Sunday, July 12, 2015

Headed Off To Build and Bale!!

Our deck all lit up and ready for some 4th of July fun
with friends! Hard to believe just a year ago we had
relocated the Pod to this beautiful place!
Things have been pretty quiet on the tiny house front here in our little corner of the world. 

I hate to sound like a broken record, but all energy and efforts have been going towards getting the new gluten and dairy free baked goods business off the ground. I have had my ups and downs, my set backs and my little victories, I've been tired and exhilarated, inspired and overwhelmed, you name it. 

I remember how I felt at the beginning of our tiny house build, and it's hard to believe that anything could trump those first feelings of awe, intimidation, and hope....but here we are again, embarking on another less traveled path. Most days, I still can't believe I made the decision, executed the plan I've only been dreaming of for YEARS now, and low and behold it seems to be working!!!

Where baking and building collide! I've had so much fun creating everything I have needed from the logo and name to the banners, the four tier bread display, cash box cubby, and more! 

I want to thank everyone in the tiny house community who has shown us support and enthusiasm, not only for our tiny house, but also as we started this new challenge. Heck- while I have you here- take a moment to like our new business on Facebook! Two Little Buns! We will keep you up today on new developments, markets we attend, and new items I bring to the menu.

Meanwhile, things at the house are getting a little behind. I still need to provide some kind of trellis or crawling apparatus for my tomatoes on the utility closet and my cukes on the roof. The cucumbers are not doing as great as I had hoped, time will tell what they actually produce. They have some small cukes started, but the leaves and vines aren't spreading like I'm used to. 

The peas and beans are doing great! I picked a nice batch of beans to cook up with dinner and there are a TON of pea pods to be picked too! There is no satisfaction to match growing your own food. Give it a shot next season if you can! Heck, there is even still time now to plant tomatoes, squash, or even beets and radishes. GROW FOOD PEOPLE!! 

Anyways- something cool that is happening on the tiny house front- or at least related- is that we are headed off on our "honeymoon" this week! We are going to Arlington, VT to participate in a week long workshop, learning and building a straw bale house! We booked this last year, not long before our wedding. The thought of planning a trip or vacation right on the heels of our wedding was just too much at the time, so we opted to do something later. I highly recommend this by the way.

I find myself so excited for this fun little vacation, and it feels as if our wedding was just days ago once again. Second, we know that the tiny house is not our forever home. We want something a bit bigger and on solid ground.


I am always amazed by families of four living in THOWs, but that's simply not an experience I am interested in. I lived in all manner of housing with my family growing up, including an RV and a hunting shack. While my memories of those places are fond and I never felt hindered by the type of home it was, as an adult, I'm going to consider that an experience that is permanently checked off the list. We have two rabbits that don't want to do what they are told on occasion- and they have learned to "scatter and disorient" when they don't feel like cooperating. Can you imagine two much larger, loud, smart, taciturn animals (kids) deciding to scatter and disorient in this place?!

Sure, it's definitely possible, but so is putting my arm in a meat grinder. Doesn't mean I feel the need to do it. haha

I'm sure I will have lots of pictures and fun stories to tell when we return!  
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Friday, June 12, 2015

Hammering Through The Days...

Time to build up!
Hey people! I've been awash in small business work and life itself. 

But- considering I just did a video tour with Deek- YEP DEEK! WOOP WOOP! I'm all jazzed and thought- "yeah I'll bang out a blog post before heading out to bake until 1am!" This was only possible thanks to the fun tour and rounds and rounds of compliments from Deek....which means quite a lot to Dan and I. We watched his videos early on, he's seen it all - from the pimped out tiny houses to rickety shacks in the sticks. 

Fun times with Deek! :)

The video tour should be out sometime soon-- fair warning all- it is abundant in off-color jokes. We are both goof balls- and once the back and forth gets started......haha Needless to say it was a good time. I'll be sure to post when it comes out!

