Tuesday, December 28, 2010

So tired

Foster dog is recovering nicely. But I've been with her 24/7 since I got her back and I'm exhausted. I hope she can sleep alone tonight, because my own dogs miss me and I want to sleep in my own bed tonight.

The battery bolts came in the mail yesterday and... they fit! I need to get some pipe cleaners tomorrow and clean out the bolt holes, though - looks like mud daubers had set up shop in them some time ago and they are full of dirt.


I'll also try to play with some floor plans for a dome tomorrow and see what I can come up with.

Update: To help alleviate some confusion (mostly mine), click here to see what my batteries are. Please note where it says "Terminal Type I2-Thread lead alloy recessed terminal to accept M6 bolt"

I will try to take a close-up picture of one when I get to cleaning them.

Update 2: Ok, here's a pic of my batteries.


The one on the right is exactly how they came to me. The one on the left, I have inserted the bolts I bought. There seems to be a "stop" inside the socket, so there's a gap between the hex nut and the face. This begs the question, do the cables I use for the parallel connection go under the hex nut, or between the hex nut and the wing nut, or does it matter?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Wrapping up the year

While I try to recover from the big vet bills of November, I've been looking at other options for my cabin and I'm seriously considering a geodesic dome. The metal framed one, not the wood one. I like the aesthetics a lot, but the round-ish shape is a bit difficult for cabinetry and furniture. Domes are also extremely strong in high wind. I also looked some more at yurts, but I really don't care for the way they look on the inside.

I ordered some bolts for my batteries that I think will work. If I didn't mention it before, the batteries I bought didn't come with the bolts that you attach wires to, and it took me forever to figure out what I needed to buy. Hope I got it right :) I'm hoping the bolts will come next week. Next, I need to figure out where to buy the cables to hook the batteries to each other. Then see about the rest of the gadgetry to charge them and use the power. My house here is surrounded by really tall trees except on the north, so sunlight is scarce, but I'd like to get something going anyway just to get the hang of the system.

Christmas day was off to a good start, then my foster greyhound girl made the mistake of arguing with Tara (the boss dog) and got her ass handed to her. She's at the UGA vet school where she got stitched up and is spending 2 days there with a grenade drain in her chest. They expect to release her tomorrow. Tara got a few cuts on her face and has been pretty subdued since the fight, but seems ok. I will be keeping them separated while the foster dog recovers.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Turkey Day

I hope everyone is having a very happy Thanksgiving holiday! I wasn't able to get home for the holiday, but thanks to technology, I'm able to hang out with the family using video Skype.

Friday, October 29, 2010

On with the plan!

I've spent many hours looking at the Plan B design, imagining it, measuring, pondering, and redrawing. It's a keeper. So, on to the next order of business: ordering the container and prepping the land for it.

You may notice the plan does not have a microwave. I'm still thinking about that. I use the thing every day to heat water for coffee and to cook frozen veggies. Maybe 15 minutes use a day. I've been considering unplugging the thing for a day and see how much I miss it. It wasn't a big deal for the week of camping, so maybe it won't kill me not to have one... the fewer electrical gadgets I have, the better.

I think found the charge controller(s) I want for the cabin. I'm looking at having two separate power systems; one for an AC and electric radiant floor heat, and the other to run everything else. 500-600W of panels on each system. So I need to find a truly outstanding deal on panels so I can afford to do that :)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Plan B

Ok, rearranged the cabin plan to put in a sliding glass door on the east side to give myself a stellar view of Nine Points Mesa.

You can see the outline of a 2nd slider on the south wall, and a door a bit to the right of it. I'm not sure that kitchen window will make it in; that's where the cooktop will be, above the under-counter refrigerator. The west wall is the door end of the container, so that could be left as-is, or I could open the doors and build a wall there to add a window AC unit. I would like to have a roof AC, like RV's have, but they don't make them low power enough to suit me. This thing should not take more than 5,000 BTU to cool, and they don't make RV air conditioners that small.

