Category Archives: Uncategorized

Music, horse shit and such…


June! It’s definitely June. What is it that happens to my dedication to write more? I did find the pesky laptop that I lost a while back, so I really have no excuse. In the end it was IN MY CAR. Given the number of times I looked there and the length of time it remained hidden for I don’t know how that’s possible, but why would life make sense?

I’m rolling with the theory that devious little (shitty, old, out of date) laptop computer thieves stole it from my car, and then several months later put it back in the place I looked 37,837 times just to mess with me. They must have found it hilarious. I’m rolling with it.

Another positive is that I have recently stopped shoveling horse manure as part of my rental agreement with my landlords and let me tell you…it’s one of the greatest things ever. Every. Other. Day. For over 4.5 years I cleaned that literal shit. For the first 3 years I found the regularity somewhat delightful, but since becoming self employed it has increasingly lost its appeal. On and on it went, until one week in May I had two distinct realizations in quick succession.

1, In the last 4.5 years, I have cleaned horse poo more individual times than I have washed my hair.

(1.5, EW.)

2, I don’t even own horses.

And that was it. Now another local gal cleans the corrals and I wake up every morning with the joyous, springing step of someone who doesn’t have to put on shit clothes and scoop poop. It’s pretty great. Of course, I have to make up the extra rent money now, but I’m too excited about not doing it anymore to let that get me down. I’ll see how that attitude works out a in few months.

All this no-more-poo thing has had the added effect of making me fall in love with my house all over again, and I’m quite smitten with her at the moment. I realize I had tied a lot of undue negativity to Little Yellow because of my horse duties, which as a result made me feel an underlying agitation, which does nothing positive for feeling ‘at home’. I was actually becoming quite dissatisfied which was starting to really freak me out, seeing as I know I both love my house and have zero means for another kind of living situation. Moral of the story? Shit, man. It rains on your parade. And also makes it stink.

Keep forgetting to mention that I’ve added a ‘now’ page to the site. I got this idea from another blog I came across I really like the concept of it. For me personally, updating the page with a few quick paragraphs seems much less daunting than trying to figure how to work it into a larger post, so read up on now pages, add one to your website if you like it too, and check in on mine if you have any interest.

Most of my life since I last wrote has been dedicated to the massive undertaking of recording and stressing over the starting, and now almost completion, of my first album of original music. Titled ‘Who Asked You Back’, it will be released late summer and it’s very exciting.

I’ve put up my first official(ish) music video on youtube last week which is also exciting. If you can think of anyone who would enjoy it, please share! I’ll leave you with the video (also watchable in the side and/or bottom bar) and hopefully some of the remaining spring-stepping of this happy camper who doesn’t have to shovel shit today 🙂


Talking Tiny…


It’s the first day of spring, and (at least where I am) it’s dumping rain. Cheery it isn’t, but California sure is trying to make a dent in this drought. It’s dry and leakless in Little Yellow, and aside from having lost several items of varying degrees of importance in its massive swathes of 120 sq feet, all is well.

My computer though; I appear to have lost my entire laptop computer. How does that happen? I have the cord but not the computer. Aren’t those two usually hanging out together? How did they get separated? How can I have never realized it’s possible to loose a laptop? How have I not taken greater care of the loose-able thing? And if it is indeed so loose-able how have I, the loser of many a great thing, not lost it before? Uncharted waters here. Many questions….

Anyway, a few exciting things to mention. First, I am finally able to make it to the Tiny House Conference in Portland April 7-9 and will be talking about design (Saturday from 9-10am for track A and 3-4pm for track B). I am super excited to go! Design is also my favorite subject about tiny houses so definitely looking forward to it 🙂

Second, looks like I will be going to the Tiny House Jamboree as well this year and doing a talk on couples in tiny houses! I will update as I know more in the next few months.

And thirdly *drum roll* I am now doing tiny house consultations via phone or Skype (once I find my computer…)! If you or someone you know might find it useful to ask questions of a tiny house dweller, get in touch and lets talk 🙂 Full info can be found in the consultations tab at the top right.

Wishing you all a beautiful spring!

