In case you were wondering...

In case you were wondering...

This blog exists to encourage all those who have ever wanted--and needed!--a tiny getaway close to home. A workshop, playhouse, garden shed, sanctuary, mini-greenhouse, studio, home office; whatever it is you need, it IS doable, with some sacrifice, imagination, and compromise.

It helps if you're handy, too.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The inside of the shed--video

I recently put up a couple of new videos on YouTube to show the progress with the's the one of the inside!  It seems to take a while to buffer...sorry!

A very cool tiny-house concept

From Kent Griswold's Tiny House Blog...a community of small houses sharing green spaces and amenities. 

Here's another similar community:  Charming houses, with a lot of thought put into them--also Ross Chapin's designs, like the first link.

Building like this, several small houses on a multi-family lot, can help meet minimum square foot requirements of some town building codes.  I've heard of several places where this has been done...not sure I could have built my shed if it was intended to be inhabited (and of course it would have required plumbing, etc., if that had been the case.)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Simple Pleasures

Morning at the shed, reading, meditating, sketching...

I normally take a travel mug of coffee with me, but I'll admit it is soon gone.  A few mornings, I've taken an egg in my pocket--there's still enough water in the big copper pot to let me fill my little pan and put my farm-fresh egg on to boil.  I love the versatile hot plate...

If I've cleaned the egg well enough, I'll use the water to make a cup of tea to have with it...I keep a bit of sea salt in a terra cotta jar, and while I wait for the egg to cool enough to peel, sketch it in my journal then have a good hot breakfast on a cold morning.

The small plate with the spirals was made by a potter friend, 
and Joseph brought the pretty mug with him from Virginia.

Simple pleasures...

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Learning as I go...

...the more I use the little shed, the more I learn about it--what works, what doesn't, what I love, what I need to tweak.

The windows are wonderful!  I love the views, and the feeder right outside the desk window.  I've been less than 2 feet from the wild birds there.  I love watching the seasons change...we WILL need to do something about storm windows, sort of, but I installed the last of the weather stripping this week, and it helped.

I knew the single layer of plywood wouldn't do for the floor, and it doesn't.  Still need to fix/replace the insulation, but it's going to need more than that.  The rug will help, for the winter...then, I'm not sure.  Since the shed is up on legs for its foundation (with the wind whistling underneath!), it really should have a LOT more insulation than one slim layer of Styrofoam. 

Live and learn...

We replaced the folding chair at the desk with one that's actually the right height to work for any length of time.  Since I shove it under the desk when not in use, it really doesn't take any more floor space, and the folding chair is still there for company!

I love the hot plate...very, very versatile.  I make tea and coffee, boil eggs, toast muffins....takes very little room but does a LOT.

I learned that I needed more light to do art, and we put in the studio light over the desk, which is terrific...

...and which reminded me that I really, really should have had more plug-ins installed.  Retrofitting isn't as easy as doing it in the first place, but it's gotta happen.  The cords are awkward, unhandy and unsightly...we need two plug-ins on that south wall (there's one, now, but I need one near the desk) and one on the west wall.  

And the jury is still out on the heating situation.  It's been down in the 20s, but it gets a LOT colder here.  Eventually, with two heaters, a down laprobe and a heating pad under my feet, I've been comfortable enough...

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Just got the word on the little stove...

Before taking a chance on installing it in the shed--and it WOULD just be auxiliary, emergency, fun, luxury heat, since I'm not out there all the time to stoke it, and neither of us can cut enough wood for full time use--I called our insurance company.

No go.  Any woodstove in anything they insure has to have the UL approved label for safety.  I'd read that you could use these in outbuildings, barns, and such, and hoped my shed would qualify, but nope.  So I guess we're looking at a new one...eventually.  So far the electric heaters are working fine, without too much (any?) additional on our electric bill, so we'll see.

I DO like having the heat on a timer, so it warms up before I go out...the other day it was only 47 degrees, but that was a lot better than the 28 it was outside!  54 degrees this morning in the shed, but warmed quickly once I turned it up...

Guess this one will go back on Craigslist for someone who doesn't have to deal with insurance or plans to put it in a barn or workshop!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Watercolor Pencil Potbelly

WC Pencil Potbelly, originally uploaded by Cathy (Kate) Johnson.

This is the little stove we were originally going to put in the shed...CUTE, but I'd forgotten insurance won't cover these old ones unless it's in a barn or some such. Fooey.

So I had an article to do for Watercolor Magic and figured I might as well sketch the cute little thing! In this case I made a "palette" by scribbing colors on my journal page, then lifting and blending them with water and a brush.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Wet autumn shed

Wet autumn shed

The colors were intense this morning; everything was wet and glowing. I love how the shed echoes the color of weeds and fall leaves. and stands out against the acid green of wild honeysuckle. I know it's invasive, but...