Other than that, I have been putting all energy and effort into the baked goods business. I named it after our real life pets Wendy and Walter, and designed the logo after them as well. It's been a blur, but a wonderful blur. The first market went really well- sold out my breads! So I'm ready to double my offering for tomorrow and hopefully show up at another market somewhere in the state very soon! I specialize in gluten and dairy free breads, cookies, crackers, and more! Check it out people! 

Racing to make my first display
for the market! I used wood from
the favor display from our wedding.
TRIPLE LIFE for this pallet wood.
The plants are finally getting into full swing and I picked my first bowl of strawberries from the roof. I can't wait to see what yields come from each method- I hope the WHOLE ROOF gets smothered in cucumber leaves too! 

I'll check in again soon!
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Broc and peppers

Strawberries, cukes, leeks


I wish everyone could smell this photo!!!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Makeover For The Pod

Weathered gray...not for long!
We've been just as busy as we have been silent! Sorry!

Dan and I have been working like mad on a variety of things- mainly items related to my new business and getting the outdoor area into shape. One of the big undertakings of this spring/summer was to sand and stain the siding. I still pout as I think back to that beautiful blonde smattering of colors. Alas, unprotected wood does not stay so bright. Over the last year, as it sat in the beating sun, the Pod has taken on a gray weathered look. Don't get me wrong, there is a certain charm to weathered gray, but to me, it belongs at the beach- and it certainly isn't the color for us. 

As daunting and tedious as it seemed, this particular project isn't taking nearly as long as we expected. I credit that to having a lot more free time. I can only imagine how long this would have taken, on top of everything else we have accomplished since March, if I was still working 40+ hours a week. Makes me cringe actually. 

Anyways! My arms are getting quite defined and the house is looking fine! Over a few different days we have managed to complete the end wall, utility closet, and about 85% of the front wall. The new stained color looks AMAZING, especially after looking at the ratty old gray for so long. 

We have also been working away at making the space around the Pod more "human putter" friendly. I am not a fan of lots of clothes and footwear. Every summer as a kid- I wore as little as possible. If only I could run around naked like I once did- too bad it's only acceptable until about age 5. Ha!  I prefer to let my skin and feet breathe. So as soon as it gets warm enough, I move to shorts, tanks, and flip flops. That has not been working to my favor here. I already have dealt with poison ivy this year. My butt of all places. I think it happened while I was resting on my heels and my shoes must have had some of the oil. Needless to say I was very aggravated and after a couple days of dealing with an itchy fess, I clothed myself from head to toe, put on rubber gloves and went hunting and yanking. 

I have learned that we do not have "a patch here and a patch over there"...we have poison ivy EVERYWHERE within our area. ALL OF IT. Some places are more dense than others, but I was not happy to discover this fun little fact. Once I had ripped up as much as I could, I started laying cardboard. I want to be able to have a space to walk around and wear my sandals without checking every little step I take. 

I had to lay on the roof to stain the top 2
feet of siding. SO MUCH POLLEN. 

This past weekend, we took advantage of that nice low 60s weather we got and did a bunch of shoveling, hauling, and spreading of chips. Hard work on hots days is the worst! Cooler weather made is somewhat enjoyable! I also weed-wacked. Things are looking much cleaner and sandal friendly now. 

What a contrast eh?!?

The roof containers are exploding, the trellis plants are starting their first little grasps up the vertical surface, and the straw bales....well they are doing alright. They actually require the most attention from me as they need watering and weeding most often. 

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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Vertical and Stawbale Gardening- Our 100% FREE & RECYCLED Vertical Trellis

Forget flowers! My stair beds have kale and chives!
It feels like quite the juggling act right now, and all I am trying to manage are some slowly growing plants.

The difficulty of a task can rise exponentially if all actions boil down to a handful of pre-requisite decisions you are simply incapable of making. That was me over the last week or so. I have all these ideas and gardening techniques I would like to try and about 25 different types of seeds to choose from, I also had that pile of seedlings I started WAY too soon, just looking like a bunch of gangly trapped teenagers. 

