Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Tiny House Movement and Merits of Downsizing

A great article on why folks are downsizing and the tiny house movement is growing. I thought you may enjoy this article By 
People are talking about the tiny house movement. What is it? Is it small houses that are being moved down the street to tiny lots? Is it a political movement? This movement is all about a segment of society that states that people are downsizing the space or spaces that they live in.
If you haven't heard of it, the tiny house movement is a growing trend and not just a fad. It's been featured on network television all over the world. What makes the tiny movement so big, and what determines what a small home is? The average house in America is just less than 3,000 square feet in size. Tiny houses are built with the focus on smaller simplified living so they average around 400 to 500 square feet at the most. Some small houses are very tiny, at around 65 square feet.
But Why the Movement toward Downsizing Houses?
This movement is all about efficiency, saving natural resources, and saving the environment. People who have been concerned about these factors in society have been very concerned at the amount of natural resources (and accompanying waste) that's generated every time a standard size home is built.
And if you include all the resources that go into maintaining older standard size houses, a good argument can be made that the old adage of "Bigger is better" is not better anymore. For example: If a tiny home of about 200 square feet is built in remote areas away from sprawling cities, the house leaves virtually no impact or carbon footprint on the natural environment around it. And in many areas small houses are using solar panels for their energy source.
Smaller Homes Are Economically Friendly Too
When you consider many automobiles today cost over $50,000, it's easy to see the economic value in getting involved in the tiny house movement. Small homes or houses can cost as little as $37,000 if you buy a pre-fabricated or pre-built one. If you build it yourself you'll save a lot more.
A lot of people think that buying a tiny home means living in a cardboard box or something like that. Not so. Because the cost of a tiny house is so low, builders can focus on higher quality building materials that are more energy-efficient and last longer than materials used in traditional home building.
The small house movement is also providing an affordable means of home ownership to people whose homes were destroyed during hurricanes in the southeastern U.S. in the past ten years. Some people whose houses were completely demolished could not afford to rebuild, or they did not have sufficient insurance coverage to rebuild the home they had before. So tiny homes provide a comfortable and safe life for them.
Downsizing to Simple Housing Is the Answer for Some
There are some people who have not been affected by natural disasters or financial meltdowns. They simply want to join the movement because for a lot of people in today's hectic society, simplicity is king. Many people in society during the last few decades have found themsOptionselves working long work weeks and getting little time off, only to spend that time constantly maintaining a large house that they hardly ever spent any time in. Although small homes will always be just that, the tiny house movement is growing into something big.
Tom Howser writes about small houses as well as reducing one's carbon footprint and living a sustainable lifestyle.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Classic Spork - Reinvented

While on the shopping trip at World Market where I found the fantastic collapsible silicon funnels, I also found this little gem: two-in-one fork and spoon, a.k.a spork. This institutional standby has been redesigned into a clever utensil designed for convenience and portability. Unlike a traditional spork, which is a spoon with tines on the end of the bowl, this spork is a fork on one end and a spoon on the other. They were just $1.99 and are made of durable stainless steal. I bought two because I thought they were quite clever and wanted to try them out, but the more I think about them the more I realize they are great space savers for those with a tiny house too.

Things that I like about this spork (although it is like no spork you have ever used before) include both its solidness its space saving size, and its portability. It would be useful in a kitchen, a lunch kit, strapped to a Bento Box, or included in a picnic basket. I also think keeping a couple in my drawer at work will be convenient since I hate plastic disposable flatware. Because you wash and reuse this spork (it is dishwasher safe), it is a green alternative for those looking to help reduce the amount of trash going to our landfills. These would be a one time purchase as opposed to plastics which could possibly have BPA and/or other toxins and would eventually end up on a landfill not decomposing for 100 years or more.

As great as I think this is, there are some limitations to consider in the design of this spork. First, there really is no "handle" so your hands will touch the spoon end when using the fork end, and vice versa. You will either need to use the fork side first then wipe it off to use the spoon side, or the reverse. Second, the spoon is not really very deep. Finally, The tines on the fork are rather short.

I tried this spork out today on my Cup-o-Noodle lunch and despite its compact size it worked quite wonderfully. I am going to go and pick up four more of these to keep in my picnic basket as well as the two I already have in my desk at work. I think that once I am in my tiny house, these will come in handy there as well in the limited space of my tiny kitchen. If you are not a great gourmet and are looking for practical utensils that don't consume much real estate in small spaces, then this ingenious piece of flatware might just be something you come to love.

You can order your own at the World Market site here:

What do you think? Have you ever used a spork before? Would you find something like this handy in your kitchen?

