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My Honey-Gold Tiny House

Today I sat in the sun on this beautiful fall day and looked at my tiny house and took it all in. The south and west walls are completely sided now and and so if you sit at that corner the house looks finished!


With the sun shining, it also takes on this beautiful honey gold color that I have to say I absolutely LOVE!

I am feeling blessed and grateful for all the help I have been receiving recently. Having my family come two weekends ago was so much fun and got me from no siding to more than half of my siding up. After they left I continued to work carefully and diligently on some of the more complex parts, including the siding around my octagon window:

careful notching around these tricky angle!

careful notching around these tricky angles!


I kind of enjoyed the challenge and am pleased with the results!


having scaffolding set up that I borrowed from John was definitely helpful to be able to do this…

Then this past Sunday night my friend Olympia, who took a cabinetry course with me at Heartwood School, came and helped me, staying until this morning. And with her help the west and south walls are now completely done and the north wall is more than half done!

Putting the finishing touches on the west side: gable fascia and trim!

Putting the finishing touches on the west side: gable fascia and trim!

Couldn't have done this tricky detail work without Olympia's help!

Couldn’t have done this tricky detail work without Olympia’s help! We had beautiful sunny days, until the last day…

Then the last day it was Windy (so windy a ladder blew over! Luckily with no one on it) and rainy! But we were determined and maybe crazy so we went out their anyway!

Then the last day it was Windy (so windy a ladder blew over! Luckily with no one on it) and rainy! But we were determined and maybe crazy so we went out there anyway!

Afterall, we were SO close to finishing the south wall!

After all, we were SO close to finishing the south wall!

And now both the south and west walls are done!

And the north wall isn’t too far from being finished either!


I got to say, even though the inside is still bare studs, it is starting to feel like a home, with a personality and everything! On days like today, I wasn’t sure I wanted to leave this home to go back home…


feeling ready to move in?


I can’t wait until I can indeed welcome people into My Home!

In the meantime, I am working on figuring out where I want my light fixtures and outlets to go so that my electrician can do his rough in… And plumbing will have to happen soon too! I am starting to get the itch to move to interior work but trying to stay focused on the outside while the weather is still decent!

That is all for now :)

(This post is based mostly on what I learned in a talk given by Jack Rossen, a professor at Ithaca college, at the Ecovillage of Ithaca on Oct. 22nd, 2015. Although I have done my best to present information accurately and with sensitivity to the first nations people of this land I am not an expert and welcome feedback, corrections, and comments and also encourage you to seek out your own truth)

Many of you will know of the Haudenosaunee confederacy as the Iroquois confederacy but Iroquois was not a name these people chose themselves. Haudenosaunee is the name by which these people, who come from the Seneca, Cayuga, Oneida, Onondaga, Mohawk, and later the Tuscarora nations, call themselves. These are the first nations people of the area in which I now live; They inhabited much of central, upstate and western New York, extending down into Pennsylvania.

The Haudenosaunee are a people who traditionally kept their history through oral tradition, with faithkeepers who are appointed by clan mothers, and stories that are passed down from one generation to the next. For most western, modern world scholars, oral tradition is not to be trusted, a belief that a Haudenosaunee person would find incredibly disrespectful. Imagine you knowing the stories of your family- where they immigrated from, how they ate, what they celebrated, where your ancestors are buried- and then being told by an outsider, a “scholar,” that no, you have it all wrong and since you cannot prove it with written paper documents or artifacts we do not have to return the bones of your ancestors that we dug up and now have in our museum basements. This has been the story of some of these people, including the Cayuga, whose homeland is in the Ithaca area.

One archeologist names Jack Rossen has been doing his best to work with the Cayuga and other Haudenosaunee people to keep their history from being revised by outsiders and give it back to them. And this is the story of one such way in which he is helping them gain acceptance from the wider world for a truth they already knew.