Anniversaries and pretty pictures…


2017! Holy cow, how did that happen? Is time speeding up for anyone else or is it just me? We celebrated 4 years in Little Yellow back in October (our tiny-versary if you will 🙂 ) and I can’t believe it’s come and gone so fast. The holidays were a chilly blur (by California standards) and the wee stove has gotten near daily use, cranking out the heat and keeping the house warm and toasty.

Home maintenance never ends, and despite my way tinier than usual space to maintain it still overwhelms me. I am very grateful for Zac in these doings because he has this remarkable way of making lists of things that need to get done and then doing them. It’s amazing. I also write lists, painstakingly and in my finest lettering, on the backs of receipts and opened envelopes. However, I prefer to leave them there. And never find them again.

Luckily, Zac’s listing has saved us once again, and dear Yellow has been kept up quite nicely. We now have what we call ‘the garage’ which is a big job box sitting on the hitch that houses a gas grill and general tool like items, a new chest-type fridge (outside, protected by a similar job box) that is not only bigger (yay!) but also uses 1/4 less power than the previous one, I’ve redesigned my kitchen around a marvelous driftwood log, and my pink room holds nearly 100 yards of drool worthy merino wool these days (yes I do have a problem). It occurs to me I never shared the updated video tour I did a while back, so here it is even though it’s quiet outdated now…will have to do another one soon.

It’s a little mental in the house with the sewing machine where the harp used to be and the harp… in the middle of everything, but somehow it still (mostly) works. I do occasionally feel as though so many projects in so small a space are not dissimilar to a jigsaw puzzle, except only half the pieces fit together. I cut fabric on my car, for instance. It sounds fun, and it is when the wind don’t blow, but come rain and I’m not going to be sewing. A fair weather activity you could say.

I’m also celebrating my 1 year anniversary of surviving with no ‘real job’, and it feels fantastic. I’ve finally reached the point I dreamed to find myself in when I conjured up this tiny adventure; able to make my little life work with only music and making things. It’s hard to believe, and I feel extremely grateful.

I cannot imagine how difficult it would be to make that dream a reality without Little Yellow. I have said that building this sensible little home was the best decision I have ever made, and it’s as true today as it ever was. Which either means building a tiny house was a super duper good idea or most of my other ideas aren’t that great, but whichever, here I am over 4 years later, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

5 years ago today…


I purchased an 18′ car hauler trailer, and stared at it obsessively, frozen in place and gripped by an inward explosion of pure excitement and apprehension. 5 years ago today this tiny journey began 🙂 I know this less because I remember important dates in my life and more because I’m now officially late paying my 5 year, $10 trailer registration that somehow missed getting paid, despite being placed in a totally appropriate pile somewhere in the depths of my (ahem) very clear car…

 I found it today though so how great is that?

It’s been ages since I’ve written but with the timing I couldn’t help but write just a little. I am doing well. January’s pain passed and became February which became May and July and August and life goes on. Music and art have filled my heart to the brim and I am a pretty happy camper in my tiny coastal life. All my creative outlets that have laid dormant for so long have returned in force to surround my consciousness in a constant stream of creativity. Art, music, songwriting, sewing, jewelry making, leather work.

I have finally acquired a sewing machine. I say finally because I had to have been close to the last person in the modern world who sewed my entire, albeit tiny, closet of clothes without one. Entirely self taught (who knew youtube was useful for more than cat videos?) I spent hours and hours and years and several more hours discovering the wheels of sewing, pattern making and all that goes with it  It didn’t seem right then, with my antiquated love of holding a needle and thread, to get a white plastic, computerized box, so I bought the oldest machine that still functioned for my purposes.

It (he) is a beautiful German made zigzag, a Meister Klasse 101 that my best guess puts at around 1949-52ish. I have named him Meister and I am a little bit in love. Having sewn everything in my life by hand and literally never used a sewing machine, I feel much like how I imagine the first woman to own this machine must have felt at the marvel of it’s speed and precision, an amazing and life changing invention.

So damn fast and shit. It’s pretty amazing. When I first got it I somehow thought that I would just use the machine for sewing things for other people, I would surely still sew my own clothes by hand (que hysterical laughter).

I went back to Scotland in April for the first time since my return in June 2011. It felt wonderful to be back, so many memories of my years there. I made a ridiculous leather coat for the trip and sported it around, weighing several kilos more than usual. Great for the calorie burning.

Self employment seems to be going quite well enough, and I suddenly struggle to recall how or why I ever bothered to work for someone else. Well, it was because of regular, consistent income but never mind. I find the uncertainty of my monthly financial situation delightful. Somehow it keeps working out, and the slow, thrifty life suits me just fine. But really, with the thrift. Life appears so much more affordable when you don’t buy anything.

My house is still standing, and I have a renewed gratefulness for it this year. It seems extra beautiful to me 🙂 It evolves with my needs and continues to surprise me.

I have a super basic website up for my music,, and I’m on instagram now and can be found at @ellaharp if anyone wants to follow my rambles in picture form. Oh how trendy!

A little story and I’m off to bed. I was given a small potted plant of daffodils several years ago, which promptly died in my care. I was extra sad because daffodils are my favorite and it never feels good when your favorites die. I chucked them into the wilds of the back field and called it a bad day for gardening.

Imagine my surprise when I chased Lobster behind the house this spring and beheld the most darling little splash of daffodil yellow, risen up on their own and thriving. Nature is amazing. Lessons to be learned there ❤

Heartbreak and letting go…


Where to begin…This is going to be a long one, and it’s not a happy story.

It started shortly after I got her when she was 9 weeks old. A tiny, fluffy, new puppy. She’d look at you fiercely with her dark, doe eyes, indescribably intense. She’d hold your gaze and you hers, and then she’d bite at the center of your face.

Puppies have to be taught how to interact with humans. They have to learn bite inhibition. I have to make sure she knows this hurts people and she won’t do it again. This is normal. This is a phase.

I repeated these things to myself every time it happened, confused and upset with countless Google searches on variations of ‘puppy’ ‘aggressive’ ‘biting’. This is normal. It is. But it wasn’t.

Roo was my first puppy. Lobster was 1 when we got him and is so good he practically does the laundry. An agreeable, ‘no problem’ kind of guy. He has a weird thing against homeless people (which we have dubbed ‘hobo-phobic’) but is otherwise cucumber cool. I had interacted with puppies though, and having raised horses and litters of kittens I have a general idea of how young animal play goes. Only this wasn’t play fighting, because she did that too and the difference was blatant. This was something else.

I took a risk with her in favor of socialization and carried her out into the world before all her shots were done. Subways, beaches, crowds, elevators, I wanted her to be exposed to everything I could think of. Aussies are described as being ‘reserved with strangers’ and ‘socialization is key’, so I made it a priority to show her as many situations as possible.

And It worked very well with everything else; that dog was bullet proof with subways. Training worked well with everything else too, she would sit on a dime, didn’t pull on the leash, would wait, and down stay for impressive periods of time. People, however, were a different story; a lack of them brought separation anxiety and the presence of them, aggression. Despite having been exposed to every type of person the city of San Francisco has to offer, she never took to anyone outside her small circle. I can’t think of a single person she she met after 14 weeks that was accepted.

I am aware not all dogs are bounding, wagging, stranger-greeters and I was fully prepared for that. Reserved I was prepared for. Shy I was prepared for. Barking, snarling, lunging, growling, snapping,…I was not.

She didn’t do it every day, or every time. If we were out and about and people were a distance enough away she was great. Sometimes she would let someone greet her and be totally ok, regularly shy and aggression-less. Sometimes she’d be fine with a little kid, then growl and bark with raised hackles just at the sight of another. Sometimes she’d seem alright with someone and then go for their face. It was the back and forth that was the most frustrating.

She never did real harm, and being cute and small as she was it was actually disturbing to me how blasé people were about her obvious displays of aggression. I can’t help but think how she would have been perceived if she looked like a pit bull.

