Author Archives: ellaharp

About ellaharp

I am a musician and artist just out of college. During the last year of my degree in Scotland I caught the bug and have since become infatuated with the practical coziness of tiny houses. I worked my tail off, saved my money and, despite my complete lack of carpentry know-how, I shall build one, it shall be marvelous, and I shall call it Little Yellow :)

The rebuilding of a table and a Swedish, firewood dealing carpenter…

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So the most exciting news is that we, after over a year of living in Little Yellow with no heat source, are getting a woodstove. That’s right, heat! What a concept :D Actually I’m so behind that as I write it’s sitting beside me, but more about that in the next post.

First there was some work to do, because I didn’t leave space for a heater in my house when I built it. I figured ‘I live in California. I’ve got sweaters’. You may recall that I never planned for a refrigerator either (not sure how the logic worked on that one), and I wouldn’t consider either of those decisions among my top ten best ever.

While I do live in sunny California, my spot on the coast seems to be about 52 degrees ALL THE TIME. Which puts a pretty damp damper on whatever theory I may have had because happy, perishable food likes to be colder than 52 degrees and happy, perishable people like to be warmer.

As a result, the tiny fridge I bought last year after my failed ice box and zeer experiments (nothing like molding, sandy flower pots to store your edibles) had to live outside and under the trailer because I didn’t allow anywhere for it inside. Same ‘where do we put it?’ deal with the unplanned stove, only this time around what we had to work with is a little prettier than a plastic mini fridge.

However I fought it, my lovely old school desk was the weakest link. It’s been acting as a table between the bench and the edge of the kitchen counter which turns out to be the only feasible place in the house to put a little stove.

I first thought we’d have to get rid of it which made me very sad because it’s Little Yellow’s only piece of proper furniture, but the end, I imagined life without a table would be about as sensible as life without a fridge or a heater and I decided to keep the cast iron legs and build a smaller desk/table top so it could stay.

I found the most beautiful piece for it at a funky old place that has huge wood carvings of bears and totem poles and a sign that says ‘firewood’, just off the highway going down the hill to town. I’d driven past it a hundred times but this was the first I’d stopped to check it out.

It’s owned by a sturdy, cheery Swedish man named Magnus with a cocked wool hat and an orange chainsaw that he seems very fond of. Lucky for us, he had a pile of Chinese Elm slabs that were absolutely gorgeous and we scored the smallest one, a Eucalyptus stump for wood splitting, two round oak stumps for cultivating mushroom dowels (that were given to me at the Philly workshop last year by some wonderful attendees) and a few pieces of tiny-stove-sized firewood for $50.

As I heard him chatter away on this and that, I found that listening this older Scandinavian carpenter talk about wood slabs felt very familiar. His accent, trade, and enthusiasm for Little Yellow reminded me so much of Flemming that I could only smile, such a nice thing to revisit my memories of him.

Chinese Elm is a wood I hadn’t heard of or used before, but it looks awesome finished and came out a rich, dark gold that compliments Flemming’s pine counters very well. But first, several hundred hours of unnecessarily complicated cutting, sanding and filling cracks.

I’m fortunate to have access to my boyfriend’s Uncle’s garage down the street, but I felt a bit useless working in a different place with different tools that have different quirks from what I’m used to. I guess I’ve become a tool snob. Well, I’ll take it, because boy I miss my dad’s garage. Most notably the endless clamps, flat work surfaces and table saw…Anyway, everything worked out and I got it all done in a very long afternoon. Sealed it, screwed it to the cast iron legs and viola! Instant (7 hour) table :D

On the subject of sealing, I found myself in the same situation as last time when I tried oil finishing my counter tops. No amount of any type used could keep the grain from raising and changing colour after so much as one minute of water contact, so this time I was prepared. I soaked the surface several times with a sponge to let the grain raise evenly across the whole top, sanded it down one last time, and oiled after.

It’s a wonderful table. As frustrating as it was to be out of my element putting it all together, I’m rather proud of how it turned out and I love love love the raw edge.

I’ve been back to the firewood place a few times since to show Magnus pictures of the finished product, then to pick up some firewood for our new stove and I’m so grateful each time to see him there. It feels like I’m getting a second chance to learn from another fascinating and talented carpenter as I never did with Flemming. These men are surely two of a kind, and I’d bet if they ever got together in the same room the conversation would never cease.

 

Tiny for 3…

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Turns out, 2 people in 120 square feet wasn’t quite enough. Who would have thought? So we got a puppy :D. Well, he’s not exactly a puppy but I will call him one just the same. His name is Lobster (Yeah. Lobster. You can thank my boyfriend) and he is a very good boy who loves his little house.

He’s a rescue, so we don’t know much about him besides that he was a stray. He found himself in a high kill shelter before he got saved by a wonderful lady named Laurie who runs a small scale rescue out of her home called Heartfelt Hounds. We started looking for a dog on a Sunday, talked to Laurie on Wednesday and had a Lobster by Sunday evening.