Oral traditions says that the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, perhaps one of the earliest known forms of democracy, was born 1000 years ago, around 1000 AD. But most western scholars say the confederacy was founded either only a generation before contact, in 1451, after contact as late as the mid 15,00’s.

To the Haudenosaunee the creation of the confederacy is known through the legend of the Peacemaker, a messenger of the creator who was sent in a time when there had been much conflict for centuries. It is said that the peacemaker traveled in a white stone canoe, seeking out the leaders of the five warring nations, the Cayuga, Seneca, Onondaga, Oneida, and Mohawk. In his searching he came across a woman who had no alliances and fed and sheltered all who passed through, including men from all tribes as they traveled to war upon each other. This woman’s name was Jikonsahseh and she was the first person to accept the Peacemaker’s Great Law of Peace and some say she is what inspired the tradition of the Clan Mother, a tradition that still lives on today.

The last of the tribes to be convinced of the Peacemaker’s Great Law of Peace was the Seneca. As the Peacemaker asked them to consider the Law of Peace he told the Seneca to look for a “Sky sign” and legend has it that as the tribe leaders gathered at high sun (noon) when the corn was high (late summer) that the sky grew dark and the stars came out and this convinced them to lay down their weapons under the great white pine.

The white pine has long been a symbol of peace for the Haudenosaunee people and Jack Rossen found and carbon dated a piece of pottery with the great white pine at a Cayuga archaeological site to 1100 AD. This little artifact gave validity to the claim of the first nations people that their Haudenosaunee confederacy was indeed formed much earlier then western scholars have believed, closer to the 1000 year old date that their oral history says.

With needles in clusters of 5, like the five tribal nations that made up the original confederacy, and that stay green and never fall, just as the Great Law of Peace must be able to weather all seasons, the peacemaker made the Great White Pine a forever sacred tree to the Haudenosaunee people.

As Jack Rossen looked to other evidence that would further corroborate his finding and support the oral history of the Haudenosaunee he went and looked back at the records of full solar eclipse, the most likely explanation for the sky sign that the Seneca saw. Solar eclipses are not an everyday event, and to find one that would have been visible from Seneca territory, occurred in late summer when the corn would have been high, around noon, when the leaders always gathered and would have caused the sky to darken enough for the stars to come out seemed like an even more unlikely event to find. But indeed Jack Rossen found one. In the year of of 909, on august 18th, the sun reach full annular eclipse at 17:13 UT which would have been 1:15pm New York time. And so it seems that indeed, the Haudenosaunee oral history is correct that their confederacy was formed over 1000 years ago.

The confederacy is unique for many reasons. One such way is that the Peacemaker established a matriarchal system, called the clan system, to help to bridge these nations that had been warring for centuries. One’s clan is determined by your mother, so if you mother is of the bear clan, you also are of the bear clan. But one is not allowed to marry within the same clan and so through marriage there became members of each clan throughout the Haudenosaunee Confederation. And anyone in your clan is family, no matter whether they are Cayuga, Seneca, Mohawk, Onandaga, Oneida or any other nation. This allowed one to find family no matter where you were, traveling throughout the confederacy. There are nine clans within which they are divided into three elements; air (Heron, Hawk, and Snipe), water (Turtle, Ell, and Beaver), and land (Bear, Wold, and Deer). And within some clans, such as the bear and turtle clans, there are three different species. Even today, if you meet a first nations person they will often introduce themselves by their tribe and clan name (ei: I am ____ of the Onandaga nation and of the Heron clan.) Clan mothers hold great power in the nations, as they are the ones who appoint chief, faithkeepers and other important positions within the tribe. And they can also take these positions away if they feel an individual is no longer suited for it.

