Friday, October 17, 2014

The Cozy Kitchen

I have a very exciting announcement.  Starting this month I will be writing a regular column in Tiny House Magazine called "The Cozy Kitchen". Each month I will share tips and tricks to cooking in a tiny home as well as a recipe. The October issue of Tiny House Magazine, #22, was just published. To get this month's  magazine including my first column of "The Cozy Kitchen" along with my Tasty Turkey Burrito Recipe, click here:
http://goo.gl/Rt1dsf





Wednesday, October 15, 2014

One Year Later

Well, we did it! Last Sunday marked one whole year living in our Just Right Bus. A month ago I thought about doing some sort of grand celebration, a big blog post, lots of pictures, maybe a party. Instead, we did exactly what we wanted. That's the beauty of our lives right now. Though there are things we have to do to stay up to date with our lives and jobs, during the time that's ours we can do whatever we want.

I did write a little post about what we've learned over the last year for the Tiny House Listings blog. You can check that out here.

Here's a cool comparison shot of the day we moved in to the bus vs a year later.





Thank you to all of our amazing supporters. We hope the next year, or two, or ten are just as great as the last.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Butcher Block Countertops

The pictures below are of our butcher block countertops and show the process of me oiling them last week. I wrote about the pros and cons of living with butcher block countertops in a post onTiny House Listings. You can check out that post here! Be sure to subscribe to Tiny House Listings to see my weekly blog post on tiny living!

Chris cutting the countertop with our brand new saw blade




Marking out the opening for our sink
Every 4-6 months I oil the countertops to keep them from drying out too much or cracking. Although I originally used mineral oil on them I switched to Teak oil. Though it gives them a nicer shine, it has a strong smell so I plan to go back to mineral oil after the teak is used up.

Teak oil going on the countertops
 


Let the teak oil sit for about 30 minutes before wiping


I removed the stove in order to oil the cut edges of the countertop around its opening
 The stove area and directly around the sink get oiled extra throughly. They're most prone to damage due to the dry heat of the stove and the excessive moisture from the sink.

After the teak oil is wiped it leaves a nice shine.
Wait 3-4 hours before putting things back on the counters.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Tiny House Decisions by Ethan Waldman

We had to make thousands of decisions when building our bus and a lot of people ask us what we would have done differently. A new tiny house resource launched this week called "Tiny House Decisions" by Ethan Waldman. It highlights some of the choices you may have to make when building your tiny home and some of the things that other tiny home builders would do differently. If you're on the fence about going tiny or concerned that you might "forget something" during the build, this resource may put you at ease.

To save 15% off your purchase you can use the coupon code FB15TINY until 8/22!


Check it out by clicking here.



Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Origo 6000 alcohol stove in the Just Right Bus

This week I shared my experience living with an Origo 6000 alcohol stove on the blog over at Tiny House Listings. You can check out that post here! Be sure to subscribe to Tiny House Listings to see my weekly blog post on tiny living!






 Photos by Christopher Tack 





Monday, July 21, 2014

Some Good News

It's a truly lovely evening. I'm curled up on the couch with the laptop listening to the Edward Sharpe station on Pandora. A thundershower is rolling through the area with rain pitter pattering on the metal roof and hood of the bus. Poor Willow is cowering in her nook. Chris is across from me at the table sipping coffee and reading a textbook about some crazy medical ailments, I'm sure. He just asked me to look up the word "fecundity". I was about halfway through the wikipedia article on fecundity (found here for those who can't resist) when I suddenly started reflecting on all of the moments that led up to this one. So many moments of stress, frustration, mistakes, excitement and many more emotions but mostly moments of happiness. Looking back at the 6 months it took us to build the bus I feel happy. I actually miss the days of waking up early, going out to the bus with a cup of coffee, sitting on the floor and planning what we wanted to accomplish for the day.


My view of Chris studying at the table

These days we're much busier than we were when building the bus, or at least it seems like it. Chris spends 50-70 hours a week at school and I started a new job at an art studio last month. We don't see each other as much but still find ways to enjoy evenings like this one. Doing our own tasks but still together.

We have some good news. We've been living in the bus for almost 10 months now and we are still happy. No regrets, no worries that we made the right choice, just happiness and pride that we've come so far. This home that took so much of our time and energy and most of our money to build has been good to us and we're trying to be equally good to her.

As with any, home ownership has its trials and tribulations. We changed our house' oil last month (now that's an infrequently used sentence). It was something that we were intending on doing right after our trip in April but time got away from us. I was stressed about it at first but it turned out to be really simple and much less expensive than taking it somewhere. As always, thoughtful planning and patience paid off.

Chris putting in one of the new oil filters

We've also had an amazing increase in supportive followers on our Facebook page and website. They seem to be from all walks of life and though we've never met most of them, they're as easy to chat with as old friends. We frequently receive messages with questions from fellow bus converters and it's a real honor to see that people are going out of their way to ask us for advice. We rarely go anywhere without thoughtful comments or questions about the bus from friends and acquaintances. It's become more a part of us than we ever imagined.

