Friday, January 29, 2016

Fair Weather Brings Fire Risk

The weather today was incredible. It was a beautiful, and record breaking, 76 degrees with 20 mph winds. Very low humidity made for a high fire risk. The morning news and radio stations all reminded people who smoke to put there cigarette out in their car ashtray ("Keep your butt in the car"), to double-check trailer chains didn't drag on the ground causing sparks, and a ban was enacted with regards to open fires such as burning burn piles, using charcoal barbecues, etc. 

At lunchtime I had to zip home to take my son to run an errand. Driving north out of Shawnee I could clearly see a large plume of smoke in the distance. Pretty soon it became clear there was a serious fire not too far away from Tiny House Homestead. The fire was squashed  quickly according to the evening news, however one homeowner was not so lucky and their house was burned to the ground. *shudder*

Years ago I almost lost my home to a forest fire caused by campers who didn't completely extinguish their campfire. I sat on my front stoop watching the flames gobble up acres of forest just a quarter mile from my home. It was surreal watching the flames shoot high up the old growth pine trees and hearing the sounds of them exploding from the extreme heat. Finally the police made all the residents leave and for three days I didn't know if I would even have a home to return to. It was terrifying. The site of smoke rising in the air anywhere near where I live immediately brings back the anxiety and fear I felt watching those flames consume everything in their path.

Tomorrow is supposed to be just as warm and just as windy. I plan to get outside and enjoy the weather. I have a para-foil kite calling my name and begging to catch air. I will no doubt enjoy the fantastic (and unusually warm) weather. I will still wonder what sparked the fire today and in the back of my mind I will worry that someone irresponsible with a simple cigarette or even stupid enough to try to take care of their burn pile will cause a catastrophe through carelessness.  

Wisely I have a fire evacuation plan in place (after not having one all those years ago) and know where all my papers and most precious things I would want to save are stored. However, if I am not home when this type of situation occurs, those things might be lost anyway. Wisely I keep copies of important papers in another, secure place, but that will be little consolation if everything I have worked so hard for was lost. Insurance is nice, but it doesn't replace the memories that would be gone. 

The point of this story? Be careful. When fire warnings are issued, take them seriously. 

Rant over. 

Monday, January 18, 2016

Welcome 2016

Podcast Title: Welcome Winter 2016
Podcast Episode 29 Show Notes
This episode covers….

An update of what has been going on here on the farm. I apologize in advance for my poor voice, but complications from surgery has impacted my vocal cords. In this podcast is a great winter meal recipe for 3 Packet slow Cooker Roast, how we help keep our chickens comfortable in cold weather, the loss of a goose by a neighbor, and a fun game to play. Welcome to Tiny House Homestead.

Links from this episode:

3 Packet Roast
  • 1 packet of Ranch Dressing Mix
  • 1 Packet of Brown Gravy Mix
  • 1 Packet of Taco Seasoning
  • 2 – 3 lbs of the Roast of your Choice
  • 1 bag Baby Carrots
  • 4 -5 Potatoes cut into chunks

Place the roast in the slow cooker. Sprinkle the three seasoning packets on top of the meat. You do not need to add water or broth. Add the vegetables on top and put the lid on. Cook on low for 8 – 10 hours or cook on high for 5 – 7. You will know it is ready when the meat falls apart or the meat is soft enough to be pulled apart by a fork.  Enjoy!

Connect with Me:

Check out this episode!

5 Great Podcasts to Check Out

All this vocal time-out I have since my surgery damaged my voice may prevent me from recording a new podcast, but it gives me a little time to check out some other folks podcasts. I listen to a wide variety of genres of podcasts. While I enjoy all things tiny, I also enjoy lots of other interests. Podcasts are exploding right now, becoming more and more accessible and enjoying a renaissance of sorts. Here are 5 great podcasts you may want to consider lending an ear to for your listening enjoyment:

1. Fireside Mystery Theatre - If you have ever enjoyed attending a mystery theater or wished you could have, here is a great podcast to give a listen to. Reminiscent of old-school mystery radio programs, Fireside Mystery Theatre is put on by a troupe of actors out of New York. Sound effects, creative voices, and a cast of characters will entertain you with a unique series of mystery stories. I started with Tales of Automatons (Podcast 12) and thoroughly enjoyed the presentation of several stories of automatons along with a guest that spoke about the history of automatons. Episode 12 was just under 2 hours long, so I broke it up into segments (Listened while cleaning up, cooking dinner, relaxing, in the car, etc). It was a great listen!

