Offline Antics

I just got a taste of off-grid life I’ve been dreading ~ no internet.  I’m still in the middle of a city, and cut off from my life-line….

One of the consequences of choosing land way out in the wilderness is a lack of  amenities.  No easy-on power, no land phone lines, no internet (no 4g or even 3g).   Spotty cell phone coverage.  No fire department close by, nor police presence. I  bought the property knowing all of this. Good thing I like simple living, right?   Being certifiably nuts helps, too….

It took a couple days for the Comcast-free lifestyle to sink in…No Netflix?!  No  quick google searching?  What’s going on with Pinterest today, who’s emailed me,  what can I expect from the weather?  Ack!  Simple breathing exercises helped with  the adjustment.  Once the panic (seriously, panic) subsided, I remembered a precious  thing ~ books.

Oh, lovely books.  I have such a huge library, even after purging time and time  again, that I don’t anticipate running out of reading material for years.  However!   Most of them are boxed up and stored away and not accessible in preparation for my future move.

I also kept busy with the build.  The top plates are on, all windows and doors  framed in, and some other details attended to.  I used the time to revisit proper  roof framing, too.  So glad I have Building Construction Illustrated, by Francis  D.K. Ching.  I will use it again and again while building the other structures I’ll  need.

I finally found and purchased a pretty sink.  It definitely was a bathroom sink, but  is deep and wide enough to do dishes in.  Kitchen sinks are just not attractive to  me, and seem to run either very large or laughably small.  If not for living in this  trailer, I’d not have known how important having a big enough sink is. I’m totally  over wanting a “cute” tiny kitchen sink.

Last, I unexpectedly located two more windows from the Tacoma ReStore.  If I’d found  the windows even a day or two later, too much would have to be changed in the  framing, so the timing was very good.   I decided to move the two 4-foot, non- opening arched windows from the loft and replace them with the new, openable (is  that a word?) windows to allow more air flow and cross breezes.  One of the arched  windows is now framed in over the french doors.  The other is being kept for a  planned add-on once Oliver’s Nest is in place on my land.  I love that the addition  will sport an identical window, tying it in with the original space.  Oh, and the  new windows I found?  $25 each.  Brand new.  Same brand as most of the others I  have, too.  Very big smile on my face.

Newest windows framed in

Newest windows framed in


So very tall!

So very tall!


I still haven't re=stacked the barn wood

I still haven’t re-stacked the barn wood… There is so much more than it looks like here.



So lucky to have found great windows that match

So lucky to have found great windows that match


Gratuitous critter pic.

Gratuitous critter pic.

Building Hurts After A Kick In The Ribs!

Ouch.  Ouch….ouch ouch ouch.

I’ve worked with horses most of my life, so know my way safely around them, at least you’d think!  But even though I KNEW Gaia has a potential of kicking (she’s not the most gentle soul), and I thought I was being careful, she smacked me a good one yesterday ~ she, I found out, is flexible, and has terrific aim.   I’m pretty sure I yelped comically as I flew (!) backwards into the mud.  I’m so very, very glad I had the heavy loft beams already up before this happened!

I’m fine, just bruised, no ribs broken.

I’ve been working hard on Oliver’s Nest, as the weather has been outright beautiful and staying busy keeps me positive instead of sad.  As of tonight, all of the framing in the lower portion is complete, including the framing of both doors (finally!), and as I already mentioned, the loft support beams.  Woot!  Also, as I was able to use some 4x6s from the old barn for the loft support as I had hoped, I could place them much further apart than if I’d used 2x4s.  I want an open look to the area under the loft, and having fewer beams will help with that.  I’m short at 5’5″, and decided to place the 4x6s at a height of 6 feet, which makes the ceiling between them 6’4″ ~ plenty of head room for me, even in heels!  The reward is a lot more head room in the loft.  I have learned from living in the truck camper that being able to sit up in bed is REALLY important to me.  The ceiling height in the loft will be an amazing 4’4″!  I’m thrilled!

Next up is buying nice looking 2x6s in 14 foot lengths for the loft floor.  I don’t want to build the pony walls while clinging to framing – I want a good solid floor to stand on while up that high.  It’s not that I’m afraid of heights, or even of falling – it’s just a lot harder to work with power tools safely when doing a monkey impersonation.

There’s one particular lumber yard in town which caters to higher-end contractors.  Super nice guys.  They have the highest grade of wood available (#1) in the widest variety of width and lengths, and are more than happy to dig through that nice stuff and find the best boards for me.  I plan to use them for all visible wood in my little home, and for my roof trusses, too.  The snow load is so heavy where my property is, I don’t want to mess around with iffy wood for the roof support.  I’ve shopped at nearly every lumber yard in the greater Olympia area, including the big box stores, and for most applications, any place has acceptable wood.  But it’s worth it to spend a little more for great quality wood when you have to look at it every day, and for anything that need to be really strong.