Monday, October 28, 2013

C'mon Baby, Light My Fire

It is a romantic image: Air cold enough to see your breath and a nice hot fire to keep you warm. However, anyone who has ever been really cold and trying to get a fire started knows how frustrating and scary it can be. Wind, rain, a lighter that is dying, or even worse, just a couple of matches left in the pack, can send the blood pressure rising and the anxiety into overload. Well, to help alleviate the worry of not being able to get kindling to light quickly and easily, I am going to share a DIY that you can assemble from things you typically throw away or recycle. Collect the materials over time, assemble and store. You can store lots of these in a small area. In the time of an emergency or even when you are just trying to get a fire going in the hearth, you can use one of these and save yourself all that stress.

Mason Jar Monday - Easy Mason Jar Time Capsule - Scrapbook in a Jar

A Year of Memories
Today's Mason Jar Monday DIY is an easy-peasy time capsule. Also called a scrapbook jar, Mason jars make a great way to preserve memories in addition to food.

Limited space in my tiny house means I don't want a ton of scrapbooks hanging around. You can read my post about using a digital photo frame to store and display thousands of photos in a small footprint, however memories are not limited to photographs. Many of my best memories are tangible. That seashell you found on the beach, the heart-shaped rock your special someone gave you, and the homemade Mother's Day card from your kindergartner are all precious memories you want to save. How, in a tiny house or in a small home, can you store these without them taking over your limited space making it looked cluttered or sloppy. An easy way to store and display these memories is by using a mason jar to create a time capsule scrapbook jar and then store and display it neatly on a shelf.

Dusty on Top
I have been doing this for two years now and I just love it. Throughout the year I collect trinkets such as squished pennies, ticket stubs, shells, pine cones, newspaper clippings, photographs, and other memorable bits I find interesting along the way. I write important dates such as the birth of a friends baby on a scrap of paper and I drop it into the jar. On New Years Eve I empty out the jar on the table and go through the "memories" from the year. I add a letter to myself in the future that talks about the past year and hopes for the upcoming one. Once I am done traveling down Nostalgia Lane, I put everything back in the jar and seal it up. I add it to the shelf as a decorative piece. Anytime I want to reflect on a particular memory, I can simply open the jar and "touch" history. I figure at the end of five years, I will consolidate each year into its own resealable bag and fit all five into a single gallon size jar to save space.

I am thinking this would be neat for a "Baby's First Year" time capsule too. You could add things like the birth announcement newspaper clipping, a pair of booties or baby socks, a tiny diaper, hospital bracelets, diaper pins, a favorite onesie, pacifier, lock of hair, etc. Jot down firsts (sits up, sleeps through night, smile, etc.) on a piece of scrap paper and drop it in. By the end of baby's first year you will have a nice record of their growth from birth on that is stress free compared to trying to remember to update a baby book. In fact, you could just empty the jar on a table, arrange it all in order from oldest to newest and then create a physical scrapbook or fill in a baby book.

This and That's Inside
For those who are planning a wedding, why not place a jar and some pretty scraps of paper on a table with pens? Invite your guests to leave you messages of love and advice for a happy marriage. On your first anniversary sit down over a glass of wine and read them together.

Pet owners may just want to create a jar for each of their pets. Every vet visit just drop in information about vaccines and treatments. Keep expired or updated tags too.

To label your jar, you can slip a paper printed with the information between the ring and the lid, as shown in my picture. If you have a Cricket machine or something similar you could cut out and stick on vinyl lettering/numbers to label your jar. Creating a label from a canning jar label would be nice as well.

Mason jars make a fantastic impromptu time capsule that are economical and practical. What would you include in your time capsule?

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Reusable Canning Jar Lids

I love canning. I love the idea of putting by and, even more, I love the idea of being able to eat good, hearty food when times are rough. Learning to can and preserve is indispensable on a homestead as a way to preserve and extend the harvest. There are three key components to canning jars: the glass jar itself, the sealing lid, and and the ring. The rings and the jars can be reused, but the traditional aluminum canning lid cannot. Tattler Reusable lids are the answer to replacing lids year after year. They are also green because you purchase them one time and are not disposing of them each time you open a jar.

Tattler lids come in two parts: the plastic lid and a rubber gasket seal. Combined they make an excellent seal and each rubber gasket will last approximately 20 canning cycles. The seals are super reasonable (about a quarter a piece) to replace. They are BPA free and made in America too! If you buy in bulk you can save even more.

I have added 200 regular and 500 wide mouth Tattler Reusable Jar lids to my wish list along with some replacement seals. You can find them at the companies website, and find many of their products sold with a discount if you choose to buy in bulk.

Have you used Tattler lids? If so, what do you think are the pros and cons of using a reusable lid?

