Digging up the Roots

Discovering the Wisdom of the Past


We are now knee-deep in plumbing and electrical in the tiny house now. There are an endless amount of small projects to do, it leaves Trent and I both a little dizzy.

In the bathroom, the vanity was transformed to a finished unit, sans the cabinet door below! Trent was able to salvage the formica and the sink from work, which feels good.

Trent designed and built metal pipe handrails for the kids’ loft. He also added a rope for a super adventurous climb. Also note that the cedar accent wall has been finished as well! It looks absolutely gorgeous.

In the kitchen, the sink and faucet were both installed.

Trent built the light fixture above the kitchen sink. It is a fallen piece of black walnut from the tree in our back yard. It has incredible character, with insect trails, bumps, variations in wood grain, and a naturally rotted out spot for the light to shine through! I think it is beautiful and unique.

We are hoping to finish in the next two months! We are feeling very excited to be done.

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The kitchen is really starting to take shape and I’m excited to share the progress with you!

Beautiful butcher block counter tops, installed!

We got basic butcher block countertops from Home Depot and Trent cut them to fit. We oiled the bottoms with mineral oil and screwed them down.

That all sounds easy, but it was a whole Saturday and several weeknights. Welcome to building.

Then, I made a VERY strong black tea and brushed two coats on for a natural stain. The kids enjoyed being a part of this, and I enjoyed using something that wasn’t caustic and prohibitive for kids!

Stained with black tea

The final product was a little more yellow than we wanted, but we still liked it.

Then, we rubbed it with a few coats of hemp seed oil to seal it. Again, it feels good to use something that isn’t full of chemicals.

Trent looked at this expanse of countertop and almost tried to talk me into not having a sink “just like a dry cabin!” Usually, I’m all up for his crazy against-the-grain ideas, but not this one. Nope. I’ll willingly give up counter space for a big sink.

Cutting the sink hole

Then, Trent cut out the sink hole and we plopped it in! Trent was able to reclaim this sink after it was torn out of a remodel he was working on. It is so incredibly heavy! But I am so excited to use it and have a large sink.

Bam! Isn’t that the most beautiful sight ever?!

Once I saw the sink in place, and the contrast of the pure white with the honey wood… I screamed! I can’t believe I will get to cook in this kitchen every day!

Then, it was time for the kid invasion! The sink made an awesome Barbie pool! Skinny dipping, of course, since Barbies never seem to have clothes on.

If that ain’t the cutest thing you’ve ever seen…

I’m excited to see such beautiful touches being added to the house. It seems to be going faster now, which gives us both hope.

What do you think of the kitchen?

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We’ve been really looking forward to meeting this milestone. It seems like a big turning point in the project to clothe in paint these cabinets Trent has been building for about 9 months.

Before the paint could go on, the window trim had to be installed. This is one of Trent’s specialties at work, so of course he put himself under extreme pressure to get the details just-so. Don’t blame him, he just doesn’t want to cringe every day that he lives in this house and looks at the trim.

Meanwhile, the 3 youngest played in their future room. Is Tate eating a bit of insulating foam? Could be.

Trent and I decided we would use Sherwin-Williams’ super awesome ProClassic paint, which gives trim and cabinets a hardy shell of smooth paint. We also decided to spray it on to get a super-smooth finish.

Trent took off a week of work to get this project done, which I thought was excessive. Well, it wasn’t. It took us all 6 days to finish.

First day: papering and taping everything we didn’t want sprayed with paint.

Second day: Painting the primer (it was very stinky and I think we got high)

Third day: Sanding the primer (this made our arms hurt A LOT)

The only picture of the fateful week… Trent sanding the primer for 12 hours.

Fourth day: I honestly don’t even know what happened after this point. Somewhere in the sanding/painting/cleaning cycle, we started to paint and it was running and creating a mini-disaster. Trent was really starting to lose it at this point. We both felt like we had put so much work into it, and we couldn’t hardly keep going or accept challenges.

The crux of the project was when Trent was laying on the living room floor with no energy to just go put on the last coat of paint on Saturday night, and the snake that the kids had rescued from Bruce the cat and had been befriending all day died. That thing had totally kicked the bucket, eyes glassed over and mouth open, but the kids still had to be convinced he was gone for good. Anyway, Wade and Elsa were crying and processing that death and we had a funeral for him. Buried him and put down flowers and everything.

