Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Monday, August 06, 2012

Running with the Giants

Running with the Giants
Running with the Giants
The upside of downsizing
It was not that long ago, that “downsizing” carried with it somewhat negative connotations. From businesses that cut staff to become more competitive or do more with less to survive while an economy retracted; to people driving smaller cars or smart cars. Downsizing also suggested that you were either too old or too poor,(or both) to have a large home anymore and so you were forced, begrudgingly, into something smaller and inexpensive and that you were just going to have to “make do.”
These days, however, nothing could be further from the truth.
So, what do giants have to do with downsizing? Personally, I like giant stories, myths, and legends. There is always a little guy in the mix that figured out how to beat the giant, or at least have some of what he has or is able to do.
To me, the modern day giants are the wealthy that keep getting bigger and bigger. They build bigger extravagant castles, and spend a lot of their time trying to make money, so they can have more; another house, cabin, trips, cars all the while having less and less time to spend what time is left doing what they love doing. It becomes a spiral of sorts, as they build bigger to impress someone, they need to make more and spend more time working.  They have become the modern day giants!
When one downsizes, be it by choice or forced upon them, they have freed themselves from the “trappings” of modern society. Instead of spending $251,000 of interest on a $350,000 loan over 30 years, which is about $9,000 per year of income; they can now spend that $9,000 on a 10 day  Regents Alaskan cruise and rail excursion to Denali, take pictures all the while living for a brief spell like a giant lives. Or take a series of small trips around the country, book an excursion in a hot air balloon, take a trip to see friends that have not been visited with in years, or just play around in your backyard, take some classes, and create experiences that will live with you forever.
The comment by Henry David Thoreau, “The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it” has a lot of wisdom in it. IF you want to run and play like the giants does not mean you have to live like the giants in their stately mansions, castles, and big fancy houses/condos. We can make different choices by living smaller, so we can live large.
Some of the upsides to living small;
Ø  Freedom to travel
Ø  More vacations
Ø  Weekends are yours to play
Ø  Explore the outdoors
Ø  Read frequently
Ø  Explore museums
Ø  Pursue a hobby
Ø  Pursue a passion that makes you come alive
Ø  Take part in sporting activities
Ø  Be of service to the community
Tiny Green Cabins, Tumbleweed Homes, Tiny Home Builders and others can help you achieve living small while running with the giants.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Get the bug! Build Snug!

Living in a small space has its challenges and virtues. I find that it forces me to be more thoughtful with what I bring into my home. Since there is little room for storage, everything is on display. Because of this, I try to be careful with what I buy. I ask myself if I really need it and if I will want to look at and live with it every day.
Living small also challenges me to live and build sustainably. There are countless articles and stories on the web about living small, and I find the most satisfaction in providing a service to folks that want a tiny house that is healthy to live in.
Building tiny houses for chemically sensitive people has taught me a lot about some of my own issues. I get migraines and would resort to a pill, a dark room, all the while hiding away from life for a day or so…burying my head in a pillow waiting for the pain and nausea to lessen. Then I started connecting the dots, when a migraine hit; what was I doing? And that started revealing a pattern linked to some building products that I have used over the years; cedar, Portland cement, treated material, solvents, oil based paints, poly finishes and other man made products.
Building tiny houses for folks with chemicals sensitivities has made me aware of how products a lot of us take for granted can and do affect others. And it reminds me of the canary in the coal mines; miners used canaries to warn them of dangerous breathing conditions, and now I view the folks with chemical sensitivities as the “canaries” that inform us of dangerous conditions in our homes and our work places. As each day passes, I see more warnings about products we used to consider “safe” for human use.
Building small has also made me realize that I do not need a lot of space to live in. The Wildflower is a magical and cozy place to live and climbing into the loft reminds me of being a child when I would hop into bed, cover with quilts and blankets. As I drifted off to sleep all the while listening to the winds whirl around the eves while the rain pummels the roof.

Regardless of the ways in which we are challenged by our space, keeping these inspired quotes in mind provide a good starting point to seeing the benefits these challenges provide.

• 1 You know you have reached perfection of design not when you have nothing more to add, but when you have nothing more to take away. - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
• 2 Small rooms or dwellings discipline the mind, large ones weaken it. - Leonardo Da Vinci
• 3 The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less. - Socrates
• 4 Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful. - William Morris
• 5 Live simply so that others may simply live. - Elizabeth Ann Seton

Contact for more information about tiny houses

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Be a sifter

Multitudes of people are continually keeping away from them higher and better things because they are forever clinging to the old. If they would use and pass on the old, room would be made for new things to come. Hoarding always brings loss in one form or another. Using, wisely using, brings an ever-renewing gain.
Ralph Waldo Trine

You can get to where you want to be from wherever you are-but you must stop spending so much time noticing and talking about what you do not like about where you are. Be more of a selective sifter, and make lists of the positive things you are living. Look forward to where you want to be, and spend no time complaining about where you are. The responsive Universe makes no distinction between the thoughts you think about your current reality and the thoughts you think as you dream of your improved life. You are creating by virtue of what you are thinking about, and so there is no advantage whatsoever to pondering, or remembering, or observing, or speaking of things you do not want. Make your active vibration be about what you do want and notice how quickly your life changes to match your vibration. ”

The Vortex” by Esther and Jerry Hicks
You are like a human transmission tower, transmitting a frequency with your thoughts. If you want to change anything in your life, change the frequency by changing your thoughts.
~ The Secret

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Building Sustainable

Sustainable means "Meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs."

Within Sustainable is an order of operations; lessify, maximize, and neutralize.

Lessify order of operations yields the biggest return of investment. Bundling up, adding blankets, chalking, adjusting thermostat, and building smaller are the prime areas.

