One Year Of Throwing Away – What Can We Live Without?

Ahoy everyone!

So, I wanted to do a blog commemorating a year in my tiny abode.
But what to say? How has it changed my life? Has it, in fact changed my life?
It feels, looking at first, that very little has actually altered.
I wanted to have a look into to what I’ve done but more importantly, for Tiny House dwellers like myself, look at what I’ve got rid of.

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When space is at a premium, you have to figure out what you can live without.

You have to be honest with yourself about what is adding value to your life and what is just taking up space. And, since we’re being honest, there is a lot of stuff on this list – almost all of it in fact – which I knew I should have thrown away or passed on a lot earlier, and haven’t missed at all. I really struggled to even remember a lot of it – thank goodness I take plenty of photos!

So let’s go through month by month and see what’s gone on.
I will start from when I stopped posting my super-regular updates last year, so  around…

September 2016
Barely had I got two months settled into my tiny house when I abandoned it for a week and a bit to do my first REAL Cycle Tour! You can read all about my cycling adventures on one of my other blogs, The Intrepid Cyclist!

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Despite spending a lot of September out of the tiny house, coming back to it at the end of the journey really, genuinely felt like returning home.

Threw Away:
Lots of random bits!
This included some cushions and cushion covers I’d been hoarding, some old electronics and more paperwork I’d brought with me.

Continue reading “One Year Of Throwing Away – What Can We Live Without?”

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Tiny House Diaries – New Carpet For The Bedroom!

Hello all!

Its been a while since I posted, and I’ve had to make an effort to structure my life such that regular blogging becomes viable. But I think I have just about achieved that, so here we are!
Rather than going on about what I’ve been up to, I’ll instead give you some CONTENT on one of two major changes to the tiny house in the past few months…

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All About Carpet 

Most folks who move into a static home, especially if they are renting like me, will probably find any carpet already installed is a rather poor, cheap variety.

This may not be the first thing they notice or in fact they may not ever notice it, but I am now attuned to such things – you see, at time of writing, I work for a carpet company.

This will be the first and last time I ‘talk shop’ on my blog, but I thought I might impart a little of my knowledge and a few suggestions.

1. Go For Quality

A good carpet is a good investment – if you (like me) are planning on being in your tiny home for a good long time, and wish to have any portion of it carpeted, then you have to go for quality.
I have an idea of what makes a good product (see below), as my company deals almost exclusively in high-end designer carpets, the sort of stuff you would never find at CarpetRite.
To be more precise, my company deals with high-end carpet remnants.
This leads me to my second piece of advice…

2. See If You Can Find A Remnant

Remnants are pieces left over on the ends of huge 30-metre rolls of carpet; Say you have four meters of your once vast roll left, and someone asks for five – you can’t do it with the end, you have to make a whole new roll. And this happens many times until you are left with usable, most often perfect quality, but ultimately fixed-sized carpet. These are bundled together and sold on at an enormous discount to specialist retails (like my company) and therefore hugely discounted to customers. You can get insane bargains buying remnants – anyone frugal or thrifty should always check for remnants first!

3. Get A Decent Underlay

Underlay will extended the life of a carpet and give it an extra spring, pleasant under the feet.
It also helps with insulation, both heat and sound, which can be a major issue in small houses – or any house for that matter! My recommendation is polyurethane underlay. It is regarded across the board to be superior to rubber or felt underlays, with the added bonus that it’s almost 100% recycled so pretty green too. If you’re in the UK, I’d suggest buying from Ball & Young.

4. Hire A Professional Carpet Fitter

Carpet fitting is one of those jobs that may seem simple but requires finesse and skill. It also requires knowledge of how a carpet will behave – you don’t want to fit your carpet and then have it ruck up and crease a week later thanks to an issue with temperature!
For this reason I would say always hire a profession – in their hands it’s a quick and relatively painless job, and comparatively cheap too!