2.  Homesteady: Stories of Homesteading and Farming - Homesteady is a series of shorter podcasts that address specific topics related to homesteading. Covering a wide range of topics from gardening, sheep, chickens, pigs, baking bread, etc., boredom is not to be found here. Well produced and informative, this is a very informative podcast giving information that is realistic and applicable to those interested in homesteading, farming, gardening, raising animals, or those who just dream of doing so.

3. Mortified: The Podcast - HILARIOUS! Various random people read from the their childhood diaries, sharing their most embarrassing and humorous ponderings of their youth. I got a big kick out of the episode where a girl read about her Y2k experience. Very entertaining! Short in length (averages 20 min), these are great in the car or while waiting for an appointment.

4. Story Corps - Produced by NPR, Story Corps is a project to collect stories from a broad range of people from all walks of life. Typically interviewed by friend, family, coworker, etc., the recordings will be stored in the Library of Congress for posterity. I really enjoyed the story of a woman whose son was murdered. After a little more than a decade after the conviction, she went to the prison to speak with the man who murdered her only child. Eventually they struck up a friendship, she forgiving him, he adopting her as a psuedo-mother. I don't want to share the ending and spoil it, but it was truly a story of redemption and forgiveness.

5. Chicken Thistle Farm Coopcast - This podcast is produced by Farmer Andy and his wife who run a farm in upstate New York. Frank and honest, but funny at the same time, this podcast is more or less their personal journal of their adventure. Chicken Thistle Farm is a pig farm, where Andy and his wife raise pigs, have them processed, and then sell the meat to customers who have preordered. They also raise and process chickens. The last two years have been rough for the farm in terms of complications with the birthing and the death of a sow. Their banter is entertaining and I love Andy's sarcasm.

Enjoy checking out these podcasts. I hope to be back soon, as soon as I have a voice that is. Maybe I should just record one with my funky voice for entertainment...hmmm.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Small Batch Baking in a Tiny House

Small Batch Baking by Debby Maugans Nakos
I love the smell of fresh baked foods in my Tiny House. Something about the smell of baked goods makes my home feel even more cozy and warm. I enjoy baking in general, but seeing as how I have a tiny family in my tiny house (just two people) baking large cakes, lots of muffins, or a dozen cupcakes just means we will feel compelled to eat them or they will go to waste. I don't like to let things go to waste so I started looking around for cookbooks aimed at small batch cooking. I was pleasantly surprised to find to find a line of cookbooks by Debbie Maugans Nakos. Her first book in the series is aptly named Small Batch Baking: When Just Enough for 1 or 2 is...Just Enough. 

I am not a fan of collecting a ton of cookbooks due to my limited space, but if I like one well enough I gladly add it to my cookbook library. I find this book to be well worth the investment (under $11). The book is not super large either, measuring 7" x 8" and about 2" thick. Perfect for the Tiny House kitchen. 

Tiny House Homestead's Cookbook Library
Ms. Maugans Nakos goes into great detail about how to scale down ingredients for small batch baking. For example, she explains how to use a large muffin pan to bake mini pies. I would never have thought to use a muffin pan to bake pie! There is a section for conversions that clearly explains how to scale down recipes too.

Included are recipes for cakes, pies, tarts, coblers, crips, crumbles, baked puddings, muffins, and breads.  There are even chapters for Valentines Day and other holidays. A wide variety of goodies to satisfy the sweet tooth. There are over 200 delicious recipes for you to try.

If you like to bake like I do, I highly recommend you pick up a copy of Small Batch Baking. Yum!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Very Cool Cool Gloves

I hate pot holders. I hate them for several reasons. First, they get food or moisture on them and the heat comes through, they tend to be too small, and finally they don't really have a grip. I have fabric pot holders, woven pot holders, and crochet pot holders. They fill a basket on the shelf next to my stove and take up too much space, but since I hadn't found anything to replace them, I was stuck using them. Until now.

I was sent a pair of Cool Gloves to review and I discovered I really like them. A few years ago a similar product was sold, but was sold as only one glove. Not helpful when I need to carry something heavy and hot. Cool Gloves are sold as a pair and work on both hands. Ambidextrous gloves are helpful when I am in a hurry to get something out of the oven or off the barbecue. 

The silicon on the Cool Gloves allows me to hold onto items confidently. Because the glove fits up the wrist a bit, the hand is completely protected from heat and splatter. I have used the gloves on the barbecue to pick up hot ears of corn. They also saved my hands when stirring a boiling pot of water by blocking the steam. It is too bad you cant get them wet, since reaching into a pot of boiling water for a potato would be a wicked trick.

