Fact: Vermont is cold. 

Knowing that I wanted to live in my tiny house for a good long while, and that Vermont gets very cold, my house had to stand up to long harsh winters. I’ve previously talked about which heater I chose for my tiny house. Since I’ve lived in the house for a year (!) now I thought an updated review of the heater and some other thoughts on tiny house winters might be in order.

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Overall, the heater has been great. Like many other tiny house dwellers, I often find that the loft is way too warm while the rest of the house is on the chilly side. But with some mindfulness (aka turning down the thermostat before bed) the house is comfortable. I keep the ceiling fan on reverse to circulate warm air down and have another fan at the edge of the loft pointing into the main space. This other fan draws warm air out of the loft and sends the air back into the main space where it is pushed down by the ceiling fan.

I use propane to power the heater, water heater  and stove/oven. I have four 30 lb propane tanks on a little deck on the front of the house. This past fall, I built a little shed to hide them from view (I may or may not have put the siding on upside down). In the winter, a 30 lb propane tank, which holds approximately 6 gallons of propane, lasts me about a week and a half. A gallon of propane runs around $3.50 a gallon. I pay around $60 a month for propane in the winter (November-March). From April-October, I used just 2 20 lb tanks of propane at about $15 a tank or $30 total. Overall, I pay less than $350 a year for fuel.

Last winter I skirted the tiny house using hay bales wrapped in plastic bags. They did a great job helping to keep the floors warm and I was hoping to use them again this year. but…I did something dumb. I stored them in the plastic, underneath the eaves of the shed next to my house. Over the summer, moisture got into the bags and all the bales started to rot. I ended up having to compost all the bales.

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This year I planned to skirt using snow (which I had also planned to do last year) and again don’t have enough snow to do it. At least three times, I’ve shoveled piles of snow up against the house only to have it all melt a few days later. I might have to retract my previous statement about how cold Vermont is.

I’m a bit worried about not having a skirt but its been alright so far. I put rugs down over just about every square inch of flooring in the house. I’ve also added insulated shades to the large kitchen window (for warmth and so I can have privacy when I walk around the house with no pants). This helps to keep more of the warm air in.

 

 

Squash Cashew Dip

Inspired by this zucchini, yogurt and mint dip, this squash and cashew dip is easy and delicious. The best way to describe it is as a chunky hummus.


Because I’m not a big milk drinker, I’ve been experimenting with making my own cashew milk. The only reason I would buy milk is for my coffee and even the smallest bottle goes bad before I can finish it. Bulk cashews are an awesome zero waste alternative and it’s easier to control the quantity of milk. Anyone ever freeze cashew milk? There are a couple small jars of cashew milk hanging out in the freezer right now and I’m anxious to see how it works out.

My food processor is pretty pathetic and isn’t able to pulverize the cashews so there’s a lot of pulp left over. It’s fun to experiment with the cashew pulp and it often ends up as a ricotta cheese substitute. This time around the cashew pulp was substitute for yogurt. If cashew pulp isn’t a staple in your pantry (weirdo) then just put some cashew, or another nut you like, in the food processor first with a little water and pulse until it’s as smooth as you want it.

Combine the cashews, some sautéed yellow squash and garlic, a big handful of dill, a good glug of olive oil and salt and pepper. Mix it all up in a hopefully not pathetic food processer and voila! Equal parts cashew pulp to squash seemed to do the trick but you should experiment with whatever proportions seem right to you.

Add chopped up veggies from the garden and some good bread for dipping. Make sure you spend more time arranging an Instagram worthy plate and picking the right filter for the photos than you did on the recipe. This way everyone will know that you’re creative AF.

Massive Squash

This summer I took an amazing class through the Vermont Community Garden Network. Twice a week, we met in the most beautiful community garden and tend to our plots. Our teacher is an outstanding individual– so thoughtful, intelligent and knowledgeable. She struck a really great balance between holding our hands and encouraging us to do things on our own. As a first time gardener, it has been really helpful to have someone to turn to with questions. Also the community created in a class setting draws me back to the garden each week. Sadly, our class has ended and we recently “graduated”. Graduation was a lovely gathering of students, family and friends. There was a delicious spread of food made from the tasty treats harvested from our gardens. It really was a very sweet way of celebrating this wonderful experience.