Maximize is the next order of operations and costs more to implement and yields less on investment. Upgrading the heating and cooling plants, engineering the homes, and air exchangers are examples.

Neutralize is the final and most expensive step in the order of operations and yields the lowest returns on investment. Solar power, wind power, solar heat are used here.

Learn this and more at the Tiny Green Cabin Workshop July 7th and 8th.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Just some quick snapshots of the build of the Wildflower Bunkhouse

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Tiny House Appreciation Week Article

We recently partnered with Andrew Odom of tiny r(E)volution and Andrew for tiny house appreciation week and Andrew crafted this article about Tiny Green Cabins.

I typically take notice of most things with the word naked in the title. The Naked Cabin built by Tiny Green Cabins was no exception. I remember seeing the picture and thinking, “Metal? Really?” ‘Tis true. The extent of this nudity was that Tiny Green was marketing a framed out tiny house trailer ready for the backyard enthusiast or DIYer. And to think it was made of metal. It really turned my world upside down. I immediately thought about the weight advantages, the rigidity of metal, and the price factors. If I must be honest, I printed the photo and added it to the ‘inspirations’ section of our tiny house notebook. But after seeing this, ahem, salacious use of metal studs I had to find out more.

Jim Wilkins is the President and CEO of Tiny Green Cabins and an outstanding man. He is a designer and builder of non-toxic tiny houses and micro homes for people who choose to live a sustainable, healthy lifestyle or do so because of chemical/environmental sensitivity. His extensive background in the construction industry entails years of working as a journeyman carpenter, senior cost estimator, design and engineering manager, and his work in continuous improvement venues. And let me not forget that Jim is an experienced manager with a proven record in production, manufacturing, estimating, design, procurement, quality, and ISO9000 (Baldrige, Lean, TQM, CI) within construction, wood components, and machining manufacturing, as well as nonprofits.  His background consists of all aspects of wood-framed construction, including new home construction, remodeling, commercial, and agriculture. He is a great resource for tiny house materials, construction ideas, and actual building tips.

Recently, Jim partnered with the Bell Museum of Natural History on the project “Sustainable Shelters” and the video “Living Small.”

Oh, and did I mention that after four decades in the business and building all types of homes from tiny houses to mega-mansions, Jim began steadily downsizing about five years ago now living in his own tiny house?

The cabins built by Tiny Green Cabins – Wildflower, Sunflower, Denali, etc – are all built out of a devotion to the future of design, tracking the innovations in technology, practices and materials that are pushing architecture and home design towards a smarter and more sustainable future. Perhaps what is most impressive is TGC’s attention to detail and their customer service. In fact, they advertise a sort of 12-step program in which they begin with a phone consultation and end with a very special thank you gift! As for detail, just look at these photos of the Wildflower II. From the drawers built in to the loft steps to the integration of a state-of-the-art washer/dryer system. It is just awe-inspiring.

Jim and his Tiny Green Cabins can be found all over the web including:

Online: Tiny Green Cabins
Facebook: Tiny Green Cabins
LinkedIn: Jim Wilkins
YouTube: BellMuseum
Twitter: @Tinygreencabins
For a novice builder like myself Jim has been a great sounding board and a true inspiration. His designs are top notch and Tiny Green Cabins’ execution is without reproach. He has been a supporter of both the tiny house community and Tiny r(E)volution for some time now and for that we are grateful.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Each day that passes, I learn something new. I learn from the people around me. I learn about patience, love, courage, wisdom, kindness, perseverance, strength, laughter, endurance, faith, and oneness. I learn to be still…..and listen to that small voice within. With each lesson that I learn I feel something tugging gently on my heart. It whispers to me promises of a secret so profound and wonderfully waiting for us.

Autumn brings with it a change in seasons, a hint of color here, a splash of dazzling brightness there. As the season moves into full bloom, the winds move thru the branches whispering thoughts of endings and new beginnings. The leaves fall to the ground in a deep and colorfully quilted blanket covering the earth in preparation for colder days ahead and deep snows. Under the snows, the leaves continue doing what is required, releasing nutrients to the soil for the spring and rebirth that is already whispering its arrival. It is a season of change.

My thoughts take me to another time when I skied at night across the winter snows, hearing the whisper of the skis on the snow, much like lovers whispering sweet thoughts in the night, speaking promises of things unseen and secrets to be revealed.

“The Master would often say that Silence brought transformation. But no one could get him to define what Silence was. When asked he would laugh, then hold his forefinger up against his tightened lips - which only increased the bewilderment of his disciples. One day there was a breakthrough when someone asked, "And how is one to arrive at this Silence that you speak of? "The Master said something so simple that his disciples studied his face for a sign that he might be joking. He wasn't. He said, "Wherever you may be, look where there is apparently nothing to see; listen when all is seemingly quiet."”
Anthony de Mello, SJ

Some days I become so caught up in the whirl of life that when I finally get a moment to be calm and quiet I don't know what to do with myself. My mind quickly becomes filled. At these times, I forget and resist, fighting the whirl of life and expending energy and do not listen to the whispers in the gifts and challenges; thinking sometimes it would be nice to see beyond the veil, into the future so I can plot my course…then the whispers remind me that all my needs have been taken care of. Yet, I cannot help but ask, especially when riding the wave to new places and change.

At these times, I slip away into a quiet world, away from all the noise and chaos, away from the whirl of life, listening for the whispers beckoning me forward. I know that my heart is filled to the brim overflowing as remembrance of all the many blessings in my life flood my being. Yet, there are so many things that I hope and long for. It's difficult to be patient, especially when my heart keeps pulling me toward some sweet new future.

What whispers in life are you missing?