All it needs now is a nice covered patio for a living room and dining area :)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Rough Sketch

Here's a rough sketch of the interior of the shipping container cabin; I created this using the Ikea Home Planner software. The kitchen is pretty well where I like it, the rest is a mock up using their furniture of approximately what I want and where it goes. This is far from exact, folks!

The object on the left is a rather tall bed, with the idea that the dogs' bed will be under it so I don't have dog beds all over the floor. Going to the right from there is a dresser/nightstand, wardrobe, desk, and broom closet. The back door will go out to the outdoor facilities. I will probably add more cabinetry above the desk and dresser and perhaps over the bed so there's plenty of storage.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Almost there...

I'm 95% sure I'm going to go with a shipping container cabin now. Still futzing around with the design, though. And have to figure out what to use for a foundation; I suppose it should be off the ground, so maybe something under the corners and in the middle? I wonder if anyone out there does the spray on foam insulation, and how well that would work on the outside, with maybe a layer of stucco over the top. And of course I'd need someone to weld on a big raised roof for water catchment.

I'm currently planning to get back out there the week between Christmas and New Year's, perhaps longer depending on how my vacation time accumulates. I don't think I want to stay in a tent this time, though; it's going to be cold!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Still entertaining ideas

Since my last post, I've been doing room rearranging, staring at various spaces and imagining how things would fit and look, and more work with an online room designer. Still haven't arrived at that "just right" design, but I'm getting closer.

To take a break from that design, I spent some time today designing my composting toilet. I made a cardboard template for the top (that the toilet seat sits on). I'm trying to work out a rounded front for it, rather than doing the big square box seen here. There are several options in materials that will wrap nicely around the curved front.  I'm lacking some of the tools I need to build this thing myself, though. I miss having a table saw at my disposal.

In other news, I got AT&T DSL last week to replace Charter. My bill from Charter, for just Internet, has been a hair over $60/mo. for their 5Mb speed, which in reality is closer to 13Mb. DSL is a bit slower, topping out at 5Mb, but is only $20/mo. for the first year. I don't watch TV and I haven't had a landline in almost 4 years; it used to be really hard to get Internet service without being forced to "bundle" it with TV or phone. I'm very glad that is no longer the case! This will save me some money I can put into my cabin.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Missing Terlingua

I'm missing Terlingua very badly. I've been spending more time outside on the patio since I got back, and gazing up at the little tiny patch of sky I can see through the trees with like ONE star showing. Meh. Sunrise here happens behind the neighbor's house and trees. I gaze longingly at the picture of Nine Points Mesa sunrise I have for my desktop background. There is no comparison.

The smaller room is working out so far, but I'm going to rearrange it due to a new idea for cabin design.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Changed rooms

This evening, I moved my bedroom furniture into the 9x14 bedroom to see how that's gonna work out. I can see right now that all 3 dog beds do not have room on the floor. I put in 2, and will see how that goes tonight. This is the room that has the dog door in it. I'm using the smaller desk, which is really a sofa table. This room also has a vinyl floor instead of carpet, which will also be a good test on how well and how easily I can keep it clean.

I guess tomorrow will be spent cleaning out the junk closet and moving my clothes in there.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Too much thinking

Been trying to work out my solar & wind power system components and parts, thanks to much help from Nick. Also still pondering on the cabin plan ... I still haven't tried arranging all my stuff into a smaller space to see if it works for me and the dogs. Perhaps I'll tackle that this weekend so I can move forward. There are so many other things I need to do; I guess I should make a list and just start doing them.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

