Autumn Update

Social Media Explained

Hi everyone! Been wicked busy building, speaking, writing, gardening, preserving, teaching and learning!  I have a confession to make. Due to lack of time, and digital social media savvy, I prefer to DO rather than BROADCAST.

So, the blog entries I wrote late at night all summer and fall while falling asleep to exhaustion just never got posted because they needed a digital component (my videos, pics) that I did not know how to edit or post until my 1st Apple iMovie tutorial this week!

I am determined to get all ten entries with visuals posted before Halloween!

The blog dates are based on occurrence and I’ve listed the Title’s Below for your reference. Links will be updated as they are posted:

5/29/2014      Basic Construction Worktable

6/1/2014        A Tiny House that Breathes

6/4/2014        The Inner Envelope

6/8/2014        Black Gold Vermicomposting

6/24/2014      Resource Dieting

7/7/2014        Biomimicry in Tiny House Roofing

9/1/2014        Another reclaimed stool, a cigar box and a tray

10/9/2014      The Silver Bullet vs. The Golden Hammer

10/11/2014     Making Art/Furniture/Fashion from your tiny house waste-stream

10/29/2014    The Silver Bullet Moves

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The Silver Bullet vs. The Golden Hammer

At tiny house workshops and festivals I am often asked why I named the tiny house I have been building for the last year, the “Silver Bullet”. Three reasons:

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“The phrase typically appears with an expectation that some new technological development or practice will easily cure a major prevailing problem.” There is no one “Silver Bullet” for the world’s climate change crisis or its diminishing resources. However, empowering people with appropriate techniques, skills and technologies to live healthier, more economic and sustainably responsible lives compatible with nature and the planet’s resources is the basis for the Silver Bullet Project.

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“The concept known as the law of the instrumentMaslow’s hammerGavel or a golden hammer[a] is an over-reliance on a familiar tool; as Abraham Maslow said in 1966, “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.”[1] “Overuse of one tool for all purposes” directly correlates with America’s reliance on debt for capitalism and consumerism or fossil fuel dependance for decades when other clean energy solutions were available. (not to mention the selective confirmation bias of a certain political party regarding climate change).

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Yeah, its true, I grew up in the 50’s and 60’s and spent many Minnesota winters either skiing or watching TV shows whose characters are highly responsible for having built my character, personal integrity and moral compass. I personal identified with the non-violent morality of Paladin in Have Gun/Will Travel, the moral codes and partnership between Tonto and the Lone Ranger, who used his silver bullets (and his horse “Silver” to dispense justice) and of course, Star Trek, which introduced me via sic-fi metaphor to political and social issues of the 60’s and 70’s. (I met my favorites: Clayton Moore, Jay Silverheels, Leonard Nimoy and William Boyd back in the day)


*You can read more about what I think of the American Dream here, how I began my in deeper commitment to an even more sustainable life here, or my recent post on ethical sourcing and consumerism here.

Another reclaimed stool, a cigar box and a tray

I left a gorgeous glass table and some chairs (too heavy for my tiny house) at my local Uhaul “recycling area”. While there I picked up a free cigar box, a tray and a swivel stool that needed some love and attention. I took some leftover wooden “Ball legs” from a commissioned series of large art screens and went to work. (Another Uhaul stool project)

StoolRepuposingI took a couple of wooden scraps, ripped, whittled and sanded two new legs for the ones missing from the chair, oiled and cleaned the swivel mechanism, sanded the chair and painted it.

Uhaul Stool Fix

And took my new stool for a spin! They don’t make them like they used to! This chair is wicked substantial and will work great for my tiny house kitchen chores.

Did the same with the tray (for tiny house parties) and cigar box (which holds my personally harvested non-GMO heirloom garden seeds).

What do you think?


Balance Sponsors Reclamation Artist and Tiny House Builder, Vera Struck, at Love Yoga Festival

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Australian flower essence water company, Balance, sponsors international artist, Vera Struck, in a challenge to recycle, repurpose and reclaim their water bottles into fashionable wearable art and distinct art objects.

Join her at the Balance booth and watch her make wearable art. Struck’s exquisite art objects will be available for sale at the first Love Yoga weekend festival at Aselton Park, overlooking Lewis Bay in Hyannis. You can also participate in an interactive art sculpture as you enjoy the festival!

For more information and tickets, click here.

Top 5 Sustainable 2014 Summer Sizzles

1. Finishing installation of my tiny house metal roof panels and ridge beam on a hot summer’s afternoon.

2. Roasting fresh organic fingerling eggplants, baby red peppers and green roma tomatoes over Arugula in a solar oven (all from our organic garden) for our tiny house workshop luncheon last weekend.

3. Nurturing and inspiring underprivileged young high school women to make reclamation art and fashion by repurposing discarded trash, and found objects destined for landfills into wearable treasures.

4. Repairing, selling, and gifting all my remaining household goods in preparation for moving into the Silver Bullet tiny house/classroom on wheels.

5. Having our workshop attendees sizzle’s quenched by a tasty sampling challenge between a local winery and a friend’s local brewery. (Riverwalk won!)


**So busy building, teaching, organic gardening, taking videos and pics, I apologize for not posting regularly. As soon as I learn iMovie, I’ll get all 7 postings up; hopefully, before long!

Biomimicry in Tiny House Roofing?

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What is biomimicry in construction design and planning? You can find some examples of biomimetic architecture here.

Traditional solutions like plywood, roofing felt, and shingles is basic residential roofing, right? I grew up in, purchased and lived most of my life in homes built like this without realizing how toxic those materials can be to human health and how little their manufactured design prevents rotting, mold, airflow and longevity of the life of the resource/product. And that’s not even thinking of how to recycle, reuse or repurpose those resources!

For my tiny house/classroom build, I chose to use healthier alternatives while applying biomimetic principles by creating a traditional looking structure as close to mimicking our integumentary and skeletal systems as possible. After all, our bodies are incredible human machines! And if we treat them right, they are quite sustainable!

I choose innovative and well designed products AND manufacturers that embody sustainable practices in their product’s manufacturing and/or their management/operating practices.

I designed the Silver Bullet’s “envelope” to imitate nature with great “bones” (advanced framing) and great “skin and hair” to be waterproof, regulate temperature, and circulate air to dry itself  (or should I say Zip panels by Huber and Homeslicker Rainscreen or CedarBreather by Benjamin Obdyke).

This material comes in about a  62′ long roll, 39″ wide and is very easy to install, especially for a novice builder like me. And the manufacturer was helpful in explaining to me how to install their product for my customized purposes.

CedarBreather is a nylon mesh type matrix that has repeated mesh 3D cupcake forms across its surface. This 1/4″ compressed layer provides cushioning, eliminates moisture, prevents cupping, rotting, and is fire resistant. Ideal for the common issues that normally plague all tiny-housers.

Below you can see the layers I built. The Zip board over the rafters, the Cedarbreather over that, then the corrugated steel panels. CedarBreather allows controlled airflow over the roof deck between the ridge beam, baffled rafters and vented eave louvres.

Another tiny house construction project completed by an amateur successfully! Yay! And this means the sound of rain on the roof will be a little softer as I fall asleep looking at the stars in one of my lofts. And the last thing on my mind will be the effects of moisture on my tiny house structure!




*Check out a similar ventilated underlayment, Homeslicker Rainscreen, I installed on my walls here.

2nd Silver Bullet Tiny House Sustainable Swap Social!

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(Photograph Credit: Cynthia Staats)

Silver Bullet Tiny House Sustainable Swap Social Weekend


July 19 – July 20, Newbury, Ma., Saturday 9AM – Sunday 6PM


You are invited to participate in a tiny house social opportunity with artists, artisans, tiny house enthusiasts and builders, a local organic chef, local organic wines, and 12 other participants.


June 28 Byfield Music and Arts Festival 10AM-9PM

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Want to hear live music from 15 different bands, try the brews, buy art, support sustainability non-profits and have fun on a beautiful summer Saturday?

Come join us tomorrow…at Manter Field 10AM-9PM for the Byfield Music & Arts Festival. Directions, tickets, more information is here.

The Struck women will be there at their Struck Studios art booth!!! Come see us!

All proceeds from our sales of gorgeous reclamation artwork and jewelry go to support the Byfield Arts Center and the Net Zero Silver Bullet Tiny House.


Resource Dieting

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“We must use time as a tool, not as a couch.”  John F. Kennedy

Yes, life is short. However, minimizing one’s carbon footprint is not achieved immediately, it is a work in progress. In my sustainable lifestyle design classes students find it daunting to face their clothes closet, their kitchen cupboards, the products below their sink, analysis of their travel/transportation habits, what they eat, their waste-stream, where and how they view their economics, their cultural and social responsibilities through the sustainable lens.

I often tell them to start with baby steps. A shift in perception through a new lens involves adaptation and adjustments. I assure them that soon they will have the confidence and ability to create, see and live their sustainable dream. And it is so satisfying!

Some of us can adapt to more sustainable practices quickly by changing careers, buying carbon offsets, offloading less green automobiles and transportation modes, food, habits, toxic chemicals and becoming more compassionate and socially conscious members of the human race. However, some find it difficult, time-consuming and economically unfeasible.

90% of my students claim their inability to adopt a healthier, reduced carbon footprint life is due to lack of time, money and/or lack of knowledge regarding how to achieve a sustainable lifestyle.

I wish I could tell you that resource dieting and resource stewardship is easy. It isn’t, but it is worth it! One of the reasons it is difficult is that it is a customized and different path for each one of us.

To me that means finding a home, career, community and lifestyle compatible with nature that gives you the maximum amount of leisure, cultural and social engagement, with a minimized carbon footprint, economic and energy output. And to do all this with a minimum of violence and a maximum of compassion towards our fellow humans and other livings beings.

This may be one of the many reasons the tiny house community is popular and why it has gained so many followers in recent years. Many of its members, like myself, have rid themselves of workaholic careers, too much stuff, unhealthy food, unhealthy habits in favor of a healthier, sharing community and leisure lifestyles that leaving the consumptive debt culture affords.

Top five resource diet tips I utilized:

1. downsized with an estate sale, a yard sale, or garage sale

2. arranged a free cycle exchange, a clothing exchange, a cookie or food exchange, a canning/preservative goods exchange

3. bartered services and goods

4. participated in a free bank and gift economy

5. given to many of my favorite non-profits

I continue to meet tons of really great people, have wonderful adventures, time in nature, taken home all kinds of money, lovingly prepared food, canned goods and clothing.

This journey has taught me all kinds of skills about building, refinishing, repurposing and reclaiming all kinds of stuff that would otherwise end up in a landfill. It has taught me about my boundaries, my abilities and my disability, my limits and how to exceed them! My “toolbox” is growing daily.

And best of all, it is fun and one rocking’ great time “tooling'” down the road!