Monday, November 8, 2010

Dry at last!

Finally, finally, the waterlogged door trim got dry enough yesterday that I could put the spar varnish on it and protect it from the winter weather!  I hope we can get the deck and step done too, but they ARE YellaWood and treated, so they'd be ok...

You may remember this view...we tried fans, heaters, time...and finally the latter was enough.  It stayed wet from June to about a week ago, and this is November.  (I think this photo was from still looked like that in October!) It would look dry in the afternoon, sometimes, but by morning it would have attracted moisture again...eeep!  Mark said it had gotten waterlogged in his chickenhouse...and we used it WHY??  Featured in our OOops Page, above.  Recycling is great, but ya gotta use good stuff.  I figure those boards cost about $3-$4 each, new...we probably used that much electricity trying to dry it.

Ah well.  Done now...

And here's our usual visitor, Pepi, inside looking out, watching me work...spoiled any, you think?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Woodstove Envy

WANT.  Unfortunately it's in Ireland and I'm not...

Want #2:

Either of these are small, efficient, and relatively safe...LOVE the big burning window on the Squirrel.  (OK, I like the name, too...I'm really fond of those silly creatures!

God I love wood heat...

Saturday, November 6, 2010

woodstove chimney specs...Hmmmm

...from the National AG Safety Database...


You don't. But if absolutely necessary, the following are approved methods:

  • Build a 3.5-inch thick brick masonry wall framed into the combustible wall, with a 12-inch minimum clearance from the clay liner to combustibles.
  • Use a solid, insulated, listed factory-built chimney, with a 9-inch air space to combustibles.
  • Use a 24-gauge sheet-steel chimney connector with ventilated thimble, plus 6 inches of glass fiber insulation.
  • Use a solid, insulated, listed factory-built chimney over a 24-gauge chimney connector, with 1 inch of air space, plus 2 inches from outer wall of chimney section and combustibles.
Connectors must also maintain a pitch of at least 1/4 inch per foot from the appliance to the chimney. Avoid sharp turns, which create excessive resistance to the flow of flue gases, and support and fasten securely with sheet-metal screws, rivets, or other approved means."

comfy chair

comfy chair, originally uploaded by Cathy (Kate) Johnson.

It followed me home, can I keep it??

OK, I'm not a pink flowered type. But I've been visiting this thing for months now...when we got the chair for the cabin I thought MAN, if that one just weren't FLOWERED. It's small (for an upholstered chair), it's comfortable, it's....flowered.

But the camp chairs in the shed were getting increasingly uncomfortable, and I thought I'd go visit again. J. said "visit, nothing, let's go BUY it." So we did.

Asked Pat at Olde Towne Mall how much...she gave it to me for TEN DOLLARS. Said she needed the room!

AND we found the flowers are just a slipcover. Of course underneath is a kind of white slubby silky stuff, also not me, but hey...

One thing I really like is that it swivels--I can see the birds out the back, the squirrels out the front, then check who's at the door...wheeee!

The shed gets shared...again!

I just got a CD of photos off to RelaxShax's Deek Diedricksen, who is working on a new book on tiny homes and buildings and asked if I'd be willing to share some of the photos of our shed/sanctuary/studio (and a few of my old original cabin too...)

Deek's a great guy, full of talent, energy and plans--if you haven't seen his Tiny Yellow House videos on YouTube, you're in for a treat.  They're fun and funny and inspiring!

Deek's like a throwback to my back-to-the-land days, willing to try things, exploring outrageous solutions that actually WORK.  I've just been reading his Humble Homes book with its energetic drawings--as he describes it, “Gary Larson meets Bob Vila” housing/fort/small house/shack book.  

I'll admit it's got me thinking, too...

And by the way the photo is from yesterday's artwork at the little desk...

Cold morning, warm glow

It was about 30 out yesterday morning, but the light was just warm tupelo honey.  The neighbor's pin oak was lit up and glowing as well.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Still trying to figure out the heater issue...

The tiny electric, ceramic space heater is OK, for now (especially with the timer that turns it on an hour or so before I go out there), but I don't believe it has enough surface area.  You need to pretty much be in front of it.  Directly.

So still researching.  It can't cost too much, right now, and I don't want propane, so that narrows the field...I need clean, more or less allergy-free heat.  

Almost bought a little heater that looked like a wood stove--I know, it's nuts, but it was CUTE!!  I was willing to give it space in the shed--till I read the review that said the fake logs were styrofoam and when they heated it made her sick.  Uh oh...ceramic heaters don't do that...

>Not impressed with the oil-filled ones...J. knows of two that lost one of their two heating elements in a short time, and the one I had to do with simply didn't offer enough heat.

The wall-mounted panels seem OK, but not overly impressive, and seem to need to be on longer to heat the area.  No blower on those (something they share with the oil-filled ones)...which is good news and bad news.  Hot blowing air CAN dry your sinuses, but no blowing air sometimes doesn't feel like enough heat."color: black;">

And of course the woodstove would need a hole in the shed (wall is J's choice, roof is mine), double-walled chimney, fireproofing for the wall and floor, and take up considerably more of our 10' x 10' space...and chopping and splitting firewood.  Hm.  That's not going to happen right away, if ever...

So back to electric heat, for now...

I found this guideline on it looks worth reading!

Five Tips for Buying a Heater

Choosing a space heater is a matter of sifting through a bewildering array of types, power ratings, and fuel sources. Let's break it down a little to make the process easier.
What are the different types of space heaters?
  • Radiant heaters emit infrared radiation that directly warms the objects in front of the heaters (rather than the surrounding air). If you only need heat by a desk or in a small section of a room, a radiant heater is quiet and will use very little power.
  • Forced-air heaters use a fan to blow air that has been warmed by metal or ceramic heating elements. A forced-air heater is appropriate for quickly heating up a small- to medium-sized room, but can be noisy.
  • Convection heaters draw cold air from the floor; the air is warmed by heating coils and emitted from the top of the heater. A convection heater is appropriate for quickly heating up a small- to medium-sized room, but also can be noisy.
  • Radiators work by heating oil enclosed in a reservoir, gradually heating the surrounding air. If heating speed isn't an issue, you might want to opt for a radiator. These are extremely quiet and effective--perfect for bedrooms.
Should I buy an electric or a combustion model?
If you want a heater that will be available in emergencies, or that can heat areas larger than a single room, choose a "combustion" model--one that is powered by a gas or fuel like propane, kerosene, natural gas, or diesel. Which fuel type you choose depends largely on convenience and local availability. For example, diesel would be appropriate for a heater you take with you on long car trips.

How powerful a heater do I need?
Heaters are rated by BTU, which stands for British Thermal Unit (the amount of heat needed to heat one pound of water by 1 degree F). To find out how many BTU you need:

  • Calculate the volume of the space to be heated by multiplying square footage by height.
  • Multiply that number by 4 if your insulation is poor, 3 if it's average, or 2 if it's good.
The resulting number is a ballpark figure for how many BTU you'll need.

Do space heaters cost a lot to operate?
As a general rule, electric space heaters are more expensive to use than combustion models. To ensure energy efficiency, a thermostat is a must-have feature for any heater. For radiant heaters, models with a 360 degree heating surface can heat larger spaces. If you need a forced-air heater, models with ceramic elements tend to be more efficient.

Are space heaters a fire hazard?
Space heaters are implicated in about 25,000 residential fires every year. To ensure proper safety, always follow the manufacturer's usage instructions and fill out the warranty card to receive informational updates from the manufacturer. Also, look for extra safety features such as an automatic shutoff switch that can shut down the unit if, for example, it gets upended. In addition, choose a model where the heating element is adequately enclosed within the unit.


Thanks, Amazon, still considering...babble babble...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Planning and dreaming...

Planning and dreaming, originally uploaded by Cathy (Kate) Johnson.
As I've lived with the shed almost daily since June, I've envisioned some changes to the immediate vicinity...a platform feeder visible from my chair, a fire pit near the deck, a crabapple tree to attract birds, a big cedar to block the view of my neighbor's metal shed...

Actually, the house is abandoned since a fire a couple of years ago. The owner started to rehab it and someone broke in and stole all the copper...he said to hell with it.

This is the view...not bad, and I don't see it from my desk or the chair, but if I'm on the deck...not so great.  A tree would be better, and provide a bit more shade in the summer as well as cover for the birds!

Hooray, first bird I've seen...

This is how that page turned out...and I thought about adding all the others I'd seen, at right but liked the nice clean white spaces...

Monday, November 1, 2010

The shed and nature

This is the feeder I mentioned in THIS POST--and it's working!  We had our first visitors a day or two after I put that up...and now there have been cardinals, chickadees, nuthatches and titmice in addition to this little sparrow.

I like it that it's working to do artwork out there, too...NICE.

Susan and her just-past-toddler daughter Birgitte (who is my fairy godchild) came for a visit yesterday...Susan's a good friend who does wonderful, quirky decorating.  She and her mom Jytte used to own Scandinavian Country in our town, and I'd thought of her often while working on the shed.  No big surprise, she loved it!

Birgitte loves to collect rocks and feathers and weeds, so I let her pick a rock from my path for a keepsake...


Related Posts with Thumbnails