Digging up the Roots

Discovering the Wisdom of the Past

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


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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There have been two times in this tiny house process that my stomach has been in knots: the day I ordered the trailer (a $7,000 purchase) and the day we bought our truck to pull the tiny house (more than a $7,000 purchase). 

We saw in on Craigslist, it was everything we were looking for. It was a Ford F350, with the good 7.3 L diesel engine, not a bad price, even had a few extras to up its “cool score”. 

So, with trembling hands, we handed over the cash and rumbled away with a humongous white truck. The whole way down the freeway, I was nervously checking my rearview mirror, sure that he was slowing down and driving to the shoulder. I just knew we had made a bad decision and it was a lemon.

But we made it home. I woke up the next morning and saw that thing out the window and thought, “WHAT have we DONE!!!” It looked like an untamed bull and felt like a rash purchase. One thing I knew for sure, I never wanted to drive it.

Apparently he can build or fix everything.

Then commenced all the repairs. It’s a good truck that hasn’t had quite enough love and attention for several years. It needed a few new parts, batteries, brakes, oil, stuff like that. It has taken a good amount of Trent’s time, since he is a dyed-in-the-wool do-it-yourselfer. We got so close with the guys at Napa Autoparts that they gave Wade a football.

It’s been frustrating because progress on the tiny house has ground to a bit of a halt. And while I care about this important part of the tiny house journey, I have to admit I don’t care about auto repairs… at all. It’s the most boring thing in the world to me.

Wade, future deisel mechanic

Trent finished the repairs with replacing part of the turbo booster, but now the thing won’t start well. It’s a bit of a mystery. 

I’m sure we’ll get it figured out, I’m just wondering how much it will cost. It might (gasp!) involve a mechanic’s help.

Once it’s fixed, we will sell our minivan and call the truck our only vehicle. The minivan was bought in a very different time in our family’s timeline: we had two babies, had just moved to a new town, and weren’t sure how many kids we would have. We just wanted a comfortable, normal life— so we bought a comfortable, normal car. The car that society expected us to buy.

I think this truck is really a symbol of the change that is happening to our family. It means we will finish and move the tiny house. It means we will leave our old dreams of comfort and societal approval behind. It means we have plans to move to a more rugged place, far away from the places we know. It shows our hopes that we will work from home and be a one-car family.

It also embodies my insecurities and fears that seem to be almost taking me over. What if it’s un-fixable and we lose lots of money? Are we making bad decisions? Are we not thinking this through well? Will we find property? Will Trent get a job? Will we have friends? And then there’s the visual I have when I’m half-awake in the middle of the night: The tiny house tipping when being towed, and crushing in the side like a cardboard box.

And every once in a while the thought comes sneaking in… Why can’t we just be normal and buy a normal house? We could stay here close to home and Trent could keep the same job. Screw that fact that you will be in debt until Wade gets married and you have grey hair. Everyone expects you to do it, so DO IT! for goodness sake.

So yeah, this is a weird way to leave off with the story, but this is just real life. Sometimes questions aren’t answered yet. Sometimes you’re not sure what to do. A LOT of times, you’re just not sure if you are taking a good path or not.

But as my sister Karen reminded me, bad decisions are succumbing to an addiction, ruining friendships, racking up unmanageable debt, or getting sent to prison. The rest is negotiable.

Sometimes, there are no “right answers”.

Dang, I hate being grown up.

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Big Trent and little Trent sanding some cutting boards.

One evening this week, we all ended up in the tiny house together as Trent sanded some cutting boards. Right now, there is building materials and tools everywhere, which makes it not such a great hanging out spot, but we seem to manage. I can’t imagine how big the house will feel once it is finished and the tools are out!

Kitchen taking shape!

The kitchen cabinets are coming together! It will be a u-shaped kitchen at the end of the house. Right under the window will be the sink; you can see the drain pipe and PEX water pipes waiting. Ironically, I think this kitchen will have more counter space than our 800-sq-ft rental house! I know it will be much more custom and functional. I cook almost all the food we eat, so a good kitchen is important to me.

The kids always find something to play with! You don’t need much more than some wood chips and a few dolls to be happy at their age.

Our wood stove is so good at heating the house. We are very pleased. It gives such a deeply warm heat, like only a wood stove can.

We are getting very excited to live in our new home.

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It took me almost a year, but I finally finished the braided wool rug for the tiny house! I really am not a crafty person and have not finished any large handicraft projects, so I was not prepared for how proud of the finished product I would feel! It all started last Christmas when my sister Karen gave me wool strips from the Pendleton Outlet store in Portland. She brought the most humongous bag and pretended like it was nothing and that she had just tossed some change out to get it, but I know it was a rather costly gift.



I stripped the wool into 2-inch wide strips as we sat in front of the fire at our beach rental at Christmastime last year. It was a cozy project and a wonderful memory.


Braids ready to be stitched into a rug!


As winter wore on and spring began to come, I braided and braided. Braided while we watched movies. Braided while I talked to Trent after the kids went to bed. Braided while I listened to podcasts during the day.

When I reached the end of one colored strip, I would stitch on another strip of the same color. As I braided, I rolled the ends of the strips under so the fraying edges wouldn’t show and the top of the rug would be smooth.

All summer and into the fall, I stitched the braids together. This was the most time-consuming of all. As the rug grew larger, it became really hard to manage. Instead of sitting on the floor and working around the rug, I insisted on having it on my lap. This turned out to be a mistake.


It’s a braided wool boat!


We watched YouTube videos about forest kindergartens as I stitched the last stitch. I couldn’t wait to lay it all out and admire it.

I laid it out and… aughhhhh! It was more suited for being a braided wool boat! Disaster!

My mind started to wander to worst case scenario. What if I have to rip out 6 months of stitching?

I just about cried.



But thankfully, after a little soak in the bathtub and some stretching and pulling to the edges and a little smooshing to the middle… it laid flat!



And what a beautiful rug it is! I can’t wait to set it in front of the couch, light a fire in the stove, and curl up with some tea.

I also have some dreams of always taking it with us, no matter what house we live in. I hope someday my grandkids will play on it.

Thanks Karen for the wool. You’ll be with us wherever we go.


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