As a modern day resident of these lands I am grateful to be learning about the history of the people that were here before me, and not only for historical reasons but also because they are still alive here amongst us, and their struggles are still current. Two years ago I participated in the Two Row Wampum, an event that asked for a 400 year old treaty to be recognized and honored, a clear illustration of how these struggles are still alive today. Also, as we enter a time of the year where the veil between the worlds is thin and we often honor our ancestors, through holidays such as Halloween and Day of the Dead, if feels right to call attention to the ancestors of this this land that I now stand on and have chosen to build my house on. The Haudenosaunee were and are a wise people from which we could stand to learn many lessons from, about peace and living in harmony with the land, as well as many other things. And they are also a people that need our support, understanding, and recognition as they struggle to keep what is left of their culture alive.

Good Vibes All Around

Do you believe that the energy that goes into the creation of something becomes the energy of the creation itself? Well if you do, this past weekend definitely imbued my house with lots of love and positive energy. It was a cold fall weekend, where the first snowflakes of the season fell, and nighttime temperatures dropped into the twenties but my Aunt, Uncle, and Mom and Dad braved the chilly weather and drove up six hours from Boston with smiles, tools, and warm layers, ready to work. And we sure did accomplish a lot!

My mom and dad arrived Friday around noon and I taught them the basics of carpentry. We went over how to change a bit in a drill and driver, some basic saw safety, and then I explained to them what we were doing and why; furring strips on top of the insulation board to create a rain screen, bug screen at the tops and bottoms of the walls to keep wasps and other insects out, and then siding. As we got ourselves into building mode my dad started doing what is now officially “The Tiny House Jig” …

IMG_1485  IMG_1486 IMG_1487      11225355_10205411328463021_6220704629261796922_o

It was serious business ;-)

Friday night passed in a blurr of fun times taking my parents to see Liz’s finished tiny house and Amy’s almost completed tiny house over at Hammerstone and then going to dinner at The Finger Lakes Cider House, a hopping scene of delicious local food, cider, and music on Friday nights located at The Good Life Farm, an amazing horse powered permaculture farm.

Saturday we made a big pot of chili and put it in the crock pot which we brought to the site and plugged into our solar power so we would have hot food all day, and then we got back to work, starting in on putting up siding! An hour or so later Peter and Melissa arrived, reporting that they had driven through snow and rain! But here at my tiny house site it was sunny and beautiful, if a little chilly, and I was grateful!

Saturday went amazingly well. We got siding going on two walls and Peter got my southeast corner post up!

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Peter working diligently to figure out how to notch the pieces of wood that would be my corner trim around my wooden braces. And me in the background starting to figure out my door trim. John came up with a brilliant solution to my door that allowed me to keep almost my full 180 degree outswing!


Melissa and my dad working on the siding on my south wall! My mom was working hard too, but was behind the camera lens taking many of these pictures!


Barry showed up too for parts of both saturday and sunday and allowed Peter and I to work on staying ahead of everyone with trim details while he was the cut guy and kept the nailing crew of my mom, dad, and melissa busy. It was definitely a team effort!

Saturday ended with us all feeling quite satisfied with our full days work and tired. Melissa and Peter had gotten up at 4am to get on the road and be in Ithaca by 10am! So we went home, freshened up a bit and then headed to downtown Ithaca for dinner. My aunt and uncle had never been to Ithaca and so we walked through our newly finished car free commons and then found a delicious Mediterranean restaurant called Sahara to fill our bellies at. I had never eaten there before but will definitely go again as it was very yummy!

Sunday we were back at the sight by 9:30 and zoomed along with siding even though snow did start falling from the sky! And Peter got the last corner post in too! Wahoo!!


Hammers, smiles, and tape measurers

Here is the crew near the end of our second work day:


Can you see the white snowflakes falling? And look how much we got done!! WoW!! So grateful :-D

Many have been asking me what my siding is so let me tell you. It is just hemlock shiplap siding from a local mill operation run by Cory Schillif. And then I stained it with a 50:50 mixtures of raw linseed oil and pine tar, a natural wood preservative, that I got from Solvent Free Paint.

Sunday afternoon my parents had to take off to get back to Somerville but my aunt and uncle stayed and we got the 3rd wall started!