This land is my land

For my 46th birthday, I treated myself to a week off work to go check out my land and do some sightseeing and meet some neighbors. I left Athens at 9pm Friday night (Sept 3), drove to Alabama to pick up my friend Jim, and we got to Terlingua Ranch just before sunrise on Sunday morning, September 5. We stopped at Nick's container and unloaded a few things, then hit the showers at the Ranch Lodge. Then it was off to David's place for Sunday Brunch. We got there a bit late, but there was plenty of good chow and coffee, and a great group of people to enjoy it with. We had basically no sleep on the way down, so after that, we went to my land to poke around and set up camp. James, my neighbor and surveyor, stopped by in the afternoon and let us know he could come and get my corners marked Monday morning. We stayed up long enough to enjoy the night sky; you can see every star out there! Some time in the night, the dogs growled and had their hackles up at something outside. Jim shined a flashlight out around the tent, but didn't find any eyes, so what ever it was decided to take off. Slept like logs til dawn.
Camping on my land
James showed up with his survey equipment at 10am and explained the process, and showed Jim how to work the prism pole with level bubble. The two of them spent the next several hours getting my 4 corners marked, plus the halfway points on the long sides.
James setting up in the road, Jim at the marker
My southeast corner
After that, the rest of the week we did the touristy stuff; drove to Study Butte, Terlingua Ghost Town, and Lajitas, visited John Wells at The Field Lab, had lunch at the American Legion post just up the road, and visited with David one more time. I picked up some stakes at the hardware store and marked where I want my cabin to be.
12x20 cabin site staked out, clothesline showing sides

The picture above is looking west-northwest. Here's a 360 degree view of the site that I took standing inside the perimeter of the future cabin. It starts out looking south, then turns east, north, west, and back south.

video
I can't even describe how much I loved the area. The sights, the sounds, the smell... I really didn't want to leave. Five days were not nearly enough time down there, but we took off Friday morning, September 10 and headed for home. I'm planning to be back down there between Christmas and New Year's, if all goes well. In the meantime, I need to finalize my cabin plans and make some extra cash to pay for some fencing and get started on the cabin.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The drawing board

I've spent many hours with graph paper and the online room designer this weekend and still haven't got a plan I like for my cabin. Where I'm running into trouble is with the storage - clothes closet, coat/stuff closet, and utility room. Arranging these to my liking is proving difficult. I also keep going back forth about the indoor plumbing thing.

If I can drag my butt out of bed early enough tomorrow, I'll go look at some 12v 150Ah AGM batteries I found online that are close to town here. He only wants $50 each for them, and says they're all good. They came out of a cell tower. It's worth a look.

I also want to stop at the local Habitat for Humanity ReStore and see what they have in windows, doors, and kitchen cabinets.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Blessings

I am feeling very blessed today. Between Nick and John, I now have a contact down in Terlingua that can build my cabin and probably do the fencing for me, too. Then I was thinking how low I am on my e-cig supplies, and looky there, Vapor4Life 19% off sale code in my inbox. My foster greyhound, J, has used the dog door on his own twice now today, and is playing with my dogs and being part of the pack; a pleasant change from the previous foster. And I got in 20 minutes of sunshine at lunch without being bugged by bugs. Probably should have bought a lottery ticket :)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Survey(or) says!

Called James the surveyor this morning. I gave him the legal description and described where the property is; have no idea when he can do it, but my fingers are crossed that it will be soon. There are two other surveyors in the area that I can try, but I wanted to try James first since he was recommended. He also lives a mile from my property, so he's a neighbor. I can't get too serious about finding someone to put up fence until I have some survey stakes in the ground.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Design headache

I've been spending a lot of time with pencil and graph paper trying to work out an acceptable floorplan using a single 20' shipping container. I know, I know, I looked at this before. And yes, I'm still trying to make it work.  I just can't quite squeeze everything I want in there. But this is the 2Simplify blog, so I'm trying to make it simpler :)

I'm really not crazy about outdoor "facilities," but they do take up a lot of space in the house. I'm also trying to use my existing furniture, which is probably making this more difficult. Built-ins would make more sense. Back to the drawing board...

I rounded up some more "stuff" that can go to charity. I still haven't tackled the old office closet, and that needs to be done soon. I'm also thinking a few more kitchen things I never use can go. Maybe I'll get some of that done this week and get it out of here before I head to Texas on Friday for Grandma's 90th birthday.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Refrigerator & Generator

I like this refrigerator: the Sundanzer DCRF134.  This will fit under the countertop and is just the right size for me, though I would prefer a much larger freezer, I suppose I could get a little chest freezer if I really needed one down the road. I did check out some propane fridges, but then I remembered how much gas they use from my RV days. The chest fridges and freezers made by Sundanzer are probably more efficient, but not really suited to little tiny homes with limited floor space.

