a private courtyard

One thing David and I have always loved the notion of are those enclosed private courtyards big homes. A private outdoor space, not achieved by a flimsy fence, but by the sturdy walls of one's home. So when I made my sketch of the saucer and shuttle combo I stated that I couldn't imagine needed more than three tiny homes, but I guess David can dream bigger when inspired.

Four. He wants four. The could interlock. It's mad genius really. With the right plantings and roof lines casual observers will truly not be able to tell that the house is tiny. He pointed out that our longest term plan is for three. The fourth could be independent even, say for my grandmother who has to retire one of these days.

Unless I become truly bored I'm not even going to try to figure out awesome layouts. This is his baby. But if he comes up with something I promise to share it.


state of the union

Note: After writing this post I was so ashamed that I nearly didn't post it. But this is about being honest and open, with you sure, but especially with myself.

Let's talk dollars and cents. Because at least part of living sustainably is living without debt month to month, more often than not. I have no problem with the concept of financing certain things. However, just because I don't mind it in theory doesn't mean it isn't hurting my family's bottom line in a very real way. How deep is our rabbit hole?
Six figures. I knew it might be that bad, but really I was trying not to think about it. That is our mortgage, car payment, my student loans and and just over 16K of revolving (ie. credit card) debt. That is the number that makes me want to give up my things. Because wasn't it my things that got me in this mess? Well partly.
That is the other shoe. That is my BMI. It represents wasteful, unhealthy, expensive food. Food that I've been eating my whole life, but particularly in my 20s. That is where the money control is truly lost every month and the result is the inability to do anything about it the more obese I become. Fixing obesity is a lifestyle change. I have fairly successfully avoided fad diets. But I've tried to eat better and to control my portions, it hasn't ever been enough. My environment and the bad habits that go with it defeat me every time.
That is how old I was when my mother committed suicide. I tell you this not to elicit any kind of sympathy and definitely not to make excuses. Some of how I got here was seated in grief, which led to bad habits and the inability to break them was my hereditary, untreated depression. When my daughter was born I started getting treatment for the depression and it literally has transformed me. I am no longer paralyzed, I have more energy, more can do attitude.
The number of jobs in my household. Right out of college I had my dream job in a research lab, and then the economy tanked and I was laid off. We assessed that the economic recovery was going to be slow and we weren't getting younger, so we started our family. We had always hoped to have one of us be a stay at home parent and although tight, we could get by on his salary.

Then, a year or so ago, David's company got new management. Then his immediate bosses started leaving, until he was just about the last person on staff with more seniority than the management. Well the writing was on the wall, and it hit mid-May. Fired. Fired with recommendations from both his old boss and from his new one who thought upper management was giving him a raw deal.

Right now we are both looking for work, so far we have interviews but no offers. We devote Monday to the job hunt and spend the rest with our children and family, making the most of a bad situation and trying not to worry. He was paid enough in his job that the unemployment is more than he would be paid as a day laborer so until it runs out we are better off just hunting for work.


rain drops keep falling on my head

For some reason I was thinking of that song when I had my brainstorm with David yesterday. The way to make my saucer and shuttles aesthetically pleasing after docking is going to have a lot to do with the roof. to dock them successfully remember we have to be weather tight, but not so permanent it takes more than a drill, ladder, and a few screws to pull apart. Ideally we want the casual passerby to do a double take when they go by, because a house simply appeared overnight.

We are pretty sure that from the outside it really won't be all that hard. As long as the roof pitches are the same we can line them up and with a simple "cap" of extra roofing cover the gap. Bonus, done correctly it will keep the rain off the docking clamp (I'm just throwing phrases along without too much detail, well, because we have no detail - we are still theorizing!) A simple sketch of the saucer section roof detail:

If this is how the saucer section appears it would be the only one with complicated roof lines, a big plus, because after doing it once, I'll bet we never want to try again. Potentially it has two shuttle attachment bays, one to the right and one to the left, even in my biggest little dream three tiny homes seems to be enough.

Also we will need a few trim pieces for the gaps along the walls and skirts, although I'm thinking potted plants would also be helpful in visually moving the eye around. Here is a sketch of the saucer/shuttle combo when docked:

I'm not sure why I put a bay window on there. I think I was just looking for depth.. It felt a little flat, but you get the idea. Together they will make a nice L shape, giving a perfect place to start a courtyard.

