Green Apartment Living – Furniture

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Moving into an apartment I am in need of furniture again.  All of the furniture in the tiny house I had was built in and not able to relocate with me.  When I think of the environmental impact and the cost of furniture purchases, I cringe. For example, in 2005 an estimated 8.8 million tons of furniture ended up in U.S. landfills and 3 million tons of furniture are discarded each year. Since I am not sure how long I will reside in this apartment before heading off on another adventure, I do not want to participate in these statistics.  Now that I know I will not purchase new furnishing for my flat, I am left with a dilemma.  How do I come across decent furniture?

After looking at used furniture for sale and calculating the cost and time to reupholster or refinish in addition to purchasing, I am not impressed.  One day while cleaning up the land that I lived on I noticed I had quite a bit of unused building materials left over. I had an abundance of 2×6’s, 2×4’s, osb, wood screws, and nails!  After measuring out my wood pieces I began to cut and put together my living room furniture.  When finished I painted with glossy acrylic paint, let dry, spray painted stencils, let dry, and topped with a few coats of polyurethane for protection. A table and two benches were all I needed to fill this space.  All-in-all I only spent $35 on the entire living room furnishings which included the wall art I made!  Even if I had to purchase wood to make my furniture I would have come out way cheaper than buying it already made and the quality is unmatched.  I don’t know about you but I have a hard time finding good quality furniture made from all wood that isn’t extremely expensive.

The information age that we live in, anyone can search how to make furniture.  You do not have to be a master carpenter or have fancy tools to do so.  I used a basic, battery powered drill, wood, wood screws, a hand saw, and paint.  I took me a whole afternoon to make all three and paint them. It took me about a half hour to find out how to make them by doing an online search.  Through articles with pictures and YouTube tutorials I learned how to build my living room furnishings.  So, not only did I save myself a significant amount of money but I reduced my carbon footprint, and the impact on the planet.

 

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©2016 Jennifer E Thompson

 

 

 

What I Do / Don’t Miss About Off-Grid Living

Off-grid, a term that has become mainstream in the past decade or so.  When you really think about it off-grid living has been around since the beginning of time and still exist today all over the world.  So what’s with the recent surge in captivation with off-grid living?  Well, I can honestly say from experience that it does have its purks.  While my year living independent of gridded utilities, in a remote location has left me craving most of the benefits it provides, there are some factors that I can do without.  However, the drawbacks are far less than the advantages.  All in all, it is an experience I am proud to have under my belt.

What I miss

Peace and quiet.  I have never in my life experienced a more serene environment.  There is nothing like being able to hear a car before you see it or to hear the wind and rain before it reaches you.  Tranquility on this level has really allowed me to grow spiritually, intellectually, and creatively.  The down side to this is now even the little noises which aren’t that intolerable really test my patience.

No rent or bills.  Even though I did have to pay a nominal fee for water and not much more for propane, it is nothing compared to monthly utility bills, rent, or mortgage.  Financial freedom of this caliber will definitely be missed.

Freedom.  The freedom to have a garden as big as I am willing to work for.  The freedom to have a fire pit.  The freedom to have the pet of my choice.  The freedom to have a small farm if I choose.  You get my point here?

It’s hard, physical work!  While most would consider this a serious minus, I do not.  If you know me personally, you know I have major case of ants-in-the-pants.  I love to be active but hate actual exercising so this worked for me.  Daily chores like emptying the compost toilet, clearing land, working in the garden, or any other homesteading activities gave me a sense of gratification and a good nights sleep.

Being close to nature.  I loved the sound of the coyotes howling in the early evening, the pretty colored spiders, and all of the unique plant life around me.  It was like an adventure right outside my front door everyday!

What I don’t miss

Unmaintained roads.  I hated driving on rough dirt roads!  Even though I had an all wheel drive pickup, it still took a toll on my vehicle.  Monsoon season also brought its challenges with every rain. Four wheel drive was no savior!  You really have to know what you are doing.  If you get stuck you have to wait until the roads dry up and dig yourself out.  Sorry, no AAA service out there.

The undesirables of society.  Yes, this is where the sex offenders, convicts, and drug producers live.  While not everyone who lives off-grid is a criminal, you can bet your bottom dollar that you will find a great many living there.  With most rentals requiring a background check and employment verification it is easier for them to live this way.

 

 

 

 

My Year of Tiny House Living

Since the explosion of the tiny house community, I have long fantasized about building and living in my very own tiny house. After a few years of planning and saving I embarked on my very own tiny journey. I couldn’t believe I was able to do it! I already own land that has no building restrictions, no utilities, and no county maintained roads. With knowledge of the area and a good relationship with most of the locals, building plans ready to go, and lumber order placed, I was on my way.