Recycled deck wood!

I'm not used to gardening at a smaller scale I guess. I even restrained myself when planting the seedlings back in March, but still ended up with too many of certain things without any real plan of where to put them. 

The Vertical Trellis

We created a vertical trellis just in front of our house. Partly because of all the great things I read about vertical gardening in this book. I didn't want to give it back to the library! So much knowledge!

Once again, my new mission is to create as much as we need from things that are already laying around or found for free. I'm beginning to re ally love the pile of old deck wood behind Dan's Dad's store. He kept it without really knowing what purpose it may, if ever, serve. It wasn't the pretty pristine looking stuff it used to be, but it was still good solid wood. 

I made my small bed for the trellis out of left over deck wood. We then took apart the two extra solar racking posts we had made last summer. Seeing all of these things lying around here get a second life is giving me a new sense of appreciation for what can happen when you mash together creativity, tenacity, and recycling. We took the longer pieces we retrieved and created a simple frame. This was where we would mount our trellis of sorts.

We thought of a lot of things, maybe bamboo? Maybe thin strips of scrap wood? And at one point, I even thought, "Okay, every other part was free, maybe I'll just grab some lattice at the big store." I went and checked the prices- for the type of weave we would have wanted, it would have run us about $28/sheet and I guessed we would need two. I decided to put a pin in it,  not letting my excitement and OCD level need to just complete it already. 

Just a day later, we were driving home, not even 2 miles from home, and we spotted two pieces of lattice work, propped against a tree with other miscellaneous items. I squealed with joy- what a find! I felt as if I was being rewarded in some way for sticking to my own rule of no spending. We tried every which way to get them in the car, but with screws still poking out, it made it difficult to do without damage. Finally, I said to hell with it- I started walking with them over my head while Dan went and got his truck. 

We brought them home, and used the very screws still in the lattice to attach it all. Free lattice and free hardware! Nice! We have planted peas, beans, peppers, and leeks in this box. Time will tell if I crowded them too much, but if half of it is going to grow upward, I think it will work out great. 

Another major reason for wanting to try vertical gardening and choosing that particular location, was not only to conserve ground space, but to provide some shade to our utility closet. Last summer we did not have our solar power set up, but this year, that cabinet needs to stay as cool as we can manage. Overheating that equipment would be dreadful and oh so costly. 

After a few days of watching the shadows, I was a bit peeved to find that the shadows fell just a few inches short of the utility closet. By the time we scooched the trellis close enough to make proper shade, it would be practically on top of the house and we wouldn't be able to access the closet. SO- our next gardening project is now to set up a few containers on that closet roof and have some sort of lattice or netting reach from there to the top of the trellis. That will do the trick! We are going to have one interesting looking place in another month or so! 

BOOM- Free and Full of Awesome

The Straw Bales

I went to the local hardware/gardening store and picked up 4  bales of hay. I jammed them all into my car which was quite a sight, and quite a mess afterwards. I liked the idea of straw bales because not only do they need minimal to no soil, they can be plopped down anywhere. We have a lot of overgrown, rocky, and root filled soil here, so rather than trying to till or clear away those plants, I opted for bales to sit right on top. Plus, I just want to see how well it all works! 

For a better understanding of how straw bales work and how to prep them, check out this article. We laid down some cardboard (free and abundant at Dan's Dad's store - no purchasing black mesh for us!) watered them well, then covered it with chips. Just a note- always use bare, non-coated cardboard with minimal labels or printing- and be sure to remove all the tape!

 I followed the steps in the article, but things got a little loose towards the end. I was using water directly from the little pond near us, so I think that helped speed up the process. The pond is "live" water packed with nutrients like fish, duck, and turtle poop and teeming with microorganisms that all help set the stage for some great growing medium. Much better than the treated and sanitized water coming from your average garden hose. 

Not very pretty, but the paper will keep
the grass at bay.