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As anyone who has grown summer squash before will tell you, those sons of bitches pop up out of no where. On a Tuesday there were no zucchinis in my garden, not even little baby ones, and on the following Thursday there was one the size of my head. How the hell do they grow so fast?!

A classmate harvested their 3rd giant yellow squash and decided it was just too much for them. Since I don’t have yellow squash in my garden, I snatched it up like the greedy little asshole that I am. I was determined to use it in new and creative ways so the enormous quantity of squash I was destined to eat did not become boring.

Over the next couple of weeks I’ll share some recipe inspiration for yellow squash 3 different ways.

Are you swimming in squash? I’d love to hear some of your favorite recipes!

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Throwback Thursday

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In honor of his annual North East Pilgrimage, let’s take a moment to check out Nick’s cute bootie appreciate Nicks awesome friendship. There was a good crew out at the job site this day and together we were able to sheath and then Tyvek most of the exterior. Tyvek was kind of a pain in the neck and the sound it makes is horrendous. I used the 4-foot rolls because they fit in my car. I’d be curious to know others experiences with 4-foot versus 8-foot rolls of Tyvek.

Seth and I talked a lot about different options for vapor barriers. Since deciding that the house wasn’t going to have some sort of air exchange, it was a challenge to strike the balance between keeping the house tight but not so tight that the house couldn’t breath. In the end, we decided to just use the Tyvek. If you faced a similar dilemma, I’d love to hear what you ultimately decided to do and why.

Now for the sappy shit – Nick spent two weeks with me last summer and it was amazing to have him here during such an exciting time in my life. We became fast friends while in grad school and continue to be great friends despite being on opposite sides of the country now. I feel really fortunate that our friendship has been a lasting one. We check in periodically throughout the year but I really cherish the times when we actually get to see each other. This year in particular because both of us have gone through a lot of life changes. Even after many months apart we always seem to pick up right where we left off.

Tiny Tip

Tiny Tip #6- Compost, compost, compost!

Compost your food scraps. Compost your yard waste. Compost your soiled paper. If it was break down in the compost pile, compost it!

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Recycling gets a lot of street cred for being the “green” thing we should all be doing. Well recycling better watch its back because there’s a new mean green machine in town – compost! Actually, composting is the more like the kid  comes back to home after college and is suddenly really hip. In elementary school, they were always invited to the birthday parties because everyone was invited. In high school, while struggling with a bad case of acne and braces, this kid fell out of touch with the popular crowd and found their place in the “alternative” crowd. After going off the radar for a little bit, they make a comeback and hot damn-they’re cool.

For ages, we let Mother Nature do her thing and break down organic material into compost. We composted because everyone composted. Then we realized that compost is a little stinky and if we send it to the landfill we can just ignore it – compost was feeling really left out and uncool. Now we’re realizing that we’ve been fools all along. Sure your food scraps are a little stinky (and brace face might have been “uncool”) but it doesn’t mean it’s not worth your time. Composting may have been off our radar for a while but it’s back and hot damn-it’s cool. Read More »

Tiny Tip

Tiny Tip #5 – An ode to my spork

Long gone are the sad plastic sporks that bring back vivid memories of the less then palatable lunches of my middle and high school years.  Sporks are so often associated with unappetizing meals from places you’d rather not be – schools, hospitals etc. But it’s time to change the perception. Perhaps we can make it -dare I say – cool to carry a spork? Take a page out of Billy Madison’s playbook and say “You ain’t cool unless you pee your pants use a spork!”

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A tiny love story

Go to school, find a job, fall in love, get married and live happily ever after right? Well it’s not quite that simple. After being in a relationship for a really long time, we broke up. I was devastated. 

I felt like I had done everything I was “supposed” to. At the lowest points, I was constantly thinking “What did I do wrong to deserve this kind of heartbreak?” 