 

The building experience was physically demanding and gratifying at the same time. While it all seemed so easy watching YouTube experiences, reading books, and blogs about others building, it wasn’t. There were days that were so taxing or everything just went absolutely wrong that I broke down and cried. Other days were like a dream, buzzing right along toward completion. Uncontrollable factors such as weather, time, and physical ability were active contributors throughout my building experience. The completion of my tiny house build was an accomplishment that brought to light my unrealized potential.

 

Moving into my tiny house was one of the proudest days of my life. Living off grid made my tiny house living experience even sweeter. Solar electricity, propane heat, hauling in my own water, and having a composting toilet were not the horrible atrocities most people think they are. Living in the rural southwest with nothing to obstruct the awe-inspiring sunrises and sunsets seemed like a dream. My future plans included chickens, a small farm of vegetables and nut trees, and possibly goats. Yes, a homestead!

 

However, along with the freedom, beauty, and ease of the American southwest came the dangers. Aside from the expected nuisances like rattlesnakes, black widows, and coyotes were the two-legged animals. The undesirables of society, drug users, drug dealers, sex offenders, thieves, and others of the like flock to these areas to avoid the law and live their reckless lifestyles. To my surprise, it wasn’t long before I was butting heads with these individuals, fighting to protect my developing homestead and safety. It came to a point where it just wasn’t worth it anymore. Therefore, I sold my tiny house and moved into an apartment in town. I still own my land with the hopes of being able to return someday. I still return for brief visits and glimpses of the captivating sunrises and sunsets. For now its back to apartment living until I embark on my next adventure.  If you know me there is one coming!

Why I Live Simply

I have always been drawn to the southwest. The sunrises and sunsets here are supernatural, leaving you awestruck. The red rock mountains, canyons with their colorful strata, wind that gently whispers among the sage brush announcing its arrival before it is felt, and skies that go on for miles. There is a sense of serenity here. Living in the middle of open pastures with no tree cover and no neighboring buildings, being left vulnerable the elements, I have never felt safer.

When I tell people where I live I am met with disturbed faces and endless questions. Why would anyone want to live out there? What would a woman be doing living out there? Are you okay? How do you live without gridded utilities? Do you have access to water and electricity? While answering their questions part of me feels sorry for them. If they could only experience the simplicity, beauty, and calmness that I do every day. When you really sit and think about it man does not need much to live. As long as the basic needs are met, (food, clothing, shelter, and water), everything else is futile. Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with the extras. Even though I live a very simple lifestyle, I have a few, and I mean few extras. Things such as Computers, appliances, video games, and many other extras bring enjoyment to our lives and make living easier. However, when we allow these things to take over our lives causing us to be out of balance or in debt, they are counterproductive.

I live in a tiny house my daughter and I built on a mobile home frame. Including the sleeping loft it is a total of 144 square feet. We do not have running water or a flush toilet. Our two 15 watt solar panels give us all of the electricity we need and then some. A camp stove cooks our meals and a small propane heater chases the chill out of our home. So that’s it, composting toilet (the bucket system), 30 watts of solar powered electricity, camp stove, propane heater, and a few 5 gallon water jugs we use to haul in water when needed. Oh, I almost forgot, the extras. A DSLR camera (me), a tablet (me), a laptop (my daughter), cell phones (both of us), Panda washing machine, and a solar battery charger to charge the batteries that power our lights. While my home is the size of most people’s closets and I have less possessions than most children do, I have never felt richer or more fulfilled in my life.

My day starts early, at daybreak, whether I am working or not. I work part time from home which allows me to maintain my lifestyle and my mini homestead. It has been about six months since we have moved here. We are still setting up our homestead while finishing the interior of our tiny house. I have finished tilling and amending the soil in the garden beds, cleared an area for the chicken coop to be built this spring, put in the first barb wire fence, and have established to composting locations. Future projects include fencing off my entire property, an orchard, a pond, and livestock. While it is so exciting and I wish I could do it all now, I have to take it one step at a time. Homesteading is a lot of physical work and it is expensive to setup. It gives me a lot to look forward to and keeps me busy. All in all I am content.

What Everyone Should Know About Living in a Tiny House

Recently building and moving into a tiny house has been a wonderful experience.  Unlike living in a traditional home or apartment it does come with its challenges.  Challenges?!  You may be thinking, How?!  Been looking at all of those YouTube videos and Google images of cute tiny houses have you?  They look so neat, comfy, and just gives the vibe of effortless living.  While I can say it is far from a drag, it is not all that it seems in those pictures and videos.  Here are my top 3 things you should know about living in a tiny house.