I knew for a long time what I wanted for my carpet, primarily because of the colour…I can’t help it, I’m shallow!
I had decided that, as I went on, I wanted a color scheme based around teal (aka aquamarine, turquoise etc), purple and grey. Early on I even made some bunting which reflected this:

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So, I wanted a teal carpet – and into the hands of my company fell a carpet not only the perfect colour, but from a brand I trusted. The brand is Westex, and the Carpet is Ultima Twist Kingfisher. I knew my waiting was at an end.

But why is this particular carpet such a boon?

Well, Westex have been a favourite of mine since my first weeks in my current job, and I will tell you why as well as giving some general points about high quality carpet

How To Spot A High Quality Carpet

1. High Wool Content

The cheapest carpets available are made from polypropylene or viscose, manmade fibres feel good and look good but are very prone to flattening and shedding. They are also victims of static electricity, are highly flammable and, as  the fibres themselves are translucent, not good at hiding dirt. In addition, viscose (aka faux silk) does not react well to water, as it is partially cellulose which absorbs moisture.

Wool, on the other hand, is a naturally springy, opaque and long-lasting fibre which stays looking and feel great for ages. Its main issues? It can be difficult to clean, as alkaline products like bleach will damage it (alkalies are not even used in the dying process) and it can encourage moths and other beasties.

Its natural advantages can be enhanced and its problems diminished by mixing it with a man-made fibre, such as nylon. Almost all Westex carpets are 80% Wool and 20%, although they do have one or two pure wool ranges.

2. High Tuft Rating/Stitch Gauge/Pile Count/Pile Density

These are all essentially measures of the same thing – literally how closely the fibres of the carpet are packed together. In a cheap carpet, you’ll more or less be able to see the backing through the carpet. This is a bad sign.
Westex use stitch gauge measurement to determine density – they use 1/8th and 1/10th guages in their ‘Ultima Twist’ range (infuriatingly there are eight – yes EIGHT – different qualities of Ultima Twist, each with differing specs, but they will be either 1/8th or 1/10th.
Mine is Talisman quality, which is 1/10th gauge – this essentially means that there are 10 ‘tufts’ every linear inch – in metric, that’s one roughly every 2.5mm.

3. Two (or Three) Ply

Ply is a count of how many strands of fibre are twisted together to make each tuft of carpet – if there are two or three this helps prevent flattening over time. Most of Westex carpets are two or three ply, and they have their own particular process for twisting them to ensure maximum lifespan.

4. Check The Backing

jute or hessian backing to a carpet is general a good marker of quality – strong, long lasting and flexible, proof against the rigours of transit, plus sustainable and eco-friendly – all Westex carpets have this.
Many decent carpets will have a synthetic backing – you may see ‘Actionbac®’ mentioned, which is a manmade polypropylene backing produced by US company Propex, this is standard for many carpets.
The lowest-grade carpets tend to have felt backing – these are reserved for cheap rental properties, and I would say steer clear of them.

5. Pre-Treatments

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Many top carpet manufacturers ensure their products – especially wool or natural fibres – are protected from stains and other issues (moths, dust-mites, moisture) before they leave the factory – Westex does this for every carpet (as far as I know), making them hydrophobic and proof against creepy crawlies!

I’d like to assure everyone that, once again, just like I’m not getting any money from Berghoff or Wilkos, that I am not profiting in any way shape or form from Westex. I just like the brand, that’s all…though their website could do with some work.

Now after singing their praises I have some bad news for those outside the UK – you are unlikely to be able to get hold of a Westex carpet. In a country which has largely given up on making its own goods, carpet is peculiarly domestic, with a great deal of stuff being made on our sceptred isle.

So, after much deliberation, I went ahead and bought my Ultima Twist Talisman Kingfisher Carpet.

I emptied the bedroom, bed and all, into the front room and pulled out the old carpet, which had been infuriating me since around day one.

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Pictured: YUK.


The best way to get up old carpet is to cut around the side with a craft knife, like so, 
and cutting it into small strips or squares, allowing it to be put in the bin, avoiding a time-consuming trip to the dump.

Mine was easy to shift, it was basically glued and stapled to the floor, and there was no underlay – but WATCH OUT – whether yours is stabled down like mine or secured with ‘gripper rods’ (long wooden poles covered in sharp tacks) there will probably be pointy things which need to be treated carefully.