When I was finally ready to face the world, I knew I didn’t want to follow the path I had been on. Flash forward one year, I started building a tiny house! 

My tiny house love story is featured in this months issue of Tiny House Magazine. If you’d like to read the whole article, please purchase the full issue here. I promise it’s worth it! Your support allows publications like this to promote the tiny house movement and gives me another platform to share my story.


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Throwback Thursday


The last few weeks of building where some of the hardest of my life. That sounds dramatic but it was a lot of work. On top of the insane amount of work we were doing on the tiny house, we were both working full time jobs and it was Thanksgiving and then Christmas. Woof.

If you look outside the window you’ll see it’s pitch black outside. We were regularly working until 10pm and then waking up bright and early to do it all again.

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Tiny Tip

Tiny Tip #4 – ditch the plastic straw

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Americans use 500,000,000 straws each year. That is a fuck ton of straws and it’s a really big problem.

Plastic straws (contrary to popular belief) are not recyclable. Generally, recycling facilities cannot handle materials that are smaller than two inches in two dimensions. Of course, you should always check with your local recycling facility if you have any questions but don’t assume just because something is plastic that it can be recycled. When we recycle plastics, we are essentially downgrading the material into a lesser quality plastic that will eventually have to be landfilled. Reduction and reuse are far superior options to recycling.

Many people don’t realize that plastic is derived from oil. We are using our dwindling supplies of this fossil fuel to create unnecessary products that are filling up our landfills. Gross. This is an issue that extends way beyond plastic straws, but I digress – lets stay focused.

Plastic straws are a real danger to wildlife. I knew that straws were a problem and was no longer using them at home but I was really having a hard time remembering to avoid straws when I was at a restaurant or a bar. This video was the catalyst for me to make a change. It’s pretty graphic and it breaks my heart to watch. It’s easy to be complacent and essentially ignore an issue until you see shit like this.

While far from perfect, I do my very best to order my drinks sans straw. My typical order is vodka, soda, lime and no straw, thanks! In Vermont, most bar tenders and servers don’t think this is weird request. Sometimes I still end up with a straw because it’s such an engrained habit to add a straw. Many times I’ve witnessed a bar tender from across the bar (yeah, I’m watching you!) put a straw in my drink, remember my request, remove the straw and throw it in the trash. Ugh. But you gotta keep on, keepin’ on. No time to be discouraged.

If I’m in a quieter place, I’ll say something like “I’m trying to reduce trash, can I have my drink with no straw please?”. When I’m traveling in a place that is perhaps a little less green, I tend to order something that isn’t typically served with a straw – like beer or wine. This is the safest bet, especially if I’m already a little tipsy.proclamation

When I was poking around the internet trying to find more facts about straws, I discovered that Burlington, VT has a Straw Free Proclamation on the books. One of the things I love most about Burlington is its commitment to the environment. But after living here for 5 years (holy crap, time goes so fast), I have rarely seen evidence of the proclamation being acted on – pretty disappointing. Burlington, you can do better. We can all do better.

Of course there are times when you don’t even have the chance for to ask for no straw. So often our water glass comes to the table with the straw already in the glass. I like to scan the scene as soon as I enter. I creep on peoples tables to see what they have as far as disposable napkins, plastic straws etc. This helps me be on the defense and avoid trash before it comes to my table-also I get a chance to see what delicious things people are eating. Actually, if I’m being honest, I’m mostly just staring at your food and salivating.

For those times when you just have to have a straw – I’m looking at you Bloody Marys – try any of the many reusable options that are out there. Personally, I use a stainless steel straw and love it. A lot of people use glass. Although I do have a few of them, I try to avoid the plastic ones. They are hard to clean and can get pretty germy. Also, if you put a plastic straw in a hot bevie you run the risk of leaching all sorts of nasties into your drink and then your body. Mmmm plastic.

I mostly use my metal straws in my reusable tumbler but sometimes bring them to restaurants with me. It’s a great conversation starter and can provide you with the opportunity to you can also casually mention to your server movements like EcoCycle’s Be Straw Free campaign.