Well- all the plants are in, but grass has told me that this stuff is just perfect for it. It's sprouting everywhere. I was quite peeved, as I asked numerous times for the hay with no seed. Either the guy didn't know or didn't care I guess. Make sure you get your bales from a reputable source, or be prepared to battle grass all summer as I will have to do. BLERG. 

In the strawbales, I have some brocolli, leeks, peppers, and dragon carrots. I was going to do some vertical stuff on these beds too, but thought maybe I should give Dan and I a break and focus on just getting our food in the ground.

Aside from the gardening, we have been slowly working on improving the space around us-- well making it less tantalizing to goats would be more accurate. It's beautiful as is! But- the last thing I want is to have a pack of goats munching all of our garden food- so we are trying to make our area look less tempting. How? Wood chips and cardboard. Lots and lots of wood chips and cardboard. Luckily the wood chips were free too! Our landlords were very generous to let us use a bunch. They get it delivered by the truckload from local utility companies that are always looking to get rid of huge piles of the stuff. So, if you have the space to dump it and the interest in using it- contact your local utility company and ask if they need places to get rid of their wood chips it works great as ground cover and mulch. Plus you can't beat free! 

An update on our self-watering containers on the roof- they are doing GREAT! Even in the beating sun, I only have to go up and fill the water reservoirs every 4 days or so. The soil has stayed perfectly moist and the plants are LOVING IT. 

Next up, either sanding and sealing the siding, or starting work on our outdoor shower. We hope to use all the leftover bamboo the goats ate through the winter. Should be fun!

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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

GOOD TIMES HAD BY ALL: Deek's Putnam Workshop

This past Saturday, Dan and I had the pleasure of speaking at, and mingling about Deek's tiny house workshop in Putnam, CT. 

We arrived toward the end of the day at the Empty Spaces Project, a cute little art gallery in downtown Putnam. The place was alive, not only with vivid colors (gorgeous art there!), but the energetic bustle of a group raising a small abode right in the center of  gallery's main showroom. Once complete, the tiny house will serve as an art exhibit in and of itself, while also displaying other pieces of art. So cool! 

Image borrowed from Deek's site

Dan was quickly scooped up to help, while I had the pleasure of taking photos of one of the most fun parts- raising the final wall, which had an awesome punk rock inspired mural- painted from corner to corner. 

Later on in the night, after all the banging and drilling was put to rest, everyone scattered to various little taverns and eateries peppered along the downtown area. This part of Putnam has really sprung back to life, and it's bringing a lot of funky, eclectic arts and other businesses back to the area. I always love seeing the revival of a town.

A piece of Deek's art! Love it!
Especially the cell phone 'stache!

After grabbing grub, we all returned to hear a handful of speakers ranging from tiny house dwellers to tiny house dreamers. Dan and I were up first and received a really awesome response to our story. Just minutes before we left for the event, I threw a bunch of photos on my tablet to be able to show. Probably the best move I made all week. It was pretty amazing to see people oooh and ahh at our little house, made by little ol' novice Nellys-- us. 

The other speakers were a delight as well, especially to us! We love hearing about other tiny house dwellers and their story. Ethan came all the way from Vermont to share his house, which is amazing. Miranda of Miranda's Hearth, and Amy Annette Henion (who did an awesome Ted X talk!) were also sharing. Amy provided some great tips and inspiration to fellow dreamers who are pinching pennies and paring down belongings as they dream of a tiny space. 

Miranda shared her engaging vision of a tiny house hotel of sorts, where each house along with every last item in it, would be hand made by a community of artists. Guests could come and enjoy a stay in a tiny house and would be able to purchase any item they saw or used while visiting. She is also going to kick start this vision off by building the very first tiny house right out in public- as an evolving art display. Check out more details here.

Needless to say, we had a wonderful time, made some great connections, and gained a renewed enthusiasm and appreciation for what we have done and encourage others to do as well! 

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