The first course is often one of the trickiest- getting it level, going around the wheel well, all those details that if done right will make the rest of the wall go relatively smoothly. So having three of the 4 walls started is a huge deal!

It was an amazingly production weekend and I am immensely grateful. And thank you crew for making it such a fun time!


from left to right: Barry, Iku (mom), John, Michael (dad), Melissa (aunt), and Peter (uncle)

After we finished our work for the day Sunday I got to take my aunt and uncle over to see the other tiny houses at Hammerstone, which was also quite fun. It is amazing how much variation there is in style and aesthetic choices even in a tiny house; they truly can be like an art piece that reflects the personality of the inhabitant. I am quite pleased with how mine is coming out thus far! And now I must say, I am tired in that best kind of way; satisfied after a good full weekend of work. Buenos Noches!

It feels like I have been putting the winter coat on my house the last couple days, and it has been quite exciting! Even though it is just roxul insulation board that I am doing on the exterior it somehow makes the house suddenly look much more finished. Take a look!


Here it is from one more angle. Not bad, eh?


Today I tackled the window trim of my tricky, but beautiful octagon window and am quite pleased with how it came out.

IMG_4399 IMG_4400

Tomorrow I hope to start putting up furring strips which will allow me to start putting up exterior siding when my family comes for a big work weekend next week! So I have spent this evening sketching and brainstorming how I want to put up my siding, as my furring strips will determine this. Here are my sketches.


Above is my north wall and below is my south wall. I am pretty sure I like this design, of horizontal for most of it with small vertical sections in the dormer.


And in the top right is my west wall. Pretty set on horizontal for this whole wall. But then my east wall… I don’t know what I want to do there! 

As you can tell from my 4 possible sketches, I am undecided for my back east wall, which has the little overhang and braces. I would love opinions and feedback on these possible designs, and any and all permutations of top and bottom. which is why I have 1a and 1b, etc.

Someone once told me that horizontal gives a grounded, Earth energy feeling, and that vertical is more the Tree energy and diagonal is Fire energy. It feels good for my house to be mostly earth energy, grounded and sturdy. But I feel I want a little bit of Fire and Tree energy as well. Perhaps I am getting too philosophical here but the upper left design of my east wall, 1a and 1b, is the one I am drawn to most at this point and it feels to me like it has a nice balance of energies. Although diagonals may be Fire, it somehow to me also feels like it has a boat like Water energy. Can you see how it could look like the bow of a boat? A boat that can cut through even fire… And then I also see mountains and hills in the herring bone pattern, making it have a grounded earth energy… This pattern may be the trickiest to pull off but I probably will only build my own house once, so why not go all out? I would love to hear what others think about the possible designs I am considering. Do you have any thoughts or opinions?


WAHOO! My Roof is on! And my stove pipe chimney is in!!! And just in time as temperatures have suddenly plummeted and is feels like it could be November! Although, it may be a few months before my stove arrives from Orcas island, Washington :-/ But thats ok. Now I know my house will survive this coming winter, even if for some strange reason I had to stop working on it tomorrow. But my hope is I will have ALL my exterior work done before the snow fly’s! That means, the rest of the window trim, my insulation board, furring strips, and siding all still need to get done! But I am feeling good and excited for my my family work weekend coming up in just a few weeks and then possibly another work weekend in early November witth a few friends from my cabinet making class at Heartwood!

So here are a few pictures of my roof:

This transition from the 3:12 pitched roof over my loft to my 9:12 roof for the rest of my house was quite a trick. I studied the first tiny house that Hammerstone did carefully, which had a similar roof line, and mimicked how Maria flashed that one. It was a good full morning of careful work just to do this little transition on both sides, but I have to say I am pretty pleased with how it came out.


Here it is from another angle, before the ridge cap went on. There were multiple layers of flashing and counter flashing going on here, all carefully lapped to shed water out.