  1. You will clean a lot more.

The neat freak in me had no problem with this one.  Small laces get dirty a lot quicker. I must sweep about 4-5 times a day when I’m home all day. That cute little sink in your tiny house will not hold as many dishes as a traditional sink.  In fact, it might not even have enough space for one dish!  So dishes will need to be cleaned as they are used.  If you decided to take things out and not put them away it will be a crazy mess in no time.  You must be and stay organized in a tiny house.

  1. Adopt a minimalist lifestyle.

This also was not a problem for me since I have always been a minimalist.  When living in a tiny house there isn’t a whole lot of room for storage and useless things.  You have a lot less room than your traditional size apartment or home.  You will need to downsize!  If storage is important to you make sure you factor as much in as possible when designing you tiny house.

  1. They can be stolen or broken into.

If you built your tiny house on a trailer it can be stolen.  Make sure you research and invest in top quality security devices.  There are many different options available.  For example, you could use locking lug nuts with wheel locks.  The wheel locks will keep the trailer from being towed and the locking lug nuts will keep anyone from removing the tires. When I built my tiny house I used windows that are too small for anyone to get through, a pre hung, steel door, and solar powered, motion cameras. Once again make sure what you buy is of the best quality.  Security is not an area to skimp on!

I LOVE living in my tiny house!  It has many of advantages like I can save more money, I spend less on utilities, and I own it!  If something needs repair I know exactly how to fix it because I built this home with my bare hands.  I know this house better than my own body.  Even though the pros outweigh the cons sometimes the cons can be a deal breaker.  Before you invest in a tiny house make sure it is for you.

My YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRykspJ1Kc1E1xKEJ8tDtAw

GET R.E.A.L.

http://www.thebookpatch.com/BookStoreResults?search=Get%20R.E.A.L.&ddl=any

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00RS

EASY PEASY

http://www.thebookpatch.com/BookStore/easy/61c2b4c9-b77a-4727-88b3-47905d514d16?isbn=9781633186477

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DISCLAIMER

Any and all of the information stated above is for use at your own risk.  Simple Sustainable Green is not responsible for any mishaps of any kid due to reliance on the information contained within this site.  Simple Sustainable Green is not responsible for the accuracy of the content of information contained in any site used for reference.

(c) 2015 Jennifer E. Thompson

What Everyone Should Know About Building a Tiny House

I recently have built my very own tiny home.  I did as much as I could beforehand to prepare myself for this experience.  However, there were some thing I wish I had done differently.  I wish I was more realistic in my time frame and abilities, saved more money for the build, and enjoyed the process a little instead of being stressed out the whole time.  If you are considering, planning, or getting ready to build a tiny house please read below for my top 3 things you should know BEFORE you build.

  1.  It’s not easy!

When compared to traditional home building, a tiny house is easy to build.  However, that does not mean it is easy!  The walls you will frame for your tiny home will be heavy!  You still have to have exact measurements and any miscalculation will cost you time and/or materials.  You will also need to know how to use tools power and manual.  Have you ever installed a door or a window?  NOT EASY!  A great amount of physical strength and knowledge will be needed to build your tiny home.  Oh, a little building experience doesn’t hurt either.

  1. Do your research!

Are you new to building?  Do you know how to frame walls, windows, and/or doors?  Are you familiar with foundations?  Will you build you tiny house on a trailer?  Do you know what type of trailer to use and weight ratings?  Basic knowledge of house building is vital to the success of your tiny house build.

Where will you build your tiny house?  Will you be building off-grid?  Do you know what your power needs will be while building off-grid?  And my favorite, Are tiny houses against building code where your tiny house will be located?  Are there loop holes in the building codes that will allow tiny houses?  Always check with your local building department to make sure your investment isn’t in vain.  If living off-grid, will you have access to water, sewage disposal, electricity, and water?  If not how will you go about obtaining these vital utilities?  All of these areas should be thoroughly researched BEFORE you start planning the build for your tiny house!

  1. Plan! Then plan again and again!

Always plan ahead for your tiny house build.  Then make sure you have a backup plan in place because when building NOTHING EVER goes according to plan.  Do you have a location to build your tiny house?  With power?  Where will you stay if your tiny house build takes longer than expected?  Do you have an anti-theft plan in place?  Yes, if on a trailer, it can be stolen and it does happen a lot!  Always be prepared for that unknown variable that ALWAYS manages to rear its ugly head when you least expect it.

