House share : )

House share : )

So today, a blog I’ve been reading for almost a year now, “Living Large In Our Little House”, shared a photo of our loft on their facebook page : ) Pretty cool! Some of the folks commenting were asking to see more photos of our place so I thought I’d take some more recent ones and share em’ here. And for those of you that already know us, well, here’s some more of the progress we’ve made on the cabin in the last few months. Mostly painting at this point although we’re getting ready to tackle the area under the stairs and build in some shelving for a more useful pantry space. Right now we have a  5 tier plastic shelf under there for our non perishables and it’s always kind of a mess : ) Such is life though, one project at  a time!

Thanks to Kerri at Living Large for sharing our photo. She keeps a really great blog and I recommend checking it out here, or visiting their facebook here. I love the tiny house movement and community. They are really a bunch of great folks with good info and stories to share. Hopefully soon I will get a chance to add links to some of my favorites on our site here : )

For anyone that’s interested you can read more about our little cabin here.

Anyhoo, here’s some current photos! Enjoy : ) Click to enlarge.

Our “tree house” loft

Living room and eating area

Living room and eating area

Our wee, red kitchen : )

Our wee, red kitchen : )

Our wee, red kitchen : )

Our massive stone fire place. I would love to see what it looked like before the wood stove insert was put in.

I think the key to any small space is to have lots of vertical storage.


What’s for dinner at our house; Corn and Black Bean Chicken salad with Chili Citrus Dressing

What’s for dinner at our house; Corn and Black Bean Chicken salad with Chili Citrus Dressing

Summer is in full swing in Southern Idaho. We’ve had 95 to 100+ degree highs for quite awhile now. This is an awesome summer dish that we like to serve cold with tortilla chips.

Corn and Black Bean Chicken Salad with Citrus Dressing

Ready to eat! Yum!

(4-6 servings)

4 cups of frozen or fresh corn

4 cups of cooked black beans

2 cups of diced cooked chicken

2 cups canned diced tomatoes, undrained

1/2 cup sliced green onions

1/2 cup diced fresh onion

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1/2 cup diced green bell pepper

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 cup Italian salad dressing

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice


And that’s it : ) throw it all together and mix well. It’s also great warmed up and served as taco filling. Yum!

Simple, baked cherry cheesecake recipe

Simple, baked cherry cheesecake recipe

Cheesecake is James’ favorite dessert so I thought I’d share our favorite recipe. It seems only appropriate since cherry season is in full swing here in Southern Idaho. Our neighbor’s’ trees are exploding with cherries right now and they have welcomed us to pick to our heart’s desire. I’ve been freezing mine according to the instructions in the ball canning book. I’m really looking forward to making homemade cherry filling to top our next cheesecake.

removing the pits

I like this recipe because it is a very simple one, with very few ingredients. It’s easy to make and always turns out great. I have never tried a “no bake” recipe for cheesecake so I cannot say how it compares. A useful trick for a baked cheesecake is to place your pan onto a baking sheet with water in it, which helps to prevent the cheesecake from cracking. There’s nothing quite as disappointing as finding a large crack right smack in the middle of all your hard work. I also do not have a spring form pan so I make mine in a regular pie dish.

1 cup of graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons of sugar
1/4 cup of melted melted

Combine crumbs, sugar, and butter; press onto bottom of 9-inch springform pan. Bake at 350°F, 10 minutes.
24 ounces of cream of softened cream cheese
3/4 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
3 eggs
16 ounces cherry pie filling, chilled
Combine cream cheese, sugar and vanilla, mixing at medium speed on electric mixer until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Bake at 450°F, 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 250°F; continue baking for 30-40 minutes. Loosen cake from rim of pan.

Chill. Spread cherry pie filling over cheesecake before serving.