Turn Your Blog Into A Book

It was just about a year ago today that I began this blog and my journey toward my sustainable homestead in a Tiny House. I spent this morning waxing nostalgic and rereading posts from the beginning. I have written about such a large variety of things related to my adventure, everything from the toilet (Loveable Loo) to the kitchen sink (My Kitchen is Coming Together). As I got to reading I thought to myself that maybe I should print out the first year and save it. This led me to wondering if there was a way to have a blog printed out as a book. Could I produce a book from my blog? I went to my trusty Google and discovered, yes, there are places that do that! So, if you have ever wondered if you could turn your blog into a book as a keepsake, here are some companies that do just that:


  • 45 Cover Options
  • Color or Black and White Printing
  • Hard Cover or Soft Cover
  • Digital File 
  • You choose page breaks or No page breaks
  • Base Fee for 20 Pages is $24.95
  • Additional Pages: .35 cents each

To print my blog into a book using all posts from Oct. 1, 2012 to October 26, 2013 which is 206 pages, including page breaks and hard cover would be $90.05, softcover would be $80.05, and Digital Download just $7.95.

Blurb is software you download and then import your content into. You then edit page layouts add or remove posts and finally upload to print. Printing is done on demand with bulk discounts starting after ordering seven. If you are looking to self-publish and sell your book, this is a way to do it. They also do ebooks and photo books. You can even sell your book in their website book store.

Prices begin at $12.95 for a 7" x 7" softcover color book. They have a wider variety of finished book sizes than Blog to Print. You can also create notebooks and planners. The software is free, so you should play around with it and see if it is right for you.

Blogbooker turns your blog into a high quality PDF book. Here is how it works (taken directly from their website): 
How does it work?You submit an export file provided by your blog system to BlogBooker.
Your file is verified and all linked images are fetched.
Entries, Comments and Images are assembled into a high-quality PDF.
PDF is provided without any restriction and thus can be submitted for printing to third-parties.

Best of all? It is FREE!! So, if you are looking to archive your blog, distribute it on CD, or send it to a friend to read on their computer offline, this is a great option. They will even help you market your book on places like CafePress and LuLu. You will, however, need to go in and edit your layout and such. You will see that it will take some work to get it ready to go, but for free, hey, can't beat that! 

Have you ever considered turning your blog into a book? 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Collapsible Silicone - Kitchen Wares of the Future Available Today

I stopped by my local World Market on my way home from work last night to pick up some tea. If you have never spent any time in World Market, you really need to go check it out. They have some very interesting things from all around the world and a great selection of kitchen goods at very reasonable prices. As I wandered up and down the aisles looking at all the do-dads and trinkets, I came across these collapsible funnels. I just knew I had to share with you, dear reader, all about them. They are part of a new trend of collapsible silicon kitchen gear. They pop out to a regular full size product and then conveniently store back down into a flat and tidy size. They were just $1.99 each, which is a fantastic value and came in a variety of colors. I chose to buy two, one green and one blue. They are dishwasher safe and can stand the heat of boiling water without issue. Silicon is also easy to clean, has no BPA, is supple, and is durable.

There is an entire line of collapsible silicon products made by Squish and Progressive International that make bulkier kitchen goods such as colanders and bowls much more convenient to store. The cost is still a little more for many of these items as you are paying what I like to call a "convenience" fee, but over time I think the costs will come down. Living in a tiny house, or even just having a small kitchen, no longer means you can not have a variety of items to cook with, it just means looking at traditional, large-foot items with a new eye.

Have you tried any collapsible or silicone kitchen wares? Share you experience below.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A Week's Worth of Groceries Around the World

In addition to being a blogger and a writer, I am a teacher. I teach 6th grade. I am always looking for interesting material to present to my students because 6th graders can be very difficult to keep on task and engaged. I get quite a bit of inspiration from meme's that are sent to me on Facebook. The other day someone sent me a meme created from photographs, taken by Peter Menzel, that showed a weeks worth of groceries for folks from around the world. It really is quite interesting if you spend some time really looking at what an "average" family consumes. It got me thinking about how good people in other countries eat compared to me, which I think most Americans would find surprising. It also got me considering how the heck I am going to store food in a tiny house.

Take a look for yourself here:
You may also be interested to look and compare breakfasts from around the world. Keep in mind that Americans make their main meal of the day dinner, while in many countries, breakfast is a large meal and dinner quite small. You can find those photo's here:

My wish for you today is that you may never hunger and never thirst. Have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Old School is New Again with MicroTouch One™

For years I have sought the perfect razor to shave my gams (those are your legs for those of you born after 1920). I have tried every kind of disposable razor known to man and was even dumb enough to buy one of those electric wet or dry lady shavers that never worked. In the early 1990's I jumped on the bandwagon and bought an Epilady. Ya, I screamed the first time I used it and never used it again. I am not into torture. Razor burn, pain, and nicks are the bane of my shaving existence, and I continue on my quest for the perfect razor. I was offered a chance to review MicroTouch One™ which has recently come on the market and jumped at the chance. I have to admit, I am pleasantly surprised.

The MicroTouch One™ is the modern version of the classic safety razor. It is a beautiful thing to look at and to hold. It is solid brass and plated in chrome. Shiny and solid, it has some weight to it, which after years of using disposable razors, is actually quite pleasant. If you have never used a razor where you just replace the blades, here is how it works: You twist the bottom of the handle and the top will open like a "butterfly" exposing the place where you place the blade. You use the razor until you feel that you are not getting as close a shave as you would like and then you simply replace the blade. Blades are super thin steel and VERY sharp.

