green

Guest Post: My Story with Stuff by Andrea Mortensen

Guest Post: My Story with Stuff by Andrea Mortensen

Hello wonderful readers! I'm extremely excited to be hosting a guest post by Andrea Mortensen today on the blog. Andrea is a current member of the Tiny Transition and Downsizing E-Course (registration is currently open for the next session!) and has offered to share her story with us. I think you'll love reading about her journey as much as I've loved hearing about it! Andrea blogs about her simple life and downsizing efforts on her blog, The Newborn Minimalist. Make sure to go check her out there too to read more about her ongoing journey toward tinier living! Thanks for sharing with us Andrea!

My Story of Stuff

Guest Post by Andrea Mortensen

We lived in Italy and Austria during the 6th and 7th year of our marriage. We moved halfway across the world and before then, we lived in a house that was 450 square feet, plus a garage. We had deliberately kept our life simple because we wanted to travel, and also, we got married to spend time together.

So we worked part time, we volunteered, and went on lots of backpacking trips and traveled all over the world. It was pretty awesome. So picking up to move from San Francisco to Sicily was exciting, but getting rid of stuff wasn’t a problem. We didn’t have anything, so we gave away the few things we had, sold our car, and packed our clothing and stereo and that was pretty much it. The movers that came to ship our furniture were pretty shocked at how little the company that moved us was going to have to pay to ship our things overseas.

Trailer Babes: Interview with Sarah Mueller of TowLola

I found Sarah’s blog TowLola recently and knew that I wanted to share a fellow female trailer babes’ story with you. I emailed Sarah about being camper pals and to tell her how rad she is, and we got to talking about rallies, vintage trailer life, the hassles of towing, trying to become writers, and what it’s like to be a woman nomad in America. She said she was inspired by my COMET to look for a vintage trailer as her adventure-mobile, and I was so flattered! I asked Sarah a few questions about her decision to travel in a vintage trailer and her life with Lola, her 1960’s Fan camper. You can read the interview below. I hope this badass, amazing lady inspires you to get out there and do something awesome, even if that means just saying”Fuck it!” and taking the leap!

 

ME: What inspired you to buy a camper and hit the road?

SARAH:    I'd been living in a 3-bedroom house for about 4 years, working full-time in a day job I hated while I struggled to write and make art in my spare time. I'd always had this fantasy of just being able to "pick up and go."  I saved money for a long time, thinking I'd need it, but having no real plans. When my long-time boyfriend and I decided it was time to sell the house, I sat down in front of him at a pub and blurted "I'm going to buy a BUS." He and I are both explorers by nature, so he just nodded and smiled and asked how he could help. The bus idea went through several iterations (bus, van, housetruck, camper) and I shopped around for a rig for about 4 months. I spent nearly all of my free time on Craigslist. Finally, after moving in with my parents and being generally miserable and thinking it would never happen, I stumbled upon Lola. She was cheap and ready to hit the road, and resided in Elkhart, IN. The idea of towing anything terrified me, but by this point I was so desperate that I drove up and bought her before anybody else could. It took another three months to gather supplies, outfit the Jeep, and sell all my belongings. It wasn't any one thing that led me to my adventure, I guess. Simply the realities of my life combined with a desire to "get out there."

Recycling Greywater + Biodegradable Soaps

Recycling Greywater + Biodegradable Soaps

If you’re thinking about recycling your greywater, either in your tiny house or other home on wheels, you need to pay attention to what’s going down the drain. Recycling greywater (which is the used water from showers, the sink, and the washer machine) requires us to be conscientious of what we put down our drains, since those products will end up in our gardens, yards, and in the ground. A welcome side effect of being careful about which products end up in our drains is that we know more about which soaps, cleaners and detergents we are using in our homes and on our bodies. Using all-natural cleaners and body products is better for your health and the environment.

    So If you’re designing your tiny home or other trailer to be off-grid, or at least want to recycle greywater, these are the things I recommend which I use in the COMET. If you’re living in a trailer/ camper like me, another great by-product of recycling greywater is that you don’t have to dump greywater tanks out at dump stations or RV parks, which is gross. I specifically designed the COMET to not have any grey or black water tanks, because I am recycling and composting all “wastes” (which become something much nicer than waste because I’m reusing them!). By being careful and conscientious about what we put on our bodies and down our drains, we can keep water of of the sewers and put it safely back into the land. I’ve gotten a few questions about this topic recently, so I hope this clarifies it for you!

The Power Tools to Build Your Tiny Home Or Trailer

The Power Tools to Build Your Tiny Home Or Trailer

A lot of people ask me where I got all of my tools, and more importantly how I got them. There are so many tools out there, and so many different versions and brands of each one, it can take a while to read through all of the reviews and purchase the right one for the job. I’ve bought and returned twice as many power tools as I have in my collection at one point or another. Sometimes it just doesn’t turn out to be what you thought you needed.