I haven't made a sketches of the interiors yet (if you can tell, my artistic ability is pretty much stretched to the max), but I have been collecting a few ideas including one on getting two teenagers their own private space without taking up too much space. As far as the docking procedure (I really hope there are some other Trekkies out there reading this):
  1. Put the saucer in place.
  2. Remove patio doors from shuttle.
  3. With 3M command strips or similar, attach continuous weather stripping to outside door trim of shuttle.
  4. Back shuttle up to saucer and engage docking clamps, tightening the seal of weatherstrip.
  5. Get out the ladder and place and secure the roof cap.
  6. Place and secure the siding strip and skirts, etc.
  7. Back shuttle into place against saucer.
  8. Go inside and lay in threshold and any trim necessary for interior safety and appearances.
Well those are our ideas, we are thinking of picking up a few little utility trailers and some materials to test out our theories on (tiny playhouse on wheels?). Anyone who has done (or attempted) something like this, we'd love your feedback!


scotty, four to beam up

I thought the shared dream died as fast as it came into being but I spent all night thinking and drawing and drinking lots of caffeine and of course once I had my idea I checked the blogsphere and combed Google. Its an idea others have had, sort of.

As many tiny home folks are also becoming parents but not allowing that to drastically change the tiny dream there has been what I feel is sort of a collective unconscious to expand a tiny home for family use. A number one comment I have seen about a lot of tiny homes is something like "good luck getting a family in there". It seems that the traditional tiny home concepts works well for singles and couples, but kids?

We will need a second home to grow into.

Simple, and complex. This isn't an office.. This isn't a mediation room. This is your children's room. When they wake in the middle of the night in a lightning storm you need to be accessible to them. In the winter you shouldn't have to walk outside to go pee (I'm north enough that it is a concern). Doing this on the tiny scale wouldn't really be so hard. Some folks have gone vertical. Some have planned for rooms on foundations and preplanned the framing for a door. But you lose some of that freedom. And since I don't have land yet, I choose to ignore anything I'd have to leave behind as an option.

The criteria. It has to be on wheels. It has to rigidly attach to the tiny home in safe, non-damaging, weather tight and aesthetically acceptable way. It also must meet a code I was reading somewhere about the definition of a trailer (? I don't recall the exact details). The basic idea was that you needed to be able to move it within a day. I believe the intention was that you can't buildup permanent mortared foundations around your trailer, but it suits me fine. So not just "we can detach it", because that would leave two gaping holes, but that we must also be able to close those holes in a useable way.

That's a tall order, but doable. (That's a post for tomorrow).

Here is where the title might start to make sense. There hasn't really been anyone doing this. The closest I've seen was here and he calls his a pod. That name was a no go for me. Because tiny homes are sometimes made in shipping containers and there is a shipping container company with that name.. well, you may see my problem. If you don't that's okay, I'll get over it.

I happened to have Star Trek playing while I was doing this concept and the more I thought about it the more the following terminology and definitions started to work for us as we were communicating because the only other options were bulky or imprecise. I will be using them, any additions are welcome.

Station: The house/structure you attach to for water/power etc.
Saucer: The main living functions of a home; kitchen, bath, laundry - potentially living space. In places where you have supporting zoning codes this would be an independent accessory dwelling unit.
Shuttle: An attached tiny home with extra living space but potentially without all the 'guts'. In some zoning codes this is referred to as a dependent accessory dwelling.
Escape Pod: A shuttle that could be considered a secondary saucer, good for taking on the road because it's smaller, lighter, and scaled down more like a traditional Tumbleweed. (And yes, it's a pod.. *sigh*)
Thruster: One of those nifty self powered trailer movers that helps you move around tight corners during parking.
Warp Core: The towing vehicle.


incompatible dreams

So we have been going back and forth about the width of the home. After seeing the light in his eyes when he finally could conceive of our family making a tiny home work thanks to a tour of a park model home with loft and stairs I killed it. I didn't mean to, but well, I couldn't let him go on with a misapprehension that I know he was under. The ones we looked at were about 11 ft wide and 40 ft long. That's not a tiny home, it's a tiny McMansion.

His side is that if we have the land, we won't be moving it so might as well go wide and deal with moving permits if we ever have to go somewhere. If we have a trailer more than 30 ft long he would want a professional crew anyway as he just wouldn't feel comfortable doing it himself.

My side is both practical and nostalgic. Permits are not cheap and depending on where you go you may need several. Also, you lose the dream. The dream is freedom. I almost want to name the first tiny home Serenity, (if you haven't seen the space/western show Firefly it's worth looking up on Netflix). In a nutshell, he wants less than 30 ft long, I want only 8.5 ft wide. Stalemate. I can't fit my family in that, not for the long term.

