I have good news and sad news.

The good news is life outside the tiny house has pretty much been status quo this summer; hiking the Olympics, backpacking Alaska, bike-touring eastern Oregon, the usual. Tomas continues his work with Ride With GPS and mountain biking in stunning places.


Photo by Brad Reber


Nature and the outdoors continue inspiring me and I’ve discovered the joy of birding (and writing a birding blog!)

Great Horned Owl

The exceptionally sad news is we had to say goodbye to Benjamin this summer.



Life inside the tiny house will never be the same. I know many people have experienced this loss and know how hard it is. He was the best kitty companion I’ve known and his curious, funny, quirky personality is greatly missed. The tiny house feels empty without him, but our hearts are filled with happy memories of the little furball.

He would gently paw my face in the morning to wake me up, and run to the ladder to go down at the exact same moment I did. When we arrived home he would greet us, run over, and meow lovable meows. He was smart, adaptable, and quickly understood how to use the cat-door. He thoroughly enjoyed his time outside laying in sunny spots. He loved car rides and would often hop in the car when we got home. He moved across the country with me and into a tiny house like it was no big deal.

He was a champ and we sorely miss him.



To honor his memory, I’ve planted a memorial garden in one of his favorite spots in the garden. In spring, orange and white tulips will grow in his memory.


We love and miss you Benjamin.

Miss the cat

Tiny house life goes on, as time heals.


Audrey & Tomas

We’ve passed our two year mark living in the Hunny House!

Not too much has changed to the interior; a bit more clutter and dust (not too surprising, eh?).


A few improvements:

We replaced the ceiling trim (since the wood the builders stapled up fell down). We measured, and then bought strips from Mr. Plywood. I stained them over the summer, and Tomas installed them with brass screws:


We have a bathroom door! With a real door handle! The door is a standard width ordered from Home Depot that Tomas trimmed (top/bottom) to fit the space. I ordered a flat-handle, and just last week Tomas finished up the job by adding the door-catch on the wall. Now we (and guests) have a teensy bit more privacy.

We installed a French drain for our greywater! We decided on a super simple set-up since our water output is very low. We found a larger perforated pipe at Home Depot with a sleeve that fits around it to keep small sand bits out. We dug a trench about 1.5-2ft deep with a gradual slope away from the house. So far all systems seem to be working okay, no sign of floods or puddles and hopefully the garden will benefit in the dry summer from the extra water input. I planted mint near the greywater exit to mask any smells.

Speaking of water, so far so good with our new water heater (Her Watery Highness). We’ve recently had some below-freezing temps to test it, hopefully the functioning streak continues!

Since tiny houses shift and settle, we had to address small cracks in the caulk along the exterior house and window corners and edges. It was a rather simple improvement recommended to us by a home inspector, who said it’s one of the best ways we can keep up the integrity of the exterior wood. Sealing them properly will keep the rain and moisture from penetrating and damaging the wood. Hooray, we finally did it!


One of the biggest projects this year that we accomplished was PAINTING THE EXTERIOR TRIM! What a big job that was – borrowing ladders, taping edges, spilling paint, cleaning up paint, fleeing from wasps, dismantling the awning, waiting for sunny days – but we did it! It was the original plan, to have a bright trim color, but since we had other improvements to make first, this project was delayed. I think the final paint job turned out pretty well, don’t you?


We haven’t just settled more into the tiny house this past year; we’ve also settled our minds a bit. Over the year, I still had moments questioning if this is the right decision for us. We wondered if this is a good investment long-term or if we “need” more space. I don’t know what the “right” answers are, but I think it’s a good idea to reflect why we’re making our choices.

We’ve adapted pretty well over two years in the house, and we figure, why not try a few more? Honestly, we no longer feel like we’re “trying” on the tiny house, instead we’re living our lives with the house in the background (especially since we’ve fixed the major errors caused by our builder).

We continue to adapt when things come up, like when Tomas moved his art studio inside, or when my Aunt and cousin needed a place to stay for a wedding in town – we make do and it works! There’s no question of the immediate financial benefits, and we hope that if some day we ever have to sell, the market will be there. We see most of our friends buying big houses, but there tiny house peeps joining the network every day (even in our neighborhood!). We’re excited to see where this next year takes us all.

Making room for the uke.

Making room for the uke.

Happy New Year! – Love, Audrey, Tomas, and Benjamin


P.S. Not only is it New Year’s Day, it’s also Benjamin’s 16th birthday! Happy birthday to our beloved Fluffernutter.


I don’t look a day over 7


We’re nearing our two year tiny-versary! After two years, we’re still happily living in the Hunny House.

Since we last posted, I graduated from PSU with my bachelor’s degree in science, and Tomas won the job lottery when he was recently hired on by RideWithGPS. We’ve also gone backpacking in the Goat Rocks Wilderness, biked around Crater lake, and bike-camped at the coast and in the wilderness. Benjamin has spent the summer sleeping in bags and boxes. Exciting times!


Tiny-house related items we’ve accomplished this summer: We installed a french drain for our greywater! We caulked the exterior! We painted the trim red! (pics coming!)… and THE BEST DECISION WE’VE MADE SO FAR: we hung hammocks inside the house!


Tomas came up with a super simple set-up; just 1/4 in. large screws into the rafters (that we can’t even see when the hammocks aren’t hung). I don’t know why we didn’t think of this sooner…


The hammock also makes a good cat magnet:




“Ugh, I can smell the toilet again”

I don’t know what other people eat so their poop doesn’t smell, but in our house, we have to outwardly vent the toilet otherwise our home will begin to accumulate an aroma that is not entirely pleasant.

We do the best we can to keep the stink at bay, and most days it’s not an issue at all. But, lately our house has this lingering hint of outhouse that needed to be addressed.

Although the fan on our toilet had been doing an OK job of keeping the stinks at bay, it didn’t seem to be helping at all. It was time to get “handy” with a screwdriver.

Somehow, a very fine mist of sawdust had worked its way up the toilet vent and was causing some blockage.

Dirty Fan Filter




After running the filter under the tap for a few minutes, the dust washed out and we were back in business.


One of the leads had broken off the AC adapter plug in the vent mount.

Broken Wiring

Luckily, I’m just skillful enough with a soldering-iron to get this AC flowing.

Humming fan, lack of “aroma”, and we were back in “doing our business”.

Happy Days.


Another 6 weeks, another propane tank.

Why won’t the Acme nut screw in?

Oh. That plastic thing broke.

Broken Acme Nut

Bought a pig-tail at one hardware store, the one pigtaill they had in stock and it wasn’t the right size nor did they have an adapter to make it fit.

Calling and visiting 5 more places, they either didn’t have any idea of what our needs were or they just didn’t have the proper part in stock.

Well, after calling around town and trying to get a new “pig tail”, we finally met someone at Hometown Hearth & Grill that understood our propane-dilemma. Although Acme nuts are easy to replace by hand, we would be regularly plagued by broken plastic ring thingies. Brass is stronger than plastic, duh.

Brass Fitting

Although a wrench will be required every time we needed to swap tanks, the brass fitting would hold up better in the long run, a run we hope will last many more years.

After a year and 4 months, we’re still alive! And still living tiny!

We have been busy bees at the Hunny House; Tomas training for Pacific Northwest Search and Rescue and I working full-time and taking two classes this term to finish my degree this spring (!) at Portland State University.

In tiny house news, we can finally celebrate having hot water again!

After three months with no hot water (and many weeks without running water at all), we have the luxury of showering at home and washing dishes without first boiling water on the stove. Portland (as was most of the U.S.) was hit with a cold winter this year, and it delayed delivery and installation of our new hot water heater (Her Watery Highness).

It was hard to get ahold of plumbers, but I think we finally found our repair people: mobile RV repair services! I guess I knew this kind of service existed, but I hadn’t thought about it for tiny homes. It makes sense though, and I’m hoping they’ll continue to be a helpful resource.

There are a couple of companies in town; we hired At Your Service Mobile RV Inc. because they have good reviews on Angie’s List and they were recommended by our local RV-supply store, Curtis Trailers. I winced when they asked for the make/model of our RV on the phone, but they were gracious and understanding when I explained our situation. They were professional, helpful, and gave a reasonable estimate. They’ve since installed the water heater and everything is working great so far! We’re very pleased.

We like the Rinnai V53e unit so far; it’s a lot quieter than the other (which sounded like a jet-engine when it kicked on) PLUS it’s rated for outdoor use. It is the same unit a couple living tiny in our neighborhood has, and they made it through this winter with zero water heater problems. We’re hoping we’ll be as fortunate next winter!


We’re on week 3 with no running water.

Portland recently had a very cold spell that froze our water heater causing the internal coils to burst. We came home from a Tiny House Mixer one night when temperatures finally rose above freezing to find water gushing out of the water heater. So we shut off the water supply, went through a bit of homeowner shock and depression, and assessed how we were going to fix this. Our plumbing is currently set up so that all running water goes through the water heater; with it out of commission, so is the water flow to our sink and shower.