Also looked into generators today. I would like a Honda eu2000i, but this Yamaha EF2000iS 2,000 Watt 79cc OHV 4-Stroke Gas Powered Portable Inverter Generator (CARB Compliant) looks to be functionally very similar, and at a better price. It's on my wish list. I'll only need a genny to power the AC and for backup to the solar power. There's supposed to be a DC powered air conditioner out this fall that will bear watching. I think their first release unit is BTU overkill for my little cabin, so I hope they put out a smaller unit that uses even less power.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

More tinkering

I may continue to use the Stickam, but I managed to get my wireless webcam working again last night. I discovered I can embed the stream on my blog here, so it's currently playing at the top of the page. My netbook was overheating being on all day with the Stickam running. The wireless cam doesn't use a computer, so I'll keep it on to watch Quinn while I'm at work. If you're interested, this is my camera, a Panasonic BL-C131A Network Camera Wireless 802.11. It's a lot more complicated to set up and run than it needs to be, but once it's set up, it does the job. I've had it since October of '07 and it's been a great dog monitor.

I briefly considered using my asian style cabinet as a kitchen cabinet, but decided I really need to stick with conventional cabinetry. Right now, it's a stand for my LCD TV and houses my DVD player and DVD collection. None of that will come with me to the desert, so I'll just hope I can find a good home for that cabinet. It's my favorite piece of furniture and I'll miss it, but it has no purpose now.

I still haven't made a decision on a house. As picky as I am, I think I need to have what ever it is built here and shipped out there, ready to live in. Or mostly ready...

Friday, July 16, 2010

View to the south

My future neighbor, David, was kind enough to snap a few more pics of my land today and the views from it. Here's the view to the south, taken from the road. Is this just freakin' awesome or what?
The phone box is right there across the road, too, so it shouldn't take too long to get a landline and/or DSL installed.

The new sink arrived yesterday; I just now opened up the box and checked it out. Looks great, and the finish is a good match for the cooktop. So, sink, cooktop, and faucet are now stored in my pantry ready to go. I still have to figure out what kind of house they're going in. Nothing I've looked at thus far has seemed "just right," but maybe I'll find something this weekend.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Lovely Land

Thanks to Nick, here is a picture of my land, I believe looking to the north-northeast. I think that's Nine Point Mesa on the right side of the pic, and you can just see a red roof near the middle that you can also see on the satellite maps of the area. It looks like there might be another hill or peak on the horizon just left of center.


He took this after there had been a lot of rain in the area, so I don't expect it's always this green, but... Wow! Pretty :) Nine Point Mesa is east of the property, and I'm really looking forward to seeing the sun rise over it. Nick, this is now my desktop background. I've had a splitting whopper of a headache all day and this is really helping me find serenity, just looking at this and imagining myself standing there feeling the warm breeze...

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Tinkering

Got me a Stickam account today using my facebook account. Not real impressed with it, but it seems to do what it's designed to. I may run it tomorrow to see what the dogs are up to while I'm gone, since my wireless camera doesn't like my new router. Also added a few blog links on the sidebar.

Tracking says my new cooktop should get here tomorrow, and the sink should arrive Thursday.

Took readings off my Kill A Watt today and used this nifty watt hours to amp hours calculator to get how many amp hours a day my computer, 2nd monitor, router, modem, and lamp are using: 12. The lamp has a 25W CF bulb in it. I do turn the computer off at bedtime, and when I leave for work in the mornings, but the modem and router are on 24/7. I also have the netbook plugged into it to keep it charged. I forgot to plug in the wireless printer, so I'll reset the Kill A Watt when I do that and get a fresh reading. Still, 12 amp hours a day isn't bad at all.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

And the kitchen sink, too

Yep, just ordered the kitchen sink. A good sized 7" deep bar sink, equal in size to half of your typical double bowl kitchen sink, so the dish drainer will fit nicely inside it. $56 shipped on Ebay.
It's an under-mount, and I'm strongly considering a wood counter-top from Ikea.  If you're wondering why the small cooktop and sink, it's because my future kitchen will be approximately 6' long, in a cabin of 240 sq ft or less.