You shave just as you do with a disposable razor, keeping a 45 degree angle, using shaving cream or soap, and then you open the razor and rinse it before storing. The shave is smooth and you don't need 3 to 5 blades to make it happen as some disposables advertise. However, the best part? Blades are super cheap to replace (under $3 for 25) AND are a green alternative as we are not filling up our landfill with more plastic.

The cost of the MicroTouch One™ is, you guessed it, $19.99, but it comes with 24 blades. I was paying $8 for three disposables, which comes to over $2.66 per razor. That means the initial cost, which includes the beautiful reusable shaver itself, saves me over $1.83 (if you count one blade as one disposable razor) per razor. The best part is that replacement blades, which can be found wherever shaving products are sold, are super cheap! I poked around on Amazon and found replacement blades at 3 cents per blade! That means your razors from now on are 3 cents! Whoot!

I am quite pleased overall with this razor. It did take some getting used to, but now that I have used it a couple of times I am very happy. My gams are smooth and both my pocket book and the landfills are happy. Win-win! MicroTouch One™ has been rated one of the top-three grooming brands in the country by Nielson Report for 52 weeks! That right there is quite an endorsement.

If you are interested in a MicroTouch One™, which comes in a nice case with two-dozen blades, you can go to to order. Here's to a smoother you!

Karin Copperwood and Rancho No Dinero received one or more the products mentions above for fee for evaluation purposes, received compensation to write this post, and/or is an affiliate of one or more of the products reviewed on this site. Regardless, all opinions expressed are still 100% my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Bummer in the Boonies

This morning I woke up to my usual routine of making  a list of all I need to remember to accomplish today. I am a teacher and if I don't follow this routine I get caught up in all the action of the 6th grade and forget to do many things. I added buying Halloween treats to my list this morning and it hit me: In the boonies there will be no trick-or-treaters. How sad is that? In my neighborhood right now I have a ton of trick-or-treaters knocking on my door for their annual batch of sweets and treats. In the boonies my land is too far out and other houses too spread out to have little super heros, Dora's, Princesses, and ghosts running up the drive in excitement of just what sugar-laden surprise might await them.

This is the first time I have considered some of the sad parts are living in the boonies. I will miss decorated houses for the holidays. I am sure folks out in the boonies decorate, but our houses are too far apart and on the streets that surround my property there are only 3 other houses, each about a quarter mile apart. The block parties to popular here in the suburbs will be no more. This is the bittersweet part of living in the middle of nowhere.

I do have some tiny LED Christmas lights that are battery operated to use in decorating my tiny house around Yule and I am sure I will find small trinkets to continue to decorate for the holidays, but being as isolated as I am these will most likely only be seen by me. I guess I will just have to shift to putting together a special treats package for my granddaughter and getting it to her via the mail a few days before major holidays. Thank goodness for Skype.

Do you think you would miss these suburban and urban traditions? Would you continue to decorate your home for different holidays if you were most likely the only one to see the decorations?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Mason Jar Monday - DIY How to Make an Aquarium From a Mason Jar

Perusing the aisle of my local SprawlMart the other day, I came across a giant, 1 gallon Mason-style jar. I picked it up and the ideas of what to do with such a large jar started swimming around in my head. My mother walked up behind me and exclaimed, "Holy cow. That thing is as big as an aquarium!" Thanks mom, that is a great idea! 

This Mason-style jar is now my tiny house aquarium. Here is how to make a Mason Jar Aquarium for yourself: 

Pick up 1/2 gallon size Mason Jar: 
I like this size better than the gallon size one (even though the gallon size is still fantastic!). The 1/2 gallon size is not too cumbersome for a Tiny House. It is also good size to sit on a desk or kitchen counter. Beta fish don't like large spaces so the I decided against the gallon-size decorative one, and went with the 1/2 gallon size instead.
Buy a Fish:
Choose a beta fish. Not only are they beautiful, they are loners and they breathe air. That means you only have to worry about and clean up after one fishy and you don't have to monkey with a pump of any kind. Once a week you pour your little buddy into another container, scrub out his jar, refill the water, and put him back in. Easy peasy.

Create a "Fish Friendly" Habitat:  
Add gravel, plants, and decorations.You can change his environment with the seasons if you would like to use his aquarium as a decorative tool as well. More popular pet stores sell theme-based decorations for aquariums such as small Christmas trees, skulls and pumpkins for Halloween, etc. I have chosen a cute haunted house (I can call it a Tiny Haunted House, get it?) but it won't fit in the mouth of the jar (I didn't even consider that, der). He did get a little gravel though as well as a tall plant for additional color and so he can swim in and out of it.

Add Water and Water Treatment Chemicals: 
Beta fish require that you treat tap water before putting them in to remove chlorine and other chemicals. A drop or two (read the label) of water treatment and your little buddy will be swimming happily. 

