Monday, October 11, 2010

Pretty Container

A fabulous container guest house was just featured on Desire to Inspire (love that blog) - its a guest cottage made from a container and they did a fabulous job of mixing true container with an attractive cottagey feel.

Designed by Poteet Architects , here is a direct link to the posting.

They did such a great job, I love that its still container on the outside, but its not that noticeable or dirty looking, like some projects. Check out the blog and look at the cool composting toilet they put in, great idea to avoid putting in a septic system just for a small place or having to tie into existing and then getting all the hassle of the permits and putting another bedroom on your system and its probably  not rated for that. I think these new composting toilets are the way to go and even though $$, they are A LOT cheaper than digging up the septic and re-doing it!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Container Dormitory

How amazing would this have been when you were in Uni? Container dorms in Le Havre, France are made from used containers and each contain their own bathroom and kitchen....not too shabby.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Container Cabana

Here is a fabulous and easy container reno with all recycled material. Not a bad location too.Posted from ReNest.

This will go on the inspiration list for the house in AZ, this is a perfect design, just needs to incorporate a few more containers for size....Great out there for ventilation, cooling, shade, and rainwater collection which is vital.

its 2 x 20 ft containers sandwiched together for a nice size little get-a-way. Check out more pics HERE.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Java love

I hate coffee, never had a cup of the stuff, love the smell, hate the taste, ICK! But I do love the bags that coffee comes in. Not the little waxed or plastic bags at the grocery stores but the big, burlap bags that the beans come in from the plantations before they are roasted. I had no idea that coffee beans were green - who knew.

Anyway, Kyle has been getting some coffee bags from the coffee roaster next door to their fire station in Emeryville. Well, I have been having fun playing around with the bags. The successful project a cool pillow - and it has a zipper!

There are 2 other projects I am attempting - one is not working out so no more will be said on that subject. The other is covering our ottoman.....just got a new electric staple gun for that puppy. I can't wait to get started. And I am also taking sewing lessons so hopefully my skills will improve.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Green Cork, Cork that is Green by design not color

There is a great article over at Re-Nest today on how green and sustainable Cork is. Its got some great pictures of cork harvesting and the piece stresses how regulated the cork industry is in the Mediterranean regions where it grows so well. Check it out.

Friday, July 23, 2010

You had to go There

Of course, you knew the second this was released that we would covet the idea. yes, dumpster pools. SO EXCITING! We aren't big "pool" people but when the temps hit 100 here it would be rather nice to have a little splash. But we have no intentions on spending tens of thousands on a fancy pool by some fancy contractor.

See the full article at Inhabitat

Enter - the Dumpster.

Such a fantastic idea, just dig a hole, stick the pool in, insert liner and water filtration and rotation system and voila, a lovely pool that is just deep enough and just big enough for fun. And if you ever don't want the darn thing, just pull it out and fill in the hole, or build a wine cellar.
And speaking as home owners that have a filled in old swimming pool in the front yard - pools stink, now we have to dig up the concrete, what fun.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Denim Pine

A repost from ReNest - I just found out about Denim Pine .

Hmm, sometimes things cross your path and you wonder if its just a green spin on a regular or alternative product or if it really is an innovative alternative use or product. It can boggle the mind to try to think what are the repercussions, unintended consequences, what have we not thought of that will come back to haunt us if we jump whole heartedly on the band wagon. But as Treehugger says - "Silk Purses from Sow's Ears".

Denim Pine is one of those things for me. It sounds so obvious and cool and makes perfect sense, but is it?

So we have all heard of the Pine Beetle infesting the lodgepole pine in much of Canada and parts of the NW U.S. Its devastating to the lumber industry and I know in Canada they are using much of this infested wood for industrial, throw away uses, road base across sensitive perma-frost in the summer for access to remote logging and mining locations. But now its starting to make an entry into the design world and my first impression is, its really cool, makes perfect sense and could start to be an upside to a rampant infestation that looks to have no solution.

Because of the higher temps, call it Global Warming, Climate Change or just a trend, whatever you believe, the pine beetle is thriving with these mild winters and hot summers of late. The pine beetle brings with it a fungi that infests the wood and ultimately kills the tree. So they harvest the dead tree and utilize the wood - which has no reduction in strength than a non-infested lodgepole pine, once milled and kiln dried the fungi is gone leaving the wood, so they say, free of health risks but leaving the wood with a blueish hue. It is banned in the U.K. because of health risks but I couldn't find anywhere that talked about and health consequences.