Tuesday, April 1st 2008 – It Begins

Tuesday, April 1st 2008 – It Begins

Come as you are, as you were,
As I want you to be
As a friend, as a friend, as an old enemy.
Take your time, hurry up
The choice is yours, don’t be late.
Take a rest, as a friend, as an old memory
Nirvana – Come As You Are

Saturday at noon, Donnie and Dannielle showed up in Eugene, we loaded up the couch and coffee table, and off to Hoquiam we went. Traffic seized up twice before we hit Portland. The first time was because someone was changing a tire. I was not impressed. The second time it was because someone had set up a midget jello wrestling match in the fast lane. I was impressed. Arrived in Hoquiam, and stopped for some sweet Casa Mia love. (Poser, I know you are jealous, its ok to admit it.)

Sunday we headed to Lake Quinault. Along the way we stopped in Humptulips so I could check out the river and the trailer court I lived in from 8th-12th grades. The river was fun to check out, fond memories of jumping from the bridge into the FREEZING cold water below. Even in the middle of summer that water would be cold enough to make your skin numb. The trailer court looked much the same, except maybe dirtier than before. The trailer I lived in was still there, although it was now purple and white, with shake siding on the porch. Creepy =)

Quinault was much as I remember, except where they clear-cut some of the forests near the road. We drove down South Shore Road, checked out an awesome waterfall that I lived right down the road from, then headed over to the Lodge to check that out and possibly get some lunch. We had just missed lunch, but we did stop and get some pictures near the lake. We also got to check out the “Worlds Largest Spruce Tree.” When we got there, we saw that we were not the only folks drawn in by the power of the mighty spruce. Everyone got some pictures of that wonder of the natural world, and off we went again.

The next stop was the beach. We headed for Ocean Shores, with a slight detour to Taholah (we were looking for something else, and just ended up there on accident really). Now, most of you will have no idea where this place is or what it is, and I will try to describe it as best I can. It is an Indian Reservation town, and as with many of those areas it is …. interesting. When you roll into Taholah, the first thing that springs to mind is that it looks an awful lot like one of the scenes from a zombie movie. There are no people to be seen, everything is run down, and there are roaming packs of (possibly wild) dogs. Lots of yard trash, speed bumps every 30 feet, and a gas station with no prices shown, just a sign proclaiming “Competitive Gas Pricing!!” Um, yeah. Rolling around the block on our way out of the area, we saw Frosty The Snowman kicking it old school, proclaiming to all that would listen “Welcome to the Thunderdome bitch.” Back on the road we went.

We headed over to Ocean Shores and stopped for dinner at Dugans Pizza. I saw Danielle Dan (she was Danielle Arriola in high school) and completely didn’t recognize her. I gave a cheesy smile, and got completely called on it. Such is life when you don’t see someone for 12 years I suppose =) After stuffing ourselves full of delicious pizza, we went out to the jetty and caught the sunset. It was beautiful but very cold out. I continued my streak of hurting myself every time I go to the beach, by falling on a slick rock on the jetty and scraping a nickel sized patch of skin from my elbow. Yes, it hurt. No, I didn’t drop the camera. Good times =)

It was a great day spent with amazing friends. We zoomed back to Donnie & Dannielles, and watched some TV while I uploaded pics and worked on the site, then headed to bed to start the week.


Monday, March 31st 2008 – The Ghosts Of The Past

Monday, March 31st 2008 – The Ghosts Of The Past

My trip has started! Today I went many places with my friends I am staying with, one of them took us past the place that I went to school between 2nd and 7th grade. I had a hard time in this school, for pretty much all of the time that I was there. I was short, chubby, and I had zero interest in sports. It was a small backwater school, and my constant reading and excelent grades did not sit well with my fellow students.

There had always been the stupid school bullshit that happens to the odd kids, the harassment and the cliques that I never fit into, nor did I have any interest in fitting into them. I saw no need to try to become something I wasnt. I watched the children that tried to fit themselves into the mold, and they werent treated much better than I. So I did my thing, they did theirs, and occationally I made friends and spent most of my time alone with books.

In 7th grade, things changed. I am sure that the onset of puberty had something to do with it, and the fact that I as always, was smaller and weaker. It started small at first, the harassment turning physical, shoves and pushes replaceing the words and hard stares of earlier years. It quickly escelated, as they got more emboldened. There were 7 of them, a gang of sorts. They were the ones that had most often paid to copy my homework oddly enough, and probably resented the fact that I wouldnt let them copy it for free.