Back to the drawing board.


tiny home v1

Encouraged by yesterday's road trip I sought out some designs online of park models and have been working those designs and features inside the legal towing limit, which is generally 8.5' W x 40' L x 13.5' H according to a site for race cars. I also saw a heavy duty trailer base on craigslist that was 40' long, so it seemed like a good place to start.

I will spare you the page of nothing but bathroom designs. I never found one I liked. The top attempt didn't have enough living space. The bottom one has potential, but being a not so tiny place I'll have to put in a real forced air furnace, which makes things more complicated.

The most important take away is that for an eat in kitchen bar that seats four, something we really liked, it just doesn't seem possible for us in 8.5'. The potential for congestion was too much. The second take away is the Jack and Jill bunk. I'll give credit where it's due, I didn't think of this, the folks at Kropf did. I just made it mine. Their plan shows double beds, which is excessively wide for a kid. So I switched it up to twin extra long.

This is a really nice solution for getting two kids in a tiny space with their privacy intact. Yes my children are only 2 and 6 months, but they will be teenagers one day, perhaps even tall if they take after David.We are only 2-3 years from our son being big enough for the top bunk if my childhood memory serves.


the light in his eyes

Sappy title, but appropriate. My father-in-law has always had a soft spot for the freedom dream. He knew of a campground/trailer park about an hour away that sells park model homes. He didn't know what they were called so he was calling them trailers. I don't want a trailer I would reply, I want a home on wheels. Since we were having a communications breakdown and since it was a way to get out of the house we took a little road trip.

I had never heard of park models, much less seen inside of them. I was impressed particularly with the full sized kitchen. They still have that overall trailer vibe when they are fresh out of the plastic, but you'd only be a dozen or so DIY projects from making it more like a home. But the true win of the day was David and I sitting in the loft. He was excited. He could see our family living small.

Oprah calls it the Aha moment. He had his and I'm one step closer to my dream.


being green

It seems like I have a love/hate relationship with the 'going green' movement. I majored in Conservation. I care am passionate about it on the grand scale. However, I just can't seem to get excited about another dozen uses for vinegar or pallet wood. Is this my consumerism? Is this divergent with the tiny home mentality? Or is it just an admittance that with two small children I have no time to fuss with reclaiming lumber even in the name of a good cause at the right price, nor will I pay twice as much for a "green" product. I might pay 5-10% more, if and only if I love it.

Love it. That was a lesson I learned early on. Liking is not enough, I think that is even more important in a tiny home. When you can see practically your whole house from any given spot what is reflected back at you must not be marred with things you don't like. If you don't like something, you will want to replace it. That is not sustainable.

American made. If I have a choice of two new comparable products without a significant (say 15%?) price difference I want the one made in America. That makes sense. This economy is suffering because the poorer we are the more we depend on the sweatshop mentality of pricing which is outsourced meaning the cycle repeats at our expense, over and over.

My family is not without allergies, though they don't seem severe or cause any sort of limiting. Some tiny home folks are really big on alternative products like wool insulation. I can't say that I've looked into a lot of that. I've never had a problem with traditional construction materials to my knowledge, so I'm just not sure I'm willing to stress over it. I care more about smart products. Products that get the job done as efficiently as possible.

What about you? What aspects of green do you hold to? What are your price rules for being greener?


pen to paper

Well, I've moved beyond the digital and started working on paper. If you know me you would realize that it means I'm serious about something. It is a nearly insane undertaking with children around, but my best ideas generally come when I'm wielding a pen and graph paper. This first shot was just trying to get into a sense of space and figure out how to get a bedroom on the first floor for the kids.

I just couldn't make the side by side bathroom/bedroom idea work out in my head. But I felt like pulling the bathroom forward might have better results. So here is take two, slightly larger in scale. I've added the bathtub and an incinerating toilet. Man are they space hogs. 

Notice the bunk beds. That automatically will put a limit on these plans. I have a boy and a girl and although some families can make room sharing work, at the preteen age I have strong feelings about separation of the genders. It's an awkward time and the last thing you need is your sibling in your personal space.

I did have a nifty idea about deconstructing our daughter's crib and fitting it in so that the bunks are more like cages.. "No," you say? Well alright, I won't kennel the kids. but it seemed like the safest way to go. ;) The last plan is drawn even larger, but it's clear to me I'm going to need some different paper. The scale of this is all wrong and too teeny tiny.


wishlist v1.0


  • Refrigerator
  • Range/Oven
  • Microwave
  • Dishwasher
  • Double Sink
  • Pull-down Faucet
  • Solid Surface Counters
  • Real Cabinets



  • Sink
  • Toilet
  • Bathtub
  • Litter Box


Living Room

  • Wood Floors
  • Stairs
  • TV



  • Carpet
  • Craft Storage


  • Beds
  • Toy Storage



  • Washer/Dryer
  • Family Closet
  • On Demand Water Heater
  • Kid Safe Heating
  • No Knotty Pine


for better or worse

Is this just my dream? How hard should I push? How can I get this family on the same page (sometimes I'd settle for the same book) with the most enthusiasm or the least amount of resistance? These are the kinds of questions I'm wrestling with today. It's not the kids. If I can spin waiting in line at the checkout into something fun changing houses won't be so hard, but my husband is another story. If this is going to happen and really work he is going to have to be hugely invested.