In the shelter they called him Rock, but Laurie didn’t think dogs should be called Rock so she named him Rockster. Then Zac started calling him Lobster, and now we have a dog named Lobster. Laurie was thrilled. I don’t think much of it anymore, but every now and then when I’m the girl at the beach chasing my dog and screaming ‘lobster’ I do get a few odd looks.

Lobster totally gets the tiny thing. He sits very nice in the house, and only seems interested in his two happy places; on the bench or on the mat by the door when the bench is taken by those two very rude people who don’t seem to understand that it is in fact, his.

I have never had a dog before, so this is all very exciting. He likes to chase pine cones and has a weird obsession with dried sea weed. Like, really. There is nothing cooler to this dog than chewing up seaweed tails, which probably explains his love of the beach (seaweed central) but not the water. If there’s truly no seaweed, sticks are probably the next best. Fetch is totally exciting for about 3 throws and then he’s over it.

We’ve been walking and hiking so much more, I love how taking the dog for a walk has turned into a great shove to get out and do something. Luckily though, Lobster’s a pretty chill guy so he mostly lays around the house after he gets some exercise. I’d say good consideration for a tiny house dog is one that is relatively low energy. Something that bounced off the walls it would probably be a bit much in so small a space. It seems counterintuitive not to have a chihuahua in a tiny house, but bigger dogs (anyone read Macy’s blog? I love her Great Dane, Denny :) ) are more likely to be up for laying down and hanging out.

Anyhow I love my Lobster! Also known as Slobbster, or slobber dog. He’s a very messy drinker.

There are other developments I need to write about soon, so I’ll try to get on that in the next few days! Good stuff! Happy new year!

October anniversaries…

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Last year on October 7, I was panicked beyond previous comprehension. I packed my life, got the house road ready, built Little Yellow some stairs and gave a few headless chicken style tours. I cried. On October 8, I rose from 5 hours of half sleep, half house-shattering nightmares and got in a truck that hauled in its wake the contents of my year’s work and life savings. I cried. I watched my house leave its little nesting spot and saw it go down every street, highway and freeway with my eyes glued to the rear view mirror. I cried. I met wonderful people at the two scheduled open houses and tried to be present.  I tried make note of how many got in there at one time. I didn’t.

On October 9, I woke up in my house in a Travel Lodge parking lot, full on Dorothy Kansas style. I figured this day would feel more normal. It didn’t. I open-housed again and watched Little Yellow rear-view mirror it up the coastal route. I got to my new spot and said goodbye to my almost mother Jill who pulled the house and rocked this trip. I had $200 to my name and felt oddly scared and silly that evening.

On October 10, I met a friend who invited me to my landlord’s party that Friday. I got a hose and some jacks for the house. On October 11, I tried to unpack some things and didn’t. On October 12, I hostessed at the restaurant I got a job at and went to the party with my new friend Maria.

On October 13 at 1:30 am, a very tall, very drunk fellow started dancing with me. Proper dancing. I went home and thought I’d never see him again. On October 13 at midday, I saw the tall fellow walk down the street and into my restaurant looking much less drunk. I walked with him after work and sat on one of the many cliff benches by the beach. He said we should sit on all of them and see which one we liked best. I was in love :D

I am so glad that I moved here when I did, and so happy to be where I am. In absence of pictures, here are a few things to look into. My sister and her husband are embarking on their own tiny house and I am SO thrilled for them. They are making a serious of ridiculous youtube videos that are worth watching if only for the dog, the accent and structural asparagus references.

I started recording some old man hating songs a few months ago. I have at least 20 but got distracted after 3, so here is a cheery one from before the happy days.

Also! A Little Yellow tour video when I was still in the driveway, and one from the new spot.

Happy fall!

Siding stain, vented ridges and life going on…

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September already! I am sorry to have not given an update in so long. My dear 2007 laptop I got second hand in Scotland isn’t quite dead yet, but it’s certainly been crapping out on me, so it lives at my family’s house down the road where there is internet. I feel like nothing comes out right when I try to write in that space, so I haven’t. But I find I miss writing, so my boyfriend and I got a new-ish one so he can store photos and I can write at home again.

Modern technology is remarkable, this little computer (a nifty craigslist find) is super lightweight and the battery actually works unplugged for longer than 3 seconds before wildly warnings that it’s running on reserve power at 99% capacity. Oh well. Thanks 2007, that was an admirable run.

All is well in Little Yellow, I’m happy to report. Life is alternately skipping, jumping, and creeping past as it sees fit, and I follow as best I can in my bumbling way. Somehow I always feel a little behind.

I am so very grateful to be where I am. Travel and adventures take me far off places I never imagined myself going to, and simple life in Little Yellow on the coastside continues to fulfil my soul.