I'm still hoping to find a good deal on some used kitchen cabinets on craigslist, or perhaps a cool piece of furniture that could be converted to house the sink and cooktop. 

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Score!

I just won an Ebay auction for a Suburban stainless 2 burner cooktop for my eventual cabin, for about half the cost of buying one retail. One less thing on my "to buy" list.

My foster dogs are both coming along nicely. The girl goes back to the rescue tomorrow night in advance of her vet visit Thursday morning, and will stay there to recover. She's been a handful (like having an ADHD toddler in the house) and I need to spend some quality time with the boy to get him out of his shell and encourage him to let his personality out.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

2 complications

And adorable complications at that! I'm fostering two greyhounds for the weekend, a boy and a girl, about 2 years old each (which means they failed as racers), and this is their first time in a house. They're both unsettled and unsure right now. Hope I can give them a good start on becoming good pets for someone eventually :)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Next steps

Yesterday, I shot off an email to request the 911 address for the property. I understand I'll need that before I can get other things done. This morning, I downloaded a copy of the county's homestead exemption application. This can't be filed until after January 1, but I made a note on my calendar to remind myself to do it. The phone company lady still hasn't responded about DSL availability. Guess I need to call.

I've been racking my brains trying to figure out when I can get down there to see the place, get some pics and video, and meet the neighbors. Maybe Labor Day weekend? I would love to bring the dogs with me, too, but it's 24 hours of drive-time to get there, and for the time constraint, I think I'd be better off flying. We'll see what happens, and if a good airfare comes up, between now and then.

Update: Holy cow, Aaron just called me back already. My 911 address for the property is 530 W. Legion Rd, Terlingua, TX 79852. Note: This will not be my mailing address!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Monday, June 28, 2010

Texas Landowner

I bought 5 acres of prime desert land in the Terlingua Ranch this morning, which is near Big Bend State Park in the great state of Texas. It was cheap enough that I could just buy it outright; no payments! All mine!

Location of my 5 acres

So with that accomplished, as time and finances permit, I will get on with the process of making it a home. I'll need a survey so I can get some fence up for the dogs. I'm sure the girls would stay pretty close in shouting distance, but PD (my greyhound boy) could be playing in the middle of the highway in a matter of seconds if he was let loose. Or in the next county if something ran and he was inclined to chase it.

Tara's foot is healing very nicely. Her stitches come out this coming Saturday, and after that I'll allow her to have fun again. Though I think she kind of likes not having to play with her sister 24/7...

Didn't get much organizing done this weekend, just some of the paper pile on my desk, and found a few things I've had stored for 6 months and have not used; those got tossed.


Addition:


Here's a screenshot of the POATRI map. My 5 acres are the easternmost 1/4 of 4919 (henceforth known as 4919-D). The Legion is right there at the 118 graphic underneath the crisscrossing red lines. 
Here's a black and white version, with a green rectangle where my property is:
The GPS coordinates listed with the property are in another section entirely, so I choose to believe the tract maps are correct :)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Whooosh!

That was the sound of my money vanishing. Spent a good chunk getting the van roadworthy, and yesterday Tara cut her foot somehow: over $300 to the vet for surgery/stitches. Ouchy. Also used up some vacation time so I could stay home and keep an eye on her. She's supposed to "rest" for 10 days.
Stitches on Tara's right hind foot
Just now got an email from the gentleman I was looking to buy land from; he got a substantially better cash offer but was willing to honor the contract he sent me, even though neither of us had signed it yet. What a nice fellow! With the whooosh of my cash being half gone, I told him he'd be nuts not to take it :)  So... back to land shopping and hopefully motivating myself to get back to working side jobs to make up that money.