The Cool Gloves are a little large for my hands, but that doesn't affect their function due to the large amount of silicon surface area. I love the loop that is included on each glove, making them easy to hang and ready to go. 

Want a pair of your own? You can find them on Amazon here

I can now throw away all those other potholders. Yay for Cool Gloves!

Disclosure: I received one or more of the products mentioned above in exchange for review from Giveaway Service website. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Want to review products? Check out They have some fantastic products!

Tiny Living Big Limitations

A group I belong to on Facebook posted an article titled Teeny House Big Lie: Why so Many Proponents of the Tiny House Movement have Decided to Upsize. The posting was prefaced to help reduce the amount of negative feedback since this particular page is for the Tiny House community. You should take a moment to go read it before continuing to read this post.

Ok, welcome back. So what did you think? I think it is important to note the author, Erin Anderson, wrote this article after spending time in a vacation home this is small enough at 320 square feet to be considered tiny (tiny is measured as under 500 sq. ft.). She, her husband, and their two teenage boys spend 10 weeks each year at their "cottage." Erin describes the cotta
ge as not insulated, having no flushing toilet, and having no running water. In fact, the only redeeming quality Erin finds with the cottage is the lake it sits on. Erin describes their cottage as a "birdhouse with the walls closing in." Clearly she does not enjoy spending time in their cottage.

Fact: Not everyone enjoys living in small spaces.

The article went on to describe a common situation in the Tiny House Community I have brought up multiple times both on this blog and on my Podcast: Some tiny houses are not livable long-term.

As I have also pointed out many times, my biggest complaint about Tiny House television shows and media coverage about Tiny Houses is only showing Tiny Houses built on trailers with large budgets.

Fact: Not all Tiny Houses are built on a trailer and most cannot spend $60,000 or more to build.

I initially began preparing for my tiny life by dreaming of a Tiny House on wheels. Let's face it, Tiny Houses are like tree houses or dollhouses for adults. Cute to look at, fun to dream about, but small. Very small. For folks into the minimalist lifestyle this might be great, but for average folks like me who plan to live in their Tiny House until the end of their days, the minimalist thing can be very difficult to embrace.

Erin is correct that a large number of folks who build or purchase a Tiny House really have no concept of how much their lifestyle will need to be altered. In some cases, Tiny Houses on Wheels have only 90 square feet of living space, including the sleeping loft in that count. Others, when built on a 20 foot trailer can get close to 200 square feet, including the sleeping loft and a storage loft. In my opinion, and what led me away from building my tiny on wheels, isn't the number of square feet, but the narrowness of the finished structure that I would find difficult. Ultimately I chose to buy land because the other part of my dream has always been building a microfarm/homestead. My Tiny House is not portable.

My Tiny House consists of two separate buildings. One is 14 x 36 feet and the other is 12 x 20 feet. This gives me 504 square feet in my main building and 240 square feet for my bedroom. both buildings have porches, which reduce the overall interior square footage. I also have a small barn that contains some storage and all my tools.

My main building, the bigger one, contains the kitchen, dining area, and living room. It is a comfortable space with more than enough room to move without knocking things over and feeling, as Erin describes it, as if the walls are closing in. Plenty of windows let in light and fresh air. My kitchen has apartment/efficiency size appliances and baseboard heat keeps the insulated building toasty warm on even the coldest of days. The other building functions as my bedroom. In it I have two beds and bedroom furniture along with a closet with 11 feet of closet rod. I live very comfortably. Running water is wonderful, however I still choose to use a sawdust bucket until I can afford to tie plumbing into my septic tank which is roughly 300 feet from my home site. I have been living my Tiny House life now for a year and a half and cannot imagine living anywhere else.

My response to Erin's article is this: Not everyone likes living tiny and that's ok, but I wouldn't trade my tiny life for a traditional home again, however not all Tiny Houses are built on wheels and alternatives are often overlooked. My Tiny House is a converted prefab shed building.

