Off-The-Grid COMET models

Hello! I've been working up some 3D models (using SketchUp) of the COMET as she may end up, or the "end result" models. These are likely to change as the design process continues and ideas solidify, but here was what I first envisioned The COMET to look like. Perhaps the rainwater harvesting system will change, and the solar modules might be in different places or as a separate array that pops up and can move around in order to collect optimum sun, but here's my totally self-contained version of The COMET of the future.

What do you think? Is there anything else that a comprehensive info sheet about the project should include? I need some feedback!

Simple Solar Showers for Summer

Simple Solar Showers for Summer

Good Morning!

Last night I perused the web for the best, simplest solar shower devices on the market. I was looking for something affordable and convenient. The COMET doesn't have room for a shower inside, so she will have a solar shower outside, with some sort of portable, collapsible, privacy shower set up that I can pop up behind the camper (I like the idea of a little teak platform with a circular curtain rod made of metal piping that can break down easily when I'm on the move, and some sort of hook to hang the solar shower on once it is heated up).

Here are my favorite finds from the my solar shower research!

Mobile Solar Electricity with PV

Hey everyone! Happy Monday! So as you may know all last week I was in Vermont attending an intensive photovoltaic design/installation class (at the Yestermorrow Design/Buidl School - check it out here). By the end of the week, I realized it would be very difficult to sum up everything I learned, so I think I'll just get into it little by little. There are so many factors and variables when designing a PV solar electric system for your (tiny) house or mobile house. Weight and stability came up a lot, as well as mobility concerns with roof mounted systems.

For today, I thought it would be fun to introduce you to some of the stuff we covered in the course with an activity you can do yourself. It's really enlightening and will definitely surprise you if you've never really thought about how much energy you use.

Fermenting Foods

For me, sustainable living and self-sufficiency are very closely linked. Self sufficiency usually means growing at least a portion of your own food, which sometimes means preserving your harvest! From another perspective, buying real sauerkraut can be real expensive (and sometimes the sauerkraut from the store isn't even actually fermented, it's just cooked in vinegar). $8 for a pint of kraut is too much to spend on my habit. And since you know I wholeheartedly believe in DIY for a million reasons, I wanted to point out a cool DIY tool I found a while ago that I want to try out. It's a sauerkraut/pickle making jar system. It's called the "Picklemeister".

The Picklemeister comes in 1/2 gallon and 1 gallon sizes. It's basically a big glass jar with a seal and an airlock. You cut up your cabbage (for sauerkraut), add salt, a plastic bag of brine, and let the jar sit for 3 days. Then you have a gallon of sauerkraut!

Here's a video that I love about making sauerkraut (with a really tasty recipe at the end!) with Mark Frauenfelder. Check it out here. He swears by the Picklemeister.

Yestermorrow Design/Build School - first workshop this week!

I realized that I hadn't written a post about the Yestermorrow Design/Build School in Vermont, and that I should introduce you all to the place since I have my first class there this coming Sunday. Yestermorrow School is a design/build school that focuses on hands-on teaching and sustainable building practices. They offer workshops that range from 2 days to 4 weeks (and they have a sustainable building semester program with UMass Amherst). Topics range from Green building materials, woodworking, and tiny house building workshops, to architectural design and drawing courses and stained glass making workshops. I found out about them last year and when I read their "Philosophy" statement I was SO HAPPY to find a place that shared my values exactly. All last semester I had been talking about closing the gap between designers and builders, and wasn't really getting any support in doing that. So I left my college for some time to attend Yestermorrow for the next year, through their Sustainable Design/Build Certificate program. Basically with the certificate program (and they offer certificates in other subjects too)  you choose a handful of week-long, 3-week long, and weekend workshops from a long list of amazing classes. I chose the certificate over the semester program because of the flexibility and that way I could work on The COMET at the same time. I've heard the workshops are really intense and totally awesome, and that a 3 week workshop feels like an entire semester. I'm about to find out!