IMAG4013Pictured: Some things you wouldn’t want to step on.

Also, on ripping it up I allowed myself a moment of sneering gratification – it was felt backed!

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On side note – my bedroom is always the coldest of the four in my tiny house, and on taking up the carpet I discovered one of several ventilation slots on the floor only partially covered the hole which had been made for it – so through most of the Winter the only thing protecting me from this draft was a skinny little carpet!

I decided I would have no more of this and covered it over with a small piece of plywood – there are four other vents in my room (for safety) which I think is quite enough.

My new Makita Cordless Drill (the subject of an upcoming blog) had not arrived so I used my regular corded drill for possibly the last time to drill and screw the thing in.

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The carpet was fitted in a twinkling by my friendly fitter (a gentleman who often works alongside my company) with the aforementioned polyurethane underlay, (I chose Cloud 9 ContactCloud 9 Contact from Ball & Young) and I was delighted. My bedroom feels far more my own now than when I arrived – I also took the opportunity to move things around, including the bed, as I put things back in. I haven’t got pics of that yet, but will soon!

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I may also have the leftover bit made into a rug!

Well, there we go kids – that’s my boring carpet story! If you have any carpet-related comments or questions, let me know and I’ll try to answer them.

Spekti out!

Tiny House Diary – Return To The Tiny House! To Do, Bunny Barrier & SEWING MONTH

Hi all!

It’s been a little while since I posted – for a large chunk of September, I was off on a Cycle Adventure (which will be described in detail over on one of my other blogs, the Intrepid Cyclist!) and both the holiday itself and the planning thereof somewhat stymied my progress. But I have returned now, and plan to get back into the blogging habit!

I have now been living in the Tiny House just over three months – quite a short time, all things considered, but time enough to get over the ‘Honeymoon Period’, as it were.

So do I regret my decision to move here?
Not at all!
I am just as psyched about my living arrangements as I was before. But now I can think clearly about what needs to be done around the house – I was aware from the moment I stepped in that work would be required to make this an ideal home.

Some of the things I have seen are…well, take a look…

So in the next few months I will be trying to tackle these DIY challenges…or get experts in if I despair of the tasks myself.

However, despite the DIY needs I have decided to initially take a very different path – feeling at a loose end after my cycling and not yet financially solvent enough to afford to Cordless Drill and other things I so desperately need for my projects, I have declared October SEWING MONTH!

Continue reading “Tiny House Diary – Return To The Tiny House! To Do, Bunny Barrier & SEWING MONTH”

The Tiny House Diary – Week Two

Alvaston

Hi all!

This blog is not really about Tiny House Living, more just about me settling in – but I hope you enjoy it all the same!

Also I must mention (not by name of course!) my very generous friends who fed me a roast dinner on my first night at the new house so I didn’t have to cook – I realise I left them out of my first blog so many many thanks for that 😀

I’ve left out the majority of my activities this week which can be summarised thusly…

‘I blurrily stumbled from one room to another, causing objects to move slightly
and sweeping up hay and rabbit poop’

…but you can pretty much take that as read for every week.

Monday
Monday was a day for lots of cleaning and tidying, so naturally I spent it doing something completely unrelated and made a cardboard and tissue-paper light-box. This is a bit meta-textural really as I will be using it to make all sorts of nice-looking  photos for this blog! Look at this metal tape. Doesn’t it look professional?

Tuesday
I actually did do some tidying today, making the front room more guest worthy. I also     did some more exploring in my local area of Alvaston, and was  delighted to see the number of small businesses around the place, looking happy and healthy – I couldn’t go into any of them of course, because by that time it was evening, but all the same I was cheered. I think I’m going to like it here.

Wednesday
Wednesday night is Derby Maker’s night at the Silk Mill Museum! I didn’t actually do much making today as I was busy writing some ‘I’ve Just Moved House!’ postcards to my family – I like sending physical things to people in this age of internet (the only problem is that stamps cost money, which I have very little of):

However, I did get to participate in a rather fun photograph – taken by photographer Tim Mitchell and based on the famous paintings of Joseph Wright of Derby, the idea is to create a modern symbol of making – my photo here is part of the prep, and doesn’t do anywhere near justice to the ambience of the true result – I’ll post a link here when it becomes available!

Silk Mill

Today was also my little brothers’ birthday(s)! HOORAY! They are both awesome and I am totally gutted that I couldn’t be with them and the rest of the family today.

Thursday
Did I say it was brothers’ birthday(s) on Wednesday?
Did I also mention I’m a terrible person and had to send out their cards late?
Well I am and I did. But I did do my best to make them swanky!
I do loves me some DIY cards and when Christmas rolls around I promise I’ll do a blog all about different cards you can make!

Friday
Friday I was treated by a lovely friend to an equally lovely meal at Bistro Pierre (go there if you are feeling a little flush – the food is absolutely fantastic!) and we spent some time designing a BUNNY PALACE for Effie and Oreo. This will be a big project for later on so watch this space!

Bunny Palace

Saturday
The first free weekend in the new flat! And so I decided to fill it with stuff – first some proper exploring in Alvaston & and nearby Allenton!

Alvaston
There was something almost continental (provençal, if you will) about the little village on this sunny Saturday, and I had a very enjoyable browse round the local charity shops. It was also one of the days (Friday and Saturday) of Allenton Market, which was a treasure trove of all sorts of things – including some potential fixer-upper bikes which I have my eye on!

I was also very happy to discover a PROPER Green-Grocer where I bought this amazing specimen of spring veg for my little bunnies:

Greens!

Nom nom!

Not only that, an independent bakery with an ATTACHED CAFE. Which will appear at some point on my other blog, One Sip Cafe Club at some point. As I say, I think I’m going to like it here.

But the real business of the day was ahead – I had decided I wanted to have a cycle adventure! I had been tipped of that Carsington Water was a wonderous place to be, so I plucked up my courage and set out! It was a 34 miles round trip, and was difficult but totally worth it – the whole write up will appear soon, again one for another blog, this time The Intrepid Cyclist! For now here’s a few pretty pictures…

The only other thing of note was that the girls got their first excursion to the garden! As there are quite a few kitties around I wanted to leave this momentous event until I could stay with them the whole time. The transfer was a little bit stressful (I had to take them out in their carriers, which they DO NOT LIKE) but after a while they were nibbling the grass and loafing around as normal. Hoorah!

Sunday
Another full but fabulous day – starting off with some baking! I haven’t had a chance to meet my neighbours yet which will be a big goal for next week, so I decided to make some Welcome Cookies for them as an ice-breaker. Those will appear on THIS BLOG very soon – again, here’s some pretty pictures…

There was also a fair on at the nearby Alvaston Park – being broke I couldn’t really interact as it were, but I did have a very lovely walk around with a friend and saw some very fun things – the best thing was some model boats, including one from the Alvaston Pirates!

And while other folks were having barbecues  and drinking, I decided a good wind down would be to clean my bike.

Bike Cleaning

Fun times!

Well, that’s pretty much it- thanks for reading my ramble, I promise something with a little more direction next time! At the end of this week things are definitely looking a lot better – my front room is nearly guest worthy (yay) but my bedroom is still kind of…arg.

Yeah, that will be NEXT week’s (or month’s, or year’s) task.

Byeeee!

– Spekti

The Tiny House Diary – Week One

The Tiny House

Friday 8th – The Night Before The Move
I took a psychogeographic walk around my native Chaddesden for the last time. It’s strange how I’ve only really started to appreciate this place now I’m leaving – I won’t be going far, but there was a tug on my heartstrings as I ached for all the things I didn’t do here. I am so so excited about moving to my tiny house, but even so – that is the true tragedy of life. It is so full of wonder, and our time is so limited.

Saturday 9th – Moving Day
Well, this is it.