So I thought I would do a post about the power tools that I use and love. This way, you don’t have to go through the tedious task of searching for the best tool, the best value, and read all the hundreds of reviews online, because I’ve already done that!

Tiny House Road Trip Recap

I'm back! What a wild trip! Just to remind you all, for the past month I was traveling around the US (car-camping in my Element, which worked out great) interviewing Tiny House people and doing tiny house stuff. In the coming months (it takes so long to edit this stuff!) you'll see my interviews with Laura Lavoie of Life In 120 Square Feet, Dan Louche of Tiny Home Builders, Alex Pino of Tiny House Talk, Sicily of Le Petit Maison, Steve Harrell of Tiny House Swoon and Tiny House Listings, Andrew Odom of Tiny (r)Evolution, and Hari and Karl of Tiny House Family. What an awesome community of people we have! Turns out everyone lives in a tiny house for very different, unique reasons, and it was amazing to see so many people who had really found a sense of fulfillment through small living. More on all this later!

Also, Kent Griswold told me that I had a video up on YouTube, maybe some of you have already seen it? I just found out about it while I was away, and I'd love it if you guys checked it out and "liked" it if you feel like it! Here's the link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7uKCnIBOhpw

Inside The Comet Camper: I love my tiny house

Inside The Comet Camper: I love my tiny house

Okay, okay, so I know I'm still trying to catch up the blog with the progress in a chronological and step-by-step fashion - but I can't help it. I love my little house (even though it's unfinished) and I want to share what it looks like with you all at this point! So let's look into the future-present at the most recent photos of the COMET. Give me your feedback in the comments! We'll get back to the progress updates later - unfortunately this did not all happen overnight :)

Texas Trip - Finding the TINY in the "everything is bigger" state

Woah, what an amazing trip. We've been back for a few days, but are just getting some time to reflect/catch up now that we are snowed in for the next few days thanks to this "nemo" storm we're experiencing in MA right now (there's a driving ban, so we couldn't go anywhere even if we wanted to!).

TEXAS has more TINY going on than one might think, considering it's the state known for the slogan, "Everything is Bigger...". We had an incredible, inspiring time hanging out with the Engineering class at the Ann Richards School in Austin. Those girls are the coolest: they love math and science, the love engineering, and they were wise beyond their years. They were so engaged with their Project Ventura, they came in on Saturday and every day after school. I was super inspired by the work these girls were doing. We learned a lot from each other! You can all go check out their blog: http://projectventura.wordpress.com/. AND, you can help them out because their KICKSTARTER has just LAUNCHED! Please, please, please support these awesome girls by donating if you possibly can - they are the next generation of great innovators. I'll keep reminding you throughout their campaign, but why wait? Go to their project page now, and donate some $!

Before + After: Replacing Rotten Framing in a Vintage Camper

Before + After: Replacing Rotten Framing in a Vintage Camper

Like I said, lot's of catching up to do! I've got to go back to 5 weeks ago and bring you all up to speed on the progress of the COMET. She was a MESS before we went to Tiny House Summer Camp, but if you saw the article on Deek's website, you saw some pictures of what she looks more like now - less of a mess. Anyway, here's the first installment of catching up the website to where the COMET stands now.

BEFORE:

Some serious demolition. After stepping around the back and almost falling through the trailer floor onto the pavement 3 feet below, we decided to replace EVERYTHING. This demolition was made 10 times easier by the use of the SoniCrafter, using the plunge-cut blade to remove rotten wood to where it was solid again.

Lots of Catching Up to Do!

Hello Readers!!

No, I have not died or given up on the project or the blog, I am just finally, for the first time in weeks and weeks, finding a free moment to do a post. Things have been CRAZY the last few weeks, trying desperately to get the COMET in shape for Tiny House Summer Camp and then the Brattleboro KOA Vintage Trailer Rally. Basically I have not had a moment to myself since I got back from Yestermorrow on June 15th. Every single day (no lie!) for the last 6 weeks has looked a lot like this: wake up at 6 AM, be outside working on the COMET by 6:30 AM, work work work, take a 10 minute lunch break at 1, then back to work until 9 PM or sometimes later if I had to. All just to get the COMET in towable, working order (not pretty) for Tiny House Summer Camp (which was amazing) and the rally a week later. Did I mention the temperature has not gone below 95 that whole time? Needless to say, by 10 pm I was exhausted and I knew I had to put the blog writing on hold if I was going to make it up to Vermont for these two events. I want to THANK YOU for bearing with me the last few weeks as I put the pedal to the metal with the COMET in terms of progress, and was away from the website. It was actually really good to have a deadline and serious motivation for getting certain things done, and pushing myself that hard for the last 6 weeks makes the rest of the project, what still needs to be done, look like a breeze!

Solar Module Placement

Hello again! I just got some really great questions about the off-grid systems that the COMET will have, and I thought it would be a good time to share some of these infographics and design concepts I've been working on.

Where do you put three 185-watt solar modules on a 16 foot trailer with limited surface area?

Here are some of my ideas: