Simple living

Cutting Holes and Other Stuff You Don’t Plan For

I have a plan to make a little less than two square feet addition to Tiny House Ontario. 22 x 8 inches plus a 22x 5 inch space where there is currently wall will become part of the footprint. It is an absurd amount of work to add such a very tiny 242 square inch additional space, but I think that the outcome will be totally worth the work. The great thing is that this will not actually add anything to the square footage of the house because the addition is a “dog box” that will stick out from the house on the West wall and this dog box will eventually become an enclosed stone chimney. I understand that just like outhouses, chimneys do not count in the square footage in my township, so the “dog box” is a short term coverable solution which will be worked on weather permitting after the dog box goes in.

The fact is that I have to make an addition. I had not included a wood stove in my original plan, but after having used a propane stove to heat, one thing I can say for certain that in a cold climate with a tiny well insulated space like THO, it is a terrible heat source. I really hate the dampness of it and it really is time to upgrade. Once the “dog box” is in place, it will be home to the Mini 12 Grey Stove that I purchased a year ago in December. Too, because the best plan is not always the easiest, the only way I can see to do this and still have a comfortable room is to locate the stove to go in the location of existing cupboards on the West wall in the Southern corner.

I also have another good reason for burning wood.  We live on ten acres of forest and my stove will give me viable repurpose for wood branch debris.

I have been at the house and I have already started the renovation. First, I had to remove all the stuff; I went through everything and purchased a few plastic containers and found that everything is essential, fits neatly in two thirds of the space that I had been using.  Second, I removed and relocated the cupboard doors so that the new plastic storage bins are neatly hidden away. Third, I cut out and removed all the build in shelves.  The nice thing is that the propane heater fits now neatly in the alcove and will stay here until I can do the rest of the job.

Relocated closed cupboard and new plastic tool bins

Relocated closed cupboard and new plastic tool bins

The truth is, there is still MUCH to be done. The wall boards have to be removed.  Then the framing has to be cut out and  reinforcements have to be put in place.   Then the wall needs to have a 22x 60 inch hole cut through, straight to the great outdoors. After this a tiny 27 x 11 inch cement pad has to be poured and cured and the teeny tiny dog box addition has to be built.  Then it will have to be roofed , then the entire thing will need to be sheathed, and steel has to be added to it in order to keep it dry.

After this is done there is insulation to add, and then a deck needs to be added for the stove to sit on. This tiny addition and the existing 9 inch deep alcove will then need to be covered in cement board and then this will need to be covered with something fireproof and attractive.  I am thinking 1.5 inch thick marble remnants might be the option I go with, because I can get these for free from a counter top maker’s dumpster that is close to my house.

Planned "dog box" addition to THO

Planned “dog box” addition to THO

I had hoped to start removing the wall boards and get the reinforcement boards up this week, but a trip to the doctor yesterday brings me some less than stellar news. I need another operation. I will be cut hipbone to hipbone and up to my belly button in a big upside-down capitol T, so they can rid me of tumors. Too the doctor biopsied me again yesterday even though so far it has been nothing malignant. Tomorrow I go for a barium swallow test too, yum yum. The end result is doc says no work for me now, and nothing for 6 to 8 weeks afterward either.  Sadly, despite the fact that I was feeling pretty good and getting things done again until my appointment yesterday, today I feel like I have been dragged through a grinder.

But, there is good news!   They will be chopping me opened on December 2nd so it will be over with soon enough and Doc thinks I will sufficiently recovered by the end of January that I should be good to go.

The crummy news is that February in Canada is not a good time of year to cure cement, nor to cut a hole in a house, so still no stove.

You know folks, I am sick of being sick; however I am glad to have a plan and to have the space in the wall cleared for when I am ready to go.  Too, I have to say, despite the fact that the house is not moving forward much this year, it is holding up really well and looking great.

The dog box addition is to go in on the wall between the window and the door to the cloth porch.   This dog box will eventually become enclosed by a stone chimney.

The dog box addition is to go in on the wall between the window and the door to the cloth porch.
This dog box will eventually become enclosed by a stone chimney.