Week One - 0
Now. what’s the thing every mover dreads? Rain.
Soaked. To. The. Skin.
Yes, a torrential downpour greeted the moving efforts – I’d say it was a baptism of fire, but it was exactly the opposite – my (wo)man with a van and her husband were great sports though. There was a terrible moment when we thought the washing machine wouldn’t fit through the kitchen doorway, but that was soon surpassed by discovering that a) it could and b) we had to get the darned thing up the steps when, due to the rain, it had less surface friction (and therefore less grip-ability) than a greased-up teflon snail.

This was compounded by the fact that I had decided to cycle to various locations to help the moving effort – in the end my trousers were clinging so closely they looked like they were painted on, and I could feel the water sloshing round my poor wet shoes like personal puddles.

When it was done I discovered that I had accidentally left my towels and tops (i.e. the things I now needed most) at the house of my friend – to whom I had also given my tumble dryer! Also I couldn’t use the power shower (specially installed in the house at my request – thanks guys! :D) as my bath was FULL OF STUFF, as was everywhere else.

Thankfully I had used some towels to wrap glassware, so I dried off, changed into pyjamas and napped – I awoke, feeling like a butterfly emerging triumphant from the chrysalis. I love my tiny house. And then I had reheated pizza. Bonus!

Week 1 - 7 - Pizza!

Sunday 10th – Day 1 In The Tiny House
A day, predictably, of tidying and sorting – but more importantly, testing the water.
It is time I revealed – I did not come here alone!
With me are two little rabbits – or rather, not, because the terms of my contract specifically state they they should not be here. So they’re not.
And any photographic evidence to the contrary is clearly forged.
So here are Effie and Oreo, the two beautiful rabbits who are definitely not residents of the Tiny House:

Week 1 - Bunnies
It was my absolutely biggest worry that they would react badly to the move, especially as they had the run of the old place and now have to spend most of their time in their cage – but since coming here they have been absolutely angelic and relaxed. Clearly they like this place as much as I do! They got their first run around in the front room today, and as you can see they are both very blase about the whole thing.

 

I visited my good friend Britta who received my old tumble dryer and (accidentally) my towels and tops – she helped me get the vital stuff back to base camp, and stayed to see the buns and have lunch. It is my ultimate goal to have LOTS of guests round here, so another important testing-the-waters moment.

Monday 11th
The main point of interest today was plumbing in the Washing Machine and getting it working – my wet clothes and the bunnies towels were getting a little close for a small space, so it was a welcome achievement when I heard the water rush and my trusty metal friend starting up as it did before.
A deeply frustrating fatigue has been plaguing me these past weeks, so an evening visit to the old house for some making-good absolutely wiped me out – it needs to be done but it is a singularly joyless task. After all, most of the time when you tidy up, you know you’ll reap the benefits – not so in this case!

The Tiny House
My New Home!

Tuesday 12th
Thank goodness the weather held up – now with no tumble dryer (or airer for that matter) I was making do with the bathroom as a laundry room, hanging things on the shower-curtain rail, but a good outdoor airing was possible in the sunshine. Another visit to the old place for more exhausting final operations.
The phrase ‘spreading yourself too thin’ is making sense to me now.  Fatigue is different from tiredness. It feels like you’ve been stretched out, like a paper-thin veneer of yourself, grey and colourless, without strength yet heavy as lead. It is, to put it bluntly, no fun.

Wednesday 13th
My phone and broadband are now live! Thanks to Utility Warehouse, the procedure went incredibly smoothly. Despite a good start to the day, after work  couldn’t face going out again to the old house so I spend the evening in doing chores, and felt thoroughly refreshed. I needed to get an early night too – Thursday I had plans…

Thursday 14th
I had already planned to take the day off from work – I was schedule to have a dental appointment (fun times!) with no idea of how long it would take, and I decided that what with loads of housework (both at old and new place) to do, it would be sensible to have free time. Whereas regular dental appointments are boring, I decided to combine this one with a visit to a famous bakery, a lovely local cafe and a MINI CYCLE ADVENTURE! You can read all about both of these on my other blogs, the Intrepid Cyclist and One Sip Cafe Club. Enjoy!

Week 1 - Setting Off
Sunshine in the morning!