It’s those moments that make me a strong woman: conducting a snake memorial service whilst hoping my husband has strength to rise and paint.

Let’s just say, in the end, the cabinets look beautiful, but not without hardship. I know every nook and cranny of that house. Once we got over our trauma, we were ready to admire the finished product and I hope you are too!

Are you ready for some addicting before/after transformations?

It’s nice to be done.

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Sanding the Cabinets

Sanding the Cabinets


Posted By on Feb 15, 2019 in Tiny House | 0 comments

Now that the cabinets are all built, it is time to smooth everything and begin preparing for Painting Day! This sounds easier than it really is, like almost everything in construction. Granted, I am not the most experienced at all this, but it took me 2 1/2 days of hard sweaty work with the electric sander to get the cabinets all sanded and the nail holes filled.

It has been fun for me to have a job I really feel like I can do well, though. I definitely feel really proud of what I have done.

When Trent built the cabinets, he adds a strip of wood called “face frame” on the front to make it extra pretty and durable. Usually the cabinet and the face frame don’t quite match up, so I have to smooth out the transition.

Also, Trent fastens the cabinets together with staples, which leave a small indent in the wood. After smoothing the face frame, I would go back and fill the hole, as well as any other gaps with wood filler.

Then, as if I hadn’t sanded enough, I go back over the wood filler and smooth it out. The desired finish product is in the picture above.

This last weekend, the kids were with Grammy and Boppa, so we made a lot of progress. In addition to the sanding, I sanded and painted the beam above the bathroom.

OK, now for the big news! As if living in a tiny house with 4 kids isn’t strange enough, we have decided to not have a traditional table and couch! This decision allows us to have vastly more floor space. We will be dining Japanese-style, on the floor with a short, collapsable table. Trent built a small cubby in which to store the table when it’s not in use. It’s in the picture below, although it’s hard to see with all the plywood covering it. Can you tell it’s getting a little cramped in the house?

The top will be an extra-wide windowsill of barnwood, where we can display bits of treasured nature from walks and grow a few plants. I have always dreamed of having something like this, and I feel like a spoiled queen to finally have one!

Trent has been busy on the window trim. There are a lot of windows in the house, which makes these kind of tasks take longer, but the payout is a really light, airy house!

We are still hoping to be painting the cabinets in about two weeks. There’s lots of work to be done between now and then, but we are pretty much running on adrenaline at this point, knowing that getting the cabinets painted will make the build take a major turn towards the finish line.

Thanks for reading along with the process! Be sure to stick around because we are now (hopefully) within 4-6 months of finishing!

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The Final Cabinets!

The Final Cabinets!


Posted By on Feb 5, 2019 in Tiny House | 1 comment

We have finally arrived at an exciting landmark in our tiny house build. After about 6 months of cabinet-building, we have finally built the final cabinets!

I always find it funny that as soon as the cabinets are built, they are immediately inhabited by random tools and stuff.

These last cabinets were the most difficult and time-consuming for Trent to build. The cabinet to the left (with the grid pattern) is a bookshelf with a ladder in the middle. This is how the kids will access their loft. Trent plans to forge some metal hand-rails to help with safety. This is where I hope to store most of my spartan homeschooling supplies, most of which are BOOKS!

The coat closet has two levels. The top is right by a window and I hope to perch some houseplants on the top. The landing is actually a nice place to hang out– I can lean on the coat closet and look out the window. This is where the child clubhouse fantasy part of the tiny house really shines: there are becoming lots of little nooks and places to hang out.

Next up: install window trim, which happens to be one of Trent’s specialties! After having installed hundreds of feet of trim in other peoples’ homes, it’s going to feel really good to install the trim in his own house.

We are hoping to have the cabinet painting underway by the beginning of March.

We are really hoping to be done by June, and it feels like the months are flying by. Now that we have moved on to another stage of the build, we are feeling pumped and super excited to be done. It feels like we really will finish. It’s great to think by summertime, we will be moving in!

The tiny house looking gorgeous in the skiff of February snow.

Trent and I are getting two days in a row with no kids this weekend (thanks Mom and Dad!) and we are hoping to make a lot of progress. Stay tuned for next week’s update!

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There are as many ways to make elderberry syrup as there are cooks. Everyone has their own take on this medicine. So here’s mine… I think it tastes pretty good.