Even just a few miles out, the mountains and cliffs and beaches and tidepools and trails are there for the taking under chilly, overcast skies that remind me how much I love long, wool sleeves. And with wooly warmth, I sit, draw, play, and run like I’m 5 years old through the beautiful surroundings as often as possible.

I find my little house doesn’t make me spend more time outside because I feel the need to be outwith its tiny-ness, but that I venture out more often because I know I am only a few feet away. Though interestingly, some days I don’t because being inside can feel almost like being outside with views from 10 windows in sight. Either way, I love how much living tiny has knocked down the walls between nature and my wish to explore it.

I mostly stay on the coast when given the choice. I like knowing where the edges are, where the land ends and the water begins, and then nothing. No more highways, just a vast expanse of deep blue question marks. Something about it puts me at ease in a wonderful way like nothing else can. And as long as I’m close to the ocean, I will of course go in. Every day, wetsuit-less, regardless of weather or sensibility. I live for bodysurfing, but even when the waves suck, the shorebreak still suffices.

Not long ago I was out in the lineup catching some of the best surf of the summer, and a pod of dolphins swam past 3 times in the hour I was out. 8 feet away at most, I could see their eyes and the scars and lines on their skin so clearly. They seem like such happy animals, leaping and squeaking and bodysurfing far better than I ever could. I do run off on tangents. Focus. Right, back to the house…

Just about the only maintenance I’ve done was re-staining the exterior wood. Superdeck is supposed to be good for a year, so we put another coat on in May. Smelly, smelly stuff that didn’t smell any better this time. Last year when I coated the house, I accidentally dumped a quart of it on my favourite skirt that then smelled like a delightful vat of oil for about 30 washes, so this time I got smart and pulled out my one pair of pants.

Since working at Tumbleweed and talking with other tiny house builders, there is one (major) thing I didn’t do in my build that is very important in small spaces. A ventilated roof allows air to travel through wavy-gravy space makers called baffles that create an air gap on the underside of your sheathing. Vents at the soffits connect to vents at the ridge through these baffles, and convection passes the air up and out, keeping the roof deck (sheathing) dry and free of rot and mould.

Imagine hot, moist air rising up inside as high as it can go. If it reaches the ridge and can’t get out, condensation can form over time and render the sheathing useless. In ordinary houses, vented ridges keep what is usually the attic from moisture issues. In a tiny house this is especially important because the ‘attic’ is most likely your bedroom, and mouldy bed spaces are enough to scare anyone.

When I ordered and installed my roofing, I did not know about this, and instead thought to keep the ridge of my house as waterproof as humanly possible. So a few weeks ago, I gathered my courage, tool belt and building skirt to spend a solid few hours on the good old roofline to remedy this oversight. With my roof done now, removing the underlayment from the ridge and drilling some air holes was the best I could do. Here’s hoping that will help.

I can’t say I had an easy time motivating myself to get back up on the roof.  During the build, I was constantly up against situations I didn’t feel entirely confident or comfortable with, but throughout the year I got pretty used to it. Now, not so much. I don’t climb ladders or swing hammers all that often these days, and I had to remind myself getting up there that I did, in fact, build this house so damn it, I can fix it.

Being up there did not bring back pleasant memories. Last time I could barely walk for several days and I didn’t fare much better this round. 12/12 roof pitches are miserable things to be plonked on for any length of time.

We also took down the chandelier because in the last year I’ve turned it on about 3 times, and 2 were by accident. So instead we put up a spider plant which hangs from the same spot and sort of looks like a chandelier, but is a nice, air cleaning little bugger and is supposed to be very hard to kill. Guess we’ll see how that goes…

I love presenting workshops. I think tiny houses are the only thing I could still want to talk about after repeated, jam packed weekends of the same, solid material, because the people are so encouraging. Ridiculously encouraging. I thought I had a good gauge of the average tiny house enthusiast, and I have been totally wrong. Doctors, physicists, 9 year olds planning to build for college, 75 year old women planning to retire, empty nesters, mobile geared entrepreneurs and countless others. 50-120 attendees in every city I travel to all around the US are totally excited about tiny houses. It’s inspiring to hear so many different stories and such different situations that lead folks to the same path. These little, alternative houses solve a lot of problems for a lot of people. Far more kinds of people than I thought.

Off topic: I got a new car! And by new, I mean 3 years older than my previous car which was by no means new. New to me anyway :D A 1987 tin top Suzuki Samurai that was A BEAST to find. If I have previously seemed sensible to anyone, here’s concrete evidence to the contrary. Drove 500 miles to LA to pick up this car (mistake 1). Car wasn’t as we thought, bought it anyway (mistake 2,3,4,5,6 and 7). Drove 167 miles up the 5 and broke the hell down. Towed 150 miles home with my boyfriend’s fancy AAA. Perfect car appears on Craigslist the next day, 60 miles from home. Drive to check it out. Promise we’ll pay the guy as soon as we sell Bad Sam. Spend over $1000 getting Bad Sam smogged and running. Some guy drives all the way from Oregon to buy Bad Sam and doesn’t. 3 guys from Fresno come to buy Bad Sam and actually buy Bad Sam. Dance instead of walking everywhere for the next few days. Buy Good Sam :D