Its actually a really cool blue color and after living in a house that is wall to wall, yellow polyurethane wood paneling, I am loving the cooler, blue color, lightens up the wood look. Could it be that we could utilize this already dead resources and thus preserve healthy, strong trees?

You can read more on the facts of Denim Pine HERE. Or get industry feedback HERE.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Her name was Lola, she was a showgirl

Kyle asked me if I wanted a new car or a little utility vehicle for tooling around the land. I chose Lola and now that i work at home she also serves as my commuter vehicle, though Ziggy often causes a back up on the driveway as he stops to sniff and pee.

Lola is fantastic. She is the best thing we could have ever gotten for the farm. Her little pick up part lifts so she can dump. She has a better drink holder than my car and she even has headlights. She goes through any kind of terrain, she is just amazing. Lover HER!!

 For a little while I had all my tools in a bag that I kept in the cab part. But every time Ziggy or Kyle got in there was no room. So Kyle built me a little toolbox welded on the front, its fantastic.

It fits everything I need as we trundle around the property.
Also, behind the driver's seat is my Rattlesnake Wrangler tool. We are actually getting some rattlesnake tongs to be able to move the suckers when we find them and relocate them somewhere in the forest to live their lovely lives far, far away.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Container Home in Richmond CA

ReNest just featured the container home in Richmond, CA on their blog. Some great pics and info. We have toured this house and met the owner and architects, they are great and the home is stunning. They used insulated containers, thus eliminating ht need to add insulation. We thought about this but with all the cutting our house will require, it would be a beast to cut through insulated walls and insulated containers are insulated on the inside and thus you lose precious space, ours will be insulated on the outside.

It does run right over the Hayward Fault - apparently the foundation was quite a job to engineer to withstand that impact. Its in a lovely part of Richmond up in the hills and backs on to Wildcat Canyon, a great park I used to run Ziggy in.
Richmond Container Home on ReNest

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Container Home featured at Dwell on Design this Year

This nearly got past me - god forbid I miss a container home. Jetson Green just featured a container home that is on display at Dwell on Design this week in LA. Its pretty cool, and the company - IQ Haus - has kept it really affordable. Pictures and Info courtesy of the fabulous Jetson Green blog.

I love the black metal surround on the windows and the siding. For our house I would love to have some kind of wood siding or slats like this. Kyle is worried about putting wood siding on due to fire risks but I am thinking if we utilize on the front it would not be exposed to where a wildfire would come in from and with the driveway and parking area in front would be a good fire break.

This is a really great design, so easy to move, place and run and its attractive and usable.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Reaping the Benefits from Education

Back in January I took a fruit tree pruning class at UC Davis - kind of the holy grail of fruit trees in the U.S. It was a great one day class with lots of hands on time - aka hacking the heck out of poor, innocent adolescent fruit trees.

The two instructors are both PhDs in Pruning, I am not kidding, though I am sure they have proven competencies in other aspects of fruit trees and horticulture.

If I left this class with one message it was - "If in doubt, cut it out". I was quite shocked at the hacking and slashing that went on. They just cut, cut, cut, obviously choosing their cuts but in some cases cut half of the growth off the trees.
 Being new to this whole gardening and green thumb stuff, I was fairly shocked, it seemed to go against my whole "don't touch it, leave it as nature put it and hope this one doesn't die" approach. Hmmm, guess I have been wrong!

We have so many pear, apple, walnut and plum trees that have been so long neglected that it was time to heed the advice I garnered in that cold, bleak field in the central Valley of CA and begin the massacre. I only attacked about a third of our trees and did it on a day that Kyle was at work so I wouldn't have to hear the cries of horror as I mutilated his babies.

Fast forward to now mid-June and WOW! I will tell you the difference in the trees that I pruned is unbelievable. They are thick and lush and green, they look healthy and are producing much healthier and robust fruit. I will let you know if they taste better, but word on the street is that pruning makes a big difference to taste too.

So go out there this winter and hack away at those fruit trees, eliminate all that vigor and you will reap the rewards next summer in some tasty fruit.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Wind, wind and more wind

What a long hiatus but amazing. We just got back from a fabulous vacation and are now hitting the "to do " list that seems to have grown while we were away both with fixes that cropped up to be done but also all those new ideas we generated during those long brainstorming hours in the truck.

The biggest thing that came out of the vacation was WIND! It was everywhere and it was so exciting to go to a part of the country where localized wind production was
so prevalent and relied upon. I am not talking those fabulous wind farms that run through Texas and the midwest but through Arizona and Southern Utah where you see small
Sky Stream and
Bergy wind turbines pumping away from the constant warm winds that flow. Whether it was a gas station at the side of the highway, a small farm or a remote rancher pumping water for
cattle, you couldn't drive more than a few miles without seeing a windmill working away generating much needed power.
We spent half of our vacation on the property that my mom bought in Eastern AZ just north of the White Mountains. The property sits on the old King's Ranch that is thousands of acres. It is split up into privately owned lots and BLM land. My mom's piece is 80 acres and is bordered on 2 sides by BLM. Its very remote being 20 miles from the nearest paved road and 30 miles from any kind of town. You sit on her property and cannot see a sole, house, building, road or anything. Its absolutely amazing. It also has no water or power. So its exciting to start to settle onto the land and figure out ways to generate power and store water, its amazing the options that are available.

The biggest thing that stuck out was the constant breeze/winds that crossed the land. At 6,500 feet elevation and up on a knoll with views for over 100 miles, the winds just roll in and for the first time we all got excited about the viability of a windmill. There are few people that live out in this area and fewer that live all year round so most of our ideas are a test at what will work best. We took stock of all the variables of the property and are going back to research the best infrastructure to implement over the next year or so.
With all this wind racing around you, you start to look for other areas where turbines could be working away with minimal work - top of street lights, power lines, on every house, the possibilities are endless. So I was excited to see Burger King embrace this idea, post courtesy of Inhabitat. We see great solar applications on many businesses but its exciting to see wind integrated in big energy consumers to offset energy use using localized power.

The area of AZ where our land is, is also home to quite a few coal fire power plants which is sad to see. There was a large scale wind farm on the books in 2002 and for some reason it was canned. I have called and tried to find out why but never got an answer. Its sad to see so much valuable natural resources just blow smoke stacks instead of wind turbines. Maybe one day if T. Boone Pickens gets his way or, God forbid, there are anymore mining tragedies.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Just Like Everything in Nature

I just love it when someone comes up with a brilliantly simple idea and I smack myself on the head and think "Why the heck didn't I think of that" - UGH!

LufDesign - a zip tie with style. And since Kyle is a zip tie freak, its second answer to every problem at home after duct tape, he will love this chic take on the traditional black.
They had me a cord control
So smitten with these things - check out their website
If you scroll further down the page, take a look at fork and cream sauce, so funny.
And at $7 for 12, that is not bad and cute colors too.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Container Homes in Haiti

For many the use of container homes as shelter housing or replacement housing in disaster regions of the world isn't received well. To say they are earthquake safe, fire resistant, waterproof and can be hurricane safe - I don't know what the dispute is really about.

Of course in Haiti, anything has to be better than a tarp or a tent. I just saw this posting on Inhabitat about Green Container International Aid providing containers designed homes to be built around the country for immediate and long term housing. I just think that this makes so much sense, Kyle sent me this picture -
My thought is that you are a heck of a lot more likely to walk away from this than from this:
 Hmmm, 2 million homeless, 700,000 abandoned containers, makes sense as a great way to protect these ones from hurricanes, future earthquakes and provides a safe and secure home that they can call their own.

Check out Inhabitat's article - its pretty exciting stuff.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Bath Tub Addiction

My addiction to bath tubs and finishing old cast iron ones has been fed with this post from my favorite blog EVER, Remodalista. I love every one of these tubs and it gives me renewed excitement to try my hand at refinishing the two we have to be incorporated in the new house and the cottage.

I am in the midst of redesigning the blog a tad, as you can see its a bit off kilter. Recently the fabulous Brian Bussiere (Jess's redder half) gave Kyle and I a rundown of how to use Photoshop. Unfortunately, its loaded on Kyle's laptop, and you think I ever get my hands on that thing. So once I can get in and fix the pics, hopefully it will look a bit more professional.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Fantastic Malaysian Container Home

 This is a great example of utilizing containers in home and shows some great shots of how it was done.

Here is a video of the house.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

More Time

Long time no post - its one of those times where things are just taking a long time to finish. We are hard at work but most of the projects we have going are taking a bit to come to completion and I hate posting mid way through.

We are working on insulating the workshop office, which is proving to be a challenge to be green and cheap!! The outside siding and interior windows are in and it looks fantastic. We have one wall done and as soon as its finished we will give you a preview.

We also acquired 11 trees from the Arbor Foundation. they had sent me a survey this winter and because I love trees I filled it out and sent it back with a little donation. Low and behold it came with a membership and they sent 11 bare root trees. They are the littlest stubs right now but are at home in their new 5 gallon buckets where they will live for a year (if I don't kill them first) and then be located to their permanent home.