I definitely have a surplus of elderberries after finding a huge supply at the end of the summer!

Benefits of elderberries

Elderberries boost the immune system and have been used as a immune medicine for a very long time. They are anti-viral and can kill H1N1 virus. They have the most flavanoids of all berries.  Flavanoids are anti-oxidants that protect cells and prevent numerous diseases in the body, including heart disease, metabolic disorders, and cancer. The flavanol in the most content in elderberries is quercetin, which is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that has been found to prevent cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative disease (such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s), and prevent and treat cancer. Quercetin has been proven in a study to be part of a plan to successfully reduce tumor size. It helps support the respiratory system and helps break up phlegm and thus lessen a cough. It can shorten the duration of a cold or flu. Needless to say, elderberries are a powerful medicine.

These are the ingredients you will need:

1 cup fresh or frozen elderberries

1 cup water

¼-½ cup honey

1 T apple cider vinegar

1 T ground ginger

1 cinnamon stick or 1 T cinnamon

INSTRUCTIONS:

Put water, berries, grated ginger, and cinnamon stick in a saucepan.

Bring mixture to a boil, then set heat to low and simmer for 1 hour, covered. Stir it from time to time. Turn off heat and let it sit until it is warm.

Strain with a cheesecloth or fine mesh sieve.

Measure how much liquid you have and add equal parts honey. For example, if you have ½ c elderberry liquid, add ½ c honey. Stir until it is a smooth syrup.

Add 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to help preserve the syrup. Pour the finished syrup into a clean bottle with a tight lid. Store it in the refrigerator for 1-2 months.

Take 1 tsp. per hour when sickness descends or 1 tsp. per day when healthy.

Note: Do not give to babies under 1 year old, as honey is not recommended for babies.

I hope you enjoy this medicine and that it brings you health!

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Trent has been building cabinets since Summer. Sometimes when we get stuck on one task for a long time, it feels like it is lasting forever and we will never finish.

But the last few weeks, with extra time off from work for the holidays, Trent was able to make a lot of progress on the kitchen cabinets.

Kitchen sink

I get particularly excited about the kitchen taking form, because this is going to be the first well-thought-out kitchen I have ever lived in. For a tiny house kitchen, I think we have managed to fit in an admirable amount of storage and functionality.

The sink will be in the middle, with two very deep and spacious cupboards to the right and left. I love the big window that floods the workspace with light.

Two windows for optimal natural light

This is the view when you turn a bit right from the sink. There is a good amount of counter space and another window!

Above is the storage on your right side as you look at the kitchen. From right to left the compartments are: refrigerator, mason jar storage drawers, and pantry. I am very hopeful I will be able to fit all my kitchen essentials and a good amount of food storage for 6 people.

Next up is building the stairs to the kids loft, which will of course have storage in it! It may not look like it, but we are starting to get very close to finishing.

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We have celebrated Winter Solstice for a few years as a family, but never have we shared this celebration with friends. This was going to be our year. I was going to invite friends and it would be magical and well-planned. Then my kids started cycling through short (but contagious) fevers. We called off the friends-coming-over part and decided to make-do and celebrate this holiday alone!

Captivated by candlelight

Dinner was nothing special– cabbage salad and soup– but any meal can be made magical with candlelight.

Light promises to return

This year, I really wanted to focus on two things. First, embrace and accept the fact that we are in the darkest time of the year. Second, remind myself and my family that the light is returning. We took turns talking about what we remember from this last summer, as well as what we look forward to this summer. It helps me feel less overwhelmed with the darkness when I just accept that it’s a part of the year’s cycle, and remind myself that it won’t last forever.

Elsa’s face, like the year. Dark and light.

This has been a wonderful year. We have experienced better health than ever before, we have made progress to accomplish our tiny house goals, and we have had many days of loving our kids and our friends. It has had a lot of sad days, anxious days, and “junk days” that went un-enjoyed… as any year has. But mostly I remember this year for all the happiness we have felt.

Time for some good books

We read two very good books that I had borrowed from the library. One was Owl Moon by Jane Yolen, which spoke of a boy taking a quiet walk in the snow with his dad to find an owl. The other book was The Shortest Day: Celebrating Winter Solstice by Wendy Pfeffer. This book explained the history of solstice and the science behind it.

Embrace the darkness, take time to rest. Summer will come quickly.

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