Gifts For Kids In Tiny Homes

Building Toys Pack Small And Can Be A Lot of Different Things

Kids playing with Lego toys
Photo courtesy of Efraimstochter via Pixabay

Building kits play big because their only limitation is imagination.

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7 Things About Tiny House Me: Responding to the Versatile Blogger Award

Versatile Blogger Award

I would like to thank NerdyMomsy for creating this opportunity to share a more personal side of my tiny house journey with you.  In her response, she talked about her personal life and parenthood.  Head over there and show some love, especially if you’re raising ADD or Gifted children.

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We All Love Our Beds

It’s raining here.  That nice light rain that sounds nice on the roof and causes the sky to be the perfect level of dim.  I got out of bed to go to the bathroom and crawled back in, pulled my pillows close and thought “I love my bed.”

This isn’t the first time, of course.  But, as I lay there, it struck me how often I hear that in tiny home tours.  Tiny home dwellers love their beds!  It makes sense.  No matter how you use your tiny home, the bed has a great deal of importance and, unless you build the home around the bed, getting one in there would be a challenge!

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Insulation: Staying Warm In Thin Walls

OK, I’ve been contemplating insulation a lot lately.  Specifically, I’ve been wondering if having good windows would be better than walls.  I even asked on a tiny home Facebook group, in the dead of winter, if those glass garage doors I’ve been seeing in so many tiny homes are really that warm in cold climates.  The answer was a resounding yes.

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The Start of My Income Journey

I bought my tiny home for visiting and figured I’d work on it in the future but didn’t plan on living in it right away.  Eventually, I hoped to develop an income that would allow me to sort of use it as a summer home while maintaining my apartment in the city.  Sort of the best of all worlds.  But, circumstances made it so that I needed to move suddenly to take care of a family member.

At the time, I was working for a big box store full time, so I was able to transfer stores and make arrangements for hours that would give me a decent living.  For three months, things were good.  Then, my new store cut my hours drastically.  I had some money set aside, so I thought I’d ride things out until summer when they actually incentivize us to work more hours.  I thought, with the incentives, that getting hours wouldn’t be a problem.  I thought wrong.  10 years into working for this company and now they’ll only allow me to work one day a week and sometimes, that one day is only for six or seven hours.  Now, I’m not the only one who got my hours cut this drastically.  It seems to be company wide.  But, living on $400 per month is challenging even in a tiny home!

Since I moved, I haven’t been resting.  I take care of said family member for 50-60 hours per week, every other week.  My arrangements with the store were to work 10-12 hour days every weekend.  I tried for three years prior to moving to find a new job outside of retail and was unable.  Now, my availability is minimal.  Even the remote jobs so favored by many tiny home dwellers are in need of people they can rely on during normal business hours.  That’s not me.  And, at the end of a 10-hour “work” day, I’m exhausted.  It didn’t take long to realize that I needed to be an entrepreneur.  This is the start of my journey.

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My Experience With DeLonghi

I was using a DeLonghi Oil-Filled Radiant Heater as my primary heat source going into winter.  And, until January, it was going well.  It’s completely quiet and the fins made it safe so that neither I nor my 2-year-old burned ourselves on the heater.  It radiates heat to everything around it and continues to radiate heat when it’s turned off.  This was important to me because I am on a 15-Amp breaker in my tiny home and my gas lines got clogged after the snow flew.  I couldn’t get to my gas tanks, so I ended up using an electric burner to cook or a tabletop grill for “oven” meals.  This meant that I’d have to unplug the heater in order to cook.

The radiant heater did a good job of keeping the house warm or, at least, comfortable even when temperatures dipped below -25F, so I was very happy with it.

In January, however, the heater tripped my overheat outlet.  Now, every space heater warns you not to leave it unattended.  This scares me a little because I consider sleeping to be unattended.  But, I’d looked it up in electrician reviews and they considered it safe.  As a primary heat source, I’m not in the house all of the time, so that’s important.  This space heater also warns to plug into an outlet directly, although Amazon recommends the overheat outlet for almost all space heater sales in my experience.  I was glad I had it, but a little scared when the heater tripped the outlet.  The outlet and cord were hot.

I grabbed a utility heater from the shed and allowed the radiant heater to cool completely.  Then, I plugged the heater directly into a different outlet without the overheat protector.  Within 45 minutes, that outlet and the heater cord were also very hot. I immediately unplugged it and went to town for a new heater.  There was no way I was going to try to sleep with that plugged in.  It frightened me to think of what might have happened without outlet protection.  When it first happened, I was worried about my wiring.  Was it that old?  But, nothing has given me problems since.