It would happen before school, as most of the kids arrived early. They would come at me like a pack of wild dogs, quietly where the adults could see, but once they finally got me behind one of the buildings it was a free for all. The first time I didnt really know what was happening, until it was halfway done, and by that point it was too late to fight. Six of them pinned me, while another brought a roll of duct tape out of his bag, and they taped me into a mini-mummy, then tossed me behind one of the buildings and made their way to class. I got up, got the tape off and went into class.

The fear in their eyes as I walked into the class ten minutes late was palapable when the teacher asked where I had been. I mumbled some answer, and sat down. Their fear turned to smug glee that I had said nothing. They thought me broken, but in reality I was just not a person to run to an adult when something happened. Too independant mom had always said, and maybe she was right.

This scene was repeated in the following months, each encounter more violent. I fought like a cat on crack, no fair fight as I aimed for eyeballs and nut sacks, but one child versus six is no contest, especially when they were all taller than me by at least a foot. Looking back on it, I am surprised that they didnt kill me, I hit and kicked as hard as I could, and the worst it got was me banged up, taped up, and tossed down.

We had a covered play area, for in Washington it rains a lot and the childrens need someplace to play in the winter. In the middle of this building was a teatherball pole and on this particular morning, there were no recess aides to be found. This time they came at me, they pinned me, and they taped me up to that teatherball poll, while all of the other children watched. One of the bullys girlfriends took the opportunity to run up and use her lipstick to write all over my face.

13 years old, taped to a pole with my feet not touching the ground, face covered in lipstick, and not a single person raised their voice in protest. It seems now in my minds eye, that there was an endless ocean of children silently watching, while i know that in reality it was more like 50 or so kids. Me staring at them, staring at me. Finally, one little girl ran up with a pair of scissors and said “Someone is coming!” laughter turned to fear yet again, and I was cut down. No one was really coming, the little one was just trying to help.

I stripped the tape off of myself for the last time, stared at them all, and walked into the building to wash myself up. To this day I dont know why, but that was the last time they messed with me, and shortly thereafter we moved, and I was free of that place. I look back, and wonder that I never said anything to any adult. I wonder, where in the hell were the teachers? How did anyone not know this was happening?

I dont hate them anymore, and I wonder if any of them would even remember the events of that year. Those are awkward years for any child, I often wonder how any of us make it out as decent human beings.

It was a good day today, ghosts and all. My childhood was fucking weird, though I suppose they are all weird in their own ways. Today I climbed on a waterfall in the Olympic National Forest. I saw the worlds largest spruce tree, it is over a thousand years old. I watched the sun set over the Pacific Ocean, the rays of the sun reaching thru the clouds as a sea gull soared past me. I smiled.

Memories are funny things.

Fitting 6 people into 700 sq ft

Fitting 6 people into 700 sq ft

Like so many others, our family did not come into small house living on purpose. Sometimes life just happens and takes you riding on a wave. When we first starting planning our downsizing, I had no idea what the tiny house movement was. It wasn’t until researching ideas for what is now our home that I stumbled across my first tiny house. It has now become a passion of mine and I hope to one day build a tiny house of our own. For now we are hunkered down in our little cabin. And for those who wonder, this is how we do 700 sq ft with style : )

Next Wednesday (which will also be my 29th birthday-gasp! Almost 30!) will mark 5 months in our little cabin. I can’t believe it’s been 5 months already.

James and I treated ourselves to some “gut bomb” burgers and tots last night at the local greasy spoon (if 10 miles away is local :p)

. It’s been awhile since we have gone out like that and it was really good to just kick back and talk about life. We reflected a bit about our decision to take off for Idaho and the fact that we had no jobs waiting for us or any sort of plan either. We had just enough money saved to get here from Oregon and then it was anybody’s guess as to where life would take us.

The beginning of our grand adventure

James has been working as a trout farmer for a little over 2 years now. I asked him as we munched on our food last night, if he thought he’d be working a job like this when we moved here. He laughed and said “No.” I don’t think either of us imagined that life in Idaho would mean him coming home from work everyday smelling like fish.