Easy, right? Nice, stress free way to acquire a car. Good Sam is rocking the $50 rustoleum paint job in flat green these days, courtesy of a very wonderful boyfriend. Who knew you could paint cars with a roller? It’s super cute :D  It’s also the bumpiest thing I’ve ever driven. I’ve heard them described not inaccurately as riding ‘like a haywagon’ and as providing ‘the full 3rd world driving experience’. 65 mph tops. I am tearin’ up this town :D

Ok, a little more mush because I’m just so happy. This house and occupation have transformed my life so much from what I wished it could be to what it has come to be that I feel like I have time to do anything I have the means and moxie to attempt. I can barely believe this lifestyle is possible for a girl like me at all. Feeling so very blessed :) Crazy that it’s been almost a year since Little Yellow and I went coastal! And remember, if you’re going anywhere, better coastal than postal.

Spring, travel and writing elsewhere…

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Spring is springing on the coastside, with beautiful sunny days and perhaps a bit more wind than I’d like. Local folks say that’s pretty typical for this time of year but we’re talking blow your hair off wind here. Yesterday we went to the beach and the wind had herded giant collections of sea foam into every available space between the rocks. It was like a blowing blizzard of golf-ball sized fluff that stuck to the surrounding plants and wobbled like globs of jello. Weird…

7 months in Little Yellow, 6 with my boyfriend and 2.5 with Tumbleweed. Little Yellow and the boyfriend are always wonderful, and I’m starting to feel comfortable presenting these workshops. For a while I found it tough to overcome the thought that I don’t know what I’m saying. I mean, I obviously know enough to have built my house, but to stand in a room with 100 paying attendees and spew the information in an intelligible way was a totally different game. I just have to remind myself that here, in the tiny house section of the construction world, I know what I’m on about. People at the workshops I’ve done so far are AWESOME, and they’ve made it so much fun. I can’t believe this is my job!

We took a road trip last month, north through Oregon and all over Washington to visit family. Nearly 2000 miles driven and so many beautiful sights. I have a new favourite place! Vashon Island, WA. 20 minutes on a ferry from the heart of Seattle, it sits in a perfect state of laid back, middle-of-nowhere chill. I’ve put up some pictures just because :D

I have written a few posts on the Tumbleweed website! They’re more on the lines of informative article type stuff, but I thought I’d put some links up here so this poor site doesn’t have so many months of wordless drought. There’s some other very good content on the TW blog as well, but I’m sure many of you read it already.

So! Here they are, and a few pictures.

Finding a Place for Your Tiny House: Renting

Let’s say you’ve just built a wonderful Tumbleweed. Construction is over and you’re ready to move in, but where do you put it? Where can you live in your wee house on wheels?

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The Other Freedoms of Tiny Houses

‘Financial freedom’ is a phrase rooted in the appeal of tiny houses. I used it before I lived in mine because not many people seem to have it, and it was a great reason to give to inquiring minds that must know why the heck you want to build this unusually small house…

continue reading…

A functional door, system improvements and new things…

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Can you believe it’s coming up on 5 months that I’ve lived in Little Yellow? It feels much longer to me, and also much shorter and then longer again when I think back. But time will do that to you. She is such a good house :) Better all the while as life gets easier and easier with the fixing of slight systematic annoyances.

The wonky door situation has been remedied and it FINALLY closes and locks now, which is quite the luxury. There was some wicked cold weather and it being partly open didn’t do any favours. Used to seeing your breath inside your house? I wasn’t. Enter the Origo heat pal I bought second hand (or maybe third, by the looks of it) on ebay during the build and totally forgot about. It runs on denatured alcohol like my 2 burner boat stove, and puts off a goodly amount of heat when you sit around it.

I’m begrudged to say we also got a refrigerator, albiet a very tiny one (1.something cubic feet). I really wanted the icebox system to work, I really did. But when you come home to find the block has melted and your food is swimming in a cooler filled with water of questionable sanitation every 3-4 days, you get over it. It ended up costing more and being more of a bother to get the ice so regularly than it does to run the tiny fridge, so a fridge it was.

A dandy craigslist find that happens to fit perfectly under the house outside between the wheel wells and the stairs. One of the main reasons I didn’t want one was for the noise, and the ever so slight inconveniece of having to leave the house to get things is outweighed by the beautifully unhindered silence in Little Yellow. It’s also a tad ugly (no offense, little fridge) so hiding it where it is keeps the inside pretty. The picture I took of it came out horribly for some reason, I’ll take another and put it up soon!

My boyfriend is good at keeping growing things alive and bought us a bunch of lovely potted plants from the local nursery. My previous track record leaves little question that I am not good at keeping growing things alive, so I mostly leave that to him. I water them, they look happy, then they die. What can I say? Anyway, none of them have kicked the bucket yet. They’re set all pretty on the old tractor bones outside the font window and I hope my fondness for looking at them doesn’t cause any wilting.