And that fascia board is stained with the same linseed oil – pine tar stain that I used on my window trim! I think I am going to use it on my whole exterior, which I imagine will give my house a bit of the look of a rustic log cabin in the woods. But I am open to suggestions and am curious what people think! Although tell me soon if you think it is a horrible idea because I may move forward and start staining my siding as soon as next week ;-)

And my stove pipe! That was quite a trick too to put in! And I couldn’t have done it without the help of my friend Saahas, so a big thanks to him! Right now it is assembled as it would be for “travel mode;” just barely sticking up out of the roof. But when it is stationary and I am burning fires there will be another 3 foot length of stove pipe before that cap goes on.


Although Saahas was there helping me yesterday, today I finished this roof up all on my own, doing that fancy transition between the two pitches and putting on the ridge cap.

When I got to the ridge cap I kind of wanted a second person around as it would mean less climbing up and down and someone there just in case something went awry (roof work does have it’s risks) so I called my friend Rena to see if her or her brother might be able to come over and give me a hand. Rena is in the middle of her own strawbale timberframe build, and when I called it turned out Saahas was over there helping them get her roof on! I got a kick out of realizing how parallel our two builds are right now, and how wonderful it is to have such a close friend going through her own process with her build. It has been a powerful reflection and a great place for me to practice mutual support and celebration of both the joys and the struggles of building. (Rather than competition, comparison, or envy… No I am not perfect, and sometimes I fall into that, but I think most days I can celebrate us all)

So since they were all busy on Rena’s roof I managed to finish the ridge cap on my own, and this is my selfie at the end of the day; Happy, exhausted and relieved that my roof is on!


Let the rain gods come now, I say!




I have to say, I was really tempted to just take a nap on the ridge cap a few times… Scooting along that thing and climbing up and down the ladder gets tiring after a while! But I finished it and got to say I feel pretty proud :)

Afterwards I took a drive over to Rena’s where they were just finishing up hers! And we swapped stories about how we both had some leaks in the 24 hour downpour that we just had which got us both motivated to get our roofs on asap. And now they are both on! Her’s green, and mine red, her’s strawbale and mine on wheels, both beautiful and unique works of art and labors of love.


So there she is!! My beautiful house, one step closer to done :-D


Hello everyone! I wanted to let you know that after one week being able to focus on my house I am quite sure I made the right decision. I finally feel organized on top of things, rather than 3 steps behind, and I have gotten so much done and I am a much more pleasant person to be around ;-)

And, although temporarily leaving my job was a big leap of faith, I am already so grateful for the notes of encouragement I’ve gotten from people, saying they are inspired by what I am doing and wanting to support me to finish my project. At least for this first week, my lack of income has been made up by donation on my indiegogo site, So thank you so much!!

And I promise you, I have not just been lounging around lazily on my couch with this extra time. Upon deciding to take a leave from Hammerstone and having that big scary conversation with Maria, but having it go better than I could have ever dreamed (she says she wants me to hopefully come back full time after my house is done!), I went home and made this massive To Do list:


I figure this To Do list will take me from now until at least the end of October. But note that some things are already checked off!!

And then I took off for the Mother Earth News Fair, which I wrote about in an earlier Blog post. This was the perfect way for me to celebrate making this shift in my life.

So what have I gotten done this past week? I ordered my metal roof, which should arrive tomorrow if I am lucky! I finishes putting purlins on my roof and got all my stickers and two pairs of saw horses made in preparation for all my window trim and siding wood to come. And indeed, I was all prepared when it came from a local saw mill, Cory Schillif, on Thursday!


Stickering wood is important to let it dry properly and minimize the chances of it warping or twisting too much. It also helps to prevent mold and bugs that might like to take home in a pile of wet wood.

Yes, it is the sad truth, until now I have used the one pair of plastic sawhorses that I borrowed from John. Now I have my own! And they are beautiful and have already come in handy...