 

UPDATE:  Please be aware that I am not happy with the stove and cannot endorse it.

Categories: Health, Laura Moreland, Off Grid, Ontario, Simple living, Sustainable living, Tiny house, Tiny House Ontario | 8 Comments

Laundry Soap

I am nearly out of laundry soap so I am going to have to mix up another batch.

It is super easy to do and economical too!

In a large pot (that will hold 7 litres/two gallons).  If you don’t have a pot this big divide the recipe in half

Add:

3.5 litres of tap water (about 1 gallon)

1 cup of borax (54 cents)

1 cup of washing soda (40 cents)

Grate in a bar of soap (72 cents)

10 drops of essential oil (guessing 25 cents?) (*optional and whatever scent you like )

Place on medium heat and stir occasionally.  The soap will melt and just bring it to a boil.

Here, I am heating to melt in the shaved soap and merge the ingredients.

Here, I am heating to melt in the shaved soap and merge the ingredients.

Remove from heat and let it cool for a while.  When no longer hot, warm or cold are fine but the soap will be very gelatinous.

Now I set this in the sink to cool.

Now I set this in the sink to cool.

Add:

3.5 litres of cold water (enough water to make this 7.5 litres (two gallons) of finished product)

Wait about a half hour and it will be sort of a semi solid gel.

Here is the gel ready to blend up

Here is the gel ready to blend up

Stir with a blender stick.  If you don’t have a blender stick but have a blender it is slower work.  You have to take a couple of cups at a time and add equal amounts of water, blending until it is well mixed.

The last bit of blending and the soap is ready to use!

The last bit of blending and the soap is ready to use!

If you are mixing it in a blender, pour each mixed batch into your jugs.

If you are mixing it in a pot, you can either leave it in there covered and use it as you need it, or pour it into jugs.  I prefer the later because while it is a big messy getting it into the jugs there is no mess using it.  From a dripping cup.

In either case, pour the mixture into laundry soap jugs.  I got four of these from a local laundromat and have been using the same jugs for 3 years or so.

As you see I blended it nice and smooth; however after it is in the containers for a bit, what it looks like is sort of translucent, and lumpy liquid soap.

Cost is less than $2 for 2 gallons of soap.

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PS: I use lemon scented soap and add lemon essential oil to mine because this is my favourite soap scent.

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I forgot to mention that this is a low suds soap which makes it ideal for HE or regular use.  I use about a third of a cup of the finished laundry soap per load of wash.

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One of my readers said this is the best cleaner for a ceramic cook top that she has ever used.  I tried this and I agree it really does work wonders!

Categories: Simple living | Tags: | 8 Comments

Changing Times: Need vs Want

My great Grandmother's kitchen

My great Grandmother’s kitchen

 

I have been working on my family tree and going through old albums.  I came across this photo of my great grandmother “Ma” in her kitchen.  This is a room she spent a lot of time in.

The reason that I am sharing the photo is because I wanted to show the readers what a real kitchen of a real person looked like in 1958.  This is the kitchen were she canned all the food that she, her husband and their ELEVEN children would need.  As a matter of fact, she has so many children that her own children has some children of their own before her last little ones were born.  Some, like my grandmother, moved her family in with Ma’s.

Every single thing that they ate came from their farm and the garden.  Every vegetable that they would eat in the winter was prepared right there in that kitchen.  She had to can everything that would not keep.  Green beans, beets, tomatoes, asparagus, leeks, cucumbers, peaches, pears, apples, plums… everything from veg to preserves was all canned.

I am not sure if you see what I am driving at?  Did you notice in the photo that there was not a little bit of counter top in that kitchen? No storage either?  The food was kept in the cellar and that little shelf above the stove was for every day dishes and cutlery.  It was also for keeping things warm, for those who were late.  All food prep and eating were done on the same table, covered in oil cloth, all the cooking was done there on the stove unless in the middle of summer when the stove was moved out into the back kitchen.  All the food prep would have to be put away and everything wiped before the table could be set and people could eat.  It was not unusual for there to be 30 people eating in this kitchen.

I will think about this photo the next time I start thinking the 6 feet of counter at THO is small.  Clearly this tiny houser has things pretty good.