Building a tiny house can be the most enjoyable and rewarding experience.  Being realistic, educated, and prepared will ensure your success. Building is serious business, even with a tiny house, but don’t forget to have fun, laugh at your mistakes, and always be safe.

My YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRykspJ1Kc1E1xKEJ8tDtAw

GET R.E.A.L.

http://www.thebookpatch.com/BookStoreResults?search=Get%20R.E.A.L.&ddl=any

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00RS

EASY PEASY

http://www.thebookpatch.com/BookStore/easy/61c2b4c9-b77a-4727-88b3-47905d514d16?isbn=9781633186477

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00VN7RGAQ

DISCLAIMER

Any and all of the information stated above is for use at your own risk.  Simple Sustainable Green is not responsible for any mishaps of any kid due to reliance on the information contained within this site.  Simple Sustainable Green is not responsible for the accuracy of the content of information contained in any site used for reference.

(c) 2015 Jennifer E. Thompson

To Thirt or Not to Thrift

A while ago I posted an article about thrift store shopping.  I know most people cringe at the thought of purchasing clothing previously worn by God knows who.  However, clothing can be washed or dry cleaned.  More importantly, it is a great way to purchase quality goods that will last longer than newly purchased cheap quality items.  With that said, I do have my limits.  I will NOT purchase used shoes, under garments, cookware, or eating utensils.  It just seems like a health risk to me.

Another complaint that I always hear is that thrifted clothing is worn out, beat up, damaged beyond saving, or stained. Yes, I have come across a lot of items like this but there are also many things in great condition.  I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have found clothing that has never been worn with the tags still on it and at a fraction of the cost!  The key is to be patient and make sure you have plenty of time to closely examine clothing you are wanting to purchase.  Sometimes you may find something that is in good condition but needs minor repairs like new buttons.  All you have to do is buy new buttons or take it to a dry cleaner to have them put on.

Not all thrift stores are created equal.  You might have to visit a few before you can find one with worthwhile buys.  However, when you do it is pretty sweet!  Check in inner cities.  I live in an inner city and it has a few thrift stores with the best buys I have seen in a long time. When I was living in the suburbs the thrift stores weren’t that good.  Thrift store shopping saves goods that would be otherwise be in a landfill, saves money, and is an affordable means to quality clothing items.

This week I decided to revamp my minimalist wardrobe with a little thrift store therapy.  Look at what I picked up for $36!

Banana Republic trench coat

Miss Lili jean blazer

Jones New York cardigan

Laura Scott tank

Charter Club straight leg pants

DISCLAIMER

Any and all of the information stated above is for use at your own risk.  Simple Sustainable Green is not responsible for any mishaps of any kid due to reliance on the information contained within this site.  Simple Sustainable Green is not responsible for the accuracy of the content of information contained in any site used for reference.

(c) 2014 Jennifer E. Thompson

 

Affordable Vegan Eats

I cannot begin to tell you how many times I hear people say a vegan diet is too expensive. They are baffled when I explain to them that I save big money by eliminating animal products from my diet. I find that the majority of the expense in vegan eating is found in processed vegan foods. So in order to save money you are going to have to spend some time in the kitchen. Not kitchen savvy or much of a cook? Not to worry! These dishes are easy to make, have minimal ingredients, and are super easy.

First, let’s take a look at the most important meal of the day, breakfast.  I LOVE oatmeal!  It is very versatile and you can mix it up with a variety of seeds and/or fruit.  If you are trying to stay away from gluten you can blend brown rice to flakes and cook it just like oatmeal.  It’s kind of like the baby rice cereal you see in stores.  It pretty much tastes similar to oatmeal when cooked. How about baked potatoes with sliced onion, garlic, and seasoned with rosemary.  These are my favorite cold weather morning eats. But when it’s too hot or I just don’t have the time I need an alternative. That’s when I turn to good old fruit, fruit salads that can be prepped the night before or just plain watermelon.

Lunches and dinner are just as easy.  I like the versatility of salads.  You can add fruit, beans, pasta, whatever floats your boat.  Then there is spaghetti which can be made with regular pasta or zucchini noodles.  How about homemade salsa and chips?  Craving a hot soup?  How about lentil soup or black bean soup which can double as a dip for vegetables and chips?  My favorite summertime soup is avocado and cucumber. Chop them up and pop them in a blender or food processor and it’s soup!