I contacted DeLonghi immediately because the heater was less than a year old and, in my mind, clearly defective.  There isn’t anything wrong with the cord.  The heater isn’t dusty.  Nothing else is giving me problems.  My new Dr. Heater Infrared Radiant Heater was working just fine and the outlet showed no signs of problems.  (I love that thing!!) I then put the radiant heater into a shed because I live in a tiny house and there isn’t any room for excess in here.

By the time DeLonghi got back to me, 18″ of snow had drifted against the entrance to the shed.  Instead of the expected response, they said it was a tech support issue and that I’d have to call in with the heater in front of me.  I also needed to send my proof of purchase (which I did expect).  Well, I couldn’t get to the heater, so I waited until last month to get it out of the shed and call in.  There wasn’t really anything that tech support could suggest.  They wanted me to try the heater again (now that it’s 85 degrees).  There was no way that was going to happen.  I don’t trust that heater.  They literally told me that they don’t think there’s anything wrong with their product, but I could send it to a repair center.  It would cost me personally to ship it because, again, they don’t think it’s their problem.  I opted to throw the thing out since I’ve already replaced it. A friend thought that I should sell it since it’s less than a year old and looks good and DeLonghi doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with it (you know, without actually inspecting it themselves).  Don’t look at me that way!  I know how unethical that would be!!  It was a joke–a really bad joke.

Here’s the thing, and I can’t say this often enough:  People buy things based on warranties and warranties are never in place to protect you.  It is a very rare company that backs up their warranty and takes care of their customer and if you find one of those companies, you should tell everyone!  I sell floors for a living.  I see this all the time.  Most things are going to fail within five years if they have a manufacturer defect.  They can put any warranty on their product that is longer than that; doesn’t matter.  They will come up with any excuse not to honor that warranty, but if you read the warranties, most of your issues aren’t going to apply because they will say you did something wrong.  In my case, and she didn’t say this, I put it in a fire protection outlet and that’s not allowed.  Unless my bathroom outlet had started on fire, she didn’t believe the heater was getting too hot.  The heater is also supposed to have overheat protection, after all.  You can go to the Federal Trade Commission to file a complaint when a company refuses to back up their warranty and I have had good luck with that.  In this case, it wasn’t worth it to me.

Video Game Tiny Homes

Everybody's Gone To The Rapture Trailer Campgrounds
Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture Campground; The Chinese Room

I just finished playing Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture on PS4.  It’s a beautiful game, but as I wandered this abandoned town, I found myself completely fascinated with its collection of tiny homes.  There were a lot of standard homes on foundations and these tiny homes were all trailers, but you could tell that some of them were lived in.

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Another Side of Living Tiny

It seems to me that there are two main focuses in news and tours for tiny home dwellers.  Either you’re tiny and mobile so that home is more or less a place to sleep and eat, or you’re living tiny to avoid a mortgage.  Tiny homes are considered cheaper but, in reality, many aren’t cheaper than an existing starter home.  They’re just better designed and more organized.

Today, I came across a video that shows another side of living tiny that resonates with me: Living tiny in a penthouse.

This father spends a lot of time discussing how unimportant it is to have a single room, such as an office, for a single task and that all living space should be used daily.  He also discusses the dense urban lifestyle that means the family walks up to 10K per day instead of taking a car or public transportation everywhere.  Yet, transportation is available for him and his children without car ownership.  He also has a beautiful view if city views are to your liking.

Adam Ruins Everything discussed urban density in Adam Ruins Cars:

If we didn’t develop our cities around cars, there’d be more room for stores and homes.  People would walk more.  It would be more social and more healthy for everyone.  With smaller, local, businesses, maybe online shopping wouldn’t be killing brick and mortar.  But, I digress.

The average tiny home costs the same amount per square foot as any other home.  It costs less only because it’s smaller.  A new tiny home on wheels will cost anywhere between $30,000 and $60,000.  Other costs will include transportation costs, maintenance costs, and possibly land maintenance.  If you have a vehicle in addition to your tiny home there are costs to maintaining, using and insuring that vehicle.  Apartment or condo living in a densely populated area eliminates most of those expenses.

Some apartments or condos offer other advantages in the form of swimming pools, gyms, and theaters.  When my kids were growing up, we had the opportunity to live in a tiny luxury apartment in Fort Myers, Florida.  The view from every window was palm trees and a pond that had fish and turtles in it.  There was a pool and the community center always smelled of peaches.  There was also a playground.  This gated community was quiet and within walking distance of a shopping center, fast food, and the mall.  It was a wonderful experience.