Enjoy Your New Pet: 
Be sure to keep him out of direct sunlight. Betas like 74 - 85 degree water and like to be fed twice a day. They eat a pelleted food and also like treats such as bloodworms, tubifex worms, mosquito larvae, and daphnia. 

One More Thing:
Don't put the jar lid on. The gallon size jar does not have seals and rings, but a one-piece lid. If you want the look of the lid on the jar, cut out the center circle in the ring to leave just the ring or drill LARGE holes for air. Remember, your fish needs oxygen and the lid will kill him. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Comments are a Bloggers Paycheck

Mike Troy's Tiny House
I have been blogging about building my tiny house since November of 2012. I am almost to a year and, as of this morning, I have written 104 posts. Some posts are more informative and some are just updates, but all of them help document this great journey I have undertaken. Not too long ago I read a blog where the author said, "Comments are a bloggers paycheck" and it has stuck in my head ever since. She is right. I get excited to see feedback because it means that someone not only took the time to read what I had to share, but felt moved enough to take a few moments out of their life to respond to me in the comments. Fellow bloggers I know are always glad to find someone has left them comments, good or bad, because it helps them create and write better and, hopefully, write about more interesting content.

I wrote a post in October 2013 entitled Does Crowdfunding Work? and received a response from fellow tiny house builder, Mike Troy (read his blog SkrewConventional to follow his Tiny House adventure). Mike has done an incredible job building his house and here is the advice he left for me:
I'll try and keep it short here. Once I decided to get started I focused on getting out of debt - that took about a year. Then I focused on saving money for a trailer, that meant cutting out "extra" stuff. "Extra" is your definition. I looked at used trailers but ended up buying new and had it built to my needs. My struggle came with the next phase for various reasons but mainly I got "out of focus". The approach to me is making the goal greater than the excuses. When I got close to saving the money something would come up. To get over the hump I sold my vehicle and rode a bicycle and walked to work. I realize not every one can go that far but this was a definite "out of my comfort zone" event. I also got things in the order that I needed them but I kept an eye out for ideas for what to do or buy in the future. Thanks btw for some of the ideas that you put up here. I did get use of two cars but I had no idea that was going to happen ahead of time and since did buy a car. May I suggest focusing on the trailer, Can you tutor or something for extra cash? Have you ever tracked what you spend in a month? That's an eye opener for some people. Hope this helps, and remember it is definitely a journey with bumps in the road. Sorry this is kind of a jumbled answer but I'm exhausted. (It will definitely make you tired)
I really value Mike's feedback because his statement of "making the goal greater than the excuses" sums up so much. It made me ask myself questions about commitment to making this happen and excuses allowing me to convince myself I am making as much progress as I can when, in all reality, I am not. So, dear reader, I took this advice and acted on it. I found a roommate. I opened my home and found a great match to share my house with and in just months I will have enough to buy the trailer of my dreams and get on to the physical building portion of this project. I am super stoked.

When you are reading blogs keep this post in mind. Taking the extra couple of minutes to leave a comment, even one just saying hi and that you stopped by, is highly valued by bloggers. We like to know you were here by more than skimming our stats. Thank you to all who have left me feedback and comments. You are greatly appreciated!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Digital Photo Frames - 100 years of Photos in One Picture Frame

I am a fan of pictures. I cherish vintage family photos, snaps of vacations, and if you choose to be a "friend" of mine of Facebook, you will be barraged with tons of photos of my beautiful granddaughter. I used to love to scrapbook, but that became very expensive and takes up a ton of space in a tiny house. Then I discovered the joy of the digital photo frame! I was able to scan all my photos, categorize them on my computer, and transfer ones I would like to see regularly to an SD card, plug it in the back, and, voila!, instantly I had my very own "Picture Picture", just like Mr. Rogers. Recently my old digital photo frame gave up the ghost and died, so I removed the SD card and am on the hunt for a new one. I found some really neat advances in digital photo frames as I perused what is available in the market place. Let me share some the cool models I have found and the awesome features they have beyond just showing pictures*: 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Does Crowdfunding Really Work

I have been struggling to find the funding to build my dream. I am a teacher and have not had a pay raise in 4 1/2 years. Every spare dime goes toward my project, but there aren't a lot of spare dimes these days. I decided to try crowdfunding. Are you familiar, dear reader, with crowdfunding? Crowdfunding is the idea that you can crack a large nut with the help of many squirrels. Let's say I need to raise $5,000 as in the case of my trailer. If 500 random people contribute $10 the dollar amount is met. If you need a large quantity of money, many people contribute a few dollars and it will add up quickly. Indiegogo and GoFundMe are two websites you can use to solicit crowdfunding.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Mason Jar Monday - Mason Jar Luminaries

Welcome to the first of my posts for Mason Jar Monday. Mason Jar Monday will be a recurring item on Rancho No Dinero because canning jars are fantastic for so many things.