Then we have snacks, another favorite of mine.  I hear a lot of people complain about not having enough variety for vegan snacks.  You will be surprised how many options you have.  Things like nuts, dried fruit, popcorn, celery and peanut butter, apples and peanut butter, chopped vegetables, crackers, and pretzels.  The beauty about snacking on fruits and vegetables is you can have as much as you want.  They have minimal calories and are loaded with vitamins and nutrients that your body needs.

The key to low cost vegan meals is simple, stick to the basics.  By this I mean lots of produce, unprocessed foods, and a little creativity.  Yes, this does require a little more planning and preparation but NOTHING is for free.  You can either spend the money or spend the time.  The choice is yours.

DISCLAIMER

Any and all of the information stated above is for use at your own risk.  Simple Sustainable Green is not responsible for any mishaps of any kid due to reliance on the information contained within this site.  Simple Sustainable Green is not responsible for the accuracy of the content of information contained in any site used for reference.

(c) 2014 Jennifer E. Thompson

Green Living Reflections

As the end of the year draws near, many of us begin to reflect on the year past and the year to come.  What were you the most proud of?  What goals did you accomplish?  What setbacks did you encounter and why? What will you do differently next year?  What did you learn?  What are your resolutions for this year? These are just a few questions that run through our minds this time of the year.

     When thinking of our environment, what changes can you implement this coming year?  Will you start to recycle your garbage?  Will you cut down on your paper usage?  Will a small, kitchen garden be on the agenda for 2014?  Yes, it is that simple!  When discussing “green” lifestyle choices many think that they are either too difficult or expensive.  However, that is not true.  Environmentally friendly lifestyle options can be very simple and small but have a big impact on our fragile environment.  For example, reusing glass jars from previously purchased food items for storing food or any other miscellaneous item.  This cuts down on waste and also saves you a some loot that would have been spent on purchasing storage containers.

    The sole purpose of my blog is to share inexpensive and simple ways to live an environmentally friendly lifestyle.  So, this is my challenge for you in 2014.  Find three different ways that you can reduce your carbon footprint this coming year.  Please, feel free to rummage through my posts for ideas.  There are quite a few articles and please let me know if any of my ideas have worked for you.  If needed dig deep and do some research.  There are many different ways to go about this.  Get creative, think outside the box, and have fun!

Disclaimer

Any and all of the information stated above is for use at your own risk.  Simple Sustainable Green is not responsible for any mishaps or damages of any kind due to reliance on the information contained within this site.  Simple Sustainable Green is not responsible for the accuracy or content of information contained in any site used for reference.

(c) 2013 Jennifer E. Thompson

Eco-Friendly Gift Ideas

I have some wonderful gift giving ideas for you! So hold on before you prepare for the mad dash on black Friday.  Have you ever thought about making gifts for the holidays?  It might sound cheesy but homemade gifts are pretty cool and show that you put thought and care into the gift.  Now the question is, what could you make that someone would possibly want or appreciate?  Well, there are several different ideas to choose from.  I will start with a few of my favorites.

How about making food items to give away?  This could be cooking oil with peppers and herbs, homemade jams or preserves, and all of these can be put into glass bottles from previous food items you purchased.  All you have to do is add a little decoration to the outside with ribbons or painted stencils!  Then there is always scented soaps, candles, and infused body oil.  This is super easy to make just by melting down glycerin soap or candle wax and adding dry herbs, dry flowers, scented oils, maybe oatmeal, or honey.  Both candles and soap can be put into cool shaped molds that cost little to nothing.  Instead of buying wrapping paper why not use old magazines, newspapers, or even extra fabric you have laying around to wrap those homemade gifts.  Okay, so you are not good with food, candle making, or soap.  There are still options for you.  Are you tech savvy? Why not make a photo disk, calendar, t-shirt, or mugs with you gift receivers favorite photos?  Can you sew or crochet?  Nothing beats a handmade sweater, blanket, hat, or scarf and glove set!

With the current economic climate and the holiday season already upon us, some of us might not have the financial means to dote on our love ones with expensive gifts.  However, this does not mean that you cannot give at all.  Homemade gifts are not only economically smart but also they help our fragile environment by cutting down on your carbon footprint.  Using glass jars from previous purchased food items, old magazines and newspapers, or fabric you already have significantly reduces your carbon footprint.  Make it a family project and create not only great gift but memories as well.  Have fun and get creative!

Disclaimer

Any and all of the information stated above is for use at your own risk.  Simple Sustainable Green is not responsible for any mishaps or damages of any kind due to reliance on the information contained within this site.  Simple Sustainable Green is not responsible for the accuracy or content of information contained in any site used for reference.

(c) 2013 Jennifer E. Thompson