My jack-of-all-trades hubby had been drafting or doing massage therapy for over 10 years. I guess we both sort of assumed he would find a drafting job here as well. When we first arrived in Idaho he did some wood cutting and other odd jobs to make money while he looked for work. He ended up applying at a company that grows farm raised trout because he had met the boss on previous trips to Idaho. Needless to say he got the job. I’m not sure if we thought it would be temporary at the time or if maybe we didn’t even talk about it, but it wasn’t long before the possibility of the cabin was first mentioned.

Although he was commuting 30 miles each way to work, there was another farm just 2 miles from where we were living at the time. This particular company has a practice of providing free housing to it’s upper level employees and the farm that was near our house had a place that was coming available. His boss referred to it as “the A frame”. Initally we were excited to say the least. Living in a rent free situation would be an extraordinary way to start some savings towards our own property someday. And it certainly made his somewhat unexpected career path look a whole lot sweeter. We had no idea what was to come in the next year and a half.

I remember the first time we drove out to the farm to peek at the house. The current occupant had not moved out yet so we were trying not to be too nosy. The first drive by left me quite confused. I was expecting a traditional A frame house…what we saw instead was a beat down little cabin that would never fit our family comfortably.

The cabin when we first saw it

As it turns out, we had a year and a half wait to re think what our idea of comfortable was. Although the tenant promptly moved out, his ten years in the house had left it in uninhabitable condition. The smell was overpowering. Rotting, urine stained carpet, holes straight through the floor in several places and millions of mouse turds awaited our first look inside. Not to mention other horrors.

The shambles that was our house

Beyond all of that was an amazing structure. Underneath layers of filth was a beautiful vaulted, tongue and groove pine ceiling and a stone fireplace that stretched up 25 feet. A wide, open doorway led into a small downstairs bedroom and then into a hallway with a tiny bathroom. An open stair case hovered above that, leading into the upstairs bedroom. We had 2 bedrooms for our 4 children and no storage to speak of. One closet upstairs and a bit of attic space. Ouch.

The owner of the company decided that no amount of cleaning would make the space livable so the decision to remodel was made. James and I completed all the demo work and then it was just a game of waiting for the finish work to begin. For reasons beyond our control, that ended up being a very long wait. From the first time the idea of the cabin was mentioned to the day we finally moved in, over a year and a half had passed. It may have been the longest year and a half of our lives lol. It did however give us a lot of time to re evaluate what we wanted our lives to be. Living in such a small space meant making a lot of changes and shedding a lot of belongings. James’ drafting background came in handy for some of that. He was able to draw the house up in Autocad and also google sketchup so we could figure out what furniture would fit into the space and also make plans for a living room loft that would become our bedroom.

Although we don’t own our tiny house (tiny for 6 people anyway) it really does feel like it’s ours. Between the countless hours of demo, clean up of the surrounding property and out buildings and planning of layout and storage, it has become our home. And hopefully it will also eventually help us to have the means to have our own property one day.

A lot of people thought we were crazy trying to “cram” into such small space with four kids. I know a lot of folks are wondering how we do it without killing each other : )

First of all, the kids obviously share rooms. The boys share the downstairs bedroom. Having a 6 year old and 2 year old climbing a steep, open stair case didn’t seem like the best option. The boys have a set of bunk beds, which is the only way this is possible. They share a large, vertical dresser as well as vertically stacked storage cubbies. The girls, who are 10 and 12 now, share the upstairs. There room is a sea of shelving lol. There was no room for dressers upstairs, not to mention the logistics of trying to move large pieces of furniture up those stairs…I suppose you would have to see them to understand. Instead they store their clothing in the cabin’s one closet and also in sliding rubbermade containers under their beds. Their beds both have bed risers to make taller storage underneath available. Baskets on their shelving also serve as storage for things like socks and underwear.