My advice to those considering going tiny and considering only a tiny on wheels is to ask themselves some key questions:

  • Do you really want to go tiny or do you like the idea of owning an adult version of a dollhouse or treehouse? Be honest, some just think Tiny Houses are so darn cute, but are they really a viable option for you and your family long-term?
  • If you are opting for one on wheels, where are you going to put it? The biggest problem with Tiny Houses on Wheels is not building the house, but finding a place to park it. It can be hugely stressful if you always have to worry you will get booted from where you park. 
  • Are you considering going tiny because you think you will save money? Tiny Houses can be very expensive to build and difficult to sell (recouping your investment is rare). Financing is almost non-existent.
  • What is your plan with regards to water and a toilet? Can you live with a composting toilet or does the thought gross you out? Will you carry your water? Are you planning to be an electric and water mooch, plugging into someone else's resources (and hopefully reimbursing them) for your needs? 
  • Have you considered what it will cost for lot rent if you choose to build one on wheels?
  • Have you looked into Code where you live? Contrary to many folks understanding, you cannot just park your Tiny House on Wheels in someone's backyard without issue. Do your due diligence, because if you cannot relocate, you may be stuck with a house you cannot live in. 
Living in a Tiny House built on a piece of land means you can expand if you find the tiny life too confining. It gives you options like adding a storage shed. Heck you can add a building for those annoying teens, allowing space for everyone to have alone time. 

Erin is right, tiny living is not for everyone, but let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater. There are lots of other options when it comes to building a Tiny House.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

A Walk in the Woods

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

-- Robert Frost 

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Planning a Homestead Garden Part 2: Raised Beds

Now that you have perused the seed catalogs and have an idea of what you want to plant, the second step in planning my garden is to build raised beds. My land here in Oklahoma is good and rich, but weeds and invasive plants can be a real issue when planting directly in the soil. To make things easier, I will be building raised beds. There are a multitude of raised bed kits that can be purchased, but I am on a limited budget, so I will be building my own raised bed frames from purchased, untreated lumber.

Lumber in Oklahoma does not hold up long to the seasons without being painted or pressure treated, but because I don't want any chemicals leaching into my soil and being absorbed by the plants we intend to eat, I choose plain old boards and will replace them over time. If I get 5 or 6 years out of the beds, I am ahead of the curve. Building raised beds is actually quite simple. Rather than try to describe the process, I am just going to show this video which nicely explains how to build them.

I will be building about 15 of these beds. The lumber is a nominal cost. It is the soil to fill it the first time that is going to really cost me. I will line the box with a weed barrier to block rogue growth of stuff from the ground underneath before filling each frame. I will also add hardware cloth underneath and extending out a bit on all sides to keep critters from enjoying my harvest before I do. 

I drew a rough diagram of my little hilltop where I have my tiny house. I decided to do all my gardening up here and put my animals on the lower 2 acres. Primarily I did this for ease of harvest and as a method of landscaping around my buildings. I like that I can always move the beds if I choose to do so, but keep in mind the dirt will have to be shoveled out and moved as well. 

In between the beds I am going to put down either rock, crushed oyster shell, or maybe even shredded recycled tires. I am not sure how easy it will be to get crushed oyster in Oklahoma, so I am guessing I will be using rock or shredded tires, but hey a gal can dream. 

Step 3 will be building a rich, thick soil to feed the plants and get the best yield.

To recap: Make a materials list of what you will need to build your beds, build them, lay them where you want them. Simple as can be, right? This is a also a great project to get the kids in on! 

Don't want to build your own raised beds? Here is a great option you may choose: 

4 X 4 Raised Garden Bed by Lifetime

This raised garden bed by Lifetime is 4' x 4' and just snaps together. It is an attractive alternative to wood and would enhance landscaping. Just quickly assemble and fill with soil. You are ready to go. 

Do you have another way to build raised beds to share? Have some pictures for inspiration? Add them to the comments below. 

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Saturday, January 2, 2016

Planning a Homestead Garden Part 1

This Yule I was gifted a copy of the 2016 Whole Seed Catalog from Baker Creek Seeds ( You can request a FREE copy here. This tremendous catalog is a treasure trove of information as well as an amazing selection of seeds from which to choose. Winter hasn't quite hit Oklahoma yet in terms of snow, but I have this sneaking suspicion that January and February will provide plenty. Winter is my favorite time of year to peruse seed catalogs and dream of the garden I have always wanted. I have lofty goals in terms of the gardens I envision here at Tiny House Homestead. Some of the non-negotiables that always come to mind when I am planning my garden are:

  • Enclosed garden areas to keep critters out
  • Partially shaded areas as well as full sun areas
  • Raised beds that will be reused each year with amended soil from my own compost heap
  • A wide variety of vegetables that will rotate with the seasons for maximum production
  • Minimal weeds
  • A drought-friendly watering system
  • Foods that can be put by through home canning and freezing
  • Flowers to beautify my yard as well as decorate my table along with edible flowers to pretty up my salads
  • Fruit trees
  • An herb garden
  • Rock or brick pathways between the beds
  • A garden that will serve as landscaping around my buildings
  • A garden area suitable for outdoor living 
I will be publishing a series of posts on planning my garden. You can find the next post here: Planning a Homestead Garden Part 2: Raised Beds. 

