Reuse Grey Water, Save Water, Save $$$

Maybe my late blog gives me away, but 2016 has started out a little rough.

My first night in the container house was December 23rd…. my first day of running water was 2 days ago.  The 2 weeks in the middle were a little more like squatting in my own house than living in it.  I had been hauling water by the bucket (which I understand is a reality for many people) and showering at my parents’ house.  It wasn’t luxurious, but i gained a lot of perspective in that time.

The majority of us, in the western world, have ample access to clean, running water, mostly right in our very homes.  This is a privilege I can honestly say that in the past, I have absolutely taken for granted.  This experience has prompted me to do some research and look into all the ways we can better use that water, and waste as little as possible.  By doing this we can be respectful of our planet, the global water crisis and communities without such luxuries, as well as being humble first world citizens.

A large portion of unnecessarily wasted water is “Grey Water”. It is the water from our sinks (including dishwater), bathtubs and laundry machines that is not totally unsanitary and could be used again for purposes other than direct consumption.  Think of the places where we use fresh water where it is not required, toilets and gardens for example (these are the big ones in my house).

Disconnecting the j trap under the sinks and allowing the water to run into a bucket is an easy way to save your grey water for repurposing.  It may require a watchful eye to make sure your bucket doesn’t overflow, but being mindful is the name of the game, non? From there you can dump that water in the tank or bowl of your toilet to flush it.  Toilets are responsible for 31% of overall household water consumption.  You could stand to save 31% of your water bill, couldn’t you?

Plants and gardens are also a big one for me.  I love gardening and have many houseplants that at one point i was watering with fresh water until i learned about the grey water method.  As long as you are using environmentally-friendly soaps, dishwater and bathwater are perfectly fine for your plants and gardens (actually they might even be better for them!).  I found a great instructable that shows the easy way that the author rigged her laundry washing machine to drain out to spaghetti lines that water her garden.
But it doesn’t have to be a plumbing project, saving grey water can be as easy as showering with the plug in and scooping it out later.

Besides grey water, the same methods can be used with harvested rain water or snow melt.  If you were raised at the lake, like me then these are probably all methods you have used or at least heard of before.  I didn’t, but could have mentioned the old, “If it’s yellow, let it mellow…”…

Reuse Grey Water, Save Water, Save $$$

November 19/15 Build Update

November 19/15 Build Update

Warm for the Winter

It snowed today.  I mean, for Manitoba we’re doing better than most years (2013, the last winter I spent in Mb, we were 3 feet under by now) but the inevitability doesn’t make my heart break any less.  This year I have more to lose.  I’m an extremely novice house-builder at best, and nothing makes you second guess your abilities like an impending snowstorm.

2013 When I was living in Winnipeg. This was the winter that put Winnipeg on the map for record snowfall and temperatures colder than Mars!
2013 When I was living in Winnipeg. This was the winter that put Winnipeg on the map for record snowfall and temperatures colder than Mars!

As i’m going about my day today, I noticed the flurries floating around outside the window of my parents place and couldn’t help but wonder “Am I going to freeze my ass of this winter?”.  My plan as far as heating my container house relies solely on the big beautiful woodstove I bought off Kijiji (Don’t let the fact that I found it on Kijiji cheapen it, it really is a million pounds of HUGE BEAUTIFUL CAST IRON).

In my researching and brainstorming of ways to keep warm this winter, I was suddenly aware of how living in a small, moveable structure is a slightly more primitive way of life compared to the large, permanent houses that are the norm.  Thinking along those lines, I went back to basics & created this list of simple, overlooked ways to keep warm this upcoming cold season.  (That you don’t have to be Mike Holmes to understand.)

  • Wear layers & warm clothes made of heat-trapping materials (even indoors)
  • Make sure you’re windows are double or even triple pane…
  • … and seal them! Plastic and hair dryer style.
  • Fire = heat ( a wood stove or fireplace!)
  • Eat warm food and embrace soup season (the most wonderful time of the year if you ask me)
  • Actively look for and correct drafts
  • Sleep with more blankets and/or a hot water bottle
  • Use a variety of insulation solutions for different situations.  (My whole build used a combination of Roxul, spray foam and appropriate air spaces.)
  • Open your blinds and let the sun in during the day!
  • Stop shaving your legs?