Between 5 and 11 months old, I focused my entire being towards working with her to become reasonably indifferent to strangers. She’d get just better enough with each new training/desensitizing technique I employed that I would think for sure she was getting past it until she didn’t. As her 10th month ended and the holidays drew closer, her improvement was so inconsistent that I finally had to face the reality of my situation.

The companion I had committed to love and care for was slowly destroying my life. None of the exhaustive list of training methods made any lasting difference and I found myself with a dog of 11 months old that hated almost everyone new, wailed like a banshee for the full amount of time she was left alone, and had bitten 9 people in the face, including a child. I had what appeared to be the classic case of an under socialized, under exercised, untrained dog that lacked leadership and structure in her life despite my every action to the contrary.

My relationships started to suffer, I made excuses to keep people from visiting and I dreaded leaving her alone out of fear someone would report my house for the noise. Taking her anywhere and repeating ‘no, she was not abused’, and ‘yes I have tried that’ wore on my resolve and I became a depressive, miserable mess who would burst into tears at the slightest suggestion.

The last day I had her, she bit a man in the face at the beach where we went every day. He walked over for conversation and she had her usual freak out, then calmed long enough for him to give her a brief pat on the head. When he left, he bent to say goodbye to her and she lunged. He reacted and she left only an indentation on his cheek, but I was done. The Aussie rescue wouldn’t take a dog that bad with people so Zac brought her to the humane society. They took pity on her sweet, muzzled face and kept her for evaluation. A week or so later they called to say she was in foster care and I don’t know what happened to her after that.

It was the very worst and most difficult thing I have ever done.

That was November 12. I have been varying degrees of a piece of shit since then, although it has kicked and shoved me unceremoniously into some new section of my life that I have to believe will bring some good. A time of change whether I am ready for it or not; after 3 wonderful years, I left Tumbleweed last month to focus on music and art on the coast in 2016. The future seems unstable but exciting. Unstable, exciting but Roo-less.

Many things have happened since I wrote last but I can’t stand to bring them into this post, which shall be dedicated to my beautiful little heartbreak. My darling wee girl who never quite fit. The hardest thing about having my story online is that I can’t hide from the sad, deeply personal things that I wish I could bury within me. The story must go on, so I bare my soul as every written word reopens the wound. Please hold your judgement if you can, I assure you that all the things you’d like to say have beaten and battered through my head 1000 times over.

The part of me that wonders the ‘what if’s’ will never silence. What if, what if, what if. My mind continuously switches and seconds guesses itself. But the ‘what if I get sued’, ‘what if she really hurts someone’ is quiet.

No one won, it won’t be ok, it will just be. FullSizeRenderRionnag, mo ghràidh.

2 years tiny…


2 and half years, actually. 2 years, 6 months and 7 days if we’re going to get specific, so do lets. 2 years, 4 months and 5 days since my love moved in, 2 years, 2 months and 15 days since I started teaching workshops for Tumbleweed and 1 year 5 months and 14 days since we adopted the slobberdog. And I’d be lying if I said they haven’t been the best years of my life.

This is the happiest I have ever been, yet every time I try to do a new post I get smacked by the great, show stopping wall that is writer’s block. This draft has been in the editing, deleting, and re-writing stage for over 6 months not because I don’t want to tell you all what’s been going on but because I haven’t been able to make it come out right. See, I’m so happy that I’m not sure how to write an update without getting so sickeningly sappy and cheesy that you all want to spontaneously hurl.

If I cared more about not making you hurl and wanted to seem like a discerning, pragmatic kind of girl, I would probably write about how I sometimes wish for things that my house doesn’t have or about the tiny inconveniences that folks in ‘normal’ houses aren’t inconvenienced by. I could write about how I sometimes get pissed that I don’t have a garage to house all the tools I don’t have, or how I have to use someone else’s washing machine when I need to clean things that are too big or awkward for my wee sink. I could write about having the flu with a compost toilet or about falling seriously ill with a kidney infection last summer and the following reality of being unable to stay in my house, too weak to climb my own ladder.

But when I think of my life in this little house the past 2 years, 6 months and 7 days I don’t think of those things as an accurate representation of my experience. They happened, but so did the rest if my life. The amazing, beautiful life that is mine because of this very house and everything that comes with it.

