Can you guess what this is?Read More »
Can you guess what this is?Read More »
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!”
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.
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.
Tiny Tip #4 – ditch the plastic straw
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.
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.
I’m not one for following recipes. I scroll through Pinterest for inspiration and then make it up as I go based on whatever I have in the fridge. I’m also not one for buying ingredients for specific things but rather I’ll experiment with the staples I already have in the fridge.
Inspired by the beautiful tomatoes found this week at the farmers market and wanting to use up the pastry flour in the pantry, I decided to make a galette. After poking around a few blogs and looking at a couple of recipes, I had the basic idea and experimented from there. These free form pastries allow for a lot of creative freedom and are a great way to use up ingredients. I had a jar of artichoke hearts and ricotta cheese that were begging to be used with these tomatoes.
They are also really forgiving – the
sloppier more rustic the edges the better!
-Mix the cold butter and flour until crumbly.
-Stir in ricotta cheese, start with a little and add more if needed. I used the ricotta to replace the liquid and just kept adding a bit at a time until it formed a dough.
-Mix in salt, pepper and cheese and form a ball of dough
-Chill dough in fridge for at least half an hour
-Using a rolling pin (or an empty glass bottle) roll dough into about a 12 inch circle, no need to be perfect
-Put dough onto ungreased baking sheet. Use parchment paper if you feel like it, don’t use it if you don’t feel like it. This time I felt like it, most of the time I don’t.
-Slice tomatoes (zucchini, eggplants squash, whatever you’re using)
-Lay slices on a towel and sprinkle with salt to draw out liquids (I put the dough in the fridge, then I sliced the tomatoes. By the time the dough was rolled out, the tomatoes were ready)
-In a small bowl, mix 1/2 cup of ricotta with a good lug of olive oil and salt, pepper, garlic to taste
-Spread ricotta in the middle of dough, leaving about 2 inches of exposed dough around the edges.
-Layer your slices and whatever else you might be adding (in this case, artichokes) on top of the ricotta
-Fold extra dough towards the middle but leave the middle open
-Beat an egg and brush the egg over the dough – or skip this step. Whatevs, it will be good either way
-Bake at 400° for 30-40 minutes
Let sit for a while or if you’re a beast like me, dig in and then burn the hell out of your tongue. After you’ve chugged some water to soothe your mouth, the galette should be cool enough to slice and enjoy.
I’m calling bullshit on anyone who every says they can’t cook at home because their kitchen is too small!
During the construction of Little Lou, it felt like everything was always a mess and disorganized. We were constantly shifting materials to make room or hauling stuff in and out of the carport. It was a struggle to keep everything in order. I can be a bit of a control freak so the whole process was an exercise in letting go. Constant deep breaths and reminders that I can’t control everything.
I cherished the moments (ugh, that sounds corny) when the house was clean and tidy. It was a moment to reassess and allowed me to actually envision the structure as a house rather than a construction site. When we started, I had an idea of a floor plan but didn’t have everything totally laid out. I had drawn out several designs but found that many of my ideas didn’t actually translate well to the space. Another reminder that I can’t control everything, I have to be flexible and willing to change my plans.
Tiny Tip #3
Bust out the cloth napkins and not just on the special occasions.
You might hesitate to do this because cloth napkins can be pricey. But they don’t have to be. All of the cloth napkins in this house came from the thrift store. The first set was white with little flowers and I found them in a box of textiles at a flea market. Cute but showed every little stain so I was scared to use them.
Oh hello dinner party guest! Here’s a napkin but please wipe your hands on your pants instead. I don’t want to ruin my napkins.
I’ve since picked up two sets at a thrift store that are darker and don’t show so much wear. And I’m a slob so you know my napkins do heavy duty work. Cloth napkins serve a purpose beyond wiping up messes – I often use them to wrap up my lunch to bring to work or produce at the grocery store.
I’ll also hand it over at the bakery or deli to have a to-go order wrapped up. Sometimes I get weird looks for this one (most notably at a Publix in Florida-I thought their heads might explode when I asked for this!) but often, especially in Vermont, people are more than happy to do it. I find this a really simple way to reduce trash and to make whatever treats I’m getting feel even more special. Isn’t it better to have something wrapped up in a pretty napkin instead of trash?
Happy trailerversary Little Lou!
One year ago today, the 8 x 24 custom built tiny house trailer from Tumbleweed Tiny House Company arrived! What an incredible year it’s been. I’ve accomplished more than I ever thought possible and worked so incredibly hard to do so. It would have been impossible with out the unwavering love and support from family and friends. Coincidentally, the trailerversary falls just after that I embarked on another new adventure.
For the past four years, I’ve worked at the Central Vermont Solid Waste Management District in several roles, most recently serving as the School Program Manager. Basically, I got to teach kids about recycling and composting – two of my favorite things! Want to know my third favorite thing? (kid shouts out: trash!) No, I don’t really like trash. My third favorite thing is pizza!
That joke was always a hit and having fun with students while talking about such important topics always brought me a lot of joy. However, I knew that I beginning to get tired and wanted to move on before I was burnt out. So I started putting feelers out for new jobs. I applied and interviewed for a couple of positions but nothing really worked out – mostly because I wasn’t particularly excited about the opportunities.
Well, I finally found an opportunity that I’m really excited about. Last week, I began working at Yestermorrow – a sustainable design and build school in Warren, VT. If you’re interested in tiny houses, yurts, timber framing or sustainable building in general, please check out their website.Stay tuned to see where this new adventure takes me!
I think I’m feeling sentimental about Little Lou. Lately, I’ve been scrolling through pictures from when construction first started (Do you think this is what its like to look at newborn pictures of your toddler?) and there are many photos that haven’t been shared.
This is a photo of my dear friend CJ helping install the subfloor over the rigid foam insulation. This kid is awesome. He regularly drove an hour and half from home to help me with the build. There’s not enough words to express my gratitude.
We used self tapping screws to attach the subfloor directly to the trailer. Damn, that was a pain in the ass. My hands were so swollen and sore (pretty sure I was doing it wrong) that I had to ice my hands at the end of the day. I remember thinking that if every step was this hard, that I was in way over my head. Luckily, this part was probably the hardest on my body.