Over time, this house has totally changed the way I look at ‘stuff’. Current stuff, new stuff, I am finding a way to let go of ‘stuff’. Before I moved in I didn’t like the idea that I had to get rid of everything. I decided mine would be featured in the hoarders edition of tiny houses because I loved my collection and didn’t feel I had to part with it. So at first, I didn’t. But I am finding now that I strangely don’t want it all anymore. From clothing to knicknacks to kitchen things, I have willingly opted to sort through what’s around me and let what isn’t essential move on. Bags of things to the goodwill or friends means less things around to crowd my space, and I LOVE it. It feels so freeing.

I had heard tiny housers talk about downsizing back when I was in the research stage, but I think I misunderstood them at the time. I think what they were saying wasn’t so much that you have to get rid of everything you own and become an instant minimalist, but that when you live tiny, you won’t want so much of what you don’t need around you.

Or that’s what it seems to be in my case anyhow. I mean, I actually cleaned my car. MY car, you know, the one that I just mentioned in my last post as being a complete and total crapshoot? Those tidy car types would still shudder at the sight of it, but I can even fit other people in there now. Passengers! What a concept.

To anyone considering a tiny house for two, I’d also like to note that inhabiting 120 square feet with another person is a total non-issue from my experience. As long as you both get it and get along it’s like nothing. Those folks who love to indicate that your tiny house will only work while you’re single are totally out to lunch. And on the subject of naysayers, they generally don’t understand how you want to live your life and what’s important to you. These days my house is sort of a friend filter because if you don’t get Little Yellow, you don’t get me. Sometimes I have the feeling that they think my tiny plans are just there to make them look bad, so don’t take it too seriously.

The negativity I received when I first began to share my idea surprised me and I found it extremely discouraging. Despite the fact that a lot of the people who thought I was a nutter before are all on-board now that I’ve actually built it, those who didn’t have faith in me to follow through with my dream have turned out to be people I don’t really want around. I’m not talking about a few initial concerns as you ramble through the plan in helicopter-mode, I’m talking about serious hating on something you care about enough to change your life for.

Of course you can build your own house from scratch even if you have basically no idea how! Of course you can find help to get you there, and of course you can make it work! Determination and vision are free things that you have only to make use of. Alright, there’s my rant over.

Job news! I no longer work as a restaurant hostess because I now work for Tumbleweed. TUMBLEWEED! Basically? I am actually going to get paid to go around and present at their workshops.

I.

Am going to get paid.

To talk about tiny houses.

I’m not quite sure there are enough ?!?!?! for this. The Berkeley, CA workshop this weekend will be my first go in conjunction with the lovely Pepper Clark. So If you happen to be attending you will see me, most likely bouncing around and speaking at 120 mph :D I will try to slow down, I promise.

I can’t believe how this all has changed my life. This house, my little side project so I could exist in tiny, artistic freedom, continues to form my future in remarkable ways. Wonderful!!!

Little Yellow life…

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Life in Little Yellow is wonderful. It’s actually very much like normal, but without the things that used to bug me about living in other people’s spaces. In fact, most everything that pissed me off or stressed me out in previous living situations is no longer problematic. I’m not stepping on anyone’s toes, I can move or change whatever, whenever, and everything I love is organized all nice-like under one roof.

Basically? I love my house. I had planned on loving it so it’s not a surprise, but I feel so relieved that I genuinely do because this would be a very extensive experiment if I didn’t.

It’s like the whole thing is one big relief. It’s a relief to have a simpler life. It’s a relief to have less things. It’s a relief to be compact and contained. Like a hug, I like to think that my house is quite like a hug.

The timing of my move north has been so serendipitous it’s crazy. 3 days after arriving, I had a job, made an awesome friend, and met my awesome boyfriend who happens to think Little Yellow is as great as I do. He’s a do-er and a fix-it type who really gets things done, a wonderful presence to have around.

So! Here’s a breakdown of how it’s going. If I’ve missed something, ask away!

Living situation:

I live on a little ranch down the hill from my landlords’ house in a pretty wee field with a nice set of bushes and trees just beside; a perfectly adequate distance so as to be totally left on my own. I have decent cell reception in my house, but no internet. Not having it was sort of a shock at the start, but appears to be very good for me. I get way more done and am far more creative without it that with. I have family close by anyway, so it gives me a grand excuse to visit.

My boyfriend is a friend of my landlords’ son, so he comes and goes without bother and there’s plenty space to fit several cars comfortably. I pay rent each month and work off a little by cleaning stalls a few hours a week, which I actually kind of enjoy. There’s something vaguely reflective and therapeutic about shoveling horse shit.