It’s kind of funny I suppose, that I’m using such a wide spectrum of materials….reusing old wood, re-purposing all sorts of things including the trailer bed from an old travel trailer, and then going first class on some things.   Wool insulation, expensive roofing materials like thick EPDM over the best quality lumber, big new windows….I like how it’s coming together though.  If I save money where reasonable (and safe), I can spend more on what matters the most to me.  It is such a personal creation, this tiny home of mine.  I’m proud of it, and I’m proud of myself.

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The loft beams! I’m a messy builder, aren’t I? My big red beast of a truck is back there, and a glimpse of the lovely tarp.


2014-04-13 18.28.22

Look at that blue sky through the trees!


One more thing ~ I am loving my new Makita impact drill!  It has made the construction process go a lot faster and easier!  I highly recommend the 18 volt cordless Makita line.  Now that 24 volt tools are showing up, the 18 volt tool prices are dropping and it’s easier to find them for a steal.  I’ve got the circular saw, the impact drill, the sawzall, and the battery charger with three batteries.  They charge really fast, and having three has kept me from ever having to stop building and wait.  I realize I’m sounding like an advertisement for Makita….it’s the only brand I have hands-on experience with.  I’m sure most of the 18 volt brands available are just as good.  Hurray for cordless tools!  Just be sure to buy an extra battery or two ~ it’s well worth the expense.

Be well, everyone! 🙂

I’m Baaaaack (Kinda)!

Well, not really, not yet.  But soon!

So, I tried to learn how to use Sketchup and failed. Dang, it would be nice to use, and being as I’m a reasonably intelligent person, I thought I’d pick it up quickly.  But nope!  It’s back to good ol’ fashion grid paper for me.  I like the pencil and paper thing anyway, but it just doesn’t photograph well enough to post here.  I’d love feedback on my design so maybe I’ll keep playing around with Sketchup, or some other 3D program.  Or get a better camera (someday) so the graph paper drawings show up more clearly.

So what HAVE I been doing? 

  • Sold my beloved 1987 Toyota 4Runner to fund more tool buying and building supplies, and to pay off a few little debts.  It hurt to let it go, but honestly, I don’t need it.  I’ve got my sexy green scooter and my He-Man huge old diesel truck.  Mostly during these wet winter days I drive my mother’s little “SUV” Chevy Tracker, hauling hay, grain and my mother around.  She LOVES all the alfalfa leaves in her car, I assure you!
  • Immersed myself in playing The Secret World mmo on my new laptop – A big Thank You to my loved ones who splurged on a new laptop for my B-day/Christmas present!  Whohoo!  This sucker will be coming with me when I move to my property.  Love it!  Gotta have fun, and I’m a gamer for sure (yes, I’m a geek).  Love, love, love it!
  • Moved Gaia (my young mare) to a new paddock to hang out with Hank the cowdog, and started working with her in hand, preparing for next summer when we’ll work on her driving skills.  I won’t be putting her under saddle until the summer of 2015 to give her bones more time to grow and strengthen.   She’s getting tall, Yay!  Definitely looks more like a Quarter Horse than a Belgium.   She’s turning into a lovely girl. 🙂
  • Umm, been studying basic carpentry skills for the upcoming interior work.  I want to build my own cabinets and other built-ins, which takes different skills than house building.  It’s funny how I’m more worried about not being able to build a nice counter than I am about building a sound and stable house!  Wait, that didn’t come out right – I mean, I am confident in my ability to build a safe and strong house, but worried about making it look nice inside.  Thank goodness for all the DIY bloggers out there (especially the female ones) who take the time to write tutorials and draw great how-to sketches!  Thank you muchly!

What else?  Well, I’m super excited about my latest tool, a Makita LXDT04Z 18-Volt LXT Lithium-Ion Cordless Impact Driver.  I’ve really enjoyed using the cordless Makita tools, and I feel that they are a good investment.  My old, corded drill jams up and is really hard to tighten enough (and then refuses to loosen), which is really frustrating!  Now I’m just waiting for some reasonably dry and not freezing days to try this new bad boy out.  It’s a whole lotta hurricane clips and straps and whatnots, and then on to the sheathing!  I’m going to leave the reworking of the roof trusses for later.  Ugh. 

So, no pictures or progress to show at this time, but my motivation is revving up!  I want Olivers Nest to be liveable by the end of 2014.  Wish me luck, folks!  Happy New Year to everybody!