Post image for Abandoned Adobe House in Arizona

This isn’t a story — it’s a sketch of a story. We were traveling through Arizona and spotted this abandoned house in Portal, Arizona.

What makes this mystery so compelling is a grave marker for Edward John Hand, pioneer, rancher, miner, archaeologist. I imagine a solid man, tall, English-born (1866), exploring the American West and building this one-room adobe structure with his own hands.

My internet research turned up nothing about this man and his simple home. I’m finding much of the American West — possibly the best stories — are not google-able.



Our Dining Nook


Post image for Our Dining Nook

Hmm, it’s probably about time to share where we’re at in our house renovations. The inside of our home is a work in progress. If I turned the camera in different directions it would still be a mess. But this is our dining nook where Michael and I share meals together. We could squeeze in 4 for a cozy dinner (think Paris cafe).

  • Furniture - All of our furniture is re-used. The table and chairs ($300) are from Rusty Gold Vintage Design, an upcycled furniture store operating out of two shipping containers. The heirloom basket is from Michael’s mother. The rug ($20) and Wassily chair knockoff ($150) were purchased on Craigslist.
  • Widows – I love how this part of our house gets nice light. We don’t think the security bars are necessary but we haven’t done much of anything on the house exterior yet. We love our PVC-free insulating cellular shades from North Solar Screen.
  • Floor – The original wood flooring from 1941 required an archeological dig to get to. It has not been refinished but when we do, we’ll put moulding on.

Ideas for how to fancify the front door? Or anything else? Look at the before photo for some perspective. Yikes!


Post image for Renovating an Old Trailer for under $1,200

I’m touched by Nicolettes’s story. She found an abandoned structure and with no money and no tools she managed to build herself a tiny house out of trash and scraps and donated supplies. In total it took her a year an a half and about $1,182 to make this space a home.

This structure was given to her for free in exchange for its removal. The wagon (as the Germans like to call it), somehow in its 20 years as a backyard garden shed had its wheels sunk 2 feet into the ground. It had to be excavated and moved 25 miles to its new location in Mainz, Germany, where the renovations would begin.


“Nikki, you’re not going to be able to fix up the whole wagon without any money.” The words of a non-believer. “You’re going to need materials, tools.”

“I can borrow all of the tools. And maybe in the end I will have to buy a few things, it’s looking like stain and paint right now, but so far I’ve found everything I had on my “to buy” list when I started. It’s turning out to be a damn good thing I didn’t have any money then. The longer I wait, the more I’m finding.”

He shook his head, thinking I was naive. I shook my head, thinking he was mighty skeptical for someone who also regularly dug through the trash.


Of course with makers of all sorts her “trash house” project is never quite finished but I’m happy she shared these photos with me.

On Nicolette’s blog you’ll find well-written stories of dumpster diving adventures, the brutally honest struggle of DIY home renovations, and life in a wagenplatz community in Germany.

Photo credit: Click Clack Gorilla


The Living Kitchen


Post image for The Living Kitchen

This “living kitchen” concept has got my attention. There’s beauty in its practical simplicity. See it in use.

I particularly like that the food scraps go directly down into the vermicomposter which, when the final compost collection tray is ready, feed the plants above.

Designed by Studio Gorm (John Arndt and Wonhee Jong). Bravo!


Post image for Egg-Shaped House on Wheels

Elegant, simple, and most certainly green. This project still has a few kinks to work out — like how to keep from getting busted for parking on the sidewalk — but it’s beautiful nonetheless. Built by 24-year old Dai Haifei, an architecture graduate who couldn’t afford rent in Beijing.

Image Credit: AFP / Getty Images

For two months he lived on the street next to his workplace in his solar-powered “egg house.” It has a bed, a nightstand, a small sink, and an electric blanket to keep warm.

“I feel good living here though it’s simple, and a bit cold sometimes, what important for me, is – it saves me a lot of money!” Dai told a reporter. He said that his parents were old, and they would have to work for two or three hundred more years in order to afford a house in Beijing. Without paying rent, he can sometimes go for a coffee and enjoy the “petty bourgeoisie life.” (via)

Dai documented the building project quite well on his flickr page but I will share a few more photos here. The frame is bamboo with sacks of grass seed attached to the outside. The water tank held about 3 days worth of water, and he would refill from his workplace.

In total he spent about three months building it with $964. He was “evicted” in mid-December and is reportedly living with friends.

Photo credit: Beijing Times


Post image for SunRay Kelley’s Gypsy Wagon

Pictured above is Lloyd Kahn (right) visiting SunRay Kelley (left) and his solar-powered camper, under construction.

Looking virtually nothing like what he started out with, the structure is re-built from a vintage Toyota camper. The idea is to create a solar/electric/diesel hybrid rolling home for SunRay on the road.

Check the YouTube videos to see this transformation in progress.

SunRay remarks, “The Gypsy Wagon should have been the first thing I built because it is the world’s best calling card.” He will be taking it to Burning Man 2011.

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