Right now I am going to begin my dreaming with a hot cup of coffee, put my feet up, and lose myself in the Baker Creek Seed Catalog right now. 

Do you garden? What do you like to grow? What do you have struggles with growing? Share with us in the comments below.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Out with the Old, In with the New - New Year Plan

Another year has passed. Did you do all things you set out to do? Me neither, but I will say I did a majority of the things I said I would do. I feel good about that, for sure, but there are some things that got left out that are important to me, so I am reassessing these last few days of 2015 and planning for 2016.

I work a ton and as a result my house has suffered at times. Even maintaining a Tiny House can be tough when you get super busy with living. Jobs such as cleaning out the fridge, wiping down kitchen shelving, cleaning windows all got overlooked until they couldn't be overlooked any longer. I used to be so much more on top of these things, but all the change in the last year and a half has left me floundering and off routine. Even decorating for holidays, which I happen to enjoy, went by the wayside. So I have decided my first goal of this new year will be mapping the mundane.

Using my calendar program, I am going to schedule all of my chores for the year in advance. All of them including daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, and annual.

The list I came up with looks like this:

Weekly Household Chores


  • Vacuum carpeted areas
  • Bristle broom baseboards
  • Sweep non-carpeted areas
  • Polish mirrors (bathroom and decorative)
  • Swish toilets
  • Laundry: Lights


  • Shopping list
  • Organize/straighten drawers
  • Vacuum upholstery
  • Change linens
  • Laundry: Towels and linens


  • Grocery shopping
  • Sweep non-carpeted areas
  • Vacuum carpeted areas
  • Organize/straighten closets
  • Recycle bin to curb
  • Laundry: Darks


  • Wipe down door frames, doors, and light switches
  • Wipe down washer and dryer
  • Scour sinks
  • Donation bag/box/items to Goodwill
  • Laundry: Colors


  • Dust
  • Dust ceiling fans
  • Sweep non-carpeted areas
  • Water plants
  • Laundry: Lights


  • Wash car
  • Brush dogs
  • Change sheets
  • Clean bathtub
  • Organize/straighten vanity
  • Laundry: Towels and linens


  • Calendar Consult - plan upcoming week
  • Empty trash can
  • Put trash can to curb
  • Clean out fridge and freezer
  • Sweep/spray down front porch, driveway, and patio
  • Laundry: Darks

Weekly Rotation List

1st Week

  • Windows inside and out
  • Clean out car and vacuum
  • Check tire pressure and fluid levels in cars
  • Clean top of fridge
  • Sweep/tidy up garage
  • Dust above kitchen cabinets

2nd Week

  • Clean/wipe out shelves in kitchen
  • Dust silk plants
  • Wash bath mats/rugs
  • Clean Oven

3rd Week

  • Vacuum under couch, behind furniture, under beds
  • Clean window tracks
  • Dust Windowsills

4th Week

  • Rake yard, add to compost pile
  • Trim trees and landscaping
  • Stack firewood
  • Dust/wash knick knacks

Quarterly (Jan, April, July, October)

  • Dogs to groomer
  • Wipe out kitchen cabinets
  • Touch up paint and caulk around house (as needed)
  • Rotate tires and oil change in vehicles
  • Replace toothbrushes


  • Detail car
  • Wash blinds on windows
  • Wash curtains
  • Upholstery cleaning (professional as needed)


  • Purge and donate
I like to stay on top of my laundry because I live in a small space. By doing a load each night, drying it in the morning, and putting it away immediately, I forgo large piles of laundry and spending all day once a week doing wash. 

Monthly Theme decorating


  • Hearts

  • Baskets and Eggs
  • New wreath on door

  • Baskets and Eggs

  • Fresh Flowers


  • Red, white, and blue
  • Flags


  • Apples

  • Pumpkins
  • Witches
  • Day of the Dead

  • Turkeys

  • Yule Log
  • Xmas Tree
  • New Years

As I go about adding in my list of things to accomplish, I schedule other things such as family member's birthdays, anniversaries, and other important dates I may otherwise overlook. I set a reminder for one week in advance so I remember to mail a card or make a phone call. I am sure I will come up with even more things to add, but you can get the idea from this list. The next step will be to put all of these in to my calendar so they will show up on my daily list of things to do on the appropriate day or date.

What do you think? Many think my approach is rather OCD. What's your opinion? Do you have a plan of attack for the new year?

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