I must also note here that my organizational state is a shambles. I've spent so much time on the computer lately that my papers are not filed and things are not put away as they should be. I will try to remedy that this weekend. I hate living in chaos.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Safety first

Got the van looked over today, and glad I did. I already knew it needed new front tires, and boy did it ever! Both of them were down to the mesh in places. Also needed new brakes and a wheel bearing. Got about half of that done today, and will drop it off in the morning to get the rest done. So that will set me back a bit, but I get the reward of knowing I'm driving as safely as I can.

Still looking at cabin options, and I can't tell you how many bad designs I saw tonight. The people that design these things have obviously never tried living in one. Kitchens with no drawers, or any other storage to speak of. Folks, if the place is under 200 sq ft, I'm not going to be entertaining, so don't try to squeeze a full sized kitchen into your design. Give me as much counter space as possible, and lots of storage. I don't need a double sink, a range, or a full sized fridge. Do try to get a small washer/dryer combo unit in there, I'd love that!

Speaking of washers... check out the Electrolux Shine. It's a concept that comes in either a wall mount unit or under bathroom cabinet unit. Spiffy! I wonder how much power they'll use? I think I read the wall unit uses only a gallon of water per wash, but I bet it only holds as much as the Wonder Wash.

I also like the Smev single burner cooktop sold by Aery on ebay. Their sinks are cool, too.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

I have a van!

Did the vehicle exchange tonight! The van is a really tight fit coming into the garage, I mean like 2 inches to spare on either side. I wrestled out the middle seat and turned the floor mat so it covers the holes where the seat was and all 4 dogs piled in. They loved it! I'll try to take them for a ride tomorrow.
PD between the front seats. I expect he'll probably ride here regularly.

PD, Tara, and Devi happy with the new ride! Natoli was unavailable for comment.
Roomy! The back seats are pushed all the way back.

The sales agreement for the land is now in the hands of a local real estate attorney for review. He said he'll get to it and let me know how it looks by Thursday.

I spent some time this morning looking at solar power panels and components. I still have no idea how much power I'll need, but there are some good deals out there. One of my LCD monitors says 1.5A. Can that be right? Just seems kinda low. The Dell all in one computer is 130W. I wish everyone would either print amps or watts, one or the other. I keep forgetting the math to convert it all. The netbook, cable modem, and wireless router all say 1A. And there is a DC adapter for the netbook, pretty reasonable, so I might get that.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Van test drive

Finally found someone looking to trade their minivan for a car! We did a mutual test drive tonight up in Hull, and I think we were each happy, but we're taking tonight to think on it and will discuss tomorrow. It sure would be nice to be able to take all 4 dogs somewhere all at once! For those who don't know, I have a 2005 Ford Focus 4 door sedan. PD the greyhound takes up the entire back seat all by himself, though Devi can squeeze in with him. All 3 girls can ride back there, but not with PD. Thankfully, I have not had to take all 4 anywhere yet, but the time is coming, so I need a van!

I think I have to nix the shipping container idea. I'd absolutely need 2 of them, and the cost of the containers, mods, and shipping (especially the shipping) is just too much. Really, I think my best bet is going to be finding a good builder down there to make me a shell that I can finish myself. Papercrete and it's kin seem like very good desert options - good R value and can handle high winds and bug resistant. I've seen some neat pics of straw bale and adobe type homes out there. I need to revisit that house plan I drew up and see if it still works based on the new things I've learned from others blogs.

Saw a UGA listserv post today that there's a local charity for computer stuff. I'm going to see if they will take my old printer and the shuttle pc and the other pieces-parts I have lying around here.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Water bill up

Drat. The water bill was WAY up from last month.  The electric was way down, though. I need to come up with a new water conserving method of dish washing I guess. It was so much easier when I lived in the Casita and I knew I only had 16 gallons in the fresh water tank and how long it had to last me.