Storage:

Storage and space in this house amaze me. I have many things inside, but I don’t feel cramped and don’t feel the need to fill it any further. Everything I’ve needed to find a spot for has one.  It sounds a bit ridiculous to write it out, but all I can say is that it feels big to me.

It feels so big that I can barely think of Little Yellow as being as small as she is, and certainly not tiny. There were 4 people eating dinner in here the other night (myself included) and it felt no different than having 3 people for dinner anywhere else.

Maybe it’s a magical house. Like that wacky carpet bag Mary Poppins had, where you could fill it far past it’s apparent capacity and still have room for your umbrella. Except my house isn’t made of carpet.

Food and water storage:

As you may know, I decided not to have a refrigerator in my house. Mostly because I didn’t feel I need one, but also because being without saves a goodly amount of electricity and makes you more creative with shopping lists and leftovers.

This is something that I didn’t experiment with before leaving the driveway, so my first attempt at fridge-free food cooling came after the first trip to the store. I had read good things about pot-in-pot (zeer) methods but unfortunately for me this did not work at all in my coastal climate. It failed spectacularly at keeping anything I put in there colder than house temperature and the terra cotta flower pot began to sprout some pretty disconcerting mold after a week or so. Conclusion? Nope.

So when my boyfriend came home one day with a standard cooler full of block ice, I begrudgingly went with it. It’s not the most beautiful thing I’ve ever laid eyes on, but it works and it aint molding.

I also didn’t think much about drinking water. The hoses I bought are potable, but what comes out tastes nothing like something you’d actually want to drink. After re-filling plastic bottles for a while, I now have a pitcher system filled periodically by a beautiful 3 gallon jug with a copper handle that my boyfriend made (he’s a metal fabricator).

Kitchen:

My kitchen is wonderous. Wonderful. Wonder…empty. Well, not empty. Thought there might be another ‘wonder’ word, guess not. Would wonder-empty be the opposite of wonderful? Everything about my kitchen suits me very well. I have never a lack of counterspace, all my things are nicely organized, my dishes drip directly from my hanging rack to the sink, and I can cook anything that can be made with 2 burners. In theory.

Actually I do cook a lot now that I have someone to cook for, and my stove does a very admirable job. It smells more than I’d like it to, I think that’d be my only complaint. My boyfriend has recently introduced me to the marvel of cast iron pans and I cook mostly everything in one these days. Seriously, a pan you don’t have to wash? Sign me right the hell up.

Shower:

That shower is pretty darn great. You just have to step a little higher and squeeze a little tighter than normal, but my yellow curtains are such a nice sight from in there :) I’ve barely used it since I go in the ocean every day, but it’s there for when I need it and still gets used for its bathroom sink function.

The only thing I might have done differently is to make the drain angle down somehow so the water would be better directed out. As it is now, the water ends up pooling a little on the sides.

Toilet:

Ah, my toilet. Such a lovely thing it is… It does look a little lovely, actually. I rebuilt the horrific hexagonal box around it the day before I left the driveway, out of nice 1x redwood left over from my fascia boards. I’ll have you know that wooden toilets can be quite sightly :D As far as function, it’s honestly not that bad. I really resented this part of my house for a while, but I have to say that it has become very ordinary to me now.

It don’t believe it to smell more than any other form of toilet would in so small a space; a little earthy if anything. Sawdust-y, you might say. I also have 3 windows at the hitch (bathroom) end of my house, and any whiffs one might want to waft away are gone within 10 minutes of their opening. Nifty, eh?

Sleeping loft:

I love my loft. I love it so much that if I have to sleep away for so much as a night I get at least a little sad. When it’s sunny in the mornings, my entire ceiling fills up with buttery yellow light that shines through the crystals in my windows and casts a thousand rainbow beads across my walls. Did I mention that there’s an ocean view from my window? It’s a small section of the ocean and there’s a house, a hill and a tree in the scene, but it’s still an ocean view and THAT is cool.

Cleaning:

I can honestly say that I’m not a very tidy person. It’s one of those things that’s followed me around my entire life and seemed to make everything I inhabit for any amount of time look like a freak hurricane passed through. Without fail, my spaces have ALWAYS been a tip. Which is why I’m so bemused that it’s not that way at all in my house. There is something about it that just makes me want to clean.

I sweep my floors, wash my dishes, scrub my counters, organize and tidy on a totally regular basis. I keep my clothes folded, I don’t throw things on the floor, and I fuss over the littlest things left out. My car? Total mess. Not likely ever to change, but my house? Golden. I’m actually quite the homemaker :D

Expansion and more expansion:

When my darling yellow door got made, I remember one of the selling points my neighbour mentioned about the wood we used being that it was extremely dry, and therefore unlikely to warp. In the exceptionally dry climate of Frazier Park, this was totally true. No warp-age whatsoever.

Of course then I move to a soggy, coastal climate and that’s the end of that. It started out that I just couldn’t close it quite right. Then the next day I could close it and then the day after that I couldn’t get it open again. By the time I stopped procrastinating and finally got around to it, we had to cut nearly an inch off the lock side because the tongue and groove boards had expanded so much.