We designed and built a free floating loft in the living room so that we could have our own space. It is built with 2X12′s spanning our 12′ room and lag bolted into the house studs. It hovers about 8 feet up in the air and definitely took some getting used to! I absolutely love our loft. Although it is the smallest bedroom I have ever had, it is also the coolest. I call it our tree house. We also had no space for dressers so James built in shelving underneath the loft. We use an assortment of collected baskets and wooden crates to hold our clothing.

The basic framing for our loft

Adding the decking

attaching the ladder

Putting in the railing

Our cozy bed

The shelving under the loft. He has since added center supports.

Most of the rest is just the idea of simplifying your life. Get rid of your crap : ) We had a huge garage sale before we moved and also took several full truck loads to the thrift store. Other things like large furniture were sold on craigslist. I like the idea, someday when we have less kids living at home, of building a small cabin on our own. James and I don’t agree completely on how small we could go : ) But I’m sure we will meet somewhere in the middle.

Living in a small space brings so many freedoms with it. Life on this farm does as well. Aside from having relatively little in the way of bills, we are surrounded by water here. On a daily basis I see so much wildlife it’s astounding. I cannot imagine a more beautiful place to start out this adventure of living small. To me, happiness in life isn’t having “stuff”, it’s having experiences. There’s no telling how much longer our lives will be on this particular path, but I think no matter what happens, doors to amazing places will open along the way. For now I am day dreaming about some plum colored trim paint for the cabin next summer….

Our cabin as it looks today, complete with erratic container garden : )




A Childhood Story

A Childhood Story

Growing up, I didn’t think that my childhood was all that strange. Yes, I knew that we were poor but then so were a lot of people in the area I grew up (which was the Washington coast.) Neither of my parents completed High School (though mom did go back to get her GED) and as such neither had a career, they just did what they had to do to keep the family fed and clothed. I think that, more than anything is the reason that my childhood ended being what it was. With a change in jobs, came a change in our living situation. I can look back on it now and see that my childhood was … unconventional. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I don’t remember much of my early childhood. I know some people that can tell you about their entire life from the age of three until now, but I am not one of them. For me there are brief, bright images in a sea of things not remembered. In Wyoming I remember sitting in our neighbor’s living room, staring at the shiny yellow race car model that her son had put together. It had two black racing stripes from nose to tail, and was missing one of its front wheels. Later I would be crying (I do not remember why) and the woman would ask me, “Does the baby want a chee chee?” Not knowing any better, I nodded my head yes, and was startled when she flopped out her breast and offered it to me laughing. I remember sitting in my Kindergarten classroom as my teacher, Mrs. Razor, handed us each a camel carved from an olive branch that she had bought us on her trip to Israel (I still have mine.) I remember drawing on the chalkboard in First grade, drawing R2D2 rolling thru the grass, and the cutest girl I had ever met (at that point anyways, her name was Tracy) came up next to me and drew a house for R2D2 to live in. In Second Grade I remember placing crayons outside in the sun to soften them, but they were forgotten until the end of the day and we walked out to a rainbow dripping onto the sidewalk. I thought it was amazing, my teacher was less amused.

Life up until Second Grade was fairly normal. We lived in a trailer park, again not that unusual for the area, and dad worked as a mechanic in the shop that was in front of the trailer park. Something happened, and we moved several hours away to a strange land called Lake Quinault. We moved into a double wide trailer that was several miles off of the nearest paved road. I don’t believe there was running water. I know that there was no electricity other than what was provided by an over sized generator. There was no phone, there was no address, and the nearest neighbor was a good mile away. I had no idea at the time what being off the grid meant, but I certainly experienced it.

The next several years, and several places that we lived came to shape the person that I am today. It makes me laugh to think that the life I am living now, so resembles my life growing up. My wife has informed me on several occasions that I should write this stuff down, and I think that I will do just that. At the moment though it is after 11pm and this is enough for now. More to come =)

Homemade Pizza Success!

Homemade Pizza Success!

You would think, as much as I cook and bake, which is a lot, that I would have some sort of yeast expertise by now. But that really just isn’t the case. The truth of the matter is, yeast and I have an awkward relationship. We don’t really understand each other all that well. That’s mostly my fault as I just haven’t put in much effort.