I work my dream job and do so only 1-2 weekends a month because of this house. I live in my dream location and swim in the ocean every day because of this house. I have the time to spend my days writing music and drawing and creating and sewing most of my clothes by hand because of this house. All because of this simple little house that keeps me focused and humble and sane (somewhat. HAMSTERS)

Nothing is 100% perfect 100% of the time. In a big house, you miss the efficiency of a small house, in a small house you miss the convenience of a big house and so it goes. It is all too easy to slide into the tempting human mindset of waiting on the next new thing that will fix everything and make you happier or your life better or maybe even get you a glimpse of the elusive ‘perfect’.

Tiny houses, small houses, average houses, huge houses; none of them are ever perfect in and of themselves. All you can hope for is to find is a situation that brings you the closest balance between what you want and what you need, and commit to it with all its inevitable quirks. This, for me, is my house. I have committed to this house as my personal version of perfect. The positives outweigh the negatives, as my dad would say.

So when issues arise, I deal with them, as I would have to deal with a different set of issues in any other given house. I have to take the bin out from my composting toilet, for instance, but I don’t have to deal with plungers or overflowing. And when my house feels too small, I strive to classify the problem not as ‘I don’t have enough space’ but as ‘I have too much stuff in this space and it’s making it feel small’. Then I downsize, reorganize, and move on. I don’t let it bother me because I know full well how lucky I am to have found myself so close to my own ‘perfect’.

And it is ever so close to perfect 🙂 Though this is only my experience. In the short time I have lived in my house, I have seen people start building, stop building, sell, move out, get together, break up, rave about, rage about, love and… not love their tiny houses. They are not for everyone. As helpful as it would be, know that no one can tell you what it will really be like for you. Not me, nor anyone else can tell you whether it will work for you and your situation because it can only be your own, unique adventure.

So there you have it; an update, finally. I guess it wasn’t all that cheesy or sappy…But I assure you it would have been if I posted the first draft 🙂 Just a little sap before I go.

I got a puppy!!! She is an Australian Shepherd named Roo (Rionnag in full, which means star but no one can say that so we call her Roo. Or Roo-Bear or You-Bear. Or Rooster when she’s being loud. There’re a lot of possibilities with a name like hers). She is just the cutest little thing, right?! I am in puppy love 🙂 Lobster is darling with his baby sister and they go craaaaazy playing outside together, though both know that being in Little Yellow means ‘go to your quiet place’. If anyone is wondering, she potty trained remarkably fast in such a small space and hasn’t had an accident in my house since she was 9 ½ weeks old (she’s 17 weeks now). My family’s big house down the road is a totally different story, I think she holds it and plots out going there… And here are some 8 ½ week old puppy pictures in case you want to have a wee squeal 🙂

Of mistake making and taking my ceiling apart…


Mistakes happen. They are one of the few, infallible certainties that plague my doings, no matter how familiar or simple such a doing may seem. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the most difficult and least familiar of my doings to date would be no exception. The only difference is that when I mess up on something I’m relatively versed in, like sewing, I can eat the 20 something dollars it cost to buy the fabric, throw it into a corner with a few choice words and forget about the whole thing. Mistakes made on Little Yellow? Proportionally less forgettable.

And I made a lot of mistakes building my house. Most of them are cosmetic (the word ‘square’ didn’t get used much around here) and many of them actually ended up creating some lovely, unexpected outcomes, but there are a few major ones I would so love to have a time machine for. So here’s my pile of least favourite screw ups for your consideration, in the form of a list that I wish I had seen before I made them. Go forth, and don’t do what I did.

Unless I’m speaking to the unmistaken folks who have never had this sort of reoccurring disaster befall them. If you are in on this in crowd you’d best go out and build something perfectly and do some skipping while you’re at it. I would like your phone numbers before you go

1. Do not build your 18’ house on a trailer with only 7000 lb capacity (GVWR). Even if you’re lucky enough not to have your build be overweight, the fear of a fat house will haunt your every move. Every one of them. Like blinking, it’ll haunt that too.