I don’t mean to glorify those days.  I know that times were hard and that there was so much work to be done. Poor Ma never stopped working!  Her hands were like leather on bones.  Truthfully, I think Ma must have been pretty happy by the time 1958 came around and they were sufficiently recovered from the great depression that  times were easier and she could buy a jar of pickles instead of making everything.

The question is, do you think you could go without cupboards and countertops in your house?

Categories: Family, Laura Moreland, Ontario, Open your eyes, Simple living, Sustainable living, View | Tags: , , , , | 11 Comments

Mystery Sunflower

I am enjoying the summer gardening in the city.  Still I am looking forward to the doctor appointment that is coming up.   I will find out if I get a thumbs up and can get back to work on THO.  I really want to get the wood stove in while the weather will allow for a hole in the wall!

The nice thing about gardening in the city is that there is not a lot of competition with the wildlife here.  So what I grow, I get to keep.  This said, our neighbourhood skunks tipped over two of my huge tomatoes the other night and did a little damage to them.  I have tied them up now and hope this does the trick.  These skunks are cute, but they are little stinkers!

Look at the buds on the sucker!

Look at the buds on the sucker!

Why I write today is because there is a large mystery sunflower in my driveway here in Hamilton.  It came up, I assume, from birdseed, because I never planted any sunflowers.  It is growing in the crack between the paved driveway and the cement border of my flower bed.  That is is growing here where there is no soil and only a tiny crack is really only part of the mystery.

Look up!

Look up!

The thing that I don’t know is what variety it is.  The plant is the showiest sunflower.  It is budding out and then flowering everywhere.  The plant is HUGE!  Eight feet high and three feet wide.  It is not just single giant flower rather there are about forty, YES 40(!!!) flowers on the single stem.  You see, there are suckers coming out on every leaf and these suckers have between one and six buds/flowers on them.

Sunny single sunflower with lots of flowers

Sunny single sunflower with lots of flowers

The flowers just started opening a few days ago so it is not yet at its full potential but I wanted to share the photos of it from now, because it is just so beautiful that I couldn’t wait!  The seeds are not filled in so they flowers are at the smallest point but I think that each of the flowers will wind up being about 6 to 18 inches across when it is fully developed.

I will try at the end of the year to collect the seeds but I know full well that seeds are not true to the parent but a mixture of them and who is cross pollinated with them.

Does anyone know what variety they are, because I certainly would like to grow these beauties again and again.  They are, living art.

 

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UPDATE: According to the National Sunflower Association the sunflower association cultivated sunflowers have only one head but wild ones can have more.  The world record for the most sunflowers on a single stalk is 837 heads.

Clearly this is a wild cultivar and this makes me happy, because I am not a fan of mono cultivation.  Those of you who want seeds please leave a comment below and when I harvest them I will mail some to you.  If I get a lot of requests I will have to ask for you to pay-pal me postage.

 

Categories: Art, Ontario, Simple living | Tags: , , , , | 13 Comments

Minimum 400 Square Feet

I just heard some good news for tiny house wannabes in Ontario.  This came from Tamara who is a tiny house fan.  She says that Edwardsburg/Cardinal has a minimum house size of 400 square feet***.  So, if you are considering the absolute maximum size of a tiny house or even a small house this area looks like this area could be a good and totally legal option.  This is a nice area of Ontario, particularly down at the riverfront.

Since we are here at the border, I want to wish a happy fourth of July to friends and readers down in the USA.  And, on the topic of celebrating America, I have been working on my family tree and have found that my ancestors were the White family (no pun intended) who arrived on the Mayflower.  My direct branch were of course UEL, so this is how they wound up in Canada.  None the less, they were clearly the first of my genetic background to come to North America, excepting the Native Delware Indian branch; however, this branch is impossible to trace.

***NOTE: I have not confirmed this so please be sure to check with the building department before purchasing land.

Edwardsburgh/Cardinal, Ontario screen shot from Google Maps

Edwardsburgh/Cardinal, Ontario screen shot from Google Maps

Categories: Building code, Community, Ontario, Simple living, Sustainable living, Tiny house | 21 Comments