Anything I missed?


Warm for the Winter

Re-entering the Nest

I thought this would be an appropriate opening post for S&S because this is how my tiny-home journey began.

The first container being dropped off.
The first container being dropped off.  July 2015

It started when I was living on the Canadian west coast.  I read a book by Dee Williams, called “The Big Tiny”, which follows the real life process of building a tiny garden shed sized house on a trailer.  Not long after finishing it I became more or less utterly obsessed with the concept of building my own tiny living quarters.  I’m talking book-buying, pinterest-boarding, floorplan-drawing, budget-drafting obsessed.  I loved the idea of building a home that would complement my life and not drain my bank account.  Small enough to be managable, highly functional and so damn cute.  I knew a tiny-home was for me.

My mother, who lives in Manitoba and who I talked to on the phone often, had noticed my new obsession and coincidentally had also been looking for a way to get me to move home since I had left, 2 years prior.  She saw the opportunity and capitalized by buying 2 40x8x9 seacans, generously providing me with land and challenging me to build a home.  A challenge I gladly accepted.  A bribe, some may say.

Along with all the bribery came the fact that I’d be moving back in with my parents for the duration of the build.  Which was less than ideal, but part of the package and more than anything, just my own psychological hurtle that I’d have to get over.

As a person who’s been single, independent, severely OCD and living on their own for a long time, the adjustment was rough and the living hasn’t always been easy… But the payoff has been extraordinary.  One of the best things being that I was able to put what would be rent money into the build.  Another, that I’m now living at the source of the best shepherd’s pie I’ve ever met.  Not to mention the hard work and time my family has also donated to the project (possibly because they want me out of their house faster).

Check out the latest build update here.

Re-entering the Nest

Signs you’re Currently Living your Quarter-Life Crisis

You’ve done everything right in your life up to this point.  You went to high school. Graduated. Moved out of your parents house. Went to college. Graduated. Got a job to sustain your basic needs. Now you wake up everyday and wonder what the fuck you’re doing. Classic QLC.


Your job is not satisfying.  Any of the following scenarios may apply.   At one time maybe it’s what you thought you wanted, now it’s definitely not.  You’re stuck at a McJob until you figure out what you’re next move is.  You’re in “hurry up & wait” mode, just putting in time until you can move up the ladder.  OR you’re like me and went to college but now you have no desire whatsoever to pursue that thing you went to college for.

Sunday Brunch Caesers are your religion and also a metaphor for your existence.  A shot or two of alcohol dressed up as something of more substance, but really just an excuse to drink before noon.  You’d drink em everyday if you could but for some reason they’re always the Sunday cocktail special.

You sometimes kinda wanna have a baby… You also sometimes definitely don’t wanna have a baby.

You browse Craigslist and get emotionally attached to every listed west coast acreage you can’t afford for another 4 years, which is so close… yet so far away.

If I had a dollar for every rent cheque I’ve ever written, I’d probably have one whole rent cheque.  When I was 18, paying rent in exchange for a whole month of free will was the shit.  But somewhere down the line when you realized all the money you’ve paid in rent over the years, could of equalled a down payment (a couple times over) the freedom feeling dulls and rent-cheque-writing turns into a single-tear-rolling-down-your-cheek kind of experience.

Some of your friends are married.  Some of your friends are parents.  Some of your friends found Jesus.  Some of your friends are drunks.  Some of your friends are drunks in Thailand. Together these 5 categories equal 100% of your friends.

Your whole world right now is just day-in, day-out scrambling to find something you are passionate about.

Remember that time we did too many drugs and handled it like high-schoolers?  Sometimes you want to do that again but you don’t know how or where to buy drugs anymore.