2. Do not buy windows the exact same size as your rough openings. They will not fit. They will not. Now you will have to either widen the openings or shrink the windows, and both options suck.

3. Do not buy aluminum windows. Aluminium is a fantastic conductor and a terrible insulator. Imagine two cups of cold liquid on a hot day, one aluminum and one wood or vinyl. Condensation will form almost immediately on the aluminum cup while the wood or vinyl cup stays dry because both are better insulators than aluminium, which is in fact one of the worst insulators ever. This means watching the condensation sweat of death form on the interior frame of your windows, creating an ever evolving, unwanted hippie commune of mould on your window sills.

3 1/2. Do not buy said aluminium windows from a company called ‘Superior’ (Aha. Hahaha.) In two years of having them, you can watch in merriment as your clearly superior purchase falls the HELL apart to the point where only 4 of your 10 windows still operate properly (or at all), and 2 of which are completely broken. Like glass-separating-from-the-frames-which-are-separatinng-from-each-other kind of broken. Chalk up the change for aluminium clad wood windows or go with vinyl if your budget requires it. SUPERIOR. Jerks….

4. Worst for last: do not forgo venting your roof. Rotting sheathing and black mould are bad, bad words in the world of shelter, and that’s what waits for you living full time in an unvented shoebox. You will have to fix it later when it’s much harder after a year or so of dreading and putting it off. And then you will CRY, Ok? Remember how you don’t like mould? Vent your flippin’ roof.

When I was in the build stage I didn’t know that ventilation was a thing in roofs and regrettably, my logic did not lead me in the direction of figuring it out. Leaving holes in your ceiling may not seem obviously helpful, but believe me it is. I wrote a bit about the theory of it and the measures I took to try and make up for overlooking it here, but I knew, in my climate especially, it wasn’t going to be enough.

So I formulated a plan to rip down my entire ceiling assembly starting from scratch, and took 6 or so months to work up the gears to do it. And finally the time came.

This was one of the least pleasant things I have ever done. Second only, perhaps, to mucking several months worth of waste from at least 7 baby goats all crammed into an 8×12 Norwegian barn where the air within was so strong that any metallic object on your person tarnished purplish black upon contact and your lungs could stand maybe 2-3 minutes inside before breathing became improbable.

I may have smelled better after fixing my ceiling than I did after the goat crusades, but it was right on par with the horrible. Every item in the house; every curtain, pencil and shoe removed or blockaded in the pink room. Every intentionally placed board of my ceiling ripped down. Every fluff of my wool insulation covering my counters, dish rack, hair and floor until the whole house was a foot deep in sheep. It did awful things to my psyche to see my beautiful home turned inhospitably back into a construction site.

Like many unpleasant things, I have blocked out most of the four, 11 hour days it took to do this thing from start to finish. I suppose it’s fitting then, that we seem to have somehow lost or deleted the camera card with all the photos, so I only have a few from my phone. And they are mostly blurry…oi. Anyway, here’s the basics of how it went down.

After the insulation was out and the ceiling boards were stacked and numbered to keep the order, came the work of scrubbing off varying degrees of greyish black mould, drilling vent holes at the soffits and ridge, and putting up baffles.

I opted to make my own version of baffles with 1×1 redwood strips and roofing felt. Somehow I thought it might be cheaper, or easier or…something. I don’t know. Never works out that way. Without a chop saw on site, I ended up using an axe to hack up the wood strips. Efficient I was not, but it did make for some pretty good therapy.

Without enough electric capacity at the house to run a hair dryer, let alone power tools of any variety, my boyfriend filled the air compressor (to run the nail gun) from our landlord’s garage and drove back up to refill it whenever we ran out. After the baffles were in place, the insulation and ceiling boards went back up and we got to navigate the human errors in our haphazard numbering system. Ascension of numbers and the difference between left and right are apparently still a work in progress for me.

In the end it was a very important redo and I’m glad I didn’t wait any longer. Still, if someone asked me right now if I’d rather take my ceiling down again or wrangle that barn, it’s hands up for goat shit.