That meant taking out the plates, knob and lock, skilsawing the length, resetting all the hardware and putting it back up again. And sticking some seriously long screws at both ends to keep that thing from thinking it can change, ever again. Expansion sucks. The only plus side is that my floor used to squeak something terrible when you first walked in and now it’s silent as fully expanded wood with no freakin’ place to move :D

Working on this project through the build year, I got so bogged down in the process that I think I almost forgot that when it was done it would be my home. Every time I drive in and see the tiny little A frame smiling at me with its tiny little porch light I get all proud and fuzzy.

I’ve found my house to be an unusual crossroads of exactly what I wanted and exactly what I needed. Perhaps I’m still in the honeymoon phase with Little Yellow, but I wouldn’t live in anything else for the world.

Moving house…

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The Sunday prior to let’s-move-the-house Monday was seriously intense. In keeping with our way, my dad and I left it till the very last minute to tighten the lag screws on the bottom of the trailer and get the house off its leveling blocks, then built a pretty questionable set of stairs in the dying light amid dazed rushing to get my shit together.

Somehow I guess I did get my shit together, and Monday morning rolled in before I was with it enough to make note of the ‘lasts’ of my life in Little Yellow’s at my parent’s. Last night with the kittens trying to eat my necklace as I tried to sleep, last waking to the view from my windows, and last time I could walk out my door and into my mother’s.

Jill arrived at 8:00 am. A close second to knowing folks that can build things is knowing folks with big ass trucks who are awesome enough to help you move, and Jill is just such a wonderful person. She drove all the way from Colorodo, then back again the next day, to move little Yellow and deserves a serious stack of gold medals for putting up with the sniffling, babbling, half panicked pile of nervous energy that was me for the entire move. Jill, you rock.

My house took the trip very well. She bounced and bumbled right down the 5, 166, and 101 behind Jill’s truck and didn’t give us a hint of trouble. Nothing broke. House and trailer stayed gratefully connected. I decided to leave my clothes on the pink room shelves and they pretty much chilled out there the whole time. One rouge sweater took a nosedive on the road to Santa Cruz, but that was it.

In fact, my house took it so well that I, in comparison, took it all very badly. I was a total wreck. I went through so many involuntary emotional changes in the days prior that I almost had to consider the subject of my sanity. I cried A LOT. I also got super jittery, ridiculously excited, and had more fear surrounding this move than anything I can ever remember being afraid of.

There were a few moments in which I seriously wondered what the hell I was doing. My beautiful house that had been so comfortable and stable was suddenly empty and totally imbalanced. It was far from level without the piles of cinder blocks that had held it up all year, and got jacked up to an extremely disconcerting angle to be high enough for the hitch ball. Walking inside for a last minute check felt awkwardly off, because nothing was as it should be.

And then the whole house moved. It was quite possibly the most bizarre feeling I’ve ever had or sight I’ve ever seen. I obviously knew I was building a mobile space, but all the thought and anticipation couldn’t quite prepare me for the reality of it. In the space of a few seconds, my house went from a (seemingly) permanent driveway fixture to a trailer hitched up and ready to roll. Just like that.

The open houses helped keep things grounded. Most everyone was super nice, and I love sharing something I’m so proud of. People drove real distances too, presumably on purpose, just to see Little Yellow :D.  We were a little late for the Frazier Park start time (actually we were late for everything except Santa Cruz; made it 2 minutes early. Way cool) and there were already 4 cars waiting for us, just amazing.

A few folks didn’t quite get it, but those ones are going to happen. Now that I have and live in my house I really don’t give a damn anymore :D One woman wanted to know how I did it. Not how I built it or how I got the resources, but how I could live in ‘that thing’. She brushed it off at my being young because I’d never be able to do that if I were her age, what with all of the furniture one accumulates. I respectfully (probably not, actually) told her that perhaps depends on what kind of choices a person makes. She didn’t see the logic.

My mom (who drove my car up behind whilst taking about 5000 pictures) cheerily convinced the man at the San Luis Obispo Travel Lodge to let us park Little Yellow in the lot so we stayed there for the night, half in a room half in the tiny house. ‘We’ meant me, Mum, Jill, her grandson Joseph (who made the trip with us, great sport) and my curtain-sewing sister. She had to work Monday and my mom had to work Tuesday preventing either from going the whole way, so they quick changed Monday night at our suave Travel Lodge rendezvous. It was kind of like a circus.

A homeless man on a bicycle came by Tuesday morning while I was eating breakfast on my porch in the parking lot. He stopped dead in his tracks when he caught sight of Little Yellow and stared for a few seconds with his mouth open.

‘Woah, what…who made that?