This first post will be simple. Use canning jars (or assorted jars you save) and dollar store candles (tea lights work exceptionally well for this) to create luminaries that add soft light a table, driveway, etc. inexpensively.

Home Sweet Home

Nothing makes me appreciate home quite as much as travel. I have really enjoyed spending the week in Seattle with my granddaughter visiting my boyfriend, but I was definitely ready to come home. I missed the simple things such as the comfy spot on the couch, the place I normally sit at the kitchen table, and most of all, my own pillow. I really do enjoy traveling, exploring, and seeing far off friends and family, but nothing will help one appreciate home as much as travel. I wonder if I will feel different about travel when I can just take my house with me?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

10 Clever Things for a Tiny House from IKEA

10: Olofstorp: Wall Cabinet

(Article Number: 502.198.45)

Price: $199.99 

I would hang this above the wall-mounted drop-leaf table. Instant dining room in a very small space. Perhaps between the two windows in the living room? Could also be a great make-shift office!

Product dimensions:
Width: 29 1/2 "
Depth: 7 7/8 "
Height: 39 3/8 "
Max load/shelf: 35 lb

Key features
  • Save space by storing your plates vertically. One shelf has a high edge to keep them in place.
  • You can customize your wall organizer to suit different needs since it has two adjustable shelves.
  • Hang your wine glasses, or any glasses with a stem, from the rack under the top.

Product description:
  • Frame/ Hook/ Shelf: Solid pine, Stain
  • Back: Pine plywood, Stain
  • Handle: Molded plywood, Stain
  • Shelf: Galvanized steel
  • Knob: Solid birch, Stain

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

What if Money Was No Object?

So I always ask the question: What would you like to do if money were no object? How would you really enjoy spending your life? Well it’s so amazing as the result of our kind of educational system, crowds of students say ‘Well, we’d like to be painters, we’d like to be poets, we’d like to be writers’ But as everybody knows you can’t earn any money that way! Another person says ‘Well I’d like to live an out-of-door’s life and ride horses.’ I said ‘You wanna teach in a riding school?’

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Check out this adorable hat! It is a Flipeez Huggy Monkey. You squeeze the blue bulb (enclosed in some gloriously soft and fuzzy fabric) and the arms of the monkey open up like it wants a hug. Really stinkin' cute, but practical at the same time! The inside is lined with super soft fleece and the outside is knit. The eyes and nose features are felt. The lining is secured to the outside of the hat with a blanket stitch and the tubing that allows the arms to move is hidden in all the softness. The entire hat is of great quality and very warm since it covers the ears. This hat is one size fits all and we have had a great time with everyone in my family trying it on.

Ironically, we were at Walgreens in West Seattle last night and found a display that had the Twitchy Kitty, Playfull Puppy, Peek-a-Boo Monster, and the Huggy Monkey. There are seven different hats total, including an Curious Owl, Rascally Rabbit, and Ranger Raccoon, which we haven't seen in person yet (I will be ordering a Curious Owl and a Ranger Racoon as gifts this year). We sat and played with each of the different kinds and were cracking up that the kitty tail goes up and down in the back and the puppy ears were adorable flopping up and down. Lily decided the monkey is still her favorite (see the pictures as she won't go anywhere without it now) and lots of folks on our flight to Seattle on Saturday were asking where they could buy one.

I have a feeling that lots of these will be found under holiday trees and wrapped in pretty packages this winter! Each hat is $19.95 and can be ordered online at I also found them at Walgreens and have seen them advertised at Toys-R-Us. I would call to see if your local discount store carries them before driving on a hunt. Who wouldn't love to get one of these this holiday season?

Karin Copperwood and Rancho No Dinero received one or more the products mentions above for fee for evaluation purposes, received compensation to write this post, and/or is an affiliate of one or more of the products reviewed on this site. Regardless, all opinions expressed are still 100% my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

The "World Is My Oyster"-Style Travel

I am visiting my boyfriend in Seattle this week. Last night while enjoying sitting on the back deck in the cool breeze drinking a beer he asked me a question I really didn't have an answer for. He asked me:

“Once you are moved to the tiny house in the boonies, what will you do to vacation? It seems like you will be permanently camping, in a way.” 

I took a long drink of my beer, turned to look at him and replied:

“Dammed if I know.” 

That man is forever asking me questions I have no answer for, but then they bug me until I find an answer. Today I have been considering travel once I am living my dream.

Part of building a tiny house is that there is an expectation of traveling around for a time offering “Open House” travel tours to those who would like to learn about tiny house living. I will, for a period of time, travel from Arizona, through California, and up into Oregon, stopping at prearranged sites to set out the welcome mat. I will be offering information on the benefits of living in a smaller, greener footprint. But, ultimately, my house is not for traveling, but for living. So, once it reaches Oregon, onto my property it will be parked. It won’t really move unless there is a forest fire or I decide to buy land somewhere else and relocate it.