Yes, it is the sad truth, until now I have used the one pair of plastic sawhorses that I borrowed from John. Now I have my own! And they are beautiful and have already come in handy…

So once my wood arrived I got to work on my window trim, and I have to say I couldn’t be more pleased with how it has come out! I am using a pine tar – linseed oil stain from this company called solvent free paints and it is pretty cool stuff! The pine tar is a natural wood preservative with a gentle antiseptic and water repellent effect. And Linseed oil helps to nourish the wood, like moisturizer for our skin!

IMG_4353Now, my windows have been a bit of a struggle. Because I decided to use mostly found and salvaged windows (not recommended) I have had some problems with leaking on more than one of them. It has gotten to the point where I have even considered tearing out a few of them and replacing them (not something any builder wants to have to do, especially on a new construction project!). But I have also recognized that once my metal roof goes on with eaves, and if I do a good job with the window trim the windows they will be much better protected when all is said and done than they are now. Another challenge I was facing when designing my window trim details was that my walls are going to be build out. Meaning that from the sheathing plane I am adding 1 1/4″ of roxul board, the 1/2″ furring strips and then my siding. So How could I design window trim that would act as extension jambs and trim all in one? And that I would still like aesthetically?

Well, here is what I came up with:

trial window #1

trial window #1

My trim is 1 1/2″ thick larch from a local saw mill. Larch is often used for decks and other outdoor applications because it is one of our local naturally rot resistant species. And, another cool fact, it is a deciduous conifer, meaning it looks like an evergreen but it loses its leaves in the fall!

I assembled the trim with this wood on edge, using 3 1/2″ stock for the sides and top and 4 1/2″ stock for the bottom to create a sill that stick out slightly further than the rest. The bottom is beveled at 10 degrees in order to shed water, which I did by ripping the back edge on the table saw. And the top is beveled at 5 degrees, which is barely noticeable to the eye but will still shed water.

Here you can see all the frames for one side of my house assembled, waiting to be installed!


Then I installed them using pocket screws on the sides and top so that the holes will be invisible, and putting a bead of caulk also on the sides and top to help create a water tight seal.


With this design it didn’t matter that some of my windows are basically flush with my sheathing plane and some have J-channels so they stuck out and inch or so beyond that plane. The depth of these frames was able to accommodate all of that and will also accommodate the roxul board that will be going on soon (you can see one board up in the photo above.

Lastly, I did an important flashing detail above each window.

I made these myself using the break we have at Hammerstone. This is the basic design and then I actually ended up folding each end in a way that creates almost a little bathtub to shed all water out.

I made these myself using the metal break we have at Hammerstone. This is the basic design and then I actually ended up folding each end in a way that creates almost a little bathtub to shed all water out.

And below you can see them installed. I slit the house wrap right above the window trim and put another bead of caulk behind the flashing, which got nailed directing the the sheathing with roofing nails, and the I taped the over the corners again.


I am very pleased overall with how these came out and am actually kind of looking forward to a good rain to test them. But I also hope to have my metal roof on by the end of this week, so that will also add much protection to my whole structure!

Cheers, and thanks again for reading. And Happy full moon eclipse! What a sight that was last night!

Big Changes

As I can feel the seasons changing around me many emotions, both good and hard have come up. It has been a full summer of building, working on both my own and other people’s houses. My friend, Rena, had her straw bale raising last weekend, and Amy, another friend and a hammerstone client, has been helping me and my coworker put up her beautiful Shou-sugi-ban siding on her tiny house and prepping her house for an interior trim class which is running this week. Their houses are lookings beautiful! And I am proud to be able to support these women in making their dream homes; to share in their excitement, to commiserate together when things are hard, to witness their processes, and to actually have lent a physical hand in the building of their homes.

But as the seasons begin to change I am feeling a pull to give more time to my own dream home.  After much thought I have decided to take some time off from working for Hammerstone in order to be able to focus more fully on my own house. I am incredibly grateful that I am able to do this with Maria’s blessings (Maria is the owner/operator of Hammerstone). Asking for this time off was, and still is, a bit scary as it means giving up my main source of income for a while and letting go of a certain amount of job security. But both Maria and my own intention is that this will allow me to finish my house sooner and give my full creative energy to it, and then I can return to Hammerstone and my other passions with more to give.