It didn’t help that our builders installed an INDOOR water heater outside our house. They assured us they followed protocols for installing a water heater that was supposed to be outdoors (they told us this during the time we still trusted them). It was the reason why we have a dead spot in the corner of the “L” kitchen; we attempted to design the kitchen to contain the water heater indoors, but the builders said, it has to be outdoors.  This is the model that broke. It states clearly on the website “indoor tankless water heater”. And that “I” in the model name? Yep, you guessed it: INDOOR. Not that we need more evidence, but add this to the many reasons why we would not recommend Tiny Smart House Llc as builders.

It has been stressful to shop for a water heater when you really need one. We want to take our time, do research, not make an impulsive (expensive) purchase, and we want to purchase a product that will work in our climate. Plumbers have (shockingly) given estimates from $2,000-$3,000 to replace and install a water heater. Ecotemp, the company that makes our current, broken water heater, offered a discount on a new outdoor model, but they were honest and said their products work best in Florida and Hawaii and even their outdoor models don’t withstand freezing temperatures well.

We were close to upgrading to the RV-550 which we’ve heard rave reviews about and could probably retro-fit into the house by cutting out a hole and using the ‘dead’ corner space, but the $1200 purchase price scared me away. There’s even a cool youtube video on how to install.

In the end, we decided to go with a water heater our friends and tiny house neighbors have which got them through the cold snap with no problems. The Rinnai V53E ordered from here for $600 (inc shipping). We’ve learned that exterior water heaters have an internal heating system to keep the coils from freezing and breaking. This won’t prevent the hoses coming in/out of the heater from freezing, we’ll still have to winterize those, but it would keep the internal coils from breaking. The water heater won’t ship until late next week due to the holidays so until then we’re patiently (okay not so patiently) waiting for our new one to arrive.

In the mean time, we’re buying gallon jugs of drinking water and filling up empties with hose water to boil and use to wash dishes. I’m showering at the gym and Tomas is relying on friends to lend a shower. It has been inconvenient and costly, but my money’s on 2014 to be a fresh start with fewer home repairs!

We’ll update with the installation process!

Update: In a moment of genius inspiration, YouTube searching, and one Home Depot trip we now have running (cold) water! Tomas saved the day when he came up with the idea to install a “copper push-fit end stop” to keep the water from flowing into the ‘hot’ section of the water heater. Who’s ready for a cold shower!!


Cheers and happy holidays to all!


Although we are now in the house for 13 months, we finally had our first real snow accumulation!


The city has been going through a cold spell along with the rest of the country, but we didn’t seem to get it as bad as other cities.

This snow-day just so happen to be my day off and the day I wanted to try a different heater to combat the frost.

Home Depot employees were brave enough to get to the store before the shoppers and have coffee and heaters ready for us unprepared squirrels.


Most of the snow was gone by mid-day, but not before giving Mr B a chance to experience the white stuff. He was not a happy kitty.


Nearing the end of 2013 and just breaching our first year in the tiny house, we’ve come to realize that although the house is wrapped in R-13 rated pink insulation and seems to be blocking drafts quite well, it does get cold a bit easy.

For the most part, we’ve been able to keep warm by using a low power convection heater by Envi for most of the day and a Vornado  when we wanted a bit more heat in the lower part of the house. Unfortunately, we are still running the entire house off of a standard household outlet that is limited to 15 amps at any one time. Since the temperatures dipped below 28F, running either heater on Medium setting just isn’t keeping us quite warm enough. The house doesn’t seem to want to get over 55F. That’s just too chilly for our comfort.

We started to notice a few deficiencies in our insulation. We had to add a couple of missing strips of foam near the cat door, filled a few gaps in the corner of the french door that was never opened.


We also purchased some cedar lattice along with some contractor grade plastic sheeting to close off the crawl space and limit the heat loss by wind. We also wrapped the entire length of hose in foam pipe insulation. The instant water heater got dressed in bubble-wrap, and all the windows covered in additional plastic.  The floor was also getting quite chilly and proved too much for bushy socks, so we purchased rugs to help fend off the chill.

The house is still a bit chilly at 58F, and although the outside temperatures are going up a bit, but we have already started thinking ahead to purchasing a propane-fired marine-grade furnace to battle the next cold snap.

Living in the Pacific Northwest is awesome! It’s also very damp…

We’ve been cautious about moisture issues in our small space and wanted to increase airflow under the bed in the loft since it’s been rumored other tiny housers have encountered mold under their mattresses. Moisture from body heat gets trapped underneath causing the growth. Originally, we had our super thick pillow-top mattress on simple Ikea bed slats, but Tomas had a nifty idea to raise the bed by making a few modifications.

We went to Home Depot and had a few cedar boards cut to match the length of the slats, and he screwed the pieces together to make a nice “bed frame.” We also replaced the uber-thick mattress with a thinner one that we like better.





Benjamin approves!


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