Afterwards I did a LOAD of window shopping – I am ludicrously, stupidly, vibrating with excitement about all the things I’m going to buy for my new house, so I visited lots of places like the Derby Eagle Centre Market, Clearance Cookware, and Sound Bites, plus some bigger stores like Lakeland, Wilkos, Home Bargains, ALDI …all of which will get mentioned later on in this blog! Unfortunately I couldn’t buy it all as I’m on a thrift drive at the moment (being broke) – I did buy some stuff, probably too much – but I now know the best places to get what I want!

Week 1 - Lock and Lock
More of these little chaps in a later entry!

I couldn’t avoid another visit to the old place, too, but this time it wasn’t nearly as wearing – only a little left to do. As it was a Thursday I also managed to donate a load of craft stuff to the Play and Recycle Centre – a great resource that we are lucky to have here in Derby!

Friday 15th
Out of work and straight to the old house for making good. It was exhausting but productive – I got all my old wood ready for transport – some to go to the dump, some to the East Midlands Wood Recycling (where I got most of it in the first place – what goes around comes around!) and some for me. I sawed a few bits off some of the longer beams – in their previous incarnation as part of a set of craft shelves, the rabbits had nibbled them. You could be forgiven, looking at the damage, for thinking that my pets were beavers rather than bunnies.

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I also threw away my Gordon Freeman/HEV Suit which was an old costume project – I felt very bad about it, but there was no space and in any case I was planning a ‘Mark 2’ at some point.

Week 1 - HEV Suit
Goodbye, old friend

I got back at 9:00pm and determined to go to bed at a reasonable time. True to form, I stayed up until midnight making food…what that was I will tell in a future post – look out for it soon!

NB: I finally discovered the location of my PAYG electricity meter! It was hiding behind the shed all along.

Saturday 16th
On Saturday I bid the last and fond farewell to my old house, the making-good completed, the final possessions removed – the huge unwieldy wardrobe was Freegled, a load of wood taken to Raynesway and East Midlands Wood Recycling, lawn mown, carpet hoovered, hardwood steam-cleaned.
A good friend helped me move everything big, and all told it took about five hours to get things finished –  it has been a long difficult few weeks, first the move and then shuttling back and forth, but now it is done.

I have written a little ramble about handing back the keys over on one of my other blogs, the Intrepid Cyclist, about, so you can have a look there if you wish.

Week 1 - 119
Final Farewells.

Returning at nearly 8pm, I collapsed into bed for a nap, and found myself once more eating reheated pizza for supper – a welcome reward indeed! Everything I brought back was unceremoniously crammed into the shed – but not for long!

Sunday 17th
I was up with the lark to clear the shed – I am determined to start as I mean to go on, and make sure this is as spick and span as it can be.

Week 1 - Shed 1

I dragged literally everything out onto the lawn, disposing of everything left by the previous tenant and gave the place a jolly good sweeping. To an arachnophobic this particular would have probably been a nightmare as the eight-legged folk were out in force but as I am generally fond of spiders all was well – however abandoned webs and spider corpses were quickly dispatched in great dusty clumps, along with the (far more objectionable in my opinion) slug graveyards which had apparently accumulated over the years.

Week 1 - Shed 2

I tried to replace things as logically as possible, with as much access to useful things – the Christmas stuff went at the very back and the bike stuff at the very front.
I discovered that I am the proud owner of 53 pieces of wood – not impressive for the true woodworkers out there, but for the on-again off-again hobbyist like me, quite a good haul – I’ll be needing that for lots of projects soon, I hope!

Of course, everything that had to come out of the shed was, de-facto, placed in the house, so after a week of trying to tidy things…er…doesn’t look much better…

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From then on the day was idyllic. I visited a friend. I cycled through the sunshine.
I even had the incredible good fortune to run into some fundraisers for SusTrans, the cycling charity, whom I had been planning to sign up to next month – one of them got my paperwork sorted there and then, and earned a commission which would have been absent if I’d done it online. Happy days!

Week 1 - Sustrans

And finally, a toast, a little to the old house but much more to the new – even after only one short week, this place truly feels like home.

Cheers!

Week 1 - Cider