Spent a good bit of time today trying to find pictures of existing shipping container homes, real ones, not computer models. There's not much out there. I did find a place near Atlanta that sells the containers and does mods, so I might call them and get a quote once I figure out what I'd want. I've seen a couple that have an oversized large canopy roof that would be perfect for both shade and water catchment. Those containers are really narrow, though. The greyhound needs a lot of room to turn around.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Plugging away at the "stuff"

Last month, I treated myself to new kitchen things that match and that I like, and got rid of almost all of the old stuff. I missed some glasses, and decided I don't really need the egg cooker, much as I like it, so those are set aside to go to charity. I decided to only have 4 of everything - flatware, dishes, bowls, mugs, etc. I also tried handwashing the dishes all last month. I should know in a few days what effect that had on the water bill. Also turned the AC up a bit higher and the weather was fairly cool, so maybe the electric won't be that bad this month.

I need to figure out how to do roasts in the dutch oven that came with my new cookware set, then I can bear to part with the crock pot. Is it possible to do a roast on a gas cooktop in a dutch oven? I've really been enjoying the little Coleman camp stove/grill I got. It has one burner, and the other 2/3 of the surface is a non-stick grill. This has really helped me get back on my Neanderthin diet! Grilled meat is the best!

Found a few acres out in Middle of Nowhere, TX that I'm probably going to buy. I should get the sales agreement next week in the mail. The owner is very kindly willing to finance it for 2 years at 0% interest. Can't beat that with a stick. I'm sure I'll pay it off early, but the payments are more than affordable. Power and water are not available on the property, but DSL is - how awesome is that? Broadband in the boonies FTW! I've been finding and reading blogs written by folks that live out there;  I'm learning a lot.

Time to get serious about my downsizing and simplifying. I still have stuff all over the house and I need to put everything in my bedroom, and I do mean everything! I'm planning on having a cabin not much bigger than this 12x12 bedroom, and everything needs to fit in that cabin and look good while doing so. I do not want "stuff" stacked in corners. I want everything to have a place to be put away out of sight. Having everything I own in this room will really help me to make some decisions about what to get rid of, and then do so! What's left will tell me where I'm lacking on storage solutions.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Back to basics in the kitchen

My microwave is the single most used appliance in my kitchen. I drink instant coffee, for which the water is heated in the microwave. I cook my veggies in it. I cook bacon in it. I warm up meats and sauces in it. So while playing around with small efficient kitchen designs tonight, I asked myself if I really need a microwave. My answer is that no, I don't, not really. I knew already that I could live without an oven. I never use that. Dishwasher? Don't really need it, though I hate washing dishes by hand. Refrigerator? Well... I could keep things for a few days in an ice chest if I bought ice and lived near a grocery store to replenish my food every couple days. Or I could eat out all the time and not have a kitchen at all. Some people do that.

A lot of my thinking here comes from giving myself a power outage scenario. I know I need a non-electric way to heat food, water for coffee, and water for bathing and washing up. And that leads to thinking, "Why don't I just design it that way to begin with, and then I won't even notice if the power goes out?" I know already that I want an LP gas tankless water heater. So I think as long as the LP is there, I may as well just get a 2 burner gas cooktop.

What else do I need in the kitchen? I don't entertain, so I don't need much in the way of dishes, glasses, flatware, or table linens. Probably a service for 4 of each. Basic cookware, my crock pot, and I do love my little electric grill, though with LP available, a real outdoor grill would be nice. Of course, the smaller the kitchen, the less room I have for "stuff" in it, so it makes sense to pare down my belongings for that eventuality.

Monday, March 8, 2010

A long cold winter!

The radiators have worked very well, considering the temps have been below freezing for weeks on end. My electric bills have still been a bit over $200 a month, but not as high as they would have been if I was trying to heat the house using only the furnace.

This winter, I did manage to get rid of a couple of large furniture items, but I had to buy a new desktop computer. In the spirit of keeping it simple, I got a Dell Inspiron One, an all-in-one desktop system. It's extremely quiet and very space conservative.

On a sad note, my 17 year old cat is no longer with me; she passed on in mid January. I miss her and I'm still adjusting to not having a cat in the house for the first time in 19 years.

And on a happier note, I quit smoking on January 1, which also inspired me to get back in shape and lose those extra pounds I put on 3 years ago.