Last week, a friend we made through the Florida Tiny House Enthusiasts Group came out and did a video tour/interview of the bus for a new mini series on Florida Tiny Homes. I'll share more information on that soon but we're very excited to finally be able to offer others a better glimpse into what it's like being in the bus other than just in pictures.

A last bit of exciting news is that I started writing posts for the Tiny House Listings blog 3-4 times a month. It's an amazing honor to be able to share my interest in Tiny Homes with such a wide audience. I share my posts on the Bus's Facebook page each week so check there if you're interested in reading what I've been writing about.

I'll leave you with this adorable picture of my two favorite guys. Good Night All!



After conquering fecundity, Chris relocated to the floor for some Winston Snuggles




Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Eccotemp L5 and L10 Hot Water Heaters: A Review

We purchased an Eccotemp L5 unit back in December 2013 for $109 and were very excited. We had been living in the bus for two months with no hot water and it was starting to get chilly out so cold showers were no longer acceptable. We easily mounted the unit on the side of the bus and plumbed it into our relatively simple system of one tub and one sink. We saw other Tiny Homes using the same units in a similar way and it worked well from the very start and gave us plenty of heat, was relatively quiet and fairly efficient. During that time we were going  though a five gallon propane tank every six to seven weeks or so.

It seemed to hold up well and worked fine after several rainy or windy days and we carefully watched the temperature to ensure it was drained properly when it got below freezing (only one night this winter here in Florida). Plus it was pretty cute.








About a month ago we started noticing that every once in a while after running the hot water for a while we'd hear a "squeeeeeel poof" sound coming from outside. We tried to make it happen for a while so we could observe but it seemed to be random.

Then, one night, I heard heard an exceptionally loud whine and boom from the water heater and rushed out to see if it had completely exploded off the bus. Fortunately, it was still mounted firmly to the side (with the recommended clearances) but the top guard was glowing red from heat. We immediatly switched it to the off position and turned off the propane. The next morning we inspected it more closely and could see a very obvious black mark from the ball of flame that had erupted from it the night before. At that point we were very thankful for our steel exterior shell, which survived unscathed.



Chris took down the water heater and took it apart to see if he could figure out what went wrong. The inside was a wreck and pretty crispy. I took a bunch of photos and sent them to Eccotemp as the heater comes with a year warranty and it'd only been about six months.


Inside the front cover

A melted ball of metal, not sure where this went


The back of the water heater was all warped


The ignition

I was a little disappointed with the service from Eccotemp at first. It took four email exchanges and over a week before they actually addressed the problem. At first, they said we voided the warranty by permanently mounting the unit to which I responded with several direct quotes from the users manual indicating that the unit could be permanently mounted. For example, under the "Getting Started" section of the users manual, the manual says "Use the top tab on the unit to suspend from a screw adequate to holding 15 pounds. Place at a comfortable height without putting stress on the gas hose. If the unit is to be permanently mounted, use screws to attach the bottom tab firmly." There were also several explainations as to how to plumb the unit into a garden hose or an existing system. Additionally, the warranty said nothing about mounting the unit permanently.

I also explained that there were many raving reviews on their website about this product being used in a similar way as ours and that I felt it was a defect in something inside the unit that went wrong, not an issue with quality of the overall unit. I also made it clear that I found direct communication via phone to be more efficient and pleasant than email.

Three days (and two more cold showers) later I got a call from Mike at Eccotemp. They use an internet phone service there and his call was dropped three times during our conversation. That was pretty frustrating. At first Mike was a little defensive, he made it clear they would not be replacing our unit and apologized that the manual was misleading and said they would be rewriting it.

Mike suggested that the Eccotemp L10 would be a better model for us as it is made to be mounted permanently outside and had a rain guard. I agreed that we should upgrade to the L10 for our next unit and fortunately, they were willing to work with us on the price. They essentially gave us the price of the L5 off of the L10, normally $260. They also covered the cost of shipping and shipped out the new unit that day. Mike became much more pleasant to work with and talk to after we decided on this resolution; he was actually a really nice guy.




Yesterday, we mounted the new unit. It's 8" taller than the first plus it has a flue at the top. It worked right away and seems to be doing just fine. We are able to run it at a much lower gas to water flow ratio than the L5 and the hot water gets to our faucet in under a minute. I'll write an update on our experience with the L10 in a few months, but for now we're satisfied.

We chose the L5 originally because of the size, the fact that it had a battery start and the excellent price. We never had any issues with it as far as leaks or traveling, though I wish we had gone with the L10 from the start to avoid this whole experience. I know of several people who have been living with the L5 for years with no problem so this experience may just be an exception, not the rule.

Overall, Eccotemp puts out a great product for the price that meets the unique needs of many tiny home dwellers. However, in the event that you do have an issue and need to contact them with something you need to be diligent and firm otherwise it may not be resolved in a timely manner. No one has time for cold showers.