If it was just money there would be no problem. He lets me do all sorts of things that he is 99% sure won't work if all that is at stake is money. (But he gives me that look, before, during, after.. way after..) But this is not just money it's changing our lifestyle. I'm asking him to commit with me to a big change. In fact, that's really what I need to fix. I need an escape route, a safety net.

I suppose we can design, build, and try it and see how that goes. If I can't make it work for the family we can always sell it. I know others have started to live small first, paring down in preparation, but I think that for us we would feel lost in our house, seeing the things that were gone and missing them would make it harder to let go of more.

Thus the duality of my nature. I am conditioned to want the "American Dream", which near as I can tell is whatever TV says it is. I am materialistic. It's a bad word, I know, but when the glass slipper fits... Some days I get caught in the "I want this" cycle and the next I'm ready to walk away from all my possessions and start fresh, thinking that somehow it will turn out better if I just start over. Talk about video game mentality, just hit reset.. but life does not work that way.



I'm not sure what combination of media and such led to the epidemic of the survivalists who are sure something bad is coming and we need to get prepared. But even we have fallen prey over the last 8 or so years.. oftentimes it has become an opening line to some discussion or another, "when the world as we know it ends..." In short we really aren't ready. We have some skills, granted, but no infrastructure. Is it worse to know what you don't have or to be ignorant of the fact that you don't have it? Hmm.

I do have a point here somewhere.. I'll probably never reach prepper master of the seventh level status, but I do have that little voice in my head telling me that I need to get back to my roots, need to get back to the way I was brought up. Basically, I want a homestead again. I want the security (and uncertainty, I'm not that naive) of my own harvest. I want to live in time with the seasons again, live outdoors again. I want to break my cycle of dependence on the grocery store for food and the media for a way to pass time.

I think a tiny home will help me get to this goal. It has been said that "the house remodels man" - if that's true then we are definitely a fixer upper with solid potential. (PS. I haven't read Bachelard, but it stuck with me after reading it here)



There is a part of me that has always wanted to live small. Many of the most creative memories of my childhood were accomplished by creating playspaces in unusual locations - closets, nooks, the hollowed interior of overgrown bushes...

I grew up in rural Indiana and the first home I remember having was an old double wide manufactured home. My mother and aunt spent a huge amount of time painting the press board paneling and trim of that room in the Barbie doll pink colors. I was so proud of it, I'm not sure if it was because it was the first time I had my own room or if it was because of the color, but the feeling is still there.

About a mile away from that house was my paternal grandparents farm. When my father was a child it was a horse farm, but by the time I had come around they only kept a few quarter horses for riding and boarded horses for others. Many of my most carefree memories are from that house. They had about 50 acres with a private pond, woods, pastures, two barns a greenhouse and the farmhouse. Both vegetable gardens were bigger than most suburban lots and the greenhouse was a very busy place. There were old apple, pear, walnut and persimmon trees if you knew where to look. Blackberries and mulberries, grapes, asparagus, potatoes and mushrooms each had there own semi-wild places. The flower gardens were also something to see and iris were everywhere.

I go into it because as a mother I'm looking around and thinking, what are my children's early memories going to be? A house in the city in a middling neighborhood in a horrible school district? A yard too small and people drive up and down the alley too fast for me to risk letting them play in the yard that is there? There has to be something better. I have to make something better than this. But how?

I think a tiny home, and more importantly tiny home lifestyle will help me do it. I have to believe that, because we need a change and now is the time.


every story has a beginning

The perfect time to start something never arrives.
My name is Pamela and this is the beginning of jumping in feet first and hoping we learn how to swim. My husband David and I have been together for 10 years and we have a 2 year old son, a 6 month old daughter, a 10 year old cat and a 6 month old (formerly stray) cat who is going to have her first (and last) litter of kittens in a few weeks.

I hope to fill you in about us personally as we go, because I think it is important for people to see the process of truly going from the tiny dream to large achievement of actually living tiny, and my dream has only just begun.