As many of you know, this tiny house journey has worked on me as much as I have worked on it. I do believe that everyone deserves a chance to go for their dreams, but actually asking and allowing myself to receive support for my own dreams is not always easy. And I know I am not the only one who struggles with this. But what I hope to inspire through living this journey, is a world where more individuals feel it is well to take care of themselves, to do what makes them happiest, and live their dreams and passions, as I truly believe that if we each are able to do this we will find that actually all of us benefit, for it is true that we can only love each other as much as we love our selves.

The outpouring of support I have received all throughout this tiny house journey has helped me to believe that indeed I too am worthy of manifesting my dreams. And yet up until now I have chosen to work on the houses of others almost 30 hours a week and work on my own on average probably only 10 hours a week. For a while that felt ok, and even good in the beginning stages of my build.

But recently I have felt like I have less to give to both the projects of others and to my own. This has shown me that it is time to shift the balance and to really be able to pour my heart and soul into my house to bring the birthing of this dream to completion. My tiny house is no longer just an idea. It is a reality, with four walls, a roof, windows, and a door. But there is still so much to be done. And much of it are the things I am the most excited for, including the interior design and finish carpentry, and interior and exterior finishes, where I get to truly express myself artistically. But an artist cannot make her masterpiece if she feels rushed and financially constrained. And so I have decided take the leap of taking a break from hammerstone and doing another fundraising push in hopes that you, like me, can see the value in what I am creating and feel inspired to support it.

My fundraising page is still and there are still perks available, including a weekend getaway in my tiny house when it is done!

Some of the particular artistic flourishes I hope to be able to implement that you could support are a stain glass insert in my octagon window made by Tony Serviente, a local stain glass artist, and a zen like tatami mat room under my loft, as well as a small ofuro style bath in my bathroom. I also am working on a passive way to heat my water with my tiny wood stove in the winter and with the sun in the summer, but to implement this will require some fancy custom carpentry and plumbing work.

The two stain glass designs I am considering for my octagon window

The two stain glass designs I am considering for my octagon window (colors are approximations, as glass is more subtle and dynamic than sketch-up will allow me to do).

All these things take many hours of labor, most of which will be my own labor. But I have decided it is worth my time and energy and it is where my heart is, and so I am taking the plunge to work on this project full time from now until it is done. Will you support me to do this?

If yes, please visit or if you are more comfortable sending a check directly e mail me at and we can arrange that.

In so much gratitude for all that this world offers and the ways in which we are all interconnected.

This weekend I had the great pleasure of going to the Pennsylvania Mother Earth News Fair. It was a blast! It inspired and energized me, reminding me why I do what I do, and how many other awesome people there are out there doing equally awesome and amazing things. What an amazing an educational event, full of everything from seed saving workshops, to mushroom medicine, to super efficient wood stoves, and yummy organic food.

While down there I got to reconnect with an old friend from the natural building world, Chris, also known as uncle mud, and squish my hands in some mud as we shared a booth. Over the course of the weekend I watched as kids helped him build a little rocket mass heater and a mini cob oven that they then cooked garlic bread in. I witnessed kids and adults light up as they talked about their dreams of building their own hand sculpted house and I remembered the magic that happens as people squish their toes and fingers in mud. A little boy looked up at his parents, all covered in mud, and said “I’m allowed!” and his parents smiled. Indeed, our culture needs more environments where we are allowed to be dirty and messy and happy.

Chris told stories to me and others of how he would teach mud workshops to prisoners and how suddenly these tough criminals would be telling their stories of vulnerability while squishing in the mud. And I watched as a young couple that reminded me of Peter and I when we were just discovering the world of natural building spent almost the whole weekend at our booth, totally entranced by this new world that was opening up to them. “This is the dream I never knew I had!” said the woman.