I was really craving pizza last night so I decided to look online for a dough recipe that I could tackle. I found one that sounded good and gave it a cautious try. I’m not sure what sort of horrors I was expecting but it ended up being pretty easy and everyone was really happy with the result. I thought I’d share the recipe just in case there’s anyone else out there that has an irrational fear of yeast like I do : )


  • 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup warm water (110 degrees F)
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. In a medium bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
  2. Stir in flour, salt and oil. Beat until smooth. Let rest for 5 minutes.
  3. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pat or roll into a round. Transfer crust to a lightly greased pizza pan or baker’s peel dusted with cornmeal. Spread with desired toppings and bake in preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Let baked pizza cool for 5 minutes before serving.

I made a few small changes. I doubled this recipe since we are feeding a small village here. I used half whole wheat flour and also added thyme, basil, sage, dill and garlic to my dough. I rolled it into a thin crust on two rectangular air bake sheets. We made a “chicken-bacon-ranch” style pizza with homemade ranch as sauce, mozzarella, artichoke hearts and fresh tomatoes/basil. They result was a very crispy, herby crust. The toppings are a no brainer and I cannot take credit for them : )

My first attempt at home made pizza dough.

Yay for my first homemade pizza! I will definitely be using this recipe again.

I also whipped up our favorite cheese cake recipe last night. It came out absolutely perfect. It’s nice to have so much kitchen success in one night : ) Anyone who cooks on a regular basis knows that just isn’t always the case. Some days everything seems to be a disaster lol.





Makin’ stuff outa stuff

Makin’ stuff outa stuff

It’s summertime, I have all of these amazing materials at my fingertips, a big porch to work on and lots of paint : ) I wanted to share a few of my current projects…

1923 radio case

James’ mom actually pulled this radio case out of the dump and brought it home for us a few summers ago. It still has all the knobs as well as the main dial and the glass piece that covers it. The veneer on the wood was in pretty rough shape so we decided to paint it. That is where my part of this project comes in. When the paint is finished up, James is going to transfer our computer into it. It shall be cool, complete with led back lit dial. He did some repair work on the case itself with glue and wood putty a few months ago and we have just been waiting for warm enough weather to take it outside and spray it.

I still have a few coats of paint to go but the wind came up this morning so I had to set this aside for a calmer day. The next color will be red and then some sanding to distress it when that’s done. Then it’s off to James to become our new computer.

Book shelves

While exploring a farm down the road that is set to be torn down, I discovered a massive built in work bench full of old, distressed drawers. I think I wound up bringing 6 or 8 of them home…I can’t remember. I just thought they were really cool and I would figure out what to do with them later. I decided I wanted to try making a small book shelf out of one of them. I cleaned it up and painted it. I also wanted to add a center shelf which meant cutting a piece of wood to fit. Mind you, I have not touched a chop saw since middle school shop class. So I was a big, brave girl and measured and cut the shelf myself. After nailing it in place I painted it and then sanded the whole thing to give it a more aged look. I’m hoping James will hang it on the wall up in our loft tonight. It shall be a nook for some of the many books that still do not have a space in our little house. While I was at it, I also painted an old wood tool box that I found in one of the sheds when we moved in. A shoe bin perhaps? We always seem to need more crates and baskets for storage.


I will add an update on the radio case as it progresses. And possibly a photo of some of our books in their new nook : ) Happy projects everyone!


Catching up on projects; chicken run and container garden

Catching up on projects; chicken run and container garden

What should we do today?

That’s always the question when the weekend rolls around. I have a decent sized white board that we used for chore lists in the other house, that now serves as a place for a running list of projects that we have in mind. It’s divided up into three sections. The first is: Things that we can do now for free. This is a popular section because we are saving our extra monies for our Oregon trip later this summer. We also have an abundance of reclaimed materials to work with that have been scavenged from here and there. The second section is: Things we can do for relatively cheap. Self explanatory = ) The third is titled: Things that are god damned expensive. Those projects will just have to wait for next year’s tax return. That list includes things like fencing, a green house and a wood fired soaking tub. Someday, right? = )

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