Digging up the Roots

Discovering the Wisdom of the Past

Well, it’s been a while. What a year we’ve had! But believe it or not, this family of 6 is STILL living in a tiny house and we HAVEN’T died yet! Here’s a little catch-up:

Lockdowns in a tiny house aren’t bad, especially when you have plenty of acres and lots of beautiful spring weather to enjoy! We had such a nice place to park our house from Sept. 2019-Sept. 2020! We were on a turf and nursery farm backed up to a hazelnut farm and had plenty of paths to walk and ride bikes while staying off the busy road. It was a special time of rest and being together.

We may have to stay home but we aren’t staying inside!

Land ownership has always been our deep desire… Trent and I have been exploring ways of having land to call our own for many, many years now. We always seemed to hit a wall, there was seemingly no way of buying land and being able to afford the mortgage. Finally we had an “aha” moment where we realized that if we could share land with my parents, we could have the land we so desired, while being a blessing to them by caring for them as they age (which is still several decades away). To our surprise, they were up for it!

In early 2020, Trent and I started looking with my mom and dad for property to buy. In July, we found a beautiful place with 10 acres and were so excited to move! But the move took on an ugly twist as wildfires picked up after a freak Labor Day east wind. We figured our special place up on the mountain was ashes, as the fires burned right into our new town. As the smoke cleared, we realized our mountain was untouched by fire, and our plan was able to go ahead.

I don’t have many pictures of this time. It was a very difficult time for our whole family, very overwhelming. I literally collapsed- mind, body, and spirit. But we kept plodding ahead and here is one of the most relieving moments of all: the house settled in it’s final resting place!

Ah, the relief: the tiny house in its final resting place. We are finally HOME!

… And what a parking spot it has been. Nestled in the edge of a beautiful woods, views north of the big sky… the view out my kitchen window is lichens hanging luxuriously from fir branches. I couldn’t have asked for more. With a very difficult year behind us, we set out to start making all our years of dreams a reality.

Planting garlic on our new land!
The kids are building a tree house!
The kids enjoying their first snowfall!
The greenhouse finds its home nestled on the mountain next to the garlic bed.

I am excited to share our life with you as it unfolds. Our near plans involve growing most of our own food (thanks to a huge greenhouse we are erecting) and building a permanent home for our family. Yes, this means the end of life in the tiny house… but we still have a few more years of tiny living to enjoy.

Long-term dreams include farming garlic, herbs, and meat chickens… and whatever other opportunities come our way.

But for now, we wake up every morning in the tiny house, enjoying the fact that living in this beautiful house in a beautiful, quiet place is what we consider “normal life”.

We are so thankful to call this spot home.
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These are some real-life pictures here, folks. With 4 kids, our life has always been about messes, and for me, life has always been about frantically picking up the messes! That made preparing for this blog post a bit hard… when I saw a mess my world would go into a spin and I would quickly get it clean instead of remembering I was supposed to be taking pictures of the mess for the blog. Just confessions of a neat freak. On with the messes!

This isn’t too much of a mess, but it does show coats laying around, paper on the floor, and a puzzle getting done. Tiny house problems: when you start a puzzle near dinnertime, do you frantically finish it so you can eat dinner (and get kinda grumpy in the process) or do you abandon it? Throw a towel over it?

On the left is Library Day: inspecting new books, cohabitation with clean wash, two kids “talking” wooden spoons together in the kitchen. On the right is a Monday: house is clean but a mess of math blocks and paper breaks out, and a pile of dirty blankets in the bathroom.

And the grand finale: the kids bedroom scattered with clothes, LEGOs, and stuffed animals.

And, as I said, there have been many, many more messes in the last few weeks. I hope this gives you a good glimpse of our life in the house, a peek into how life works for us.

What would you like to see or know about tiny house life? Leave a comment!

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A big Merry Christmas to you from our tiny house! Here are some glimpses into our house at Christmastime.

I made an orange and cranberry garland for the living room, which I love. It adds such a homespun feel to the house

The house isn’t always this clean and neat, but this was Monday morning after cleaning and I had to capture the neatness and beauty of the clean floors and lack of random LEGOs and stuffed animals all over the floor! 🙂 I’ve added a few houseplants, made covers for the cushions on the chest (which we use when we eat at our low table). Trent also installed hooks in the bathroom for drying bath towels. These little changes have really made a big difference and make the house more useable.

We have a small Christmas tree that our friends gave us as a gift with some small battery operated fairy lights. It’s been amazing how such a small tree adds so much beauty and Christmasy-ness to the house. Tiny tree for a tiny house!

We’ve had friends over in a steady stream, and it’s cute to see where the kids end up playing!

One friend day, we got out all our paints and a roll of paper and let the kids go for it! This is the beautiful (and kinda scary) mess that ensued.

Life has been really great ever since we got electricity and running water in late October. I was thankful for that “trial”, which made the rest of tiny house living seem easy. I can truly say that I have never felt cramped and that I really love staying home with the kids and homeschooling. With no internet, I’ve been consuming book after book on these dark winter evenings. Life has felt very rich.

Challenges have included mostly themes and variations of moisture issues. We have a lot of moisture in the house (obviously, lots of people breathing, cooking…) and on cold nights it wants to collect on the windows and in closets, and then wants to grow mold and ruin the window trim. We go on “moisture patrol” every morning, wiping the windows and closets with a rag. Not super easy or fun, but it’s working for now. We’re on the hunt for the best dehumidifier for our space.

Thanks for stopping by! Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas as well.

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Still Living Off-Grid

Still Living Off-Grid

Posted By on Oct 24, 2019 in Tiny House | 1 comment

We’re still off grid, and not by choice. It was not “part of the plan”, but that’s kind of how life goes, isn’t it? We have been waiting for the power company to come do a quick job of hooking up the electricity at the road, and it has been really hard waiting a month and a half for this improvement in our lives.

I’d like to say I’m building character, but I think the only thing building is my muscles (carrying 5-gallon buckets of water daily) and my cynicism for life and all systems. But with the help of some well-timed pints of ice cream, bags of truffles, showers at a friend’s house, and casseroles from mom… we’re making it through.

Pouring rain water into the “kitchen faucet”

The orange jug is my “faucet” the only one in the house. I wash dishes with one hand, pushing the button with the other hand, and trying to use as little water as possible, because as you can see in this picture, I haul every drop we use!

We are gathering rainwater in 5-gallon buckets off a very clean shop roof. We are very thankful for the rainy days and I have to see I see the world and weather differently.

We have a Berkey water filter (literally everyone in the world needs one, they are the best thing ever). This filters our drinking water and helps us not worry about using rainwater. I dip a pitcher in the water bucket and fill the Berkey that way.

Pouring water into the Berkey water filter for drinking.

We have been building a deck for the tiny house. This is a huge improvement in our lives. We can walk out the door onto a flat surface, a sort of outdoor mudroom.

Wade and Elsa challenging themselves on the framing.
Trent and Lucia working on the deck

We built it with almost 100% reclaimed materials from Trent’s job, scraps of decking and metal sheeting that were destined for the trash. That made the deck and roof cost us about $50 and saved the world some garbage!

Here it is, almost finished, still needs some roof panels and stairs. But I do feel thankful for every advancement.

On the deck, you can see my “icebox” (a deep freezer with ice in it) which has been a pretty big challenge, between stocking it with ice and fishing out the melted icewater so I don’t drown my food. You also see the plastic totes that we keep our boots in because goodness knows there isn’t room for all that muddy business in the tiny house!

We take showers and do wash at my parent’s house. We cook on our propane cookstove. And we are keeping out house as warm as an old folk’s home (like… 80 degrees) because our wood stove is the only thing that really works in the house and it feels good to have one luxury. And I like obsessively stoking that cute little Cubic Mini stove.

We should be getting power on October 30th… cross your fingers for us! Showers, dishes, vacuums… I dream of it all.

But don’t let this complaining deceive you, we are having the time of our lives. And it feels so good… SO. GOOD. to be living what we set out to do. It feels intoxicating to know that we can do nearly anything, all we need to do is have a plan, stick to it, work hard, and eventually, it will come to pass.

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The kids have adjusted pretty easily to the move and the new style of house. It has helped that we live on 5+ acres of land, full of new wonders for them, including a creek, a forest, and a shop for riding bikes.

Here is one of my tools to help life work better: Quiet time. (which, with kids aged 3-8, it isn’t super quiet, but maybe I could call it “quieter than usual time”) Here’s an example of a quiet time all through the house.

Tate’s quiet time in mommy’s loft… books and being alone.

Wade’s quiet time: pressing flowers

The girls’ quiet time: in their loft with Barbies and a Barbie book.

And our real key to success is what we’ve planned for all along: time outside. Which isn’t hard to achieve since the weather’s been so nice! Today we built a fort under a fallen oak branch.

I think they’re getting along just fine.

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As if living as a family of 6 in 300 sq. ft. wasn’t enough, somehow it’s ended up that we are also living off grid. Only a small electricity from our solar panel and no running water.

But don’t worry, I’m not so hardcore that this will last forever. It’s just a temporary thing as we have just moved onto a fairly undeveloped piece of old farmland.

But it is a bit of trial-by-fire… and let’s face it, if I can get through this, having electricity and running water will make me feel like I am living in a palace.

This is my kitchen sink setup:

How to wash a huge, greasy stockpot with that water cooler…?

Not having running water is the hardest part because that means that a water cooler is my faucet, and I have to do wash and showers at my mom’s house. The upside is I feel pretty elemental hauling my own water.

Then, meet my fridge!

This is a chest freezer half-filled with ice blocks, with food precariously balanced on top. At first, I wasn’t sure this was going to work, but it’s actually been pretty awesome and we haven’t gotten food poisoning yet! And I feel so connected to nature, going out before each meal and gathering my food from the fridge. haha, kind of not.

The kids are doing really well. Kids often are the easiest adapters, they seem to meld into whatever situation they find themselves in. They really enjoy having a big shop to ride bikes in, sheltered from the rain on grey days!

We’ve even gotten started with school a little bit this week.

School time!
Game time!

I have to admit it’s taken all of my abilities to handle this new situation. There has been a lot of thinking of how to arrange things, how to use our pieced-together off grid setup, and how to arrange our days now that our life has changed so much. I’m also really tired this week from pushing ourselves so much last week as we moved out of our pink house. But slowly, I find myself getting a rhythm, and it feels good to know I’m pretty adaptable too.

This kitchen is so beautiful to me
Getting my hands on herbs again, making chai tea for the Fall
Breakfast time in the kitchen
Morning sun streaming into the kitchen

Overall, it is going really good and I have a lot of excitement about the future. For so long, we have had this tiny house build looming over us, and now that we are finished, it feels exciting to know it is time to make new goals and plans and start a new phase of our life. Sky’s the limit!

Also, we do plan on making cabinet door fronts. But for the time being, it’s almost nice to be able to see where everything is! And if you come visit us, you’ll know exactly everything we own, no secrets!

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We moved the tiny house on Tuesday, and beginning on Wednesday was a 5-day rush of work. My mom (who deserves an award) helped me pack boxes and totes in the back of the truck and unpack stuff into the house.

This process took us basically two days. It was satisfying to fill the shelves that we’d spent so much time building. But each day left us super tired and overwhelmed.

It began to become really confusing having our things and time split at two homes. It was hard to remember where things were and decide which house we would eat dinner at. The kids started saying we were homeless, and I tried convincing them that it was much better than that– we had two homes!

But by Sunday, as planned, we were 100% moved and left our rental house clean and painted. And we were exhausted. But it was satisfying to know it was all done. The tiny house is no longer “the tiny house”, it’s just “home”!

Welcome to the kids room– and this is probably what it will look like most of the time (or worse). It ends up a mosh pit of blankets, Legos, Barbies, and stuffed animals. But the most important things are this: The kids LOVE it and I don’t have to look at it unless I climb the ladder. Win-win!

A place for everybody!

Trent and I have a fresh new bed for a fresh new house! This bed was a big splurge for us, and we have hopes that we will love it for years and that it will last a long time.

We got a buckwheat hull mattress from Eco Health Lab. They were so helpful and made a custom size for us, which we really appreciated. The quality is incredible, and the smell is amazing! If you’re in the market for a eco-conscious bed, I would highly recommend it.

Amazingly, the package came on the very day that we were planning to spend the first night. The kids were really excited to open the packages!

“Can I smell the pillow?”
Trent modeling the bed in our loft

Here’s a quick look around our new rental property.

The girls running in the pasture
The “wasp barn” in the pasture with an oak grove behind.
Looking at the water snake in the creek

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Moving the Tiny House

Moving the Tiny House

Posted By on Sep 12, 2019 in Tiny House | 1 comment

It was a beautiful Tuesday that turned into a thunderstorm. But we’d already committed to moving the house and our hearts were set on it. As the thunder pealed, I was not sure if it would work to move it that day. But I hoped it would.

The thunder lessened and the rain lightened and we hurried the kids into their rain slickers and boots and hopped into the truck. It seemed too easy. Just hop in and pull out. But then I remembered about all the months we had planned for this moment; buying the perfect truck, installing a new hitch, and so much more.

We rushed. I’m not sure why, and it felt like we were hurrying out before an invasion. But between years of excitement and the electricity of the thunderstorm, we were pretty jacked up. As you can tell from this picture.

It was an uneventful trip. As we drove, it felt like we were flying. We really finished the house! We really found a place to live! And here we were, living a moment we had long thought of.

We parked temporarily in front of the shop, and when we spread more gravel and prepare our parking pad, we will move over a bit so we can see a beautiful view out the kitchen window.

We’re home. Home. It’s starting to mean something new to me. I kind of hate pithy sayings, but I do like this one for us: “Home is where you park it”. And, I would add, home is anywhere we are together.

We’ve spent the last two days moving our surprisingly large amount of belongings into the new house. Everything is fitting better than I could have imagined. To my happiness, I have realized we’re going to need to buy more books to fill the bookshelves.

Tonight is our first night. Wish us luck!

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