On top of that we got 20 new blueberry bushes from a great local source, thanks James. We got Bluehaven, Duke, Blue Ray, Rubel and Hannah's Choice, He threw the last one in for free, how could you not! So we are now getting ready to get them settled in their new home in the newly cleared acreage just west of the workshop.

Yes, we have been busy clearing a lot of the blackberries and overgrowth from the fields. Its amazing how the tractor makes quick work of it but its also all the growth that has accumulated.
So now we need a rototiller to prep for the blueberries. They are about 2-3 years old and ready to go to a permanent home. We need to do some soil work first as, though we have good acidic soil in this area, we need to aerate the soil and improve the drainage before they get situated. I also settled some lavender in as an experiment. Let's just say, to date, the experiment is failing.
The next project is to clear an area between the driveway and the road for some bee hives. We met a family that is 4th generation bee keepers and they will be bringing over some hives to keep honey bees on the property. We are really excited to get them situated and hope they help our fruit trees but they do need to have a bear fence around them, naughty bears!

So that is the update for now. The house is coming along. We are desperately trying to select windows, which is difficult because all the windows I see in magazines that I like are nothing like what you see when you go to the big name window manufacturers. Its a very frustrating process. We also moved the staircase. It was a constant problem with alllowing for headroom and maintaining the structure of the container. We moved them over near the front door and master bedroom and love the new location and the look of them there. So now that this issue is resolved we are pushing forward on to the next issue......
The rain this spring has been insane. Non-stop rain and cold. Which is great for the state and water levels and the waterfalls are gorgeous, but enough already. The blooms are certainly pretty but quite late this year because of the cold.
We got both the water tanks hooked up on the workshop so the 3,000 gallons are saved for the summer and it took no time at all to collect with all this rain. Plan now is another 5,000 gallon tank and a 2,500 gallon tank.
On Friday we are off to the El Dorado Home Show to scope out some windows, I have little faith.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Not the Weirdest of the ALL

We sure get some strange looks from some people when we tell them what we are building, apparently some people can't get past little wooden sticks. Here are some fabulous folks that went even further than we did - what great thinking and re-using...I really love the barn, always loved the idea of living in a renovated barn and the fire tower, one for the view and two for the fact that they are usually so remote. I also love the yacht. When I lived in the Bay Area, where houses were so expensive, I toyed with the idea of buying a big old fishing boat and docking it somewhere and living on it, a few did and they are fantastic. The land yacht is intriguing if nothing else but a statement on desertification and the disappearance of bodies of water worldwide.

Check them out -

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Rainwater Collection Installation #1

The other weekend we finally got the new guttering installed on the workshop and the first of two rainwater collection barrels in place. And it was just in the nick of time as we got, what will probably be, the last of the rain and boy did it rain.

First we got the guttering  up, which, with the help of the scaffolding, was actually pretty easy to install.
Once this was up we put one of our 1,500 gallon tanks place at one end of the shop and attached the run off pipes. 

We have a second tank of the same size that we weren't originally going to install, but instead pipe the gutter on the other side over to this tank. That in itself was causing a headache of how to pipe it over and get past the doors without going all the way down and pumping it back up into the tank. then we did the calcs on how much water we could expect to get off the rooftop.

The calculation is -
A * R/12 =cubic feet/year
cubic feet * 7.43 = gallons/year
where A = Area of catchment in square feet and R = Inches of rain you get a year

So when we did our calculations we got 3,000 gallons per year that we would be able to capture off of the roof top. And we receive all that rain in the space of about 3 months so one 1,500 gallon tank was not going to be enough - Enter tank #2.

We have tank #2 here, it just needs a clean out and to be put in place and piped into the gutter on that side of the shop. We will need to relocate the diesel tank somewhere else, but it will be great to have 3,000 gallons of water storage. 

We did have our first huge rain storm 2 days after we installed the system. It was great to see it doing its job and watch that huge tank fill up with water. We got 500 gallons in 3 hours, but I will say, it was QUITE a rain storm.

Now please note that these tanks are WHITE!! Duh, you say. You cannot store potable water in white tanks as these are more susceptible to algae growth. Also, we are not doing any extra filtration system on the rainwater we catch beyond a basic household water filter. This water will just be for toilet flushing and washing and cleaning. We will be installing another tank for storing potable water from our spring on the other side of the property that will be a special green tank and since its already the spring water we drink at the house we won't need to filter it like we would rainwater.

But even if you don't live in a drought ridden area like CA, think about a small rainwater collection system. How great would it be to have a green lawn all summer and a clean car and not put any added pressure on your well or town's water supply. Its so easy to do and so nice to have that little reserve for a non-rainy day.