Since camping is such a popular activity for those of us trapped in the city or suburb setting, and I will, indeed, be living where I would typically love to camp, I think most would think I will have to go the opposite way when I travel. Being from Philadelphia I am used to large cities. I lived in Chicago for a time as well. No, I think theme vacations are the way I am going to go.

Here are some themes I would like to try: 
  • I adore Early American History, so I could plan a series of trips to historical sites. Revolutionary War battle sites, Underground Railroad Tours, Plantation Tours, Salem, MA Witch Trial tours, etc. would all make for interesting vacations. Famous Civil War sites would be good as well. 
  • I could also go on tours that focus on animals, such as bird or whale watching. Following the butterfly migration might be cool too. 
  • I could take an Amtrak from the west coast to the east coast to see the landscape the comfort of my own sleeping birth private car, writing as I go along. 
  • I could try to travel as much of the old Route 66 as I can, photographing vintage motels and tourist traps along the way. 
  • I could finally travel overseas and take the Trans-Siberian Railroad from Mongolia clear to London, stopping to see places such as St. Petersburg along the way and enjoy meeting people and exploring the local culture.

The fact is that restrictions on my money will be less and that will open many more doors when it comes to travel. I am limited by my budget now, but won’t be so much in the future (if all things go as planned). I can write anywhere I go and that will allow me to continue “working” even when I thousands of miles from home. Right now all my travel is limited as my life revolves around family and this tiny house project. However, the future is my oyster. 

So, in response to the question of last night, I plant to crack open that oyster and find a great big theme-style pearl inside!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Top 10 Must Haves for Living in a Tiny House

Living in a Tiny House presents a particular set of challenges to overcome. There are some things that are indispensable when living in a Tiny House. Here are my top 10 in order from least important to most important: 

10. Tidy Liquids Dispenser
10. Tidy Liquid DispenserYears ago I had found a really neat dispenser that mounted on the wall and held these liquids. You simply refilled them when they got low. It is brilliant, works like a charm, and can be mounted permanently to the wall. The price is fairly reasonable (ranging from $15 to around $60) and it is relatively attractive. There are several other models and styles available that hold anywhere from one liquid to four. Offered in many different styles to fit with your decor, finishes in chrome, bronze, and white plastic help to blend into your overall bathroom scheme without being an eyesore. Additionally, many of the dispensers have added features such as hooks or mirrors for increased functionality further reducing the clutter typically found in the shower area.

9. Collapsible Tea Kettle
9. Collapsible Tea KettleI love to have a tea kettle because they come in handy for so much. I heat water for tea, coffee, instant soups, and for my hot water bottle (see #4). However, traditional tea kettles take up too much space. Have you ever seen one that collapses? Check out the SlickBoil collapsible kettle by Cuissential.

Collapsing down to less than 2.5 inches, the SlickBoil takes up the least amount of real estate of any kettle and has a sleek design that will look great when sitting on the stove or counter. The SlickBoil boils up to 32 oz of water (4 cups). This kettle is perfect for your Tiny House tiny kitchen.

8. Collapsible Cookware
8. Collapsible cookware: Collapsible cookware is just what it sounds like: the cookware collapses down to 1/3 to 1/2 of it's expanded size. This reduces the amount of space that it takes up in storage. In the case of measuring cups and spoons you can hang them on the inside of doors or on a flat surface. Silicone is easy to clean as well. Silicone is durable, doesn't rust, and doesn't leave a taste in your food.

7. Hot Water Bottle
7. Hot Water BottleThe old standby, hot water bottles have been around forever. They are fantastic for sports injuries, arthritis, earaches, headaches, migraines, menstrual cramps, gout, and achy muscles. Some come with attachments (hoses and such) that allow for gravity flow for douches and enemas. A must have in every first aid kit, they can also be used with a hose as a way to flush a wound with clean water. They can be used with hot or cold water, allowing for it to become a heat pack or an ice pack. But, of all the reasons for a hot water bottle, filling it with hot water on a cold night to take to bed with you is the best! It eases the days stress away, keeps cold feet warm, and helps supplement the natural body warmth to warm up a cold bed quicker. A hot water bottle will help you fall asleep faster and get a more restful nights rest on a cold night. Lots of clever, practical, and cute fabric and fleece covers are available so that the rubber or silicone of the bottle never has to touch your skin. I have, and recommend, having at least two hot water bottles, ideally one for each person in your household.

6. Reusable Produce and Grocery Bags 
6. Reusable Produce and Grocery BagsDoing your part for the environment, using reusable produce and grocery bags greatly reduces waste every year. This simple change to your shopping routine will make a huge impact on the amount of trash you contribute to landfills. Mesh bags (as shown in picture) are great for produce as well as storing smaller items around your Tiny House. Reusable grocery bags come in so many shapes, colors, sizes, and price points, there really is no longer an excuse not to use them. I have mine color coded so as to avoid cross contamination (meats go in red bags, produce in green, frozen foods in blue, dairy in white, etc.) and facilitate putting foods away (I know frozen foods need to be put away first, etc.). The initial investment in good bags is well worth it over time. After putting my groceries away, I immediately return the bags to the trunk of my car so I will conveniently have them the next time I go shopping.