Prior to moving into my tiny home, I lived in an apartment in Green Bay, WI.  At 825 square feet, I never considered that home tiny, but the rent was reasonable and the location was perfect.  While I’m happy that I missed out on the historic snowstorm that just struck that city (and the possible flooding to come when all of that snow melts!), I miss the freedom that living in that urban location provided.  During that snowstorm, a friend of mine was able to hike to the grocery store and Kwik Trip was always within walking distance–I’ve used Kwik Trip as a grocery store in the past.  Everything I needed was within walking distance except work.  Public transportation in Green Bay is not the best so a car is definitely necessary.

Since moving into my tiny home, I’ve discovered that I’m not as handy as I thought I was.  The prevailing attitude is that you can learn to do anything by watching YouTube videos.  But, when you have a compact car, bringing home lumber or a garbage can is challenging.  When the nearest building supply store is 26 miles away, you have to add those expenses in.  eBay has become my best friend.  It is cheaper to have things shipped to my location than to try to get supplies in town.  And, for me, with my ADD, attention to detail isn’t my best skill.  I have a tendency to want to shortcut things and that ends poorly when it comes to home building and maintenance.

So, this is a love letter to everyone living tiny in multi-home rental spaces.  I have a lot of passions and I loved living in a space in which maintenance was not an added expense or timesink.  I loved the freedom of being able to walk to my favorite haunts.  There are a lot of ways to live tiny and experiences to be had.  If you’re considering a tiny home, but aren’t there yet, please don’t limit your thinking to the travel life or a suburban homestead.  There is a tiny house option for every lifestyle.






Link Your Tiny Home Photos, Please!

I came across this post on my Pinterest feed the other day and I recognized the photo, so I immediately clicked on it.  I thought it was nice that they were using Eric and Katie’s ideas and wondered what other good information I would find in the piece.

I was going to be disappointed.  Like so many sites today, especially sites related to tiny homes, it was just a gallery of pictures.  I hate the gallery of uncredited pictures because, if I want more information, I can’t find it.

This was a little worse, in my opinion, because below the photo was this block of text:

50 Best RV Camper Van Decorating Ideas (12) is a part of pictures gallery. If you need to download this picture 50 Best RV Camper Van Decorating Ideas (12) just right click on the image and choose “Save Image As” to your device, and then you will get this image about 50 Best RV Camper Van Decorating Ideas (12). You can also find another pics by click “Next image” or “Previous image” button.

All of the images displayed are of unknown origin. If you are the rightful owner of any of the pictures posted here, and you do not want it to be displayed or if you require a suitable credit, then please contact us and we will immediately do whatever is needed either for the image to be removed or provide credit where it is due.

In fact, this same block of text was under every photo.  First, it tells you how to download these pictures.  Then it tells you that all of the photos are of unknown origin.  Interesting, since this one has its origin watermarked in the lower left corner.

Mountain Modern Life Table
Eric and Katie Nathey’s pull-out table build,

At first, I thought I was just upset because I have a lot of artists in my life and I’ve learned that you should give credit.  I do try, but I apologize to anyone I have disrespected by not giving them proper credit.

Then, I got upset because Eric and Katie are fellow bloggers and I know they make a large portion of their income from their blogs and vlogs.  Taking their pictures and not linking back to them is kind of like stealing.  Click on the photo above or go directly to this blog post to see how they built this table and how it works.

After spending some time clicking through the photos in the site, I just got angry, but this time for more selfish reasons.  You see, it’s not just that I follow Mountain Modern Life and consider them, at the very least, kindred spirits.  It’s that I follow them because they provide helpful information that has helped in my own builds.  It was that I saw a lot of their photos in this gallery–pretty much the majority of their home tour!  And, I found other pictures that I wanted more information about.  There were other pictures that I was pinning that I’d like to link back for other people who want more information, like me.

And, that’s when I realized that I was angry because I know that almost every one of Katie and Eric’s photos was part of a tutorial that helps tiny home dwellers like me achieve our dreams and avoid the pitfalls that others have already suffered.  There’s also really helpful product advice in a lot of these blogs and sometimes a photo includes those products.  It’s really hard to trace them with only a photo.  I know there’s some Google technique to find every instance of that photo, but I’d have to hunt it up again.

So, I want to say to my fellow tiny home bloggers, please don’t just post photos.  There are a lot of dreamers in our community; people who aren’t there yet or who just think it’s a nice idea to live tiny.  There are a lot of tiny home dwellers and DIYers looking for more information and you make that harder when you separate the photos from the info.

On the flip side, if you’re a tiny home blogger posting photos of your own work and it contains a tutorial or product information, please, please, please, watermark those photos with the address of your website so that we can find you.

As for Eric & Katie Nathey of Mountain Modern Life, congrats you guys!  You made that top 50 post eight times!  Someone really likes your decor!  I really like your tutorials and blogs!  I’ve also learned to be more careful about linking back in my own work.