Although I enjoyed sharing about my tiny house and the work I do at hammerstone, I think what was most inspiring about being at this mother earth news fair was seeing everyone else’s excitement; the excitement of other vendors as they talked about what they were most passionate about, and the excitement of fair goers as they eagerly gobbled up all this new and juicy information.

Indeed, it is weekends and events like this one that make me feel hopeful about the future of our world. So many people doing so many good things!

Guess what! I wrote a post for Ethan Waldman’s blog, and he decided to feature it and it is live now! Here is the link:

Ethan is a bit of a celebrity in the tiny house world, having written multiple books for tiny house enthusiasts, and connected many tiny housers to other tiny housers. I am so honored to be featured on his blog! I hope you will go check it out and see what he is all about too!

Phew! It is definitely late summer and I am feeling a bit of that late summer fatigue. But the pressure of fall and winter is pushing me to keep going. Mostly it is a good kind of tired. A satisfied kind of tired after a day of good work for something you are passionate about. But some days the amount of details that go into building a house just overwhelm me! It is all in the details, I tell you. The little weatherization details, the artistic details, the making sure to order material far enough ahead of time so you have it when you need it details… the tiny little details that no one else will notice or know about but could make the difference between a warm, cozy, inviting, and long lasting house and one that is not. But I won’t bore you with the details… Except to say that I did have a leak in my house wrap that I am hoping I fixed but will not know for sure until I have another good rainstorm. I share this only because for any of you out there thinking about building or in the midst of building I want you to know that these things do happen. And sometimes we freak out and sit down and cry and feel like throwing up our hands up and giving up. But part of the beauty of a project like this is that you can’t give up. You can’t walk away. Not after you have put as much time and money and effort as I have into this. And so there is nothing to do but keep moving forward, problem solving and fixing the “mistakes,” learning from them, but not letting them stop you. And this builds character. A project like this builds you as much as you build it. I swear.

Ok, enough of the pep talk. Now I will share with you some awesome and exciting photos of all the progress I have made! My last window went in yesterday morning and it is my beautiful octagon window! The special touch of either stain glass or wooden hearts will be added later, but the window, custom made by a small company in Vermont is in! And I couldn’t be happier with it.

Can you tell how pleased I am?

So Much Light inside! I love it!

And it opens!

The other big news of the last month is that my door is in!! A beautiful, solid wood door that I bought for $70 from the Ithaca Re-use center and lovingly sanded the paint off, re stained it, and built the door jamb for and then hung in my door opening! It was quite a project, and I am still perfecting the white oak sill for the bottom but I am very happy to have this door in. Most people get pre-hung doors, that come with jambs and everything. I fell in love with this door but knew it would be a project to get in. But I have to give a big thanks to my friend Barry Segal who took on this project with me, going to the hardware store to find the right hinges, helping me figure out how wide and how tall the jambs needed to be, and making a creative router jig to help me route out the spaces for the hinges. And then of course he helped me hang it. And now I have a door that swings shut with such a satisfying *Click* and I even have a key to lock it with!

Sanding the paint off

Sanding the paint off

And hung in my house! (there were a lot of steps in between sanding the paint off and getting it hung, but I won’t go into that now)

Lastly, I want to share the two timber frame style braces that I put on the back of my tiny house, made from some donated white oak I received from a friend:

And they are good and strong too!


Just to make sure both John and I hung on them together :D

Thanks again for all you support and I hope you are enjoying watching this journey unfold!
For the complete photo journey check out my facebook album

Creating "new" from old has been a preoccupation of mine for a long time, but turned into a full-time adventure in building and living in a tiny "reclaimed" house. Beginning in 2012, I will live in this 120 square foot space for the length of my PhD studies in Literature and the Environment, and perhaps beyond. In this way, I hope to live a little smaller, leave a little lighter, and learn in what ways formal study can be acted in the every day.

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