5. Kindle Reader
5. Kindle ReaderI have had a Kindle for years and I adore it. The new Paper White version is supposed to be the best so far. I am thinking of buying it because of the backlight feature. I want to be able to read in bed at night without disturbing my loved one and I cannot do that with my current model. That is the only drawback I have found to my older model of Kindle, but there are many features that have been tweaked, added, and updated since I bought mine several years ago. The benefit of a Kindle is that you can have an extensive and comprehensive library in the palm of your hand. Here are just some of the features (copied from the Amazon website):

  •         No Glare in Bright Sunlight
  •         Won't Tire Your Eyes in the Dark
  •        Paperwhite guides light toward
  •         Read Comfortably with One Hand
  •         No Distractions
  •         Whiter Screen, Darker Text
  •         Fast, Easy Page Turns
  •         Flip Through Without Losing Your Place
  •         Take and Share Notes
  •         Look It Up Instantly
  •         In-line Footnotes
  •         Share with Friends on Goodreads
  •         Carry Your Entire Library
  •         Organize Your Books
  •          Squeeze In That Last Chapter
  •          Never Be Without a Book
  • 4. Mrs. Meyer's Products
  •         Translate Passages Instantly

4. Mrs. Meyer's Cleaning ProductsA quote from Mrs. Meyer’s website sums it up nicely:

"For generations we've had to put up with harsh chemical smells to get a good clean. Enter Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day. A collection of household products made with essential oils from flowers and herbs that smell nice, but really pack a punch against daily dirt and grime. Our garden fresh scents include Lavender, Lemon Verbena, Basil, Geranium and many others. All are earth-friendly, cruelty-free and not tested on animals." 
3. Dyson DC56 Vacuum: Check out the Dyson Hard DC56 Cordless Vacuum Cleaner. It is a vacuum AND a wet wipe in one, removing both dirt and grime in a single action! It, of course, comes with Dyson’s patented Root Cyclone technology and is powered by the Dyson digital motor V2. It’s the only vacuum cleaner to combine powerful, constant suction and a wet wipe.
  • Double-edge cleaner head: DC56 has a double-edge cleaner head that combines suction and wet wiping to remove dirt and grime at the same time. Dual vacuum suction channels provide suction before and after the wipe. A swivel neck allows the double-edge cleaner head to be guided into awkward places with a turn of the wrist.
  • Root Cyclone technology
  • Powered by the Dyson digital motor V2, the Dyson digital motor sits at the heart of DC56. It spins up 3 times faster than conventional motors, enabling powerful constant suction.
  • Lithium-ion battery
  • Dyson Wipes: DC56 comes with 9 Dyson Hard floor wet wipes – designed to remove dirt grime from hard floors, including hard wood vinyl, glazed tiles, laminate, polished marble and polished granite. I am thinking I could actually crochet or sew reusable pads for this, but I haven’t looked into it.
  • Cleans down below: DC56 has a low-profile cleaner head for easy cleaning under furniture and counters. It stays flat to the floor when the machine is fully reclined.
  • Cleans up top: DC56 comes with crevice and combination accessory tools, which attach to the wand for easy high-reach cleaning.
  • With its additional tools, DC56 can also be used as a handheld.
  • Ergonomic design
  • Trigger controlled
  • Docking station
  • Tough construction
  • 2 year parts and labor warranty

2. An All-Purpose Tool Kit: A good, basic tool kit is a non-negotiable must have for any home no matter how big or small. At minimum, every person should have:
           2. All Purpose Tool Kit

  • Screw Drivers, both Phillips and Flat Head in assorted sizes and lengths.
  • Hammer
  • Tape Measure
  • Silicon Tape
  • Pliers
  • Wrench
  • Super Glue
  • Razor Blade
  • Level
  • T-Square

1. A Good Repair Manual
1. A Good Home Repair ManualMiddle of the night emergencies and home maintenance often stretches us to areas of our houses we are unfamiliar with. A good repair manual is an indispensable item to own. I don’t recommend this as an e-book, but as an actual hard copy. I recommend (because I own and love this book) The Visual Handbook of Building and Remodeling, 3rd Edition by Charlie Wing. Here is the description on the Amazon website:

"This enlarged, updated, and expanded third edition of the classic reference on home systems and materials includes the latest code information, new full-color drawings, and a completely new section on making your home green. The Visual Handbook of Building and Remodeling is an established standard reference for DIY homeowners, as well as builders, contractors, and architects. The 1,600 full-color drawings provide a clear look at every aspect of home construction and systems, enabling the reader to visualize exactly how to tackle any building project or problem. All the information is presented in straightforward language anyone can understand."