European Tiny Appliances for Tiny Houses

When I was in London last week we stayed in a little one-and-a-half room apartment that had all of the amenities in miniature form. I don't exactly know the brands of some of these tiny appliances, and to be honest it took me a while to figure out how to work them! So I'm not sure how available these particular models are in the States, but I thought that these were all great space-saving ideas for a tiny house! First off, there was a tiny dishwasher. I kind of think that a dishwasher would be a luxury in a tiny house, and that to save space most people would just op to hand-wash their dishes. But this one was so tiny!! It probably saves water too.

Guest Post: Celina Dill Pickle, 16 year-old Tiny House builder, talks about keeping your eyes open and finding what you need

Today is our first guest post here at The COMET Camper blog, and I am really excited about introducing Celina Dill to you all. I mentioned her and her blog in an earlier post here, and we immediately started talking about guest posts and sharing ideas. She's got an incredible eye for finding amazing second-hand building materials and interiors. Her frugality and style is impeccable! Also, Celina is 16 years old, and left traditional schooling to start building her own tiny house, something I strongly endorse and think is downright awesome. So here it is, our first guest post. Thanks Celina for sharing!

Eyes Wide Open

by Celina Dill

Who am I?  "South Whidbey teen builds tiny transportable house" This just appeared in our local paper - check it out - http://www.southwhidbeyrecord.com/news/139133434.html

Marmoleum mock-ups

I love the Marmoleum natural linoleum flooring. It comes in tiles and planks, and the Marmoleum Click series is a great floating floor that is perfect for DIYers. Old campers usually have some sort of linoleum flooring (probably asbestos, too), so using the new, green Marmoleum linoleum seems like a good nod to the past. Today I worked up some really rough mock-ups of some Marmoleum planks/tiles on the floor of The COMET. I was working in stripes, and will probably try some sort of zig-zig or checkerboard variation at some point too. I also have that dark hardwood flooring I found for free that I am trying to incorporate in some way, but I only have 20 sq. ft. of that and the entire floor is 50 sq. ft. I am thinking about maybe using the hardwood up front and the Marmoleum in the kitchen and the back, but we'll see! Anyway, I thought I'd share! Let me know which combination is your favorite in the comments! There are tons more colors available, these are just the ones that stood out to me.

The COMET: Interior SketchUp Models

So today I spent all day inside The COMET (which was surprisingly warm despite the 30 degree weather outside and considering it has no heat, broken windows and 1950's insulation). I was measuring all of the interior space (cabinets, beds, appliances, etc) and simultaneously making a SketchUp 3D model so that I could begin to figure out how much I need of each material (flooring, countertop, paint). Here are some stills of the model I'm working on...and keep in mind, it's a rough draft! The green color is just to differentiate between walls and cabinets. Soon I'll use these stills to diagram the interior space in a more conceptual way. Also, this is just the interior measurements (no windows, no door) and the exterior still needs to be measured. Google SketchUp is a free 3D modeling tool, it's very easy to use and an awesome resource. If you don't already use it, download it and start fooling around!

Sprouting

I had an AWESOME day today (okay, technically yesterday because it's late) and before I go into great detail about all the great stuff I did and saw earlier (tomorrow's posts, so stay tuned!), I want to do a short post about the little thing I ended the day with. After an incredibly fulfilling and educational day visiting with sponsors and learning about options for green building materials and photovoltaic systems, I stopped by a health food/healthy lifestyle store on my way home that I'd never been to before. I went there specifically to pick up the Sprout-Ease Econo-Sprouter Toppers. These are a set of 3 grated  lids (in 3 different sized grates, and made of recycled plastic) that fit onto your standard mason jar. These nifty jar toppers allow you to easily sprout lentils, radish seeds, mung beans, and anything else you can think of to sprout! The set of 3 means you can have a constant supply of sprouts if you stagger them, and you can use different sized lids for different types of seeds or beans.

I've used these extensively before and they work great and make sprouting really easy. A few years ago my band was on tour for a long period of time, and our favorite road snack was sprouted lentils (which are super healthy and full of protein to fuel our rock n' rollin'). We would rinse them out every day and just keep them in the rear window of the tour-mobile.