You are tempted to make impulsive decisions, but the indecision is paralyzing.  Every decision is the worlds hardest because all you can think about is how each choice could potentially shape the rest of your life.

No pressure.


Signs you’re Currently Living your Quarter-Life Crisis

Moving out of Manitoba taught me things.

Stevie in Kamloops Lookout point just outside of Kamloops BC. Hands down the most beautiful place I’ve seen in real life.

Early this year, I sold/gave away/abandoned all my belongings that wouldn’t fit in my tiny, red, Ford Focus. Keeping only my computers (necessary to work), clothes (necessary to make appearances in public) and an ungodly amount of protein bars and dried fruit. I’m proud to say that Winter 2014 was the time I finally said “FTW” (fuck this weather), left my beautiful and enormous house in the heart of Franco-Winnipeg and made the road my new home.

I can actually say that for one month (not just any month – but January) I was actually homeless. By day I would drive and by night I slept on the chesterfields of my gracious friends and family (a few times in my car as it got warmer the further west I got, my parents don’t know this). I stretched the almost 24 hour total drive into a 3-week-long depth-of-winter adventure. That’s right – I survived being homeless… in January… in Canada. It turned out to be the most defining road trip in my entire existence thus far.

I was feeling grateful the other day and made a list of the most important things this move has taught me:

– Leaving all that is familiar to you could be the best thing you’ll ever do. The world is full of opportunity and you have to get out there and take advantage. Even though it sucks to leave your friends and family. Which brings me to my next point…

– Real friends will find a way to be in your life no matter what. You’re going to lose friends when you move, that’s a fact. You’ll realize that with most of those people the only thing you really had in common was geographic location (and a soft spot for jagermeister) and to these people you are out of sight and out of mind. Real friendships know not distance. Your real friends are the ones that still text you everything about their day, you still talk on the phone to regularly, and are the first ones to offer to pick you up at the airport. They are the ones that will make an effort to be a constant presence in your life. : )

– Google maps does not always know best. Just because it’s a route on Google Maps doesn’t mean its a road. Sometimes its a fucking dirt horse trail on a cliff on the side of a mountain, mere meters away from certain death at all times. Should you find yourself in this situation, let me tell you from experience – DO NOT CRY. It will impair your vision causing you to pull over (or just stop because you’re not actually on a road) which will cause the locals to ride up to you on their horses BUT don’t be fooled! They don’t want to see if you’re okay as much as they just want to steal your hubcaps. Also no cell service for 5 hours. So if you die out there, you’re just dead. Thats it. Nobody knows.
BTW this “highway” is called the BC- 99 N. So you’ve been warned, it may say it’s 2 hours faster but it’s not worth the emotional distress and premature forehead lines.

– You learn the most about yourself and grow as a person when you are out of your comfort zone. Which leads into my next point…

– When you move to a new place nobody knows you! Take advantage of this and do things you wouldn’t normally do. If you embarrass yourself who cares! Nobody knows or gives a shit about you and this is a blessing.

– The Hills Have Eyes movie may or may not have been based on the small town of Barriere, British Columbia. (Don’t go there and definitely don’t stay at a Knights Inn there)

– Things do not make you happy. It’s a cliche, for sure, but hear me out. Materially, I have almost nothing compared to what I owned in Manitoba. I still have a car, a couple thousand dollars in computer equipment and some other things but I look at them now as a blessing, not a necessity. When you have nothing you are free.

Now, don’t worry. I’m no longer homeless. I have a place in North Vancouver, so basically I live on the side of a mountain and I’ve never been happier in my entire life.
So yeah – suck it Winnipeg.
Just kidding.
I love Manitoba, I’ll be a Manitoban all my life.
I still rock an MB license plate. Partially because my car won’t pass aircare but mostly PRIDE!
Any of my new Vancouver friends would say I’m living proof that you can take the girl out of the prairies… but your Brandon, MB roots will haunt you all your life.

: )

Moving out of Manitoba taught me things.