is that I want to accomplish in the coming weeks and months ahead (although, right now… the house is still top priority!)

These photos were taken early last summer at San Gregorio State Beach along Hwy 1. As we drove out of suburbia and through the forest, we found ourselves in the exact place we needed to be. It was a space that gave us a much needed break from organizing, protesting & working on the house. Aaron still felt the urge to build, so began forming a balanced structure log by log. It was quite therapeutic for him as it gave his mind a rest from all the tiny details involved our in building our structurally-sound, road-worthy home. As he stacked, I wondered around with my camera, quite soothed by the deep focus I found through the lens as the ocean waves crashed onto the shore behind me.

                  

     

    

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The Largest Tiny House Bathroom on the Planet

Did I mention we have a bathtub!?

We feel quite fortunate to have a 46 1/2″ bathtub & a beautiful pedestal sink in our home; the bathtub was a special order from a large unnamed construction-trades corporation & the sink came in as a donation at Whole House! Isn’t it pretty?

Aaron concentrated on getting all the plumbing installed into the wall this past week. This is almost as exciting as having electricity! (Oh! did I mention? We have electricity!) The toilet will be a 17 * 19″ cube that will sit to the left of the sink (when you’re facing the sink) and will be built sometime in the near future. Stay tuned!

We’re still not sure how we did it. How did we get away with such a large bathroom without cutting too much space out of our living area? Most Tiny House bathrooms are the size of a standard bathtub (if that) and the toilet is made to get wet as it shares the shower space. But this design worked well on paper and seems to have worked out well in reality, so far… I guess we’ll know for sure when we start building the interior of the kitchen and great room. We’re a bit concerned the additional space will be cut out of our closet / storage space. Guess I should take another look at my wardrobe and see what else I can let go of.

Here are some photos of the bathroom as it progresses…

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Beyond Downsizing: Happiness from a Rowdy Kitten & more…

As we get closer to completion on the Tiny House, it becomes more & more evident that we STILL have too much stuff. So, while Aaron works on the interior structures of the house, I’m focusing my energy on how we can start (I’d like to think ‘continue’) simplifying our stuff, and our lives, so we will fit into our Tiny House once it is completed.

But what’s the best way to clear out all the clutter!? And it’s not just the clutter that needs to go; there are important decisions/realizations ahead as to what is essential and what is not. I’ve been clearing out our current living space (10′x12′ + large closet) for almost a year now, and I finally feel like we have a nice balance between space and stuff. Most everything has a spot. I think that’s part of it…. everything needs a spot.

Aaron & I have discussed best methods for deciding what stays and what goes. In our move last January, I packed “tiny house” boxes with things I thought we’d want to live with once we moved in – I’m excited to go through them to see what I’m ready to let go of! We’ve joked about the lawn game where we lay everything we think we need out on the lawn and take turns bringing in what each of us finds most important to include; then we try to find consensus on where it should be located in the house. Talk about process! But I think it’s essential. I’ve “downsized” my life many times before, but this is something entirely different.

Over the last year, I’ve come to realize that it’s not about subtracting from what I have, it’s about choosing what are the most necessary items to have in our home. What is it that we need? (Really, truly, need). What is it that we each use most? And how often do we use it? Are there things we want (storage containers) that we should create space for? (Yes!) And most importantly – will I survive without a printer in my home office!? (Maybe). I think I need some expert advice!

When I started to feel stuck, I checked out a few books at the local library and gleaned advice from those who had done it before. Here are a couple of voices who have helped me on this journey:

You Can Buy Happiness (and it’s cheap!)  

Tammy Strobel is officially added to my list of heroes!! I’m so excited to have come across Tammy’s story and wait eagerly for each new blog post. Years ago, she was employed at an investment firm and become tired of the stressful commute, long hours in the office and rising debt from living beyond their means – the typical American drea…Ehm…story :p Once she realized that downsizing would improve their over-all well-being she and her husband, Logan started taking steps to simplify their lives. They got rid of their car (eventually both of them) and started riding their bikes everywhere, shopping at local farmer’s markets and using less living space. They have made HUGE changes in their lives and are all the HAPPIER for it! They are currently living on a ranch in Northern California in their Tiny House where Tammy works from home as a writer, teacher & creator. Follow their story at http://rowdykittens.com/.

 100 Thing Challenge 

Dave Bruno decided he needed to start practicing what he was preaching when it came to the over-abundant consumer lifestyle that Americans -on average- are drawn to. Dave started paying attention to his own spending habits and chose to pare down his belongings to less than 100 Things for the next year. I really enjoyed his insights on our need to hold onto stuff (mostly hobby-related) in order to preserve the ideal self we are hoping to become one day. (I needed to hear that!)  He talked of the need to set rules for yourself and to stick with them. He also explains that it is important to make the decision to do such a project for you and yourself ONLY. This isn’t something you should impose on others and expect them to follow suit. Managing our ‘stuff’ is such a personal process that it is best to leave the decision to downsize it to it’s rightful owner. Learn more at http://guynameddave.com/100-thing-challenge/.

 

 

 

 

 

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