‘I did’

(blank look)

‘Naw…you’re not man enough to build that thing’

‘Oh I’m more than man enough to build this thing, buddy’

(silence)

‘What do you call a deer with no eyes? No eyed-deer’

(rides off)

We stopped for gas twice, and weighed the trailer at the truck stop near my house. I’d been quietly freaking out the whole build that it’d be over the 7000lb Gross Vehicle Weight Rating but we came in just fine at 6020lbs and I was so happy I thought I might pass out.

Reaching our final destination and getting the house set up and unhitched was a massive relief. Or at least a relief from the fear I had of moving it…Once Jill drove away I was back to the fear of being somewhere new and therefore terrifying. That said, I’m extremely grateful to live close family again (mom and stepdad live down south, dad and stepmom live up here) so I haven’t felt alone.

My landlords are lovely, my spot is absolutely beautiful and a month later, I’m settled and completely in love with my life. I go to the ocean every day, work as a hostess in a restaurant in town and have met so many great people since I’ve been here. I’m so busy and happy that I hardly feel like I’m in my own reality. Like maybe I’ve just wandered into someone else’s perfect life.

A full post on living in Little Yellow is far overdue, but must continue to be so a little while longer. My handicapped camera (his name is Harold) has finally given up the fight as I found the other day. The zoom stopped functioning last year after I dropped him in some sand and he’d been acting a mite shitfy since a melted chocolate fiasco mucked up the viewfinder and most of the mechanisms, but he’d worked pretty diligently even so. Until the beautiful sunny day I decide to take pictures of my house…Go figure. Thanks a lot, Harold.

And here, as promised, are tons of pictures :D

Safe and sound…

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Just wanted to let you all know that Little Yellow made it up without any trouble. The roof (and the house) did not fall off, nothing broke, nothing fell, and she’s a full 1000 pounds under the weight limit of my 7000lb trailer.

I have been ridiculously tired the last few days from the moving ordeal, but am unpacking and settling into the new spot. I’ve a feeling folks are dying for pictures (of which I have TONS) so I’ll put them soon!

Huge thanks to everyone who took the time to drive from however far to see my Little Yellow! The open houses made the whole trip so much more fun :D

Packing and getting ready of things…

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I packed a lot yesterday. In fact, I packed mostly everything into 5 small boxes that sit in the pink room and make things feel not so homey and rather unsettled. I had to keep reminding myself as I went that I’m not leaving Little Yellow, just making her road worthy.

My neighbour was a saint helping me get things together today. He was available, installed the extended brake lights, put up my porch fixture, showed me how to take off the PVC drainage pipes under the trailer (they’re a little too low for road travel) detached the propane tank, and turned a bundle of electric wire into my 70′ extension cord. Day saver? Definitely.

I’m more than a little scattered right now. I feel like a chicken with its head cut off…But hey. I’ve got really clean windows. In fact I have 10 (now) glowing ones, which I laboriously washed from inside and out the other day.

I really don’t know what got on them. Well, I do, dried up Super Deck, tung oil, caulk, the manufacturer’s sticker residue, paint, and a bunch of water stains. My dad said he thought they were the dirtiest he’s ever cleaned. I’ve never properly washed windows before, so they were most definitely the dirtiest I’ve ever cleaned.

But clean the buggers I did, with razor blade, washer thing, scraper thing and towel. They’re pretty spectacular. My dad always talks about the glories of well washed windows and I always thought he was a bit out to lunch, but I have to say there is a certain glory to these windows right now. So clear it’s like there’s no glass at all, and the house looks so very polished. Low flying birds beware…

Open house locations:

Monday, Oct 8:
10-12 Frazier Park, CA across from the Coffee Cantina.
Address: 3011 Mount Pinos Way 93225

4-6 San Luis Obispo, CA Trader Joe’s parking lot.
Address: 3977 S Higuera St

Tuesday, Oct 9
1-2:30 Santa Cruz, CA Home Depot parking lot (Soquel)
Address: 2600 41st Ave 95073

One piece of sad news. At least for a while, I am not taking my darling kittens with me. This has been a difficult and rethought decision, but I believe it to be for the best for now as the place I’m moving to has 5 dogs that have pack mode going in full force. They pretty much chase anything that runs, as I witnessed when they bolted after and caught some kind of screaming wild animal in the 30 or so minutes I was there.

I’m pretty airy fairy about this sort of stuff, and tried to keep an ‘I’m sure it’ll all work out’ attitude, but sometimes you have to be realistic and not let the fact that things usually work out lead you to making stupid choices. If either one of my babies got hurt or (in my sister’s ever so delicate wording) ‘ripped to shreds while still alive’ because of an unsafe location I knowingly brought them to, it would be beyond terrible.

I’m thinking I will at least go up and suss out the situation until they get bigger or I can build a fence or someplace safe. I don’t know. I may well end up moving somewhere else that’s more small-fuzzy-animal friendly. But my parent’s are in love with them and I know they’ll be happy here where they already know the ropes. I’m sure I’ll miss